Nexus between literary texts and corresponding film adaptations: a reading on intertextuality
Wesonga, Robert O.
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This research makes a comparative study of antecedent literary texts and their corresponding adapted films. The study is occasioned by the aim of putting to scrutiny the reflections and divergences between the two media. This is necessitated by the argument as to whether the adapted film increased or reduced the value of the antecedent literary text (Cartmell et al. (2008). The study interrogates Things Fall Apart (1958) by Chinua Achebe (adapted into a TV mini-series Things Fall Apart directed by David Orere ); The Man-Eaters of Tsavo (1907) by John Patterson (adapted into The Ghost and the Darkness in 1996 by Stephen Hopkins) and Out of Africa (1937) by Karen Blixen (adapted into a film, Out of Africa in 1985 by Sydney Pollack. By nature, this is an exploratory research grounded in the concept of intertextuality, guided by the understanding that different texts (in this case, the literary text and the film as a text) can contribute to the understanding and interpretation of each other. Besides, one of the points of interest in this study is an investigation of the elements that characterize the transformation from literary text to film. Hence, the study discusses the cinematic techniques used by film producers to compensate for what is not exactly transferable (or transformable) from the source literary text to the adapted film. In terms of methodology, this is a qualitative study rooted in textual analysis of the selected literary texts and films. The researcher read the source/antecedent literary texts and viewed the corresponding adapted films with the aim of collecting data from both to meet the objectives set at the beginning of the study. Further, other relevant reference materials were sourced and read from both the library and online sources. Theoretically, this research was guided by Adaptation Theories namely the Transformation and Pluralist film adaptation critical paradigms. The researcher argues that this study makes a contribution to scholarship first, in affirmation of the reality that studies of intertextuality within the realm of film adaptation need more scholarly attention than hitherto, and secondly, due to the fact that the selected texts (though important contributions to literature and film in Africa) had – at the time of this research – not been subjected to an intertextual study to see the interconnection between the literary text and the adapted film. The objectives set at the beginning of this study were met, hence the conclusion that the literary antecedent and corresponding adapted film complement each other in the creation of meaning for the benefit of either. Furthermore, the study finds that in the endeavour to re-vision the world of the literary antecedent, the filmmaker exploits creative license to result in divergences between text and film. Finally, this study acknowledges that literary text and adapted film are different media, and therefore either form has techniques within its province that are used to tell the same story similarly or differently.