Uncategorized | March 28, 2004

It’s interesting to think that much of the exposure (outside of the halls of academia, that is) that classic literature receives today is relayed to the public via television or the motion picture industry. How many countless read Pride and Prejudice after swooning over Colin Firth’s brilliantly rendered Mr. Darcy? How many adore A Muppet Christmas Carol yet have never picked up Dickens’ version? Did any new Chaucer fans emerge as a result of the 2001 release of A Knight’s Tale?

The exposure literature is receiving from the making of such films is great, and I have to admit, my curiosity is piqued by the liberties some movie makers take when creating their adaptations. For example, the 2003 summer action flick, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, hosts a cast of fictional characters – among them, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo, and Dorian Gray. Having read The Picture of Dorian Gray a short time before seeing The League, I was interested to see the role Gray would play in the film – and quickly discovered that Gray’s plotline had taken a few creative turns not mentioned in Wilde’s book (watch the movie, and judge for yourself).

My point is: Do you think changes in film adaptations, such as the ones in The League – whether in the form of additions or subtractions with regard to plot, character development, and so on – improve upon the original writings or take away from them? What about reappropriation? In your experience, is it more frequently a tool of utility (in other words, does it shed new light on old material?) or convenience?

And here’s an interesting addendum to all the above. While on the Google search engine, checking to make sure I doubled the appropriate letters in Connery’s name, I discovered that The League was in fact based on contemporary author Alan Moore’s acclaimed comic books. If that doesn’t show the cyclical nature of creativity, I don’t know what does – canonized literature to contemporary writing to silver screen.