Full Text

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


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

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top