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Booth, Alison. "Neo-Victorian Self-Help, or Cider House Rules." American Literary History 14. 2 (2002): 284-310.
Irving wrote the novel and the accompanying screenplay for the film during a period of Victorian revival in the United States. The Victorian models of self-help, which involved the merging of the public and the private spheres, are reflected in The Cider House Rules as we see how the two spheres of Homer's life, the orphanage and the cider house, represent a combining of these fields and ultimately help Homer discover who he is as a person. The Victorian novels depicted a standard path, of an individual leaving, learning about the hardness of life, and returning to the home chastened, having learned a lesson. These novels praise a certain resilience and learning about life on one's own. They praise also an adherence to the rules and keeping to your "business." This is something the novel of The Cider House Rules brings into play quite often, but which the film lacks nearly entirely. Booth chides the film for glossing the potential merits of the novel but losing many of the subtleties. She seems to think the film has focused too much on the abortion issue and not enough on the context.
Buckley, William F. "Cheering on the survivors at the Oscars." Human Life Review. 26.2-3 (2000): 135-36.
Buckley laments the contradictory nature of the acceptance speech that Michael Caine gave at the 2000 Oscars after winning the award for Best Supporting Actor in The Cider House Rules. Buckley bemoans the fact that Caine made a reference to the "survivors" in the audience at this awards show, while the movie that he won this award for contained a strongly pro-choice, and thus divergent, message. Buckley seems to take the immediate assumption that the film is entirely pro-abortion, which is not a foregone conclusion in criticism of the film at all. Even so, this is the stance he takes, and as such, he criticizes the people applauding the film -- since they are applauding a film which, he says, celebrates the act (abortion) which, had their parents held the same views as they do, would have prevented them from attending the Oscars to applaud.
Davis, Todd F. "Saints, Sinners and the Dickensian Novel: The Ethics of Storytelling in John Irving's The Cider House Rules." John Irving. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2001.
Davis makes an argument that, like Dickens, Irving chooses to create characters and give a plethora of detail about them in order to challenge the ethics and value systems of the readers, making the reader's decisions about the characters a bit difficult. Davis claims that Irving creates characters that are not always clear-cut and well-rounded, but who still move readers psychologically and give them the experience of a range of emotions.
DeMott, Benjamin. "Guilt and Compassion." New York Times 26 May 1985: 7.1.
Review of the novel. "What is felt in the grain of 'The Cider House Rules' -- in its study of rule-givers and rule-breakers -- is that the history of compassion cannot have a stop and must perpetually demand larger generosities than those hitherto conceived. By responding to that demand we may, tomorrow, invent ways to abolish nightmare choices between born and unborn."
Dreher, Rod. "'Cider House's' Abortion: Right vs. What Works." Rev. of The Cider House Rules, by John Irving. Christian Science Monitor 7 Feb. 2000: 11.
Dreher demonizes the film's concept of morality. He says that the moral behind The Cider House Rules (and, indeed, behind its title) is that rules created by someone from outside the society (or rather, rules created by a moral code with which the society does not agree) should not and do not apply to those within the society. The workers living in the cider house do not relate to the rules which have been posted for them -- these rules do not conform to the life they would like to live. Therefore, they ignore them. Dreher's argument is summed up when he says, "The movie utterly fails, though, to account for the enormous implications of dethroning 'the law'." Dreher argues that asking "What works?" instead of "What's right?" will lead to the justifying of sins.
Engstrom, Janet L., and Ramona G. Hunter. "Teaching Reproductive Options Through the Use of Fiction: The Cider House Rules Project." Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing 36.5 (2007): 464.
Engstrom and Hunter conduct a study wherein they ask medical students to read the novel and apply it to their learning environment. The students read the novel and responded to a series of questions about how the ideals related in the book connected to their views as future medical professionals. Engstrom and Hunter make the point that any learning experience benefits from using stories and life experiences in learning, rather than just rote memorization.
Irving, John. My Movie Business: A Memoir. New York: Random House: 1999.
Irving describing the journey from novel to film. In doing so, he criticizes the Right-to-Life movement, essentially calling them rude, pushy, and far too much into other people's business. He also laments the extreme lack of trained medical professionals who will perform abortions, claiming primarily that the majority of medical students refuse to learn the procedure because they are "too simple, too easy to learn." He finally claims that he agrees that the choice whether or not to have a child is a complicated one -- he simply believes that it is not ever right for someone to make that choice for someone else.
Irving, John. The Cider House Rules: A Novel. New York: Morrow, 1985.
The novel on which the film was based.
Koloze, Jeff. "Cinematic Treatment of Abortion: Alfie (1965) and The Cider House Rules (1999)." Proceedings of the Sixteenth University Faculty for Life Conference at Villanova University 2006 . Ed. S. J. Koterski Washington: University Faculty for Life, 2007.
Koloze compares two widely-separated films about abortion. In approaching The Cider House Rules, he accuses the film of glossing over the true issues of the story, failing to provide the kind of in-depth approach to abortion that the novel does. He states that the novel gives us a true understanding of why and how Homer Wells goes from refusing to perform abortions to performing one on Rose Rose, while the film leaves us guessing. Koloze feels that the "omissions are significant" and that the film ceases to be about abortion and the emotional wrangling with abortion in which the the novel is so steeped.
Loudermilk, Kim A. Fictional Feminism: How American Bestsellers Affect the Movement for Women's Equality. New York: Routledge, 2003.
This book discusses the role that different strains of feminism have played in film, literature, and media throughout the twentieth and twenty first centuries. She sees fictional feminism as a constructed entity that sprang from a desire to forward the feminist cause, but has gone astray in doing so.
MacGibbon, Heather. "The Abortion Narrative in American Film: 1900-2000." Diss, New York University, 2008.
This dissertation examines in depth how cultural, political, and religious perceptions of abortion have been reflected in films dealing with abortion in the past century, as opposed to true, accurate representations of the abortion experience. MacGibbon goes through a myriad of films that deal with specific roles that these film characters play in abortion films -- such as "The Patient," "The Abortion Provider," The Male Partner," and The Counselor" -- and discusses how these characters relate to their real-life counterparts in American society.
McFadden, Maria. "The Cider House Rules--not!" Human Life Review 26.2-3 (Spring 2000): 124.
McFadden blasts the film for its deceptive advertising and "dulled" message. She states (along with many others) that the advertising for the film failed to represent what the film was truly about and never once mentioned abortion. She says that the complex issues dealt with in the book were forced into a film which acted as one thing -- abortion propaganda.
McNellis, Paul W. "Abortion as a Sacramental Moment?" America 1 April 2000: 16-18.
McNellis attacks the film by citing the fact that it conceals its true mission. He brings to light the fact that Planed Parenthood supported the film wholeheartedly. He demonstrates that "even . . . members of the pro-life movement" have been swayed by the film's beauty and its heart-wrenching tale. He attempts to bring to light the harsh reality of what Cider House is "really" about.
Mosher, Steven. "The Abortion Rules." Human Life Review 26. 2-3 (2000): 137-46.
Mosher claims that the novel The Cider House Rules should be renamed The Abortion Rules because that is what he believes is the primary subject matter of the story. Mosher provides a chapter-by-chapter description of the novel and explains how abortion is a recurrent theme, and a theme with which he wholeheartedly disagrees. Mosher calls the film propaganda and calls Irving a man with a "penchant for murder, mutilation, rape and the like."
Parnell, Peter. The Cider House Rules: Adapted by Peter Parnell from the novel by John Irving. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2001.
Play version: conceived for the stage by Tom Hulce, Jane Jones, and Peter Parnell.
Rickey, Carrie. ""The A-Word is Absent." Philadelphia Inquirer. November 2007.
In America "One in five pregnancies end in abortion," yet in contemporary films this statistic is not reflected as all of the women's pregnancies are carried to term and abortion is bypassed.
Rockwood, Bruce L. "Abortion Stories: Uncivil Discourse and 'Cider House Rules.'" Law and Literature Perspectives. New York: Peter Lang, 1996.
Lots of information about the laws relating to abortion and a generous walk through the novel: "One cannot read Irving's text [the novel] without coming in contact with almost every conceivable situation, example, and argument for and against choosing or permitting abortion, while at the same time feeling the force of its primary conclusion, reflected in one of the final letters its central character, Dr. Wilbur Larch, sends to persuade his reluctant apprentice, Homer Wells, to take over doing 'the Lords' work.'"
Waibel, Amanda. "Fate and Free Will in The Cider House Rules: Novel to Hollywood." Literature/Film Quarterly 32.1 (2004): 20-25.
Waibel dismisses Irving's novel as "sentimental" and "fatalistic." She dislikes the novel's emphasis on the lack of free will and faults the film for truncating what she believes to be some of the novel's most telling passages. Waibel cites the many times the novel discusses the act of "playing God" by Dr. Larch and Larch's continuing focus on guiding other people's fates. Waibel also takes issue with the concept of an actual God directing people's lives, as the novel twines both "playing God" and an actual "God" together. She says "In a world in which God has the power to send us--or keep us--where he deems us 'useful,' it seems that feelings of free will are only illusions." She dislikes Irving's creation in his novels of "wonderful communities of extremely good, lovable people" who are destined by fate to be something other than they would like to be. She feels as if Irving, in writing his novels, "plays God" as much as Dr. Larch does, and she would prefer he didn't. Waibel seems dedicated to the power of people to direct their own lives.
Weinkopf, Chris. "The Cider House Rots." Human Life Review 26.2-3 (2000): 125-31.
Weinkopf describes in this article how John Irving adapted his novel into a screenplay that both subtly and gently played with the issue of abortion and made a definitive pro-choice stance: "The Cider House Rules is a feel-good abortion flick." Weinkopf argues that the narrative was often misleading, as it avoids ethical and moral questions such as in the end, when Homer returns to St.Cloud's to assume Dr. Larch's position as an abortionist, yet with forged diplomas and having evaded service in World War II.

See Also

Campbell, Josie P. John Irving: A Critical Companion. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998.

D'Acci, Julie. "Leading up to Roe v. Wade: Television Documentaries in the Abortion Debate." Television, History, and American Culture: Feminist Critical Essays. Ed. Lauren Rabinovitz. Durham: Duke UP, 1999.

Harter, Carol C., and James R. Thompson. John Irving. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

Irving, John. "My Dinner at the White House." Trying to Save Piggy Sneed. New York: Arcade, 1996.

Koloze, Jeff, and Anne Gardiner. An Ethical Analysis of the Portrayal of Abortion in American Fiction: Dreiser, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Brautigan, and Irving. Lewiston: Mellen, 2005.

Pernick, Martin S. The Black Stork: Eugenics and the Death of "Defective" Babies in American Medicine and Motion Pictures Since 1915. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

Pickering, Barbara A. "Women's Voices as Evidence: Personal Testimony Is [sic] Pro- Choice Films." Argumentation & Advocacy: The Journal of the American Forensic Association 40 (summer 2003): 1-22.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Online Resources

"The Cider House Rules brought to the stage at the Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago"
An interesting synopsis of how The Cider House Rules was transferred from the "big screen" to the stage.
Davis, Evan. "Pregnancy, Abortion, and the Movies: A Look Back at 2007."
From the I Found It At the Movies blog. A look at recent mainstream films that have dealt with abortion, whether directly or obliquely.
Fisch, Audrey. "Abortion at the Movies."
From the Salon: Mothers Who Think blog. A comparison and contrast of how The Cider House Rules deals with the subject of abortion as opposed to the film High Fidelity.
Karnick, S.T. "Abortion Going out of Fashion in Movies, Society."
From The American Culture blog. A commentary on Rick Santorum's article "5 characters Reject Abortion in Cultural Shift in Movies," as published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kushner, Eve. "Go Forth and Multiply: Abortion in Hollywood Movies of the 90s."
From the Bright Lights Film Journal. A satire on how many American films from the 1990s sidestep the issue of abortion in favor of heart-warming happy endings that contain childbirth.
Lasse Hallstrom
Unofficial website on the director Hallstrom.
Michniewicz, Margaret. "A Conversation with Novelist John Irving."
An interview that Susan Cheever had with John Irving following a benefit that Irving and his wife held for Planned Parenthood of New England. In this interview, Irving candidly discusses his views on the abortion controversy and his support for Planned Parenthood.
Mohr, Nicole. "John Irving's Cider House Rules – The Book Versus the Movie." AC Associated Content: Arts and Entertainment, May 30, 2006.
"Another relationship that is missing in the film is the relationship between Homer and Melony. In fact, Melony's character is missing entirely from the film, despite the fact that about a quarter of the book is devoted to her story. Many of Melony's character traits become entwined with another character, Mary Agnes, in the film, but it is not the same character, or even close to the same story."
Santorum, Rick. "5 Characters Reject Abortion in a Cultural Shift in Movies." 3 January 2008.
Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, finds optimism in a series of movies in which "abortion was urged on women facing an unplanned pregnancy, and rejected."
Smelik, Anneke. Feminist Film Theory.
This article details how Hollywood has consistently shown women in a negative and distorted light throughout the history of film. Smellik references psychoanalytic theory and patriarchal imagery as to of the manners in which this detrimental portrayal of women in enforced.
Women's Studies Database: Film Reviews. Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.
This website is an incredibly resource for films that contain women's issues such as abortion. There is an alphabetized catalogue containing hundreds of movie titles and detailed reviews of these movies in the context of the female characters and their respective issues.
Wood, Robin. "Lasse Hallstrom." Film Reference.
Facts and brief analysis of Hallstrom's career.