Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Bazin Response

September 6th, 2011 by Stephen Mahoney · 4 Comments · ¶4 Bazin

After reading Bazin’s essay about converting literary work into film I feel the same way as I did before I read it. I have always felt that the original work of art is always better as it goes into more detail with the characters, plot, setting, etc.

Although Bazin supports both sides of the argument I feel that he leads more towards the thought that the cinematic work is usually a watered down version of a piece of literature. But in film makers defense you cannot take a novel and turn it into a book without cutting out some parts, it would just be too hard and the film would draw out for too long at points in the plot.

The part I most agree with Bazin on is where he states “Of course, adaptation for the public is inseparable from adaptation for the cinema, insofar as cinema is more “public” than a novel.” Reading a book is a very individual experience because most readers interpret it differently in their head, while a movie you watch can watch alone or in public, but it is depicted for you there is not as much of a personal interpretation in a film as there is with a novel thus making it more necessary for a film to be adapted for the public. Although the original work is most likely better than the cinema adaptation, changes need to be made for cinema because not every viewer of the film is going to plan on reading the novel before the see the film.

Not to be too cliché but, take a look at the Harry Potter series of books and films. These are books that many of us have read and seen the cinematic adaptations to and even though there are always many details left out of the films everybody still loves them. Had these films not have been adapted in anyway at all from the novels, I don’t believe that people would have been so emotional over the ending of the series this summer. I think that Bazin would agree with the adaptations the Harry Potter filmmakers made, I think he would agree that only the necessary adaptations were made so that it could become a cinematic work.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Jeen Kim

    I totally agree with all your points, especially about how reading a book is an individual experience and how it’s different in everyone’s head.

    Also it is so true how many people won’t read the book before or even after watching the film adaptations.

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    I’ll raise one counterargument to your first sentence, “the original work of art is always better”: the movies based on The Pirates of the Caribbean, which was first a Disney ride. Now, I don’t think the films are all that amazing, but I would rate them artistically higher than the amusement park ride. Do you think Bazin would totally dismiss that example as not being serious, or is it similar to the idea you quote about cinema being more “public” than reading literature?

  • nlobello824

    I agree with your Harry Potter statement because I feel in modern society people dont seem inclined to read novels with a thousand pages or so. If the films weren’t adapted people would not have been so influenced by them.

  • allymunks

    I entirely agree on your point of reading a book being an individual’s experience. If we bring up making someting public so that more people get to see it such as nlobellos comment, it angers me though. people then think they’ve gone through the full experience simply because they saw the movie, when theyre missing so much of the plot the emotions, everything..and i so did not know pirates of the caribbean was a ride first -.- that’s sad. props to whoever decided to make something more of it though.

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