If you haven’t read the book “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, then the movie might have been good. But if you did read the novel then the movie is a letdown.
Both novel and film are focused on the lives of peculiar children. What makes these children so peculiar are their special abilities. The children’s abilities include super strength, the ability to create fire and levitate. Both novel and movie are set in the present and during World War II, with the inclusion of a time loop, which allows certain peculiars to take a day and restart it over and over again. In both film and novel, the time loop day happens during World War II. Both stories also feature themes related to the holocaust. Like the Jews in World War II, the peculiar children are being hunted. Furthermore, the book and film have the same villainous characters: the hollowgast and the wights. Hollowgasts and wights were once peculiars, turned into monsters by an experiment. To regain their human form, hollowgasts eat peculiars then they become wights. Hollowgast seems to be a play on words with holocaust as wights is with white.
While the book and movie have quite a few similarities, there are also many differences; the biggest difference is the way the children find out the wights are Nazis in the book. This was left out of the movie.
When comparing the book to the movie, it becomes apparent the movie version of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” does not have the level of detail or the hard hitting plot points the novel had. The novel explores emotional ties between characters, while the movie shows brief connections. The novel showed internal struggles that Jacob, the main character, had to face throughout the story; however, the movie lacked most of the internal strife present in the novel. The movie and novel had different climaxes. The movie’s climax was purely for cinematic drama, while the book builds on crucial plot points and heartfelt moments. The book’s climax also leads to a sequel. The movie’s does not.
The cinematic version of “Miss Peregrine’s Home” showed a glimmer of the emotional and psychological ties displayed throughout the book. In the movie, Abe, Jacob’s grandfather, tells bedtime stories about his stay at Miss Peregrine’s home. After Jacob finds his grandfather dead in the woods, Jacob needs therapy to deal with his loss. Another watered down relationship in the movie is between Abe and Emma, one of the children at Miss Peregrine’s Home. Abe’s relationship with Emma seems very shallow and one-sided in the movie but not in the book.
In the novel, there is a deep relationship not just between Abe and Emma but also between Abe and Jacob.
The first chapter in the novel builds on pictures and stories shared between Abe and Jacob. Jacob is confused by the stories of real life monsters. Jacob comes to believe Abe created monsters out of Nazis because they killed his family. The novel also shows the deep pain Jacob felt when his grandfather died and how it affected him mentally. Jacob went to a psychiatrist for several months and had vivid nightmares of the night Abe died. This shows the profound attachment he had to his grandfather. The novel also reveals the relationship of two lovers, separated from one another because of the war. Even though Abe and Emma loved each other he decided to join the war. Abe and Emma sent letters to one another constantly and when the war was over Abe promised Emma he would find them a new home to live in North America. Throughout the years the letters became less frequent. Finally, Abe sent Emma a letter with a picture of him holding a baby: his baby. The picture broke Emma’s heart.
Abe and Emma’s relationship was well developed in the novel. However, Jacob’s internal struggle was not developed in the film.
In the movie, Jacob’s inner demons seem to be hidden and not important. His main issues are trying to understand what happened to his grandfather and what his grandfather said with his dying last words. Jacob also barely struggles with whether to stay with the peculiar children or return home at the end of the movie.
In the novel though, Jacob struggles with his thoughts, with his love of Emma, and with his dreams about the night his grandfather died. Jacob was seeing the monster and his grandfather in dreams for months while seeing his psychiatrist. Lastly, Jacob struggles with whether or not he should stay with the peculiars or if he should go back home. He realizes he didn’t have much to go back to, and the peculiars needed his help. So he stayed.
Not only were Jacob’s struggles done in more detail in the novel than the film but the climax also had more detail.
The climax in the movie and the novel both feature hollowgasts and wights. The movie had many wights and hollowgasts fighting against the children while Miss Peregrine, the peculiar who protects them, was locked away. The Baron, the villain of the movie, used his team of hollowgast and wights to attack Jacob and the peculiar children, who end up defeating the wights and hollowgasts and their leader. This victory is the climax of the movie. The movie climax also added a very random love interest between two peculiars. This side story was unnecessary, and did nothing for the plot.
The novel of “Miss Peregrine’s Home” has a very different climax. The children are put against the one wight who had been Jacob’s psychiatrist and the one hollowgast who killed Abe. The children manage to defeat the hollowgast, but the wight pulls a gun on the children and steals Miss Peregrine and one of her friends. Afterwards the wight shoots Millard, one of the peculiar children. Nearing the end of the climax a fight between Emma, Jacob and the wight occurs. The fight ends with Jacob killing the wight. Then he and Emma jump off the lighthouse they were fighting on. They survive the jump and a Uboat arrives. They then realize some Nazis are wights. This establishes Nazis as monsters for peculiars and Jewish people further cementing the underlining theme of WWII and the holocaust in the story.
While the movie and the book have a similar theme and setting of WWII, the movie would have been better if given a different name. The movie lacked significant plot points and development the novel had. The novel showed character attachments, internal struggle, and a heartfelt climax.
If you’ve read the novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs don’t bother with the movie. If you haven’t read the book and don’t plan on it, then give Tim Burton’s adaptation a try.