Is Tristram Shandy a true adaptation, or is it all smoke and mirrors?
One thing that stuck with me most throughout the film is its unwillingness, or inability, to contain itself in a cohesive manner. Instead the audience is given flashbacks, digressions, and flashbacks within digressions breaking a cohesive narrative; however, that wasn’t a bad thing. The film, based on a novel deemed untranslatable, approaches adaptation in an intriguing way (similar to that of Adaptation). By imploring Andrews’ mode of adaptation, Tristram and Shandy ably translates the spirit of the novel to the screen.
Along with its offbeat vibe, the film acknowledges perspective and expectation. It seems to acknowledge the idea that everyone will in fact have a different opinion of what should or shouldn’t be in the film (we discussed this in class via Lord of the Rings). The film utilizes a number of different characters to emphasize the many different and conflicting perspectives, ideologies, and ideas.
Another interesting concept explored in the film is the utilization of disparity of knowledge. Through editing and cuts, the film allows the audience to enter into a position of knowledge; however, it almost comes across as breaking the fourth wall. There’s a comedic self referential aspect to the narrative and it plays out very strangely.
I dont know if I liked this movie. There were a lot of different concepts and themes that qualify it as being an adaptation; yet, I don’t know if I would personally label it as such. While it does capture the spirit of the novel, I feel the post modern approach applied merely includes the original work instead of translates it. On the other hand, the applications of adaptation concepts serves as an interesting deconstruction of both the film genre, as well as the novel.
Where I wasn’t left scratching my head at the end of the film, I was certainly left with mixed feelings for what I had just watched. All in all, I think this movie could be deemed an adaptation based on its merit and inclusion of concepts. But, in terms of truly adapting the novel, I don’t know that the film managed this.