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The Film Adaptation To Harry Potter English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1120 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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To this date, the employment of adaptation theories to novels has yet to reach its true potentials’. Although The Harry Potter novel series are popularly known around the globe and has attained the world’s best seller status, sadly, there are not many critical studies relating to its adaptations. Most critics examine and evaluate each adaptation rigorously conforming to the principle of how faithful the adaptation remains to the text. This gives emphasis to the fundamental approach, fidelity. Hypothetically, a critic may naturally compare an adapted film to his or her own interpretation rather than to its source. In such a case, the critic’s view often contradicts with other critics, especially with a novel as complicated as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In other words, each reader tends naturally to “adapt” a book that he or she reads and then think of the novel in a certain way. “The novel tells the tale of a young wizard” or, “The novel focuses on the wizardry society in a magical world” or a synthesis of any number of views. Each view, each reading or each adaptation-is unique and remarkable, and none of these perceptions can be considered right or wrong. These perceptions are similar to the ideas presented in a renowned article entitled “The Resistance to Theory,” written by of concept theorist Paul de Man. The idea presented in this article is concerned with the bond between a text and its meaning, ultimately ascertaining that it is unfeasible to attain a definitive meaning for whichever text. The axiomatic necessity of reading connotes at least two things. Firstly, it connotes that literature is not a transparent subject matter in which it can be taken for granted that the disparity between the subject matter and the means of communication is evidently proven. The self-evident necessity of reading implies at least two things. First of all, it implies that literature is not a transparent message in which it can be taken for granted that the distinction between the message and the means of communication is clearly established. Second, and more problematically, it implies that the grammatical decoding of a text leaves a residue of indetermination that has to be, but cannot be, resolved by grammatical means, however extensively conceived. (De Man 15) Greg Jenkins, one of the authors of Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three Novels, Three Films considers adaptation “as a presence that is woven into the very fabric of film culture” (Jenkins, Nabokov and King). Even though Jenkins’s statement is in accordance with the theory of adaptation but a definite theory does not exist. Scholars and critics constantly excogitate on adaptation, yet they don’t seem to reach a definite conclusion on what makes an adaptation a success or a failure.

“[Adaptation] represents such a dark and enigmatic thread that it has elicited disparate and sometimes diametric opinions. Even among those who champion faithful adaptations, there is no clear formula concerning how generally to implement the procedure, or afterwards how to evaluate the procedure’s success or failure (Jenkins 8)”

The predicament of adaptation originates from many sources. Uncertainties such as what is a Text? What is an Author? Who is the author of this work? Which text is given primacy: the novel or the film? Is an adapted film indebted to the source it was based on? If this is true then how is this possible? Does a film remain faithful to its source? Is a film a version of a story or its own autonomous work of art?? These questions, and many others, are at the heart of adaptation studies. This dissertation does not pretend to acknowledge them all, nor does it profess to be the ultimate response or the final answer to the question of adaptation. It does, however, make an effort to offer a possible solution in terms of practical and theoretical.

Practical in that it attempts to bring method to the madness by applying the theory to a sample case study; it is theoretical in that it asks viewers to consider what a particular adaptation is doing with a film.

For many years studies pertaining film adaptation focused mainly on how faithful adaptations were towards their sources and naturally fidelity at that point was their prime concern. As Linda Hutcheon affirms in her book A Theory of Adaptation, it has only been this way by tradition and that “an adaptation’s double nature does not mean…that proximity or fidelity to the adapted text should be the criterion of judgment or the focus of analysis”( Hutcheon 6). Inspired by Hutcheon’s statement, this dissertation examines the adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the novel and the film. The dissertation’s theoretical discussion is based on Linda Hutcheon’s ideas about originality and how we can treat adaptations as literally adaptations and not as a parasite feeding of the novel. I will begin the introduction of the dissertation with a short presentation of the novel and the film and their respective author and screen writers.

Jenkins, Greg, et al. Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three Novels, Three Films. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 1997.

University Microfilms, University Microfilms International. Dissertation abstracts international: The humanities and social sciences. Michigan: University Microfilms International, 2007.

It makes complete sense to say that any discussion pertaining to a text, an adaptation takes place. The existence of literary criticism stems from this principle. The study of film adaptation allows researchers and scholars the opportunity to study film adaptations using precise and tangible boundaries. To be more accurate, by examining and studying the processes involved in adapting a novel to film would be highly beneficial to critics. They will have the opportunity to better drawback understand the processes by which texts are adapted. Ironically, Majority of adaptation critics choose to overlook this fact because these critics feel the study of adaptation somehow threatens their analysis. Then again, this ambiguity can be seen as an advantage rather than a drawback. Awareness of the basic history of film adaptation and its supporting theories helps in bringing this principle into focus.

Jenkins, Greg. Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three Novels, Three Films.

Jefferson: McFarland, 1997. Pg 8.

(Jenkins, Nabokov and King)

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers; illustrated edition


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