- Term Papers and Free Essays

American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production

Essay by   •  June 29, 2011  •  1,635 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,566 Views

Essay Preview: American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

American Psycho: Analysis of Novel and Movie Production

American Psycho has been recognized as a brilliant thriller of its time and can legitimately be labeled a scandalous novel. The novel was published in 1991 by the daring author Bret Easton Ellis and was later adapted into a movie production in 2000 by the director Mary Harron. The novel endured nasty criticism to the point of rousing riots and the boycott of the publishing company, Simon & Schuster; who later dropped the publication of the book, due to the negative publicity. Bret Easton Ellis’ novel was convicted of national censorship, and remains censored in select countries. The disapproval of Ellis’ novel was based on the graphic sequences of sexual violence and the explicit murderous thoughts from within the mind of the serial killer Patrick Bateman. Harron later decided to transform the rule-breaking thriller, in spite of the criticism, and capture the story with the approach of a black comedy by dismissing select gruesome details, along with shaping other aspects of Ellis’ horror. Mary Harron used a distinctly different style, tone, and symbolism in her film American Psycho than Bret Easton Ellis fashioned in his novel American Psycho.

The film director Mary Harron developed a different style from Bret Easton Ellis’ novel. The style is different in the order of events and how the events take place. Throughout the screenplay, a person who has read the novel can see that the film does not follow the structure of Ellis’ style. The film does this in ways of both combining chapters and omitting certain sections of the novel and its immoral detail.

The effects of the change in style are a different response from the audience and the overall outcome of the movie production becomes different when compared to the novel. The different response from the audience results from how the style is being created. The style is more layered in a sense that Harron combines two chapters of Ellis’ novel into one scene of the film. For example, the chapters from the novel that consists strictly of information about musicians are introduced in Harron’s film directly before the character Patrick Bateman attempts to torture and murder his victims. One particular scene when this takes place is when Patrick Bateman, in the film, has two women over to his apartment, and before he attempts to begin their torture he distracts the women with a continuous monologue that Bateman recites. This change causes the response from the reader to differ, thinking that providing the information before the killings is another part of Bateman’s routine. Yet the original context in the novel suggests that due to his abundant knowledge of these musicians it is another scenario to prove Bateman’s obsession with needing to be the absolute most conversant; which contributes to his control.

The reasoning for Harron to change the style of American Psycho for her movie production was to better adapt this element of the story for screenplay. Due to lack of time and also the concern of the comfort for the audience, Harron simply could not include every chapter from Ellis’ novel into the film. If Harron were to include every chapter from the novel, then the film would not be as appealing.

Mary Harron’s version of American Psycho develops tone differently than in Bret Easton Ellis’ novel. The tone of the film is created with a spec of comedy that outshines the horrific scenes that originally take place in Ellis’ novel. The film tends to poke-fun at the obsessive personality trait that the insane Bateman acquires due to the mood of the 1980’s. Patrick Bateman’s obsession with his own outward appearance, along with everyone else’s, is believed to be a result of the newfound persona of the 80’s (Storey 1). Harron focuses more on this characteristic of the novel and produces the film as a black comedy. “Harron has taken what was primarily a thriller novel by Bret Easton Ellis and shaped it into an often hilarious black comedy”(Marin 9). By doing this, Harron is drifting away from the original tone of Ellis’ novel but into an appropriate classification for the screenplay.

The effects from the change in tone, created by Mary Harron, result in another completely different reaction from the audience. The reaction from the audience is to smile upon the main character Patrick Bateman and be amused by his slips of insanity. In Ellis’ novel the reaction from the audience during Bateman’s torturous performances are viewed as horrendous and demonic, nothing to make the reader amused.

Harron’s production of American Psycho being a black comedy is necessary when taking into consideration of the film being accepted into society. Being able to laugh at Christian Bale during his performance as Ellis’ unstable character Patrick Bateman helps the audience overlook the murders taking place and be drawn into Bateman’s humorous character, which is innocently a result of the times.

“But there is another, much more insidious world that was created during the 80’s. As a direct result of President Reagan’s hands-off big business policy and his “trickle-down” theory of economics, corporations were allowed to grow unchecked at the expense of the common man, and as a result a hollow, self-centered Wall Street “superculture” sprang up almost overnight”(Marin 9).

The dramatic change in tone is indispensable when filming this production. If Harron were to include details such as “push maybe half an inch of the blade into his [homeless man] right eye, flicking the handle up, instantly popping the retina.”(Ellis 131) or “with scissors cut out her [female victim Bethany] tongue… hold in the palm of my hand, warm and still bleeding.” (Ellis 246) then the film would immediately loose its laughable guise and convert into a thriller.



Download as:   txt (10.3 Kb)   pdf (121.6 Kb)   docx (12.1 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 06). American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production. Retrieved 06, 2011, from

"American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production" 06 2011. 2011. 06 2011 <>.

"American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production.", 06 2011. Web. 06 2011. <>.

"American Psycho: Analysis Of Novel And Movie Production." 06, 2011. Accessed 06, 2011.