conference: In-Sight, visualising theory and theorising the visual

15-16 April 2009, University of Sussex.

Catherine Constable, Adapting Philosophy: Jean Baudrillard and The Matrix Trilogy.
Adaptation theory.
The adaptation of an ‘original work’ to a different medium, format etc (here philosophy to film) is usually discribed, argumented in a few ways:
1. as a faithful adaptation; 2. as a study aid or bridge to the original work; 3. as a desecration or evisceration of the original text. 4. points 1-3 are reliant on the criterion of fidelity to the original text- a feature of early adaptation theory that has been criticised by McFarlane (1996)

Underlying view of thinking in medium specific qualities, and key binary hierarchies like original-copy, high-low culture result in the view that ‘the filmic image necessarily fails to convey complex philosophical ideas. This can be paralleled with the medium specific approach in adaptation, which utilises oppositional models to delineate the specific qualities of each medium, pitting the symbolic, conceptual, written word against the literal, perceptual nature of film.’

Elliott argues that the figural consitutes a key point of connection between literature and film. She challenges the word-image dichotomy by setting out film’s multiform symbolic dimensions. Elliott (2003) Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate. Elliott sets out a model of adaptation as metamorphosis: a mutual and reciprocal … transformation’ that changes both parties (2003:229)




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