Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Screenplay as Interpretation

By Marilyn Hoder-Salmon | Go to book overview

BACKGROUNDS

Re-vision--the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction--is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched, we cannot know ourselves.

Adrienne Rich

"On Lies, Secrets, and Silence"

Three esteemed human characteristics--creativity, interpretation, and connection--undergird the impetus for both the act of criticism and the act of adaptation. The synthesis of these two modes, criticism and adaptation, forms a compelling frontier, as many academics have found, in literature and film studies. Within the genre is a byway, only rarely explored, wherein the commonalities of creativity, interpretation, and connection form an analogical, if unique, alliance. In this study I go beyond the customary methodologies of fiction-into-film studies and illustrate why and how an original adaptation of an important precursor, undertaken specifically for interpretive purposes, may in itself represent a viable form of interpretation. This new approach commingles criticism and adaptation.

When an interviewer asked playwright Harold Pinter, author of screenplays based on novels by such diverse writers as Marcel Proust and John Fowles, his purpose in becoming an adapter, Pinter replied that the technical demands were challenging, but primarily he found it interesting "to enter into another [artist's] mind . . . to try to find the true mind."1 The terminology of adaptation literature--words such as reassemble, ingest, core, transform, essence, breakthrough, and synthesis--suggests the almost biological intention of one who studies an original work in order to adapt it. To put this another way, the process of adapting significant precursors may be compared to that of archaeology, probing (excavating) deeply to uncover the mysteries of a particular text. Adaptation takes one inside the work, allowing a clinical intellectual metamorphosis to happen through which the

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