At this point, we are watching film adaptations through with the guidance of the readings we have covered. In considering the applicability of the essays we have read so far, Tristam Shandy stands as a film capable of addressing, though maybe not answering, many of the questions posed by the authors we have read. One being is Tristam Shandy a successful adaptation?
When I think of Andrew’s fidelity of spirit, I think of the life of Steven. He just cannot seem to get all of the things that he wants into this film. There are the literal disappointments like his shoes not reflecting his stature and the jacket presented not being sensible. In his personal life, the respect he wants from every person around him, the passion he has for the assistant, the love he has for his wife and child, all of these are impossible to reconcile within the film according to which is the point of the novel. It is not possible to get all of a man’s life within an art work.
What I love about this film is that those disappointments, as well as the disappointments of the other characters also address so many other arguments that we have come across. The issue of the props being realistic to the period for instance is reflective of McFarlane in which he comments on a films tendency to get caught up in period details when the author did not have such considerations.
Also reminiscent of McFarlane is this idea that everyone has a “phantasy” of the story in their own mind and they expect it to be revealed in the film. The man in charge of the battle, the star actress and reporter who think the love story is key, the assistant who thinks the dedication of the father is most poignant, all battling with the pressure of originality cause the film to just fall apart. It is impossible for the movie to address the desires of all involved in making it.
I personally enjoyed this movie because I think it did a nice job of addressing the challenges of adaptation albeit by failing to successfully adapt (still a question). I was also impressed by its ability to do so without failing to be a successful movie (also up for questioning). I am not sure how someone outside of this study would feel about this movie however.