ADAPTATION AS INTERPRETATION
The debate on cinematic adaptations of literary works was for many years dominated by the questions of fidelity to the source and by the tendencies to prioritize the literary originals over their film versions. (Whelehan:2006) Adaptations were seen by most critics as inferior to the adapted texts, as “minor”, “subsidiary”, “derivative” or “secondary” products, lacking the symbolic richness of the books and missing their “spirit”. (Hutcheon:2006) Critics could not forgive what was seen as the major fault of adaptations: the impoverishment of the book’s content due to necessary omissions in the plot and the inability of the filmmakers to read out and represent the deeper meanings of the text.
Every time a film gets visualised it changes the open-endedness of the characters, landscape or objects in the readers mind. Your own imagination fills in the blanks and imagines what you would perceive as concrete and defined ideas or images. The verbally transmitted characteristics of the heroes, places and the spatial relations between them, open to various decoding possibilities in the process of imagining, were in the grip of flattening pictures. Visualization was therefore regarded as destroying many of the subtleties with which the printed word could shape the internal world of a literary work only in the interaction with the reader’s response. (Marciniak:2007) In order to be seen as a good adaptation, a film had to come to terms with what was considered as the “spirit” of the book and to take into account all layers of the book’s complexity. But who could guarantee that the image of the work that a particular reader had created in his or her mind was better than somebody else’s? Who could define exactly the elements of the literary work that formed its “spirit” and were indispensable to its recognition in another medium? Who could prove that only a literary approach was capable to reveal finite and eventual truths about a book’s identity and provide us with exact models of understanding it? Seeing adaptations from the perspective of fidelity revealed it as too limiting. More and more critics started to believe that literature as art did not desire closure, that it did not satisfy itself with one approach only and did not take refuge behind a virtually constructed order of well-established interpretative procedures. Literature, like other arts, suggested a vast area of communicative possibilities through which it could speak to the audience. (Verstraten:2007) According to the theories of an open work of art and to some conclusions of the reader-response criticism, meanings could be seen as events that took place in the reader’s time and imagination. It was therefore necessary to place the emphasis differently, not on the source, but on the way its meanings were reconstructed in the pro cess of reception. Filmmakers had to be seen as readers with their own rights, and each adaptation – as a result of individual reading processes. COLLABORATIONS IN FILMMAKING SKILLS
SELF-RELIANT BUT RELATED AESTHETIC OFFSPRING
In the movie Water for Elephants the narrative of the novel by Sara Gruen and the movie are relative simple ones. They correspond and extend into each other but at the same time the movie is self-reliant as an aesthetic offspring of the novel. Cinematic adaptations from literature create a blurry perspective of boundaries of the filmmaker’s interpretation of the written text. The mixed media accentuates the difference between what lies beneath the main storyline of the book and the visual perception of the movie. Director Francis Lawrence went to great lengths to create visual authenticity. We experienced not only magic of the circus, but also the day to day realities of circus life during the depression. The story stuck closely to the book plot, with no obviously missing story lines. What makes this a challenging book to adapt to the big screen is that it is set in a travelling...
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