Adaptation and Denigration

In the preface to Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation, the specter of derivative and substandard adaptations appears almost immediately. As Hutcheon observes, adaptations tend to be regarded as pale shadows of the works that inspired them. There is some justification in this stance toward adaptation, and whole categories of adaptations—most notably movies based on video games—have checkered histories that have conditioned critics to be suspicious of adaptations in general.

This semester I will be looking closely at critical responses to adaptations and the differences in quality, both real and perceived, that have prompted critics to denigrate the practice of producing derivative works. A useful case study for this area will be Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, a movie that, arguably, exceeds or equals its novel counterpart in quality. I will also be looking at how different categories of adaptation—the various crossovers between novels, plays, comics, television shows, and video games—are regarded as more or less legitimate by critics and consumers.

I’ll leave you with some trailers for denigrated video game adaptations: (Meteorite?) (“Her revenge is never satisfied!”) (Yes, they were abusing “O Fortuna” even back then.)



3 thoughts on “Adaptation and Denigration

  1. Thanks Patrick. Yes, the idea of a moral or generic hierarchy will be one of our central concerns. I’ve just posted (and put some extracts on our Dropbox account) about the Star Wars playtext (in blank verse) by “William Shakespeare”. It’s a peculiar reversal of the expected hierarchies: a print of a play derived from a movie. I’ll bring it in on Tues. Thanks for those youtube clips. Very instructive.

  2. Yes, that looked highly entertaining. I went ahead and ordered it on Amazon–let’s hope it’s more readable than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

  3. You seem to be forgetting the sublime transcendence of the Street Fighter movie:

    In all seriousness though – video games and movies seem to have a negative relationship, in that film-to-game and game-to-fim adaptations are generally perceived as being poor. But Street Fighter COULD serve as a segue to discussing racelifting, or casting actors for characters of different ethnicities (Jean-Claude Van Damme as the Captain America-esque Guile? What were they thinking?).

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