Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: Jumanji

Jumanji is a 1995 fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston and stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and Bradley Pierce. It is loosely based on the 1981 children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also co-wrote the film. The film is the first installment of the Jumanji franchise, which includes two sequels and a spin-off, Zathura, which was also adapted from a Van Allsburg book. The movie starts in 1969 and follows a boy named Alan Parrish (Adam Hann-Byrd) who finds a game, Jumanji, after hearing tribal drums in a construction site; the game was buried 100 years before by two brothers. After arguing with his father, he takes it home, and Alan takes out the game to play. Before he can start, his friend Sarah (Laura Bell Bundy) comes to visit him and the two start playing the game together, but on Alan’s turn, he is sucked into the game, and Sarah is chased away by bats. The story then fades to 26 years later, 1995, when siblings Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) move into Alan’s abandoned house with their aunt. The two discover Jumanji in the attic after hearing the tribal drums and decide to play it, releasing giant mosquitoes and monkeys on their first two turns. Since Peter rolls a 5, the game releases a now-adult Alan (Robin Williams) as well as a tiger. Alan realizes that the siblings have been playing his original game instead of a new one, and the three find the now grown-up Sarah (Bonnie Hunt). Together the four of them attempt to finish the game, but with every roll, it becomes harder and more dangerous to win. In this blog post, I will look at how the two characters from the book translated into the adaptation and how the story was expanded to make a children’s book long enough for a feature film. 

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