Adaptation Analysis: It Happened One Night (1934) and “Night Bus”

In addition to writing film reviews, I will use my Cinematic Syntax to engage in Adaptation Analysis. This semester, my film adaptation course, Stories Into Film with Dr. Christopher Wielgos, gives me a space to closely examine the process of adapting a text by comparing it to its film adaptation. Ultimately, my job is to determine what is kept, dropped, and added in order to bring attention and interpret the filmmaker’s choices. For example, practical decisions can often be made when the director does not have the technology to adapt a scene accurately. So, I will speculate on the reason for each choice based on my knowledge of both mediums. Our main text, Adaptation: Studying Literature and Film by John Desmond, outlines the film techniques that convey meaning as opposed to literature— performance, words (spoken or written), music, sound effects, and photographic images.

Film is a multi-track medium that brings meaning through those techniques. While writing can be interpreted innumerably, the written word is considered a single-track medium creating meaning through its words. An issue Desmond brings to the forefront is the problem with fidelity. He explains that when it comes to adaptation analysis, fidelity terminology such as “original material” and “faithful adaptation” often engages in glorifying the writing over the film. As a rule of thumb, I will try my best not to elevate the written material over film by avoiding and/or recognizing such loaded terminology. The end goal of each adaptation analysis is to determine whether I consider the film a close, loose, or intermediate adaptation. Although subjective, I will try my best to determine the category through countless examples between both mediums reasonably. I will engage with both microcosmic and macrocosmic applications.

Continue reading