Dudley Andrew`s View of Adaptation

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DudleyAndrew’s View of Adaptation

DudleyAndrew uses semiotics to explore the field of adaptation. He positsthat the discourse of adaptation is as broad as one chooses toimagine (Andrew, 262). The toning of the cinematic sign system in theprevious systems of filmmaking is the most distinctive feature of theadaptation discourse (Andrew, 263). Adaptation can be viewed as theuse of text in the filmmaking process to develop a story that isunique, but whose essence is derived from the original text.Filmmaking is perceivable as the process of using a system andaltering it in dialogue (Andrew, 271). Andrew advances the notionthat film can be produced from a novel in three ways: intersecting,borrowing, and the fidelity or transformation (Andrew, 264).

Andrewcontends that borrowing is the most popular form of adaptation(Andrew, 264). He asserts that the primary concern in this type ofadaptation is the general nature of the original novel. In essence,the existence of the original novel and an archetype in culture isanalyzed. Andrew cites examples of paintings that were inspired byShakespeare`s plays, biblical subjects, in addition to several othersources. In all these cases, Andrew illustrates the intention of theadapter to endear the audience to his work through the reputation ofthe borrowed subject or title. Also, the adapter seeks recognitionfor the development of his work, either aesthetically or in terms ofdividends. Thus, Andrew contends that if one is interested inunderstanding borrowing, as a tool of adaptation, he must explore thesource of power in the original text and then examine how the adapteruses this power to develop his adaptation.

Andrewalso discusses intersecting as a mode of adaptation. Andrew positsthat this model preserves the original text of a novel in such a waythat it is assimilated in the adaptation. In such cases, the filmveers off from the original script to make the film a refraction ofthe original text (Andrew, 265). Andrew uses examples of novels suchas Medea, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales, which represent the&quototherness&quot of the original text. These approaches bring tobear a dialectical interplay between the cinematic forms that emergeduring the modern day and the aesthetic appeal of the past years.Thus, an analyst, in trying to understand what the adapter is seekingto advance, must concentrate on unearthing the specificity of thecinema and that of the original text. Simply put, the original textis allowed to form its own shape.

Thelast form of adaptation that Andrew advances is transformation andfidelity. Andrew posits that this is the most complex type ofadaptation. Reason being, this mode gives the adapter a relativelybroad scope of interpretation (Andrew, 266). The only rule thatadaptors are required to adhere to is to maintain the essentialaspect of the original text. Simply put, the cinema has to seize thespirit of the original. This form of adaptation may seem lessperplexing compared to intersecting and borrowing, but this is notthe case. Andrew contends that capturing the spirit is tough becausethe mediums involved (text and film) are exceedingly different. Heexplains that film works from discernment to signification, fromexternal presuppositions to inner motivations and consequences, andfrom the constructs of the world to the connotations of a story takenaway from that world. Literary fiction operates in a fashion thatgoes against the before-mentioned opinion.

Consideringthe above, the sociology of adaptation suggests a significant role ofcinema in developing stories from a text, and an indication of aperiod`s style that may usher in a new style of creating stories(Andrew, 269). Andrew contends that adaptations by Welles, Cocteau,Wyler, and Oliver not only set the stage for serious theater but alsocame up with a new type of discipline in mise-en-scene. Theproduction of adaptations such as LesParents teribles, Macbeth, Henry V. and The little Foxes wasinspired by the work of these authors. Thus, one may assume that the“dynamics of exchange” go back and forth, between fiction andfilm. Naturalist fiction enabled film to gain interest in squalidtopics and a hard-hitting panache (Andrew, 270). An intricateinterchange of style, eras, nations, and subjects, as a consequenceof the sociology of adaptation, has emerged. This development isexpected in the field of adaptation. Theorists, by extension, havealso been furnished with a new and exciting area of study, whichconsiders the goings on in film practice.

Ina recap of the above discussion, Andrew advances the notion that filmcan be produced differently from the original novel thus, making ita valid adaptation in one of three ways: intersecting, borrowing, andthe fidelity or transformation. Andrew utilizes semiotics to explorethe field of adaptation. He posits that the discourse of adaptationis as broad as one chooses to imagine. As such, the toning of thecinematic sign system to the success that has been realized inprevious systems is the most distinctive feature of the adaptationdiscourse, which delineates all representational cinemas, asdiscussed above.


Andrew,Dudley. ConceptsIn Film Theory.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984. Print.