Could the current theoretical aversion to fidelity discourse encourage filmmakers to shy away from attempting “literal,” or at least “close,” adaptations of sourcetexts?
In Leitch’s “Adaptation Studies at a Crossroads,” he makes a striking comment about Cahir’s Literature into Film: Theory and Practical Approaches. He asserts that her “rubric establishes traditional adaptation as a norm from which literal and radical adaptations depart at their peril” (71). Despite the fact that Leitch points out how the will to taxonomize should not be accompanied with value judgments, he unwittingly appears to do the same thing in “Twelve Fallacies of Contemporary Film Adaptation.” This is best indicated by his use of the phrase “servile transcriptions” (161). The connotations of the word “servile,” compounded with his discussion on the faults of employing fidelity as a criterion for the evaluation of adaptation, encourages one to conclude that he is equally against attempts to transcribe or transfer sourcetexts from book to screen. To him, it is impossible to for a film adaptation to compare to a source, so why bother?
Though these are just the views of two contemporary theorists, it seems possible that this disparagement of “literal” or “close” adaptations could spread to adapters themselves. Reviewers may subscribe to these opinions and similarly encourage filmmakers away from such. Furthermore, as is noted by Ray, some theorists, like Eisenstein, employ their films as vehicles for upholding their vision of film/ adaptation theory. If filmmakers ascribe to contemporary views on fidelity, their work may reflect this.
One could also say that theory and practice are entirely different animals. It is known that there is a demand for adaptations, and fidelity discourse continues to dominate discussions despite contemporary theorists’ eschewal of such. Filmmakers create their works with an eye to the marketability of their products, in a given society, with reference to a particular time. If there is a demand for “literal” or “close” adaptations, film theorists will not be able to prevent filmmakers from creating works that aspire to meet this demand.