The fullness of literary film adaptation: A study of the artistic experiences within Oliver Parker's "Dorian Gray" and Alan Crosland's "The Jazz Singer"
Fish, Kristen Marie
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The purpose of this study is to investigate the power of cinematic elements in a literary film adaptation to enhance the primary source, and the implications the artistic experiences of both mediums have on the relationship between the adaptation viewer and the literary writer. It aims to develop how the alterations, additions, and deletions in film adaptations provide a deeper interpretation of the primary text. The ultimate goal is to indicate how the differences between the film medium and the literary medium affect the ability for an adaptation viewer to connect with the literary writer in the intertextual web. This exploratory thesis focused the communicative relationships between literary film adaptations and the literary source within a comparison of Alan Crosland's 1927 film adaptation The Jazz Singer and Oliver Parker's 2009 film adaptation Dorian Gray. It utilized various theoretical writings on film adaptation study and literary analyses in conjunction with the two mediums. The first two chapters analyze the way both Crosland and Parker advantageously employ mise-en-scène elements to respond to questions and problems that arise from their adapted literary texts. The final chapter engages with the implications of the two analyses to critique how each adaptation fits in relation to the question of how the differing dialogical and artistic experiences of film and literature affect literary film adaptation as an art of communication. The findings of this study support the notion that the two film adaptations are masterful pieces of art communicating with and enhancing their original source. This is evident both through Crosland's use of sound technology to develop main protagonist Jack Robin's inner spiritual turmoil and Parker's use of lighting, camera, and set design to transform that seemingly omniscient narrator into the portrait of Dorian Gray. A comparison of the two analyses then reveals some support for a complete connection between the adaptation viewer and the two literary writers being not being possible, but that the technological advancements in both allow for the communication gap between them to shorten. In the future, it should open up a discussion on how other film adaptations' use of technological advancements deal with this gap and what other factors might allow it to completely be bridged.