By Thomas Leitch

Most books on movie adaptation—the relation among movies and their literary sources—focus on a chain of shut one-to-one comparisons among particular movies and canonical novels. This quantity identifies and investigates a much wider array of difficulties posed through the method of edition.

Beginning with an exam of why version research has so usually supported the establishment of literature instead of fostering the perform of literacy, Thomas Leitch considers how the creators of brief silent motion pictures tried to provide them the load of literature, what types of constancy are attainable in an edition of sacred scripture, what it skill for an variation to pose as an advent to, instead of a transcription of, a literary vintage, and why and the way a few motion pictures have sought impossibly shut constancy to their assets.

After reading the unusually divergent constancy claims made via 3 other forms of canonical diversifications, Leitch's research strikes past literary resources to contemplate why a small variety of adapters have risen to the prestige of auteurs and the way illustrated books, comedian strips, games, and actual tales were tailored to the reveal. the diversity of movies studied, from silent Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes to The Lord of the Rings, is as wide because the difficulties that come lower than evaluate.

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Extra resources for Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ

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Its action is already farcically swift in Shakespeare; its characters, except for Nick Bottom, have no psychology to speak of (indeed their lack of individuality is a running joke behind the transpositions of the four bewitched lovers’ affections); and it is filled with magical transformations well suited to the technology available in 1909. Although the film cuts Shakespeare’s final act, including the mechanicals’ staging of the tedious brief scene of Pyramus and Thisby, it magically introduces Penelope (the friend of Titania who mysteriously stands in for the quarrelsome Oberon) and Puck through the miracle of stop-motion photography, shows Puck circling an unrealistically cylindrical but readily recognizable globe, instantaneously endows Bottom with an ass’s head onscreen, and incidentally has no trouble dramatizing Helen and Hermia’s fight over Demetrius, even though neither contestant is given any words.

In confronting a virginal but enterprising heroine with a series of adventures, they bring into conflict the worlds of familiar domestic experience and exotic melodrama. ”25 The Beloved Adventurer, whose title neatly encapsulates its attempt to link small-scale intimacy with large-scale impressiveness, was, like most serials, based on a literary source—in this case, a series of stories by Emmett Campbell Hall—but one released in book form at the same time as the films, in an early example of a marketing synergy that would become as enduring an intertextual model as fidelity.

Instead of expanding an audience’s world by recording an exotic locale or activity, short subjects can borrow the cachet of respectability by filming duly sanctified subjects. Zukor’s four-reel Queen Elizabeth (1912) was successful and influential not only because it was long but because it introduced so many viewers to historical pageantry and Sarah Bernhardt. Cinema could achieve a similar sense of cultural enlargement on a briefer scale by presenting some famous person—Thomas Edison at work in his laboratory, President Coolidge 34 Film Adaptation and Its Discontents or George Bernard Shaw talking to the camera—or an opera like Griffith’s onereel condensation of Rigoletto as A Fool’s Revenge (Biograph, 1909) or a ballet like Martha Graham’s The Flute of Krishna (Kodak, 1926).

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