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February 6, 2006

Adaptation Across Media--EW's take

A quick note about a really interesting little read in this week's Entertainment Weekly. Lisa Schwarzbaum writes, in the issue's large section on the Oscars, about adapted screenplays taken from novels. In Dr. Karen Schneider's "Literature and Film" class back at Western Kentucky University a few years ago, we discussed the inevitable bias people seem to show toward the book--the book always being "better," of course. And, as any good discussion of adaptation goes, the question eventually becomes what is "the story." If the "original" work is the story, than there could never be one better at telling it, could there be? Or, as my MIT Comparative Media Studies classmate Peter Rauch might question, is it possible for an adaptation to capture more of the essence of "the original" than the actual original work?

That's the sort of question posed here, except in much more concrete terms that most college classes would probably allow for and certainly more than Peter would. She tackles ten cases in which films picked up on the subtleties of a novel and ended up expressing the stories much better than the novelist, utilizing the filmic language much more eloquently than the authors did the written language. Her examples include The Godfather, Ordinary People and Sideways...

During this time of Oscar fever, I just thought it was an interesting argument to bring up and one that is very relevant to transmedia storytelling...Any other regular EW readers have a chance to check it out?

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