Adaptation Theory In Literature

1513 Words7 Pages
The practice of adapting is central to the storytelling imagination. Adaptation theory, the systematic study of films and television based on literary sources, is one of the oldest areas in film and television studies. Although the study of literary adaptations on film and TV is becoming more common and more acceptable as a feature, it is still surrounded by knee-jerk prejudice about the skills such study affords, its impact on the value and the place of the literary ‘original’ and the kind of critical approach it demands. Apart from analytical work of narratological perspectives, auteur theory and genre, there is little that unites the study of visual and written narratives in academic work – even though there are clearly shared processes…show more content…
With adaptations of classic texts from earlier periods, therefore, it is not only a question of filling the visual ‘gaps’ that appear to be suggested by the adapter’s interpretation of the original. There is often the temptation to portray a scene from a late 20th century perspective in order, ironically to sustain the adapter’s sense of what is authentic to the text. Such decisions are often made based on being faithful to what the author would have expressed. One example of this kind of justification for certain production choices may lie in Laurence Olivier’s claim that Shakespeare ‘’in a way wrote for the films’’ (preface to Olivier 1984). Recent examples of the adapter’s decision to ‘add’ something in terms of tone are in the BBC’s recent version of Pride and Prejudice: The character of Darcy is overtly sexualized, a clear object of the female gaze, culminating in the famous scene where Darcy strips to the waist to swim the lake at Pemberley. The Guardian declared this lake scene to be ‘’one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history’’. The series was a remarkable hit in Britain, but it’s genre was more of erotica than the traditional Austen. The author of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:…show more content…
When seeking the adapter’s moral or political view of the text, Ang Lee had to seek its manifestations in other production choices such as casting and choice of setting. The question of the audience’s historical relationship to the literary/filmic text is striking if we take the 1990s as a case-study and note the high-budget TV and film adaptations of 19th century novels. In the case of classic serials of 1990s, the past is not only ‘brought to life’, but the artefacts of the adaptation’s production themselves also serve as links to previous era: the costumes for Lee’s Sense and Sensibility and the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice have been touring stately homes and museums in Britain side by side with the ‘genuine article’, as if they stand as testimony to their historical accuracy. The settings for classic serials – particularly stately homes – have themselves become objects of nostalgic homage for the cinema/TV audience, improving their contemporary fortunes
Open Document