Loosely adapted from… Stories, codes, travels, mediations between literature and cinema
Starting from a survey of the most recent studies on the topic, the essay proposes a critical reflection on adaptation and the (possible) borders of this cultural practice. It particularly focuses on the issues raised by cinematic adaptation of literary texts, a phenomenon which needs to be contextualized in the larger field of relationships between literature and cinema. Such issues, however, do not emerge in the same way for any text: they are especially urgent when we tackle the cinematic adaptation of canonical texts, that is, of the ‘great’ works of western tradition. It is mainly in this context that the question of fidelity crops up. Such a question is not a neutral one: it always hides an implicit hierarchy, a defensive attitude toward literature and its supposed axiological superiority. Literature, in short, would be a ‘higher’ cultural form, characterized by dignity, a creative and original dimension which cinema, as popular and mass art, would lack.Against this implicit axiology, which was already denounced by French critic André Bazin in the late 1940s, the essay focuses on the complexity of narrative’s ‘travels’ from literature to cinema. Taking as a case study the 1962 cinematic adaptation of Svevo’s novel Senilità by director Mauro Bolognini, the essay ends by exploring some of the implications and lines of inquiry raised by Linda Hutcheon’s suggestive notion of «instability of narrative identity».
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Ejzenstein, Sergej Michailovič, “Dickens, Griffith e noi” (1944), Id., La forma cinematografica, Torino, Einaudi, 2003, pp. 204-266.
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Welsh, James M. - Lev, Peter (Eds.), The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation, , Lanham (MD), The Scarecrow Press 2007.
Lulù (Die Büchse der Pandora), Dir. Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Germania, 1929.
Senilità, Dir. Mauro Bolognini, Italia, 1962.
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