Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Fiction of Film

Are you ever disappointed when you read a great book and then see a film that is in some way based upon that writing? There are several ways of looking at what is often referred to as the secondary work, the film, adaptation of a story. First, pay attention to the two words "secondary" and "adaptation." Secondary implies just that--a film based in any part on some written work is often deemed secondary, second best, a poor imitation. On the other hand, anyone who has ever worked in the art of film knows that a work of literature is an inspiration for a new work of art which may be a literal, traditional or radical translation of that piece of literature. Adaptation or translation? Isn't language, language, whether translated into words, fine art (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.), music, dance (movement), photography or film (a combination of many forms-audio-visual, including dialogue and sometimes words as in print whether in subtitle form or cuts with straight printed words).
Naoomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsen)
Even though I wish I could relive the great feeling I get from reading a book the first time, I know that I cannot. You can never produce the exact same experience from your first reading of a piece of literature. You can read it again and relish the flavor from your first reading of the work, but it will never exactly replicate itself. You have a built in spoiler alert.

Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
So I would suggest that when you see a film after reading it's afore-produced printed version that you consider it as an independent piece of work, whether or not it is supposed to be a literal, traditional or radical translation because film is a different medium.

Sean Connery and Christian Slater in The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
Each one is a piece of art.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. Very well written. I believe reading is far more intimate than film and while the movie may be different from the books I generally don't get disappointed, as long as the general theme is adhered to. However, having said that I really enjoy a movie more for the acting than the story lines.