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100+ Years of Adaptations, or, Adaptation as the Art Form of Democracy

Deborah Cartmell


Subject Literature
Media Studies » Film Studies

Key-Topics film

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334975.2012.00001.x


Extract

It has always been the case that new technologies are greeted with suspicion. Plato, for instance, expressed horror over the invention of writing in the fear that it would destroy the art of memory: the invention “will produce forgetfulness in the souls of those who have learned it, through lack of practice at using their memory, as through reliance on writing they are reminded from outside by alien marks, not from within, themselves by themselves” ( Plato, 2005 : 275a–b 62). Today the words “memory” and “writing” could be replaced with “literature” and “film” insofar as writers and literary critics, from the very beginning of film history, were deeply suspicious of cinema, especially adaptations of literary works. While Plato is probably right that the art of memory was on the decline due to the rise of writing, most would agree that it was a price worth paying. Whether writing and reading are threatened by the presence of film, in particular film adaptation, which like Plato's “writing” has been condemned as only a reminder or “an appearance of wisdom, not the reality of it” (275a–b 62), has been a topic of debate for over 100 years, indeed since the beginning of cinema. And whether film fails to show its full potential due to its reliance on the written word is the flip side of the same coin. After over 100 years, the jury is still out as to whether film adaptation, which arguably ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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