At 02:49 PM 3/8/2005 -0500, Anne wrote:
>Not really. I once taught a course called "Literature in Film" in which we
>had a grand old time watching movie adaptations of everything from 'Hamlet'
>'Silence of the Lambs' (no Tolkien on film worth speaking about back then).
>The final project for the students was to find a piece of literature (short
>story, poem, scene from a novel, something that hadn't been adapted before)
>write it as a screenplay.
>As you might expect, some got the idea at once that they could use only
>dialogue and visual images to tell the story and did some really quite good
>things. Others never managed it, picked up chunks of description and
>as dialogue, never really made clear what was supposed to be happening on
>screen, etc. One and all nodded and said YES! when one student said,
>"Wow--that was HARD."
>What I'm saying, rather long-windedly, is that print and film are two
>different arts, two different disciplines. The adapter should try to be
>the original author's vision, but can never speak in the same voice.
>Unless maybe we don't all mean the same thing when we say 'voice'--even in a
>group that seems to have a lot of academic types, there are many subtle
>differences in such words....
Well, here's John Rateliff's definition of "writing in another author's voice":
"authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds or
characters they have to munch and mumble the bare old bones of other authors."
And that is what a screenplay adapter does. QED.
If it is unfair to use that characterization of a screenplay adapter, it is
equally unfair to use it of the "pseudo-Conan, pseudo-Herbert,
pseudo-Barrie, pseudo-CLS" book authors of whom he does use it. (And who
exactly are the pseudo-Barries he has in mind? Barrie was a dramatist, and
the most prominent pseudo-Barrie works are on film.) Maybe these pseudos
are bad writers. But badness has nothing to do with medium. Other book
pseudos are good writers. (Much pseudo-Lovecraft surpasses the original,
for instance.) And many screenplay writers are very bad indeed.