If viewing a film in class can sometimes involve a common mental shutdown on the part of students, their teacher must find a way to ensure they are even paying attention. Many of us simply attach discussion questions or the dreaded worksheet or some other sort of evaluative assignment, which does two things: takes away from the student’s enjoyment of the film, and creates work for the sake of work. There is little learning, there is little enjoyment. Lose-lose.
A film with a re-imagined view of an original text, on the other hand, innately thwarts the disheartening scenario in two ways: first, knowing that what they are about to watch is highly different from the original text (read “new”) should automatically pique interest. Second, a discussion question is implicit – what is different about the execution of the common themes? We will address that re-imagined adaptations can bring something new while retaining and reminding us of the old, and human beings are drawn to both qualities. Combining these two elements into a study of theme through adaptation will, hopefully, inspire students to actually read further (and indeed farther) into their own independently chosen stories and reimagine them themselves. They’ll be working with something familiar, without being dogged by pure repetition.
According to Dudley Andrew, in adaptation, with regard to fidelity, “it is assumed that the task of adaptation is the reproduction in cinema of something essential about an original text. . .More difficult is fidelity to the spirit.”
The following examples are of films that at times skew considerably from what may be referred to as fidelity to text. However – and this is what makes this study more complex and therefore apt for attention by students focusing on reading – they pay tremendous tribute to the spirit of the story.