What Do We Want in a Literary Adaptation? | Book Riot

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an consort perpetration. For about angstrom long as movie has been an art form, books have been adapted for film. In fact, the earliest know gesture picture based on a literary source was filmed in 1896. ( It ’ s a 45-second scene from George DuMaurier ’ sulfur 1894 novel Trilby, if you must know. )
And for precisely as long we ’ ve adapted books for the shield, we have besides discussed the question : What makes a effective adaptation ? Which matters more : the quality of the movie itself, or how “ accurate ” it is to the ledger it ’ s based on ?
Of course there is some complexity, even trouble, to these questions. Novels and films are different art forms. To expect a 90-minute film, or even a longer television serial, to be an accurate hand over of every detail of a koran is a moment unreasonable. Novels besides use many devices that are good impossible—or at least extremely difficult—to film. So filmmakers have to get creative, which, for me, is when it gets exciting.

personally, I ’ ve noticed four different types or “ levels ” of adaptation. Each has varying degrees of adhesiveness to their source material. I ’ d like to note that these are not degrees or measures of quality of an adaptation as a work in its own right. Each has its own merits, and every lector has their own expectations and wants when watching a film or television adaptation of their favorite record .
These four categories are just a way to make sense of how an adaptation chooses to interpret its source material. And since there are SO MANY of them, I ’ meter going to use adaptations of Jane Austen ’ s Pride & Prejudice as examples to compare and contrast .
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The “Museum” Adaptation

A historical museum exists to preserve and protect historical artifacts and records ; to alter them in any manner is considered taboo. A museum is besides concerned with placing artifacts and records within their historical context, through interpretative signage and other materials. In the lapp way, a “ Museum ” Adaptation is concerned with preserving every possible detail of the book precisely how it exists in the book, precisely transferred to the film medium .

Example: Pride & Prejudice (1995)

If there was ever a perfective case of a Museum Adaptation, it is the 1995 television receiver miniseries of Pride & Prejudice. This adaptation includes closely every scene from the book, however brief or fleetingly mentioned, and flush some scenes that are NOT in the book. When I watch this adaptation I feel like I ’ megabyte visiting a museum. Everything is absolutely preserved and dainty to look at, but we are not allowed to touch. For many fans, this near-perfect preservation makes this adaptation their favorite.

The Artful Adaptation

The Artful Adaptation is where my personal tastes tend to lean. This type of adaptation is most concerned with finding libra between being true to its source material, and creating a film that can stand on its own as a work of artwork. I like to think of an artful adaptation as a conversation between the script and the audience. Rather than preserving every contingent like a museum, an disingenuous Adaptation finds the substantive elements of the script and interprets them in ways that are meaningful for the audience .
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Example: Pride & Prejudice (2005)

The more disingenuous elements are separate of what turned a lot of Austen purists off to the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Its aesthetic is game but warmer than the 1995 interpretation. Its set and costume design are less concerned with diachronic accuracy than with reflecting the characters ’ personalities and relationships. It besides by necessity cuts or combines plot points from the novel to fit within its two-hour runtime. This is decidedly an disingenuous film, and the most essential elements of the book are all present and imbued with mean for modern audiences .

The Loose Adaptation

We ’ ve all seen a movie that we would call a “ Loose Adaptation, ” a film that keeps a few elements or some illusion of the precede of the book it ’ s based on, but then more or less does its own thing with them. We frequently discuss this type of adaptation in negative terms, as if its miss of accurate similarity to its source material is somehow a fail. And for many people, it is. But a easy adaptation can silent be a in truth good movie .

Example: Pride & Prejudice (1940)

Nineteen-forty was an matter to time, and in many ways the adaptation of Pride & Prejudice from that year is typical for the time. The floor is screen of there, but the film rearranges or omits plot points apparently haphazard, and adds arguably unnecessary scenes. The costumes are decidedly more victorian than Regency. Characters ’ personalities have even changed, most perceptibly Lady Catherine ’ mho. But despite all that, this adaptation is actually an enjoyable movie .

The Transformative Adaptation

We most frequently see Transformative Adaptations of long-familiar authoritative works from the English literary canon. Works by Shakespeare, Austen, and Dickens, arsenic good as fairytales like “ Cinderella, ” are common Transformative Adaptations. These films set their reference works in a clock time period other than that in which they were written, frequently in the contemporary earned run average. They may besides take place in a different culture from the source work, or in a subculture of modern western culture .
Through changing the put, Transformative Adaptations seek to accentuate the eternity and universality of their source works ’ messages and themes. They can besides be useful for commenting on the traditional whiteness and heteronormativity of literary canon. And while setting a Shakespeare adaptation in a non-European polish and casting actors of color should never serve as a substitute for elevating actual works from that polish, it can serve as a bridge .
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Examples: Bride & Prejudice (2004); Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta (2019); The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

Austen works in general, and Pride & Prejudice in especial, probably have the most Transformative Adaptations of any generator or study. Bride & Prejudice sets the story in advanced ( well, 2004 ) India, Britain, and the U.S., turning Elizabeth and Darcy ’ second classify differences from the original novel into a clang of cultures, a well. Pride & Prejudice : Atlanta casts the Bennets as an african american english family in advanced day Atlanta, with Darcy and Elizabeth as a politician and an militant, respectively, who clash over politics and miscommunications. And The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, one of the most innovative adaptations, takes the form of a modern Lizzie ’ s vlog. All three of these examples retain the essentials of the record, but introduce new significance to the themes through viewing them with clean eyes .
I believe each of these four styles of literary adaptation has its set and value. We may prefer one type over the others, and that preference may even vary from work to work. But each character is evenly valid .
Which style of literary adaptation do you prefer ? What, for you, makes a good adaptation ?

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