Can content have a life apart from form?
While the answer has traditionally been no, as this possibility was deemed a heresy, Elliot’s presentation of the “psychic concept of adaptation” presents a different approach to adaptation. Elliot seems determined to explain that to translate content to a new medium one does not have to adhere to the text and images, which have been deemed by others as being impossible (134-135). Instead of pursuing this rigid mode of adaptation, Elliot captures the spirit of the work through the psychic mode, “The Novel’s Spirit—(The Novel’s Form)—(Reader—Filmmaker Response)—(Film)—Viewer Response.”(138) While she equates that the spirit of the author is found in the spirit of the text, Elliot states that this ghosting of spirit allows for the capturing of the essence of the original.
Though this mode is a possible avenue, one must question the possibility of success with this mode. While films have sought out to do this, it brings the question of qualification to mind. Is the film adapting the spirit of the original work? Or, is it merely borrowing from it. One film that is open to this debate is The Coen Brothers’ O’Brother Where Art Thou? The film is said to borrow from Homer’s The Odyssey; however, that interpretation is not canon. It may borrow or recreate the spirit, but does that qualify it as an adaptation? Furthermore, can the original text still have a life, or its own identity, in this instance? Is it still recognizable? While it may be present, it does not necessarily maintain its own identity in the form.
Elliot’s mode does capture the spiritual authenticity of the work; however, when the spirit is extracted is the it recognizable when applied elsewhere? While I think this mode is very effective, i.e. Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, I’m not sure if it is all inclusive in the sense of the preservation of the original text.