Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Greg Jenkins has observed that adaptation "is a presence that is woven into the very fabric of film culture." Although this statement is true, no definitive theory of adaptation exists. Critics and scholars ponder adaptation, yet cannot seem to agree on what makes an adaptation a success or a failure. The problem of adaptation stems from many sources. What, if anything, does a film owe the novel on which it is based? How, if possible, does a film remain faithful to its source? Is a film a version of a story or its own autonomous work of art? Who is the author of this work? What is an Author? Which text is given primacy: the novel or the film? What is a Text? These questions, and many others, are at the heart of adaptation studies. This project does not pretend to address them all, nor does it claim to be the final answer to the question of adaptation. It does, however, provide a possible solution that is both theoretical and practical. It is theoretical in that it asks viewers to consider what a particular adaptation is doing with a film; practical in that it attempts to bring method to the madness by applying the theory to a sample case study: Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is not an arbitrary choice as he encompasses the major questions of adaptation. Although all of Kubrick's major films were based on works of fiction, he fits into that highest echelon of filmmakers, the auteur. He is the unquestioned "author" of his canon. The range of Kubrick's films also proves useful for this study: most of Kubrick's adaptations are successful, a few are not; many of his films have surpassed their literary ancestors, others have elevated them to new heights; some stay rather faithful to the source text, others deviate greatly. This discussion will consider the films of Kubrick's canon that center on two of his recurring themes, love and war, by considering each novel's thematic appeal for Kubrick followed by an analysis of the film in terms of what it is doing with the text.
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Bane, Charles, "Viewing novels, reading films: Stanley Kubrick and the art of adaptation as interpretation" (2006). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 2985.
John R. May