East of Eden focuses in on only one phase of the novel. Whether or not a book purist would find this to be a good translation of the book does not matter, it makes for a good adaptation, and a compelling film. James Dean and Raymond Massey could not be better in creating the disjointed father/son relationship that's the basis of the film's main conflict as Cal tries to find himself through rejecting his father while trying to approach his prostitute mother. Elia Kazan direction is very strong as he wonderfully creates the atmosphere of America on the verge of the war through his soft rendering of the time, though with darker hues woven into the fabric. He also captures the melodrama of the story beautifully well by keeping a low key tone for most the film allowing for the more emotional moments to have palatable impact without becoming overwrought.