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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

VAN JAARSVELD, Anthea. From novel to film: no Disgrace for J M Coetzee. An investigation into the process of film adaptation. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2012, vol.52, n.2, pp. 307-321. ISSN 0041-4751.

Adaptations of literary works have always played a prominent role in the history of film. However, these adaptations were always judged by literary critics from the perspective of their own literary prejudices. This necessarily led to the film as genre being seen as inferior to the literary genre. Against this backdrop one may make the assumption that, shouldfilm narrative be definedfrom within a literary domain, the film will, based on its own unique characteristics, be secondary to the literary work on which it is based. This article does not aim to establish a hierarchy between the literary text and its film version, but intends to make the reader aware of a significant paradigm shift since the nineties as to the importance of film adaptation as an entity in its own right. To reach this point, however, the development offilm adaptation is scrutinised from three seminal eras, namely: the era 1960-1990, characterised by so-called Fidelity criticism, the era 1990-2003, characterised by processes such as inter semiotic translation, and the era since 2003, characterised by the focus on a hermeneutic model. The film adaptation of Nobel prize winner J M Coetzee's novel Disgrace, directed and produced by Steve Jacobs with Anna-Maria Monticelli as screenwriter and co-producer, comes under scrutiny. It is discussed as an adaptation that may be interpreted by using Linda Cahir's (2006) criteria for the creation and interpretation offilm adaptations. This article will argue that literature does not exist in a vacuum and is constantly being rewritten through the various cultural contexts wherein it exists. The study of the film adaptation of Disgrace shows how popular cultural literary adaptations can function as living texts which become part of organic, meaningful processes in the community.

Keywords : Film adaptation; film narrative; semiotics; theories on film adaptation; literary text; cinematography; Fidelity criticism; intertextuality; re-reading; appropriation.

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