Ray and Adaptation Studies

Is Ray opposed to adaptation studies in general?

While reading Ray, I felt like the answer to this was definitively “yes,” but upon reflection, it is more complicated than that. One could argue that he frowns upon adaptation studies because he appears to vilify film adaptation in general. His tone and comments suggest that he believes that adaptations enabled Hollywood to become dominant and limited the types of films and theoretical criticism that could be produced (125-6).

One could also assert that he is only against adaptation studies as they currently exist. Ray, like Andrew, is opposed to fidelity approaches to studying adaptation. In his opinion, such studies have become dead-ends (12). Ray seems to believe that the solution to this problem lies in incorporating the Impressionist-Surrealist interest in photogenie and automatism with the Eisensteinian tradition that currently holds sway (12). However, he questions whether this is even possible and does not really articulate what such would entail. Though he does provide an example, personally, I do not see how this subjective tracing of an object (13-4) is any better than the criticism that he attacks.

Nevertheless, one could say that he considers the study of film adaptation to be a necessary evil. He conveys that one needs to understand the relationship between words and images in order to imagine “new ways in which words and images can combine and new purposes for these combinations” (131). In other words, he seems to be of the opinion that one cannot challenge the status quo without understanding how it came to be.

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