01-Fiction into Film_intro

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Intro class for 3rd-year students

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FIDELITY TO WHAT? A BRIEF THEORTICAL OVERVIEW OF FILM ADAPTATION

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Poetry Drama Novel Opera Painting Film 1798 S.T. Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1826 E. Fitzball The Flying Dutchamn 1839 F. Marryat The Phantom Ship 1843 H. Heine Die Memorien … R. Wagner The Flying Dutchman 1878 G. Doré’s series of etchings 1887 A.P. Ryder The Flying Dutchman 1951 Pandora and the Flying Dutchman 2006 Pirates of the Caribbean aa ? Source INTERTEXTUALITY

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FILM ADAPTATION: A MINOR CINEMATOGRAPHIC FORM?

FIDELITY vs. SPECIFICITY:

FIDELITY vs. SPECIFICITY Jean Epstein, Marcel Lherbier , Abel Gance , Sergei Eisentein … The French Nouvelle Vague: the filmmaker as “ auteur ”

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All the famous novels of the world, with their well-known characters, and their famous scenes, only asked, it seemed, to be put on the films. What could be easier and simpler? The cinema fell upon its prey with immense rapacity, and to this moment largely subsists upon the body of its unfortunate victim. But the results are disastrous to both. The alliance is unnatural . Virginia Woolf, “The Movies and Reality”, in New Republic , Aug. 4, 1926

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“Cinema ‘says’ things that could be conveyed also in the language of words; yet it says them differently.” - Christian Metz

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FIDELITY OR (RE-)CREATION?

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“What happens, therefore, when the filmist undertakes the adaptation of a novel, given the inevitable mutation, is that he does not convert the novel at all. What he adapts is a kind of paraphrase of the novel – the novel viewed as raw material.” Béla Balàsz , Theory of Film: Character and Growth of a New Art , New York, 1952, p. 62

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George Bluestone, Novels into Film (1957) Cinema + the novel = “two ways of seeing” The only thing a film can faithfully adapt from a novel is its “story”

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Brian McFarlane, Novels to Films: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation (1996) “The insistence on fidelity has led to a suppression of potentially more rewarding approaches to the phenomenon of adaptation (…). It fails to take into serious account what may be transferred from novel to film as distinct from what will require more complex processes of adaptation” (p. 10)

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Transfer / Adaptation Narrative / Narration Adaptation deals with non-narrative – i.e. discursive – questions

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Reader-response criticism Why complain about the fact that the film does not correspond to our own subjective experience of the book?

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“A ‘faithful’ film is seen as uncreative but an ‘unfaithful’ film is a shameful betrayal of the original.” Robert Stam , Film Theory – An Introduction , 2000, p. 26.

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A cultural & moral bias Cinema find ways to replicate the achievements of literature (cinema is simplified, impoverished literature) The anteriority of classical literature confers authority on it. (text as source/original)

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“CURATORIAL” ADAPTATION (Thomas Leitch )

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No hierarchy between adapted text and film adaptation Compare two specific semiotic systems Analyze how they interact

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A common denominator ? George Bluestone: the story is the common denominator plot, themes, characters, events, world… = diegesis necessary “reformatting” streamline plots - compress time expand source material shift in focalization = a different story

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Telling / Showing Camera eye problematic point of view Can the camera enter the minds of the characters ? impact of pictures and soundtrack

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“The novel is a narrative which organizes itself in a world ; the film is a world which organizes itself in a narrative.” James Griffith, Adaptations as Imitations , 1997

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TELLING vs. SHOWING?

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Prose fiction uses symbolic and conventional signs Films use indexical and iconic signs In a film, descriptions, narration, and thoughts must be translated into sounds and visual elements Films are naturalistic in their mode of representation (they are essentially descriptive)

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Gotthold Lessing: Painting can only be about space while poetry can only be about time ( Laocoon , 1766) Painting is the art of the Nebeneinander (the juxtaposition of bodies in space) Poetry is the art of the Narcheinander (the sequence of actions and events in time) Descriptive Narrative

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Should film be strictly confined to the showing mode? Cinema = a generic hybrid Film does not simply show; it also dramatizes Move from inner voice to acoustic perception Soundtrack does not show anything

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TWO TRICKY QUESTIONS

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Tricky question #1: Point of view How can film convey a description that is informed by a point of view? Is film limited to a third-person point of view? “Le Grand Imagier ” (Albert Laffay ) Can the intimacy of first-person narration be achieved in film?

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Voice-over as an equivalent of first- person narration?

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Using the camera to convey a first-person point of view: The eye-line match

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Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window , Paramount Pictures , 1954

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Robert Montgomery, Lady in the Lake , Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1947

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Control of the audience’s access to characters’ knowledge and consciousness

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Tricky question #2 “Movies are good at action; they are not good at reflective thought and conceptual thinking. They’re good for immediate stimulus.” Pauline Kael, “Notes on the Heart and Mind”, 1976 Film can only show characters feeling and thinking, but it can never reveal their feelings or thoughts.

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Close-up shot of a character’s facial expression creates psychological intimacy S. Kubrick, The Shining , Hawk Films, 1980

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Carol Reed, The Third Man , British Lion Films (1949)

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Trombone shot A. Hitchcock, Vertigo , Paramount Pictures , 1958

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Orson Welles, Touch of Evil , Universal Pictures (1958)

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O. Welles, The Trial , Astor Picture, 1962

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Music can express psychological interiority It may express a character’s subconscious

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Film is better than prose fiction at conveying exteriority?

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What is adaptation? Adaptation as translation? Not a paraphrase of the translated text, not a copy of the original, but an interpretation of that text that makes us see it in a different way Adaptation as intertextual practice Adaptation is a double process of interpretation and creation

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A BASIC GRAMMAR OF FILM

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SEQUENCE Forms a distinct narrative unit Unity of action / Unity of purpose

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SCENE Describes an action that takes place in a single location and continuous time Screen time = diegetic time

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SHOT A single continuous recording made by the camera

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FRAME A single still image

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TYPES OF SHOTS

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Shot scale (or camera distance)

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Extreme Long shot (XLS) Gone With the Wind, Victor Fleming, MGM, 1939 .

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Long shot (LS) From Roman Holidays , William Wyler , Paramount Pictures, 1953.

Medium long shot (MLS) / three-quarter shot:

Medium long shot (MLS) / three -quarter shot

Medium shot (MS):

Medium shot (MS) The Social Network , David Fincher , Sony Pictures , 2010

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Medium close-up (MCU) Casablanca , Michael Curtiz , Warner Bros, 1942

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Two - shot One subject in MCU in the foreground + One subject in MS in the background The Remains of the Day, J. Ivory , Columbia, 1993

Close-up (CU):

Close-up (CU) The Long Goodbye , Robert Altman, Lion’s Gate Films, 1973

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Extreme close-up (XCU) Citizen Kane , Orson Welles, 1941, RKO P ictures

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Insert / Cut -in Covers action already covered in the master shot but emhasizes a different aspect of that action

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2. Depth of field , camera angle, and camera movements

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DEPTH OF FIELD Distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear sharp in a shot Long depth of field Citizen Kane

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Short depth of field From The Silence of the Lambs , Jonathan Demme , Orion Pictures Corporation, 1991

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CAMERA ANGLES Guide the audience’s judgement about the objects and characters in a shot

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Bird’s eye view The Birds , Alfred Hitchcock, Universal, 1963.

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High-angle shot The Shadow of a Doubt , Alfred Hitchcock, 1943.

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Eye- level shot Cleopatra , Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1963, Twentieth Century Fox

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Low -angle shot Citizen Kane

Canted /oblique / Dutch angle:

Canted /oblique / Dutch angle Pickup on South Street , Samuel Fuller, 20 th Century Fox,1953.

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CAMERA MOVEMENTS Give their specificity to cinematic images

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DOLLY SHOTS/TRACKING SHOTS Camera moves forward = tracking in Camera moves backward = tracking out Camera moves sideways

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PANNING/PAN SHOT Scans a scene horizontally W hen scans a scene vertically : called « tilt »

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HAND-HELD SHOTS Since 1970’s : smooth thanks to the Steadicam Denote a certain kind of realism Audience feeling part of the scene

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3. Editing The art of combining shots into a coherent whole

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LONG TAKE/SINGLE SHOT/SEQUENCE SHOT Describes a whole scene ( even a whole sequence ) without any cut The Rope , Alfred Hitchcock, 1948, Warner Bros.

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CUT Abrupt change of shot from one viewpoint or location to another Changes scene , compresses time, varies point of view

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MATCHED CUT Establishes logical relationship between shots JUMP CUT ( When two shots don’t match)

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FADE AND DISSOLVE Gradual transition between shots Fade-in / Fade-out Dissolve = one shot merging into another

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MATCH ON ACTION

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EYE-LINE MATCH

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SHOT / REVERSE SHOT Deemphasizes transitions between shots Very commonly used in dialogues

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CROSS-CUTTING Describes actions occurring at the same time in two different locations Expresses simultaneity / Creates suspense / Suggests parallels , contrasts , dichotomies…

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THE KULESHOV EXPERIMENT Editing changes the viewer’s interpretation of the whole scene

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