The Dark Knight Links

I’m going to update this page throughout the week with links to The Dark Knight-related context. SPOILERS probably, so watch the film first, then come back.

First is a must-watch video essay by critic Jim Emerson that offers a detailed shot-by-shot analysis of the chase scene in The Dark Knight .

Here’s a link to all of Jim Emerson’s blogging about Nolan’s Batman films.

Here is a link to a site on tropes in the Dark Knight Saga.

Link to a site with “20 Batman Stories Most Influential to The Dark Knight Trilogy.”

One more similar site on “The Comic Connections” in the Dark Knight Trilogy.

And, here’s probably what you’ve been waiting for. Link to 45 MB PDF file.

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The Dark Knight

While watching The Dark Knight, I couldn’t help but really dislike Batman. I don’t have prior knowledge of Batman, as I didn’t read the comics. I only know Batman begins.  The character of Rachel was in Batman Begins, but Batman I don’t remember Batman risking lives for her. Of course, that wasn’t part of the story, but still, I don’t think Batman of Batman Begins would have done that. Batman in The Dark Knight made a decision purely based on Rachel’s life. To me, this was something that Superman would have done (doing everything regardless of how ridiculous it was, just to save Lois.)  I felt as if Nolan wasn’t even being faithful to his own adaptation because he himself was unsure of who Batman really is.  As it has been said, so many genres have been employed in this movie such as Action-Hero, Comic Book, and Romance. So how does character development work in adaptation, particularly in a sequel? We have moved away from the fidelity of the text, but is there something like fidelity to the character?  Maybe like Hutcheon states, with every adaptation, it gets “a new life”, and perhaps the differentiation within Batman is not a departure, but just new.

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Vishal’s Presentation

II. The Conversation of Judgment

“Even [Ray] find the origin of the fidelity discourse outside the academy. It lies in our ordinary discussion of adaptations: ‘Without the benefit of a presiding poetics, film and literature scholars could only persist…in asking about individual movies the same unproductive layman question (How does the film compare with the book?) getting the same unproductive answer (The book is better).’ For Ray, the layman’s question has poisoned academic criticism because it rests on a comparison.”

“In the appreciation of a work of art or an art form, consideration of the receiver never proves fruitful. Not only is any reference to a particular public or its representatives misleading, but even the concept of an ‘ideal’ receiver is detrimental in the theoretical consideration of art, since all it posits is the existence and nature of man as such. Art, in the same way, posits man’s physical and spiritual existence, but in none of its works is it concerned with his attentiveness. No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the audience” — Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator.”

“It is evident that no translation, however good it may be can have any significance as regards the original…For a translation come later than the original, and since the important works of world literature never find their chosen translators at the time of their origin, their translation marks their stage of continued life.” — Walter Benjamin

“The philosopher’s task consists in comprehending all of natural life through the more encompassing life of history. And indeed, isn’t the afterlife of works of art far easier to recognize than that of living creatures? The history of the great works of art tells us about their descent from prior models, their realization in the age of the artist, and what in principle should be their eternal afterlife in succeeding generations.”

“To grasp the genuine relationship between an original and a translation requires an investigation analogous in its intention to the argument by which a critique of cognition would have to prove the impossibility of a theory of imitation. In the latter, it is a question of showing that a cognition there could be no objectivity, nor even a claim to it, if this were to consist in imitation of the real; in the former, on can demonstrate that no translation would be possible if in its ultimate essence it strove for likeness to the original. For in its afterlife — which could not be called that if it were not a transformation and a renewal of something living — the original undergoes a change.” — Walter Benjamin.


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The Dark Spirit

What spirit do you choose to use when you have multiple bodies?

Bazin has been throughout this class, the one thinker that really stood out to me in terms of practical thinking on what an adaptations possible responsibilities are. In his discussion of the fidelity of spirit he asks how faithful is the adaptation to the source material. In the case of The Dark Knight, we have both a brand new Batman but also one that pays homage to so many versions of the character it is impossible not to see, hear, and feel the spirit of the old comics resonating on screen. In Arya Ponto’s article “20 Batman Stories Most Influential to ‘The Dark Knight’ Trilogy,” he discusses the most crucial narrative inspirations for Nolans films. In the article Ponto points out at least 10 different, what would be considered “classic” parts to the Batman lore that the films reference or downright directly translate onto screen. I think the reason the Dark Knight did so well is that since comics are malleable by nature, anything based on them can be even more so. Since Nolan wasn’t slave to anyone story or character he was able to craft a film that utilized and recognized multiple bodies of original (the prime texts) in one movie. By using several elements of these bodies of work, Nolan was able to create a Harvey Dent that lost his sanity and face to the criminals he wanted to stop but was spurred on by the Joker who also remains a homicidal unpredictable maniac but this time is far more menacing and cruel. Nolan also gives us the Tumbler, homage to Frank Millers tank like batmobile as well as Batman’s year one bat summoning device. All of these things batman fans can nod and say “OH YEA, you remember when he (insert reference just seen on screen here)” while still being fresh and new. At no point did I feel like the spirit of the Batman comics was not being responded to or properly utilized. Instead I was able to see points of reference to an entire canon of literature and spiritual bodies. I guess the lesson here is when in doubt, use everything…well maybe not everything.

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Things that comics can do and film can’t

While watching The Dark Knight, it reminded me of the Chatman;s article “What Novels Can Do That Film’s Can’t (and vise versa)”. From what I can remember, Chatman was more invested in focusing on the former–things that novels can do that film cannot. In this case, The Dark Knight is not adapted from a novel, but from a comic series. This made me wonder: what would Chatman say about The Dark Knight? How does narratology transfer between the comic and the movie?

Chatman’s argument seems entirely hinged on the idea that (similar to Leitch’s discussion on the 12 fallacies) that a film is visual and a novel isn’t. Therefore, the narratology of a novel is fundamentally different than that of a film. Yet, both the source (a comic) and the movie is visual–there are images, though one is static and the other is moving. Therefore, Chatman’s argument begins to slowly destabilize, as the act of narration changes with the visual component.

So what about the The Dark Night? Chatman is comparing a novel and a movie of the same name. The Dark Knight is unique because it is adapting an entire series/universe. Therefore, it would be nearly impossible to compare a scene shot for shot (as Chatman does). The movie is essentially a conglomerate of hundreds of different comics. Yes, all of the major characters that were essential to the overarching story of Batman is in the movie. But because the original source was already visual, easier to try to find an actor that viewers will recognize. Additionally, it is important to remember that because Batman is a conglomerate of different stories, different artists, different narrators. Therefore, it gives screenwriters and produces more creative license, because the franchise is already so disparate.




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Accidental Inconsistencies Raise Questions about Adaptations?

Thomas Leitch poses the question: When films self-consciously raise questions about their own status as adaptation, what general implications do they offer adaptation studies?

I would like to alter the question and ask: When films accidentally raise questions about their own status as adaptation, what general implications do they offer adaptation studies?

This question came to me after watching the entertainingly obnoxious shot-by-shot analysis of the chase scene from The Dark Knight.  I found the video analysis to be captivating because I simply never noticed all of the inconsistencies that were pointed out, and I truly consider myself to be one of those annoying people who expose little mistakes in films. It made me wonder who was responsible for catching all of these errors before the film was released, and why did the whole filmmaker crew not think it was important enough to focus on catching all of these mistakes?  However, on the other hand, I also thought the shot-by-shot analysis was obnoxious because it reminded me of some literary critics that cross the line and analyze every little detail of each sentence in each paragraph on each page of a novel.  Why is it so important to critique the fact that Harvey Dent falls to the left when he should have fallen to the right?  Does that really change the overall experience of the film?

Thinking about all of these questions cause frustration because I do believe that these inconsistencies were accidental, but they raise questions about the type of film adaptation created from comic book ideas.  Since the ‘comic book’ film is based loosely on multiple comic strips, little inconsistencies that occur in the chase scene are not interrupting the faithfulness or authenticity of the film.  In terms of film adaptation criticism, why is this important?  If anything, this analysis raises questions against filmmaking in general – it does not work against adaptations.

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The Dark Knight and Genre

How would you classify The Dark Knight with respect to genre?

1)      Is it an adaptation?

One could answer yes and simply say (taking the easy way out) that all art borrows from other art, particularly, representational art. On the other hand, one could argue no and assert that it is a work in its own right and too distinct from any supposed single source for it to fit in so neatly to the aforementioned category.

2)      Is it a superhero film?

There are people who have argued against this in the past because of their definition the term superhero. If a superhero must have superpowers in order to be such, then Bruce Wayne does not fit the bill. However, one could venture a yes based on Wikipedia’s conception of such:

A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is an action, fantasy and science fiction film, which is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes; individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public. These films are almost always action-oriented.

3)      Is it an action movie?

The Dark Knight does contain an exorbitant amount of action sequences, but it does lack some of the things individuals might associate with the genre. Batman does not save the girl, vanquish his enemy, or triumph at the conclusion. In addition, I tend to think of action films as relying more on explosions than plot and characters. In this vein, I would say that The Dark Knight does not fit into my conception of an action film.

4)      Is it a crime film?

This is a rather broad category with many subgenres, and hence, we will have to address any number that may or may not apply to The Dark Knight. First, dealing with the overarching genre, one could say that The Dark Knight is a crime film because it contains a great deal of such and focuses on the lives of criminals. In addition, it appears to glamorize different types of crime in varying degrees. Nevertheless, is it also a heist film, a film noir and/ an example of neo-noir?

A heist film?

The film does begin with a heist scene, and the implications of this crime are perceived throughout the movie. Yet, when I reflect on serious and comedic heist films that I’ve seen in the past, The Dark Knight is different. Though this is of course arguable, I do not think of the Joker as the protagonist or the main character, and in all of the heist films that I have watched it is usually those who have committed the crime that are the focus.

Is it a film noir?

This genre is still subject to debate among scholars. Some argue that it blurs with melodrama or hard-boiled detective stories, and others have argued that it is limited to a particular time period as well as style in cinema. We could suggest that The Dark Knight has certain thematic and visual elements comparable to film noir, but perhaps, neo-noir is more an appropriate categorization? This subgenre, due to its progenitor, is also shrouded in contention. Robert Arnett states that “Neo-noir has become so amorphous as a genre/movement, any film featuring a detective or crime qualifies.” Though it has been argued that The Dark Knight is an example of neo-noir, can we really place it in any category that is still being defined?

5)      Is it a thriller?

Like the crime genre, it is also a relatively broad category. It can be loosely understood as a film in which a character faces a perilous problem or a mystery and sustains the tension in order to provoke and emotional response in the viewer. Wikipedia details its standard elements:

  • The      protagonist(s) faces death, either their own or somebody else’s.
  • The force(s)      of antagonism must initially be cleverer and/or stronger than the      protagonist’s.
  • The main      storyline for the protagonist is either a quest or a character who cannot      be put down.
  • The main      plotline focuses on a mystery that must be solved.
  • The film’s narrative      construction is dominated by the protagonist’s point of view.
  • All action      and characters must be credibly realistic/natural in their representation      on screen.
  • The two major      themes that underpin the thriller genre are the desire for justice      and the morality of individuals.
  • One small,      but significant, aspect of a thriller is the presence of innocence in what      is seen as an essentially corrupt world.
  • The      protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) may battle, themselves and each other,      not just on a physical level, but on a mental one as well.
  • Either by      accident or their own curiousness, characters are dragged into a dangerous      conflict or situation that they are not prepared to resolve.

If this is how we understand the thriller genre than The Dark Knight seems to fit in such, and if this is so, it likely meets the criteria of one of its subgenres, crime thriller, as well.

6)      Is it a drama?

Though an exceptionally broad category, when I think of drama, the characters and situations that come to mind are usually less extraordinary than those depicted in The Dark Knight. I would be inclined to say that though The Dark Knight contains dramatic elements, it does not fit into the overarching genre or its subgenres.


Bazin conveyed that “the true aesthetic differentiations” are to be made “within genres themselves” (“Adaptation, or the Cinema as Digest,” 26). Having delved though the aforementioned genres, is this possible here? Keep in mind that, IMDB identifies The Dark Knight as a “crime,” “drama” and “thriller” film. What do you think?

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Why So Serious?

I have to agree with the post below that Heath Ledger’s portrait of the joker is chilling. There are time’s throughout the movie where I find him horrifying and other times I wonder why the heck i’m laughing, IE) ( for instance. I think that after learning about Ledger’s tragic death and the fact that he literally transformed himself into The Joker both on and off the screen shows the commitment that (some) actors give to a character in order to ensure that the audience is happy with the results. This is something we can see in Heath’s performance. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest acting performances ever portrayed. I may not know how the Joker is in the comic books but I do know that I was sold on his portrayal. I want to ask the Batman comic book lovers how they felt about Heath’s performance of the Joker?

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The Joker Makes all adaptations work

Heath Ledger is the reason for me that adaptations can be so successful. We have seen adaptation after adaptations of Batman, but Heath Ledger’s role of the Joker, was by far the farthest from what most viewers expected. Everytime I watch the movie and get chills thinking of how into the Joker character he was. He literally became the joker, making the adaptation so successful. Back to what we read in Liinda Hutcheon’s article regarding reading the comic or novel or watching the film. She writes, “if I buy and read the book after seeing the movie, I read it differently than I would have before I had seen the film: in effect the book, not the adaptation, has become the second and even secondary text for me. And as I read I can only ‘see’ characters as imagined by the director.” I don’t find that to be true of this adaptation because the Joker was so unrealistic to me, he went up and beyond what the character called for.

Just looking at the adaptation of the Joker from Jack Nicholson to Heath Leader, you can see the crazy differance.

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Agency of Chaos: How The Joker Starts A Wildfire With A Lighter

Can superhero stories, in all of their superfluous imaginings of society, actually portray a semblance of reality within their themes?

Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the lore of Batman as a whole due to it being somewhat more plausible (if not realistic) than many other superhero stories.  A crimefighthing martial arts and weapons expert who is a billionaire CEO of a company pried from the dead hands of his parents may be a bit larger than life, but I’ve always found it to be more plausible than aliens coming to Earth with super powers or nuclear waste altering people’s DNA to make them superhuman or that sort of thing.   Nevertheless, my curiosity with realism in The Dark Knight doesn’t lie within the character of Batman but to Joker as an agent of chaos.

I read one post from Jim Emmerson that got me thinking about this theme of chaos when things get just a little out of hand.  He discusses how the villians of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy look down upon the citizens of Gotham, particularly the Joker in The Dark Knight who purports that their “moral code” is “a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble” and “that when chips are down, these civilized people, they’ll eat each other”.   At the end of his post, Emmerson claims that “[chaos out of the disruption of the status quo] isn’t really a theme that’s developed in the movies, but like most of the political and social references, it’s something that’s… there.”  I largely believe he is right in saying that.

Think about the chaos that ensued post-Hurricane Sandy.  New York City was declared a disaster zone due to houses destroyed, people killed or left with nothing, gas shortages, the national guard being called in, people hurting and even murdering each other in extreme cases for supplies; all in the wake of Sandy.  Heath Ledger’s character has a point; when things get a little out of whack, people panic and as a result, chaos ensues.  Superheroes and supervillains, as superfluous and larger than life as they may be, can bring some level of actualization into our lives.  What happened when The Joker tried to instill chaos?  Gotham basically went to hell in a hand basket.  While there likely aren’t supervillains running around trying destroy major cities of the world, it’s safe to say that when the scales are tipped in the favor of chaos, the uninitiated who easily panic (Gotham’s citizens in the case of The Dark Knight), will believe it to be the end of the world at the first sign of trouble.

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McFarlane, Jerry Maguire, and Intertextuality in The Dark Knight

In what ways is it useful to discuss The Dark Knight as an adaptation?

Full disclosure: I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, and I’ve avoided as many spoilers as possible, so it’s likely that some of my comments may run counter to what’s presented in that film. Also, I rambled on for over 1,000 words, so my apologies.

Cast your mind back over a month ago to McFarlane. After discussing integrational and distributional functions, cardinal functions and catalysers, etc., he brings up another way to understand narrative structure:

If we take V. Propp’s notion “that the all-important and unifying element is found… in the characters’ functions, the part they play in the plot,” that these functions are distributed among a limited number of “spheres of action,” and that the “discernible and repeated structures which, if they are characteristic of so deeply rooted a form of narrative expression, may… have implications for all narrative” (i.e. not just for folk-tales), then we may see a further way of systematizing what happens in the transposition of novel into film…. To Propp, “Function is understood as an act of characters, defined from the point of view of its significance for the course of the action.” (McFarlane 24)

McFarlane further elaborates that these “spheres of action” are “named for their performers – ‘villian,’ ‘helper,’ etc.” (25). In The Dark Knight and the canonical Batman universe, the Joker is the villain, and Batman is the (anti)hero. This dynamic is preserved for most, if not all, adaptations, including Nolan’s – therefore, those and his adaptations are successful in a Proppian sense. Comic books revolve around this simple formula of good versus evil, and even though Batman is distinguished as a more morally ambiguous antihero – a vigilante – we the audience still root for and identify with him because he is designated as the hero. Thus in adaptations of comic books, plot seems less important than these character dynamics, these “spheres of action,” which brings me to Jerry Maguire.

Mini-spoiler alert ahead for Jerry Maguire?

I always felt the phrase, “You complete me,” was misplaced in its original setting. I never believed that Jerry loved Dorothy, and even in the phrase’s original iteration between the hearing impaired couple in the elevator, a scene that could be argued was meant to characterize Dorothy as a romantic and set up Jerry’s confession and nothing else, it still seemed out of touch with the tone of the film and the surrounding scenes. In The Dark Knight, it fits. I know it’s just a passing reference, but what’s an adaptation but a glorified reference?

Both instances of the phrase occur at pivotal moments of disclosure, and the connotation of a deep-seated relationship carries over. In a Proppian sense, the hero cannot exist without the villain and vice versa – their character functions complete each other. The Joker explains to Batman, “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.” It’s not just that Batman won’t kill his enemies – he can’t because without them, he becomes the villain, the outlaw, which is exactly the role he assumes by film’s end. Conversely, the Joker can’t kill Batman because then he would have no one to challenge and be challenged by, no one to justify his role and actions as villain. In psycho-philosophical terms, they’re each other’s Other, the external force that defines them. This is what’s great about Batman as a character: the line between him and his enemies, between “good” and “evil,” is as ambiguous as morality itself.

So, in sum: “spheres of action” influence each other and dictate narrative structure and audience response. But if, according to Propp, adaptation simply entails a preservation of character dynamics, of intersecting “spheres of action,” then of what use is it to discuss adaptations in any strict sense? If this is the minimum according to which derivative works are deemed adaptations – indeed, any minimum that invokes narrative and “functions” – then the field is left wider to include greater artistic licenses than many moviegoers and critics may care to allow. In other words, in our more advanced age of cultural and artistic evolution, of critical and historical awareness, the discussion of adaptation as is must give way to discussions of intertextuality – Leitch’s Textual Studies. It is not enough to say The Dark Knight was based on a comic book, especially after it follows so many other adaptations – what does it add to the discussion of Batman?

In this light, Batman and other comic book universes could be deemed our modern-day folktales: few of us have encountered the original source material, and it’s not necessary that we do because 1) the fundamental “spheres of action” have been retained – good versus evil, character versus character – which is what most comic books – and arguably most stories, especially those that are repeatedly adapted – come down to, and 2) how adaptations handle the material surrounding Propp’s character functions is far richer and more revealing than the source originally allowed.

For instance, if one extends Propp’s “spheres of action” beyond character functions and into narrative itself, then the intertextuality model gains greater traction. In other words, what a character does to move plot may not be as important as what a character says to improve story. Instead of envisioning each character as occupying a certain mode of action, one could argue characters as nodes of intersecting narratives. Harvey Dent tells the story of Ancient Roman citizens appointing a single authority at times of crisis, which reflects Batman’s role in Gotham; Alfred tells the story of the Burmese rubies to elucidate the Joker; Dent and Jim Gordon allude to the former’s time in IA to set the stage for his transformation into Two Face; and even in the opening sequence, the clowns talk about the Joker as though he were a mythical figure, elusive. In fact, this is what makes the Joker so frightening: he can’t be explained – he has no (back) story. The story of his scars changes with his audience, just like adaptations in general. It’s not important to know the real story, if any of the ones he tells are in fact true – what matters is not the content but the telling itself, the reiteration of the narrative impulse. Perhaps stories, narrative, and by extension, adaptations are not linear devices composed of characters, actions, and themes but a chain of intersecting narratives that cyclically recur – stories as intersecting smaller stories.

In a related note, I hope someone discusses Heat. Christopher Nolan openly acknowledged that he was influenced by Michael Mann’s film, and if I remember correctly – it’s been years since I last saw Heat, and YouTube is no help – the opening shots from both films match: the camera zooms in from behind on a man holding a mask who is then picked up by a van en route to a robbery. This would swing the discussion further into the realm of intertextuality, which is where I think Batman belongs, given his history of and evolution through adaptations.

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Harvard Outline of Connor

“The Persistence of Fidelity”

I. The Fidelity Reflex

A. Stam’s principal objection is the covert moralising of fidelity discourse.

B. For Robert B. Ray and Dudley Andrew, the problem with fidelity is that it makes for boring criticism.

C. What [Hutcheon] has to gain is the ability to talk about what interests her: “there appears to be little need to engage directly in the constant debate over degrees of proximity to the ‘original’” (7).

D. Andrew, by contrast, hoped his attacks on fidelity discourse would change the discipline.

E. For adaptation theory to have any chance of success, it must do two things.

1. First, it must account for the persistence of fidelity discourse despite decades of resourceful argument against it.

2. Second, it must account for its own blind spot: What has the campaign against fidelity failed to get at?

II. The Conversation of Judgment

A. How could adaptation studies have resisted such an onslaught; Ray’s answer is that the field of film and literature has remained in a “pre-paradigmatic state.”

B. As total an explanation as this is, indeed, as damning as Ray’s indictment of the field may seem, even he finds the origin of the fidelity discourse outside the academy.

C. “But Compared to the Original” is the title of an article by William Fadiman from 1965 that attempted to nip fidelity discourse in the bud.

D. They not only blur the mutational process; these statements make a terrible category error.

E. But whether they are partisans of a modernist medium specificity or a postmodern intertextuality (or intermediality), such critics are all dedicated to the proposition that there can be no hierarchy between textual instances.

F. For fidelity to seem a compelling standard, there would necessarily be an antecedent evaluation of the merits of the version the commenter had first encountered.

G. I am saying that fidelity debates provide a way of avoiding questions of quality.

III. Induction, Authority, and the Case Study

A. If we see fidelity discourse as an avoidance of judgment, then, the repeated critical injunction against fidelity because it is surreptitiously judgmental is not an antidote to, but a reiteration of, the fundamental move.

B. For Ray, again, the problem with comparisons is not that they are inattentive but that they import precisely the evaluative stance Bluestone is attempting to rule out through a belief in medium specificity.

C. Yet neither Ray nor Bluestone nor any of the other adaptation theorists has recognised the role fidelity discourse plays in the layman’s discussion, a role that is less the surreptitious evaluation of an adaptation than an attempt at an objective justification of the prior evaluation.

D. Adaptations put the options on the table; they suggest particular alternatives, and (despite Ray’s despair) over time they may provide cumulative support for notions of adaptive success and failure at various levels of generality.

E. If comparisons are the first steps toward theorisation, fidelity discussions are the stalking horses for questions of authority, questions that might be (and are) answered sociologically or anthropologically or economically.

IV. Fidelity without Borders

A. Where the New Critic might demonstrate the systematicity of a particular work of art, the adaptation critic would displace that systematicity to the relationships between works.

B. Pragmatic questions of mode, process, or sociology frequently appear as pacifications of skeptical questions of knowledge and being.

C. Ray’s answer is that commercial filmmaking turned to realistic storytelling to appeal to a middle-class audience, to hide its operations, and to solidify its self-regulating industrial oligopoly.

D. Kamilla Elliott…finds a productive “tension” in criticism between adherence to the theory that the content of a story cannot be separated from its form (hence cannot be carried from novel to film) and heretical arguments that show how it is that content peels off and finds new forms.

E. But for Elliott, the fidelity debate is misguided not because fidelity asks the impossible but because at bottom critics of fidelity seek to purge cinema of its literariness.

F. Fidelity may be gone, but its “endless” parade of case studies remains, yet not because the skeptical question went unasked.

G. If laymen have persisted in judging adaptations and in raising fidelity questions when those judgments slip away, critics have persisted in their attempts to silence that conversation of judgment.

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Adaptation Theory Today [Web Class]

[Note: refresh your webpage occasionally to see an updated post and to see your peers’ comments.]

Prewriting (15 minutes):

1) Evaluate your courses:

2) Vote on our film (poll closes by end of class):

3) Leave a one-sentence comment saying what you hope to discover while watching this film.

Part 1 (25 minutes): (to come at 4:45)
Look at the list of Leitch’s questions from last time, particularly #6, #7, #12, and #14.

Look (quickly) at one or two of the videos from last time.

Using the videos as examples, leave a comment of 2-3 sentences that offers a tentative answer to one of Leitch’s questions. If you finish early, respond to some of your peers.

Part 2 (20 minutes): (to come at 5:10)
Consider the problem of “laymen” that J.D. Connor raises in “The Persistence of Fidelity,” particularly in the last paragraph and in the section on authority. To help you, here’s a link to a (rough draft) Harvard Outline (but with full sentences) of Connor’s essay:

In your own words, leave a comment summarizing Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics.

Part 3 (20 minutes): (to come at 5:30)
Now, take a look at a movie review aggregator site like Metacritic (or Rotten Tomatoes), which averages together a wide range of reviews from across the web to create one ranking score:

Here’s how Metacritic describes itself:

Here’s how they describe their method:

What do you think Connor would say about these kinds of aggregating websites? Do you think they help the layman continue to “raise fidelity questions,” or instead do they help the critics “silence that conversation of judgment”? Answer this question by replying to one of the comments your peers made in Part 2. (i.e., reply to their “comment summarizing Connor’s stance on the divide between laymen and critics,” and extend it by discussing the concept of movie aggregation websites).

Part 4 (25 minutes): (to come at 5:50)

Now let’s turn to Linda Hutcheon. Our fifth Learning Outcome is for students to be able to answer the following questions:

~ How did early film theorists define cinema as an art distinct from other arts?

~ How do theories of “how fiction works” relate to the cinema, and where do they fall short?

~ Why did the early film industry see literature as the “obvious” source for films?

~ What features are pointed to when calling adaptations “successful” or “unsuccessful”?

~ Why and how has the contemporary American film industry encouraged transgenre adaptation, tie-ins, remakes, reboots, sequels, appropriations, etc?

Pick one of these questions, and answer it in a longish paragraph, using your understanding of Linda Hutcheon’s argument to support your claim.

Part 5 (5 minutes): (to come at 6:15)

Whew, that’s it! One last thing: leave a sentence comment telling me in general what you think of this online format for class.

Our film for next time is: The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2008, 152m). Let me know ASAP if you think you will have trouble locating a copy.

I’ll see you next Thursday.

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