MovieChat Forums > Heaven & Earth (1993) Discussion > How much was changed from the book?

How much was changed from the book?

Both wiki entries are pretty scarce unfortunately. It seems neither was popular enough to warrant more detailed wiki entries.

I'm just curious how much was changed from the book. Stone has a habit of changing quite a bit in his screenplays. Natural Born Killers was changed so much Tarantino disowned it. The wiki entries do show some of the changes, but it's not very detailed.

I'm most curious as to what "actually" happened. Of course, even the book itself could have been heavily dramatized. Books are by no means accurate portrayal of historical accounts.

The book says she went to the U.S. with a contractor, but the movie says it was marine sgt. I was under the impression from the movie that perhaps she seemed better suited to be single, and could not love men (other than the landlord), but I hear she's married now. That's good of course, I'm just a bit confused about the message of the movie. There's some dialogue from the monk iirc about how the doors in her home are situated, and how it relates to her life. Of how men go in one door, and out the other. Something like that. So I'm curious to what actually happened, and what message I should take from the dialogue.


The movie was actually based on two books she wrote ("When Heaven and Earth Changed Places" and "Child of War, Woman of Peace").

It's been several years since I read them, but the movie character of Steve was based on several boyfriends/husbands of hers (she has three sons from three different men and the books describe several relationships she had over the years).

You should just read them if you're still curious, they're very gripping reading for anyone interested in the Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective. I though the movie did a commendable job of portraying the overall experience but obviously there were a lot of details it left out. Although as you allude to, no matter how autobiographical, no book or movie should be taken as absolute truth.


A ton. The book is a million times better. Not to sound like a fanboy but please read the book. It explained things like the attitude of the villagers who just wanted to exist in peace, far better than the film. The whole Tommy Lee jones part where he's in the helicopter fighting -- well --- I don't know where that was taken from. Certainly not the book. In the book she married a much older guy, a man described as being like her father and you got the feeling she only married him to get the hell out of Vietnam. I'm guessing the TLJ character was based on another husband she had from the second book she wrote (which I did not read). It's a shame that Stone didn't use more material from her book because it was the only book about VN I've read that really hit home the tale of the real victims of the war -- the peasants who had no real ideology, they just wanted to be farmers and exist.


The real question is; how much was changed between truth and actual happenings and the books?

I'd be willing to be a lot of money that the true answer is: A LOT.

I mean, whose accounts to we have to verify that the whole story isn't complete fabrication that simply uses vietnam as the background? It's a woman, so you can't trust it. Also, it's a calculating businesswoman, so you can trust it even less.

I wouldn't read anything written by a hag, because it's either pointless rambling, or it's full of exaggerations or embellishments, or both.