Book vs. Movie: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Attention: Contains Spoilers

Book – Summary

The book Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a very detailed book about a boy named Oskar whose father died in 9/11. This book is about how Oskar finds a key in an envelope with the last name “Black” written on it. He goes from door to door to everyone with the last name Black in New York City trying to figure out whose key it is. He meets many people with the last name Black throughout this book and he gets very close to them. During this book Oskar also meets his grandpa. However, he at first doesn’t know that he is his grandpa. Unfortunately, his grandpa doesn’t really do much with him. Nevertheless, we learn a lot of background information about the grandparents and the grandma’s sister, Anna. They all used to live in Dresden and there is a lot of history there. Oskar is also close to the grandma in the book. Lastly, this book ended with Oskar finding who the key belonged to and learning that the key was completely irrelevant to his dad. Oskar also figures out his mother knew what he was doing the whole time and just let him go. At the end of this book, it goes backwards from the moment the dad was in the Twin Towers to when he was safe at home. Oskar was thinking about how they would all be safe if he just never left the house that day.

Movie – Summary

The movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a less detailed movie, that would probably be confusing for people if they hadn’t read the book. During this movie, Oskar dad also dies in 9/11. Like the book, Oskar meets his grandpa and doesn’t know he’s his grandpa. He instead thinks he’s “the renter” at his grandma’s apartment. We don’t learn much background on him. Once Oskar finds the envelope, he asks his grandpa, who he still doesn’t know is his grandpa, to come with him to figure out who, with the last name Black, that this key belongs to. He doesn’t really get close to anyone in his search, though. By the end of this book, Oskar find who the key belongs to and realizes it has nothing to do with him. He has a talk with this owner but, by the end, ends up flipping out and missing his dad more than ever. Also, his mom knew about this plan the whole time and had a book and map and planned out and called everywhere Oskar went. We don’t really see much of the grandma in the movie, though. But, by the end of the movie, Oskar finds the end of a riddle his father left for him. The movie ends up having a happier ending than the book.


Often when you compare how long it takes to read a book versus a movie, the times are vastly different. Regardless of which you prefer, today we’re going to to be comparing the well known, 2005, book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to its 2011 movie adaptation.

In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the book, there are 5 key characters to the story. Oskar (the main protagonist), his father Thomas Schell, his Grandmother, his Grandfather who is also named Thomas Schell, and his mother, along with a few other side characters. While this group of characters remains consistent throughout the movie as well, how each of them are presented is very different in the movie. One of the most noticeable differences about Oskar in the movie is that they didn’t include one of the most symbolic parts of the book. In the book, it was clearly stated that Oskar refuses to wear any color other than white. Some believe that because it is the opposite of black, the color of mourning, it is a symbol of him being hesitant to move on. Something else is in the book isn’t included in the movie and arguably took away a huge parts of the plot. One character, Thomas Schell (Oskar’s Grandpa) has a whole timeline of his own. In the book, the author dives into his backstory, back from when he was living in Dresden, Germany as a young man to how he met Oskar’s Grandmother and fled when he learned he was going to be a father. Meanwhile in the movie, rather than focusing on two plots, (Oskar’s and Thomas Schell’s) they excluded Thomas’s background entirely so the story could move along quicker.

As far as the actual plot goes in the book versus the movie, there are some vast differences. As far as the beginning goes, the book and movie are pretty similar, both discussing how Oskar’s father died in the 9/11 attack and how he discovered the key in his father’s closet. Once Oskar begins his search for anyone who may be able to give him a clue about the mysterious key, there are some noted changes. Because it was a movie, they obviously couldn’t go into the detail with each person Oskar met when searching for anyone with answers. So, many of the people that Oskar met in the book were either brushed over or not mentioned at all. During this book’s telling of his endeavor, he came across a mysterious man we know as Mr. Black, who agreed to join Oskar in his search for his answer. But, instead of introducing a new character to the audience in the movie, they had Oskar’s Grandfather, (Thomas Schell) join Oskar for his search instead.

Although, one of the most noticeable differences between the book and movie of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the ending. After Oskar discovers that the key was never meant for him in the first place, the book Oskar accepts things as is and moves on, growing from the experience. Meanwhile, in the movie, it was changed slightly. After he learns about the key, the writers decided it would be more appropriate to leave the audience with a happier ending, one with more closure. In the movie, Oskar finds a note left by his dad that once and for all gave him the answers he was looking for and us a happy ending.

Both the book and the movie provide a different view of the same story. The movie gave the visual and the book gave the detail that the movie somewhat lacks. Both have received their praise and criticism from millions of readers and viewers and they all came out with an equal number of opinions and perspectives of the same story.

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