Elliot, perhaps jumping to conclusions?

Kamilla Elliot certainly has a lot of ideas on adaptation, but I think she stretches the facts and draws conclusions at times that, while helpful to her theories, are not necessarily based in fact. For example, in the section on the Psychic Concept, she says that the inclusion of an Emily Bronte character in Peter Kosmninsky’s film version of Wuthering Heights “touts the film as more comprehensive of the novel’s origins than the novel itself.” While I agree with the second half of her statement (that including the author is an attempt at “authenticating ” the film, imbuing it with a bit of historical gravitas so that it will be taken more seriously) I think Elliot comes off as judgmental and not very objective in accusing the director of trying to pretend that he knows more about the book than the author herself. I might be a bit critical, however, because I feel like Elliot in general is taking some liberties and stretching things a bit in using Wuthering Heights as an allegory for the struggle between film/literature critics and film adaptations.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m kind of left wondering what was going on in the section on ventriloquism (something I know Dana has already touched on). Once again, Elliot seems maybe a bit judgmental in her rather harsh description of what adaptation does: “The adaptation, like a ventriloquist, props up the dead novel, throwing its voice onto the silent corpse.” I mean, goodness. First of all, ventriloquists generally use dummies, not corpses, so way to use a creepy analogy unnecessarily, Elliot. (This is, again, one of those times when she stretches the analogy between Wuthering Heights and adaptation to its breaking point- Heathcliff digging up his dead lover because he finds it impossible to move on/believe she is really gone is not quite the same as a director choosing to adapt a novel into a film, even if that director is doing so for less than admirable purposes or in a less than faithful manner.) Secondly, I was, admittedly, having a bit of trouble following the ventriloquist conversation because those pesky diagrams tend to confuse me more than they help me.

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4 Responses to Elliot, perhaps jumping to conclusions?

  1. Your post made me laugh! I agree with your views on the whole ventriloquist section. Personally, that whole statement irritates me because it instantly creates a connection between literature and death. Can books ever really die? Why is it necessary that a film adaptation steps in to “revive” literature? What qualities make a book seem dead? There are so many questions that this statement leads to! There is also the literal aspect – books are read silently (no sound comes out when you read) and film is more lively (there’s a real voice). With that being said, is one better than the other? Ahh – the classic question. Rambling complete.

    • I am presenting on this, so I don’t want to comment too much abouout it. But yes, the ventriloquist mode is a tricky one that I still don’t get, although we may converse about it soon. I will say that I think death referse to “the spirit of the text” that Elliott speaks about in the Psychic mode. That is very much alive. I believe she is saying that in the Ventriloquist mode, the original “essence” is not there, and the film is filled up with other conventions that may represent part of a novel’s spirit combined with the film makers own intention. This like the Incarnational Concept, composites two different elements. Does that make sense? If not, we can talk about it in class.

  2. ***about it
    ***refers to
    Sorry for the typos.

  3. trevor11 says:

    I liked that you pointed out some of the statements that at the very least seem brash, that Elliot makes. I too definitely did laugh when reading your post. I feel the most strongly though about the perception about the intentions of those who create film adaptations. I think its more about perception and interpretation and less about presumed knowledge. We all create images to pair with the words we read. To each of us individually, we KNOW what the characters look like because they have been with us since the moment we read that first word, we also know how our interpretation should be presented, how it should be viewed and how it could be received. If the director felt as though including Emily Bronte was a good idea, then hey why not? It’s not as though we don’t all too have an image of the person creating these words in our minds as well.

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