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Trans-medium Work
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:10 pm Reply with quote
QuillTheory
 
Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 17
Location: Cincinnati, OH


I suppose the title wasn't very good. What I mean by trans-medium is a work that has gone from one form being adapted into another, such as Shakespeare's plays being codified and sometimes translated into an opera. I've tended to notice that most of works of literature do not transfer well. For example, I've read recently a stage production script for The Odyssey by Derek Walcott which I, in my most humble opinion, believe fell way short of attempting to encapsulate the themes and events of the original. Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod is playing in the background as I write this and I started to realise, that if you hadn't at least had some minimal exposure to it, one would be hard pressed to even figure out what is going on at some points. I know Faust was transformed into an opera by Gounod with slightly more success.

My question is then, can anyone thing of a case where a work has translated well, perhaps better, in the changing of artistic mediums? Or is my assertion right and is something always lost when they are "translated."

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:58 pm Reply with quote
toniroussel
 
Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 18
Location: Manassas, VA


Interesting question. In my experience, on the whole, much is lost in translation. However, the "translations" I enjoy the most are the ones that I deem meritable in their own mediums for reasons often different than the ones that make the original meritable. I guess this gets oft discussed when translating a book to film. As for an example of what I mean: I adore Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and find Kazan's film version of it a nearly perfectly realized version of the play within the confines of the screen (and in spite of the confines of the screen). For me, it's a superior static version of the work whereas I see Williams' version amazing not only in the way Williams has crafted it but also in its potential to be reinterpreted by anyone who produces or performs in a live version of the play. I guess, then, you can debate which of the productions of the play are good/bad translations. However, I find the operatic version of Streetcar nothing short of dreadful.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 5:17 pm Reply with quote
practicality
 
Joined: 27 Jun 2006
Posts: 6


Lord of the Rings could be seen as a good translation. Even though it doesn't capture everything in the books, it is adapted nicely to be a movie. I suppose the crux of the matter is whether the "translation" captures many things from its original form, or if the translation is a good piece in its medium without keeping all the details from the original.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:56 pm Reply with quote
Howard Shepherd
 
Joined: 20 Jun 2006
Posts: 16
Location: Asheville, NC


An excellent thread starter, QuillTheory.

This is going to be a bit of an obscure example, but one of my favorite novels is A Death in the Family, by Knoxville, Tennessee author James Agee. When I was in a poetry writing class in college, my professor, Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick, read the prologue of the novel to us.

Some years later I heard Samuel Barber's adaptation of the prologue ("Knoxville, Summer of 1914"). It was sublime.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:35 pm Reply with quote
masked_muffin
 
Joined: 03 Aug 2006
Posts: 18


Some fairly good adaptations of books into movies were Death of a Salesman, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and A Clockwork Orange. (Although, I do wish Kubrick had kept the 21st chapter, that's just me. Friends of mine who have read the book and seen the movie believe it's a good version, so to each his or her own, I suppose.)

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 4:47 am Reply with quote
benconservato
 
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 14
Location: France


The film Orlando (by Sally Potter) based on the book by Virginia Woolf was a very good accompaniment to the book, but I think you could watch it without reading the book and not be too confused. But, if you had read the book, it was just filling in the spaces. I am not sure how popular that film was.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:49 am Reply with quote
sam
 
Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Posts: 10


There was a Stephen King collection of 4 novellas, called "Different Season(s?)". The 4 novellas were "The Body", "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "Apt Pupil", and some weird one about a lady having a baby in a taxi. I hated the last one and "The Body". However, "The Body" later came out as a movie, "Stand By Me", which I loved!! And frankly, no matter how good "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" was, it could never have matched the brilliance of the movie, "Shawshank Redemption". ("Apt Pupil" was also made into a movie with the eternally creepy Donald Sutherland, but I haven't seen it.)

They seem to be rare cases, but sometimes a movie realizes a higher level of a written story than the author ever did. Anyone have other examples?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 2:27 am Reply with quote
RabiAkiva
 
Joined: 28 Jun 2006
Posts: 163
Location: Israel


sam wrote:
They seem to be rare cases, but sometimes a movie realizes a higher level of a written story than the author ever did. Anyone have other examples?


Rare indeed and I completely agree with your opinion on the Shawshank Redemption. I have my own private theory about this: the normal length of any theater production, be it a movie or a stage play, allows for the complexity and pattern of tension that is more like that of a short story rather than that of a novel. Therefore, when a movie is being made based on a short story it has a better chance of becoming good, possibly even better than the written story. With a novel the chances are slim, if not extremely remote, as too much needs to be cut away. Even if nothing vital was cut, at least the finesse and complexity perishes and how much can be compensated with visuals?

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Trans-medium Work
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