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Literature and Film

Research papers on literary works and their film counterpoints can look at any work of literature and compare it to the film version. Many great works of literature have been adapted for screen and comparing and contrasting the two makes for an excellent research project. Below you will see various elements to consider when writing on literature and film.

Some great films to examine in comparison to their literary counterpart are as follows:

  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris - Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs and directed by Lasse Hallstrom
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh and directed by Kenneth Branagh
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - Film is Blade Runner with screenplay by Hampton Fancer and David Peoples. Directed by Ridley Scott

How to write a Research Project that Examines Both a Book and it's Corresponding Film

Paper Masters uses the books and films Chocolat/Much Ado About Nothing and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner as examples for great comparisons. Consider the following elements in light of what you have learned about the films and books:

  1. What is the difference between reading a book and watching a movie?
    (Movies and books use materially different ways to describe the world or to express a point of view. You can write how pictures in a movie shows a meaning while text in books can describe.)
  2. In what way is reading better than watching?
    (When reading you can read in private over a course of several months controlling the pace of the story in which you can spur your imagination and in which you are the vehicle.)
  3. What forms of literature does the book employ and are they lost in the film?
  4. In the early days of literary adaptation plays were often chosen as sources rather than novels. Give two reasons for this.
  5. What are the two basic elements of setting?
  6. What is narrative structure?
    Give an example from one of your readings or movies. (Narrative structure is the effect of point of view on the plot and it changes depending on point of view. You can give an example from chocolat, much ado about nothing, or do androids dream of electric sheep?/Blade Runner.)
  7. What is the relationship between theme and the reason a filmmaker chooses to make a movie from a particular book?
  8. Name a symbol in the book that is different in how it appears in the film. Why do you think that change was made?
    (Don't forget a symbol is a recurring element or person having a specific meaning in support of the theme. it is something that stands for something else.)
  9. Regarding your film, describe two examples showing how the medium of film lends additional dimension to the narrative.
  10. In the film of Much Ado About Nothing, how is character partly defined by filming techniques?
    (Talk about how the film is shot as well as the editing techniques. In a scene with Beatrice and Benedict the film's use of camera to see things from both point of views. Get in depth with that. I'm not sure if this example partly defines character but you can think about it. In addition to the removal of some scenes, the film also uses intercutting to keep a brisk pace and to combine some of the play's scenes. For example, Intercutting allows the film to give a moment to each of the characters inside the masquerade party while their masks are still worn. Then, the film cuts to those outside of the party, allowing then to interact, before returning to the masquerade. This intercutting did not occur in the play, which does not have the luxury of immediately switching between scenes. This director's decision helps the audience to learn quickly of the events that are likely to occur in the future while moving the plot forward. It saved the movie some valuable time, which was important since the director did not want to get bogged down in every minute detail from the original play.)
  11. What is generally considered to be the genre of the film Blade Runner? Why?
    (The genre is a classification of films looking at three different aspects (or combinations of them). These classifications are setting, (the location type) mood (the emotional tone), and format (film type). The film BladeRunner would be considered a film noir. The film was dark, smoke, smog, and rainy. It is also a science fiction action. Give reasons why.)
  12. When it came out, Blade Runner prefigured several technologies and issues, such as global warming that were not topical in 1982 but are relevant today. List two others.
    (Two others would be industrialization and capitalization)
  13. What's your take on why the filmmakers specify November as the time of year for Blade Runner?

Here are some questions to consider in your literature and film research project:

  1. Define "popular culture" as it relates to the rise of film as entertainment.
  2. If every one of the three adaptation types is applicable to one of the three films we have seen so far, which one is which? For each, explain how the adaptation type fits. The 3 adaptation types are Borrowing-only some elements of the book are used. It is the most common and archetypical themes from the original are used to give a film broad appeal. Blade Runner is a borrowing adaptation. Explain Why? Give examples., Intersection-not all is represented, but what is represented is as exact as possible. It is a faithful translation of the original to film, though not every event in the book may be included. The film Chocolat would qualify as an intersection adaptation. Explain why. Go into depth., and Fidelity-the entire book is represented, though not so exactly; the spirit of the book is maintained. The essential elements, both literal and spiritual are distilled from the original. Much Ado about Nothing offered a film adaptation that is very true to the spirit and plot of the original Shakespearean play. It is fidelity of transformation type of adaptation Much Ado About Nothing contains all of the essential literature and spiritual elements conveyed in the original work. However, Branaugh did make some changes to the work; largely the changes are made in order to fit the film into a standard film length and to make the story better suited to the interests and beliefs of a contemporary audience. The omissions are carefully selected to prevent any significant deviations that might otherwise change the original play's storyline or intent.
  3. What are the three general questions to ask when analyzing an adaptation? Give an example of this process using an aspect of one of the readings. (The three general questions to ask when analyzing an adaptation are as follows: What did the filmmakers change? Use the elements as points of comparison such as theme, motifs, symbols, style, narrative structure, characters, plot, setting, and point of view, How did each change effect the story? Why did the filmmakers want this effect? For example in the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , we ask what did the filmmakers change? We read they took out the religious background that's in the book is not in the film, Blade Runner. How did they taking away Mercerism religion effect the story? Why did they take away the religious background? It could be that it would be too complicated so they rather keep it into a basic story of a detective trying to find and solve problems.
  4. List at least eleven literary elements we use for comparison when analyzing the adaptation.
    (They are adaptation type, genre, theme, motif, symbol, character, point of view, plot, narrative structure, setting, style, and target audience.)
  5. What are three ways to look at genre? Give at least three popular film genres that have been seen in theaters lately, giving the title of the film in each case. For extra credit you may list up to three additional genres. (The genre is a classification of films looking at three different aspects (or combinations of them). These classifications are setting, (the location type) mood (the emotional tone), and format (film type).
  6. How do you discover a theme in a film? Use one of the films we have seen so far as an example of your detective work. State the complete theme.
  7. What's the difference between a motif and a symbol? Give an example of each from Much Ado about nothing;select examples that are related in some way. (A motif is a recurring idea supporting the theme and a symbol is a recurring element or person having a specific meaning in support of the theme. For example the motif of disguise and the symbol is mask in Much Ado about Nothing.)
  8. What is a visual metaphor? Give one example from each film we've seen and explain the metamorphic meaning of each. (A visual metaphor is a visual description by direct comparison. In the film Chocolat, the wind is a visual metaphor and also the scene in which everything in the village is grey except for their jackets which are red. Explain hat in depth. In much Ado About Nothing the visual metaphors are that All are wearing white in the beginning and the masks are a visual for disguise. Explain the visual metaphor for Blade Runner.)
  9. The films of Chocolat and Much Ado About Nothing each contain a scene close to the beginning-though not in the literary source-that serves a similar purpose for the audience. Briefly describe these 2 scenes and th purpose they have in common.
  10. Select one of Philip K. Dick's concerns as expressed in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And describe how it is addressed in the film, Blade runner.
  11. The makers of Blade Runner chose not to include any reference to Mercerism in the 1982 film. Other than time constraints, why might they have made this decision?
  12. Just as the question is raised in the book, there is some uncertainty in Blade Runner-as introduced in the director's Cut-regarding whether Deckard is human or not. What does this uncertainty do to the story?
  13. Create your own essay question. Your question should reflect an understanding of the difference between the mediums of print and film in telling a story effectively. The answer should require a similar understanding. Be specific. Give both question and answer.

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Literature and Film Research Papers

Literature and Film research papers discuss the difference between reading a book and watching a movie. Many great works of literature have been adapted for screen and comparing and contrasting the two makes for an excellent research project.

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