Thomas Leitch’s “Adaptation Studies at a Crossroads,” does a thorough job at explaining and summarizing the main questions that fuel film adaptation theorists and critics. Leitch expresses a lot of the frustration that I have when it comes to discussing adaptation – it seems as if the same questions are being asked over and over, leading to the same conversations taking place over and over. For example, the first few questions listed involve the film betraying its source novel, the mission of transcription or interpretation, the question of how cultural or historical shifts impact adaptation, and the possibility of what would happen if the film adaptation is better than the source novel. All of these questions have been explored in our class…
The fifth question listed, however, is VERY similar to my investigative proposal. The question is, “Is it possible for a film to recreate what might be assumed to be specifically literary aspects of its source that challenge medium-specific models of adaptation by indicating unexpected resources the cinema brings to matters once thought the exclusive province of literature?” My investigative proposal relates to this because it questions if the 1974 Film Adaptation of The Great Gatsby can successfully represent the same themes and symbols found in its source novel. In general, to answer this question, I would say yes – but film represents these two literary elements in a very different way than novels do.
For example, novels can convey symbolism by repetition. Readers are forced to read every word on a page, which guarantees that they will not miss a symbol’s importance when their attention is constantly being called to it. When symbolism is being conveyed in a film, it cannot be casually displayed in the background, it has to be blatantly shown to the audience if the director wants them to pick up on the symbolism. On the other hand, theme is not as difficult to convey. In fact, due to the added elements of film (sounds, visuals, etc.), theme might be more easily conveyed via film than novels.
In conclusion, this question is more interesting to me because it is not a “stale” type of research. It is very relevant to people researching and studying film adaptation today.