Saturday, 18 November 2017

The English Review Vol. 5 | Adaptation

Adaptations was a great course, especially for the writer in me. Looking at how different people approached remaking and altering stories puts the focus on how stories are constructed in a way that other English course aren’t always able to do (because they’re focusing on other equally interesting topics such as the text’s society, themes, etc.).

The course also changed how I look at book to film adaptations. Analysing what the adaptor did with the source material in order to fit it within a filmic narrative and time limit, what they brought from the novel and what they altered or added, allows you to see that in every story there are thousands of ways it could have been told. I’ll now view adaptations, not as either as good or not as good as the book, but with interest to see what the adaptor’s reading of the story was, whether they are making a comment on the source text, etc. (side note: often an adaption is adapting a number of texts, not just the core novel).

English in general has taught me to be more open-minded about texts that aren’t within my interests and likes and still be curious to analyse and learn from it regardless of whether I like it or not. I think that’s one of the best things I’ve gotten out of university studies so far.
 
Reading list: Momento Mori by Jonathan Nolan, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, The Shining by Stephen King, The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick

Film list: Momento (2000) dir. Christoper Nolan, No Country for Old Men (2007) dir Coen brothers, The Shining (1980) dir. Stanley Kubrick, The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) dir. Anthony Minghella, Plein soleil (1960) dir. René Clément, Hugo (2012) dir. Martin Scorsese


Even though I enjoyed this topic immensely, I didn’t fall in love with any of the texts we studied. There were quite a few I enjoyed and one I disliked intensely.
On the good side, Momento (2000) was incredibly engaging and suspenseful, Hugo (2012) was a visually beautiful and narratively charming film, and I really admired Highsmith’s tightly written The Talented Mr Ripley.

On the not so good side, The Shining. The film and novel, though different in numerous ways, both shared the characteristic of not being very scary for a horror and taking three quarters of the text for anything to happen. The treatment of Wendy and the few other women in King’s novel was particularly irking for me and why I’d say I feel more animosity towards the novel than the film. The novel and film were put on the course partially because of the hate King gave Kubrick’s version and that was an interesting thing to discuss, especially since some of the things King criticised in Kubrick’s version were actually already in his novel. There’s always something to gain from reading out of your comfort zone and exploring different ways of telling stories, although with The Shining it’s a bit harder to see.

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