Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Bazin Response

September 5th, 2011 by Jeen Kim · 4 Comments · ¶4 Bazin

After reading Bazin’s essay I realized that I felt the same way before reading it and after reading it. He took no distinguished stance on the matter of adaptation. He merely gives his ideas on film adaptation and hopefully that sheds some light to the reader. Although, he gave several valid examples supporting both sides of the argument. Which is better, the original work or the cinematic version? This is a question that might have several different answers depending on the person’s opinions and experiences.

I, personally, would have to agree with most of what Bazin says. He defends both cinema and literature and I would have to also. I enjoy both forms and sometimes the film adaptation is good and sometimes it’s just terrible. However, today, I feel like the rule of thumb is that the original work is usually always better.

The only thing I would have to dispute is his comment on radio. He says it’s a problem to adapt to radio, and I see where he’s coming from with respect to the time period. Today audio books exist that are solely audible (like radio) and are verbatim with the original works.

What Bazin wrote that hit the nail on the head for me was the bit about filmmakers having the visual imagination to amount to the equivalent of the original. Everyone takes part in this process: the writers, actors, editors, director, etc. If everyone does their job (and an excellent job at that) the end product will yield a cinematic experience as just as good as the book.

However, it’s not just this that will result in a superb adaptation. The purpose, or message, of the literature must transfer to the movie with out being misconstrued. Maybe this is why works of literature are hard to cinematic-ally recreate- so many things factor into what the audience sees.

“Under these circumstances, faithfulness to a form, literary or otherwise is illusory: what matters is the equivalence in meaning of the forms.” -Andre Bazin

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    It seems like you might have changed your mind from the beginning of your response to the end. I think you’re closest to Bazin when you’re thinking about the “purpose, or message, of the literature.” It’s not that he just likes books better than movies (or vice versa)–but the purpose of texts can be conveyed differently depending on whether it is book or film form.

  • Daniel Min

    Remarkable intuition on comparing literature with cinema by having a visual imagination of the original. I absolutely agree with having everyone taking part of the process developing a good product as a result.

    One example of a poorly adapted film I could recall from watching one of many celebrity interviews, is Bob Hoskins’s complacency with “Super Mario Bros” the movie. According to Bob Hoskins who originally played Mario, the film performed poorly at the box office due to numerous of deadlines being missed, actors not cooperating with the director and conflicts within the whole studio production (John Leguizamo who played Luigi was intoxicated during the majority of the shoot, minor cast go out of their way stealing the show by having rap battles, screenwriters were replaced frequently). Fundamentally the movie is a mess because of poor cooperation among the crew and neglecting the concept of the video game character whose title itself is worth billions, therefore your post gives a clear evidence on why it is crucial to adapt by having everyone participate.

  • Raaj QC Blog

    I like your opinion on the radio because I also do not see a problem with listening to an audio book. I agree with what you said about having the visual imagination to amount to the equivilent to the original. You are correct saying “if everyone does their job (and an excellent job at that) the end product will yield a cinematic experience as just as good as the book”. I enjoyed reading what you wrote because even though i didnt take into account that Bazin defended both sides, we had a lot of similar ideas.

  • Eric Dorcean

    I like what you said about everyone doing a good job and getting a good product. But you have to remember that there are alot of directors out there who take a great TV show or book and think that people will come see it BECAUSE its an adaptation of something good rather than a good adaptation.

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