Adaptation, Appropriation, Retroaction: Symbolic Interaction with Henry V
BOOKS IN MOTION: ADAPTATION, INTERTEXTUALITY, AUTHORSHIP, Mireia Aragay, ed., pp. 181-199, Contemporary Cinema, Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi, 2005
19 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020
Date Written: 2005
This paper approaches film adaptation from a hermeneutic perspective, specifically from a post-structuralist hermeneutics of discourse informed by symbolic interactionism. The intertextual relationship between a cultural product (e.g. a play) and its screen adaptation(s) is analysed as a performative intervention on an existing discourse formation which includes both the original product or text and the discourses using it, originating it, deriving from it or surrounding it. This intervention amounts to both an interpretation and an appropriation of the original text. Like other intertextual modes (translations, critical readings), adaptations produce a retroactive transformation of the original, not in se, but rather as it is used and understood in specific contexts and instances of communicative interaction. These theoretical issues are explored with a special focus on Shakespearean film adaptations, more specifically on the major Henry V films, Laurence Olivier’s (1944) and Kenneth Branagh’s (1989), and their treatment of violence and war in a variety of contexts. A case for a ‘resisting’ approach to Shakespearean adaptation is put forward.
Keywords: Film, Adaptation, Appropriation, Retroaction, Retrospection, Intertextuality, Shakespeare, Henry V, Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh, Ideology
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