Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From <i>Gone with the Wind</i> to <i>The Passion of the Christ</i>

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JHU Press, 2007 M05 11 - 354 pages

Most books on film adaptation—the relation between films and their literary sources—focus on a series of close one-to-one comparisons between specific films and canonical novels. This volume identifies and investigates a far wider array of problems posed by the process of adaptation.

Beginning with an examination of why adaptation study has so often supported the institution of literature rather than fostering the practice of literacy, Thomas Leitch considers how the creators of short silent films attempted to give them the weight of literature, what sorts of fidelity are possible in an adaptation of sacred scripture, what it means for an adaptation to pose as an introduction to, rather than a transcription of, a literary classic, and why and how some films have sought impossibly close fidelity to their sources.

After examining the surprisingly divergent fidelity claims made by three different kinds of canonical adaptations, Leitch's analysis moves beyond literary sources to consider why a small number of adapters have risen to the status of auteurs and how illustrated books, comic strips, video games, and true stories have been adapted to the screen. The range of films studied, from silent Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes to The Lord of the Rings, is as broad as the problems that come under review.

 

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Contents

1 Literature versus Literacy
1
2 OneReel Epics
22
3 The Word Made Film
47
4 EntryLevel Dickens
67
5 Between Adaptation and Allusion
93
6 Exceptional Fidelity
127
7 Traditions of Quality
151
8 Streaming Pictures
179
9 The Hero with a Hundred Faces
207
10 The Adapter as Auteur
236
11 Postliterary Adaptation
257
12 Based on a True Story
280
Notes
305
Bibliography
325
Index
339
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About the author (2007)

Thomas Leitch is a professor of English at the University of Delaware.

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