Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of literary adaptations flooding the big screen, from cartoon spin-offs such as the Batman series, to screen versions of Emma and Sense and Sensibility. But what happens to popular texts when they are transformed into an entirely different medium, and what of the novelisation of popular films, usually dismissed as part of the promotional merchandising which surrounds them? Adaptations considers the theoretical and practical difficulties surrounding the translation of a text into film, and also looks at the reverse process; the novelisation of films like Jane Campion's The Piano, and the spin-off literature which collects around cult sci-fi programmes such as The X-Files and Star Trek. Through three sets of case studies, the contributors examine the key debates surrounding adaptations: how can screen versions of literary classics be faithful to the text? Can Jane Austens irony be filmed, and why are costume dramas always of their own time?
The first section outlines the gradual acceptance of the validity of screen versions of literary classics, beginning with the history of Shakespeare on film from Olivier's Hamlet to 90s versions of Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard III and Hamlet, and considers the recent vogue for Jane Austen adaptations on film and television. Examining repeatedly filmed texts like Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, contributors explore the ways in which adaptations remake their parent text to reflect contemporary ideas and concerns. The second section considers the reverse process; how modernist writers like Virginia Woolf incorporated cinematic elements into their work, how Dennis Potter's plays treat the literary text as a first draft for television, and explains why there had to be a novel of Jane Campion's film The Piano. In the final section, contributors turn to multiple adaptations; the films in which the original text or television series is forgotten or made irrelevant, from Spielberg's approach to filming the Holocaust in Schindler's List, to mini-series versions of pulp novels like Lace and the live action film of the Flintstones.
Tracing the complex alterations which texts experience between different media, Adaptations is a unique exploration of the relationship between text and film. Roger Bromley, Will Brooker, Deborah Cartmell, John Cook, Ken Gelder, Ina Rae Hark, Pat Kirkham, Julian North, Sharon Ouditt, Derek Pa
Deborah Cartmell is Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Humanities at De Montfort University, Leicester. Imelda Whelehan is Principal Lecturer in English and Womens Studies at De Montfort University.