"Film is visual brevity....If the novel is a poem, the film is a telegram."

-- Michael Hastings, screenwriter.¹

~Literary AdaptationEdit

In a media context, to bring forth life the literary works, is defined as an altered or amendment of the original (source of a novel): musical composition, poetry, etc.; and an adaption to suit the purpose, necessities, or production to the appropriate genre or medium, such as: filming, theatrical, video gaming, or broadcasting.³

~Process of AdaptingEdit

The film industry lust or tendency for literary adaption has been intensifying since the medium's beginning, stemming - in particular - a guaranteed audience and perhaps most importantly the following:

  • It has a well-known or founded fan-base.
  • It appeals to a broad audience.
  • A generic trend during that time period.
  • It has or may have a franchise in and of itself (title, author, characters, etc).

The index has provided a considerably less risk involved for investors and the possibility of huge financial gain and success for filmmakers. For instance, these three films are one of the many cases:

Poster - Quo Vadis (1951) 01
Henryk Sienkiewicz, a Polish author, published his novel in 1896 that spontaneously became an international best seller and had over 40 translations; to which, in mid 1900s, Mervyn LeRoy adapted the historical novel and became notable in its own right.
Ben hur
General Lew Wallace's novel was an enormous best seller on release, immediately becoming popular during the late 1800s and resurfaced during a strong religious surge in the mid to late 1900s, where an executive producer, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, who specialize in entertainment for religious audiences, adapted the literary work to film.
Poster-Spartacus 08
Following suit, the tales of Spartacus began from Howards Fast published novel where Stanley Kubrick adapted the text to film and released in 1960, a year after Ben-Hur.

~Misconception: Truth and IndependenceEdit

In literary adaptions, there is a misconception and judgmental perspective of cinema -- often attacked for what it should had strived for -- failing to capture the "true" essence of the novel. Thus, begs the question, what does it mean to be "true"? And how "true" should a literary adaption be to guarantee that same mental "translation" created by the readers? Before we begin, a novel is created by a single individual that uses the language of literature to evoke a vast area of communicative possibilities that speaks to the audience indirectly, stimulating the preceptions. Therefore, the indirect comprehension adds in emphasis, not from the source, but how the reader's own interpretation of said understanding is reconstructed mentally. In other words, the filmmakers -- a collaborated team -- are readers, not translators, but a new author with their own "truth" and the adaption is an interpretation that uses the language of cinema to have a more direct experience on the audience enviornmental understanding of said "truth" through: sound, color, plot, movement and visual aspects; though bounded by the interal logic, it still remains "a work of art, an independent, coherent and convincing creation with its own subtleties of meaning".²

~References Edit

1.From Page to Film:

2.The Appeal of Literature-To-Film Adaptations by Malgorzata Marciniak:

3.The Chicago School of Media Theory:

4.Where Literature Meets Film by Josh Halpren:

5.Cyrino, Monica Silveira. Big Screen Rome. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005. Print.

~By Shawn
~The following images are for educaitonal use and full credit to the owners of said images.