Sunday, 8 April 2018
Poul Anderson narrates his History of Technic Civilization in a long series of novels and short stories;
in a live action screen dramatization, a large cast of actors would enact the History;
in a graphic adaptation, a penciler, an inker, a colorist and a letterer, or more probably a team of several artists with these skills, would depict the story;
in an animation, cartoonists would depict and actors would enact;
moreover, some scenes in an animation could be accompanied by voice-over narration, e.g., taken from Hloch's Introductions to The Earth Book Of Stormgate.
A partially narrated animation would synthesize narration, sequential art and drama so would it constitute an ultimate audiovisual art form?
We have not mentioned book covers, illustrated prose narratives, poetry, stage dramatizations, musicals, operas, audiodramas, ballets or other kinds of performances. Also, producers, directors, editors, script-writers etc would contribute to the various kinds of adaptations.
These questions arise because, when we appreciate a work that is excellent in its medium, we ask whether it can be adapted into other media. In a talk delivered at the Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster, Anthony Burgess denigrated a film adaptation of James Joyce's A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man because the cinema screen was unable to communicate the feelings and sensations evoked by the novel.
If an author were to pre-plan the telling of a single story as a prose novel, a graphic novel and a film, then he would have to take into account from the outset that, without contradicting each other, the three media would of necessity tell different parts or aspects of that one story. Characters in Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife eat in a restaurant called "The Beau Thai," and we hear this name in the film but either we do not see it or I missed it when we were shown it.
Anderson's Mirkheim merely states that Sandra Tamarin meets Benoni Strang a few times but, for reasons discussed here, any film adaptation would have to avoid showing us Strang's face during such meetings. This alone would alert the audience that there was something significant about Strang but that is unavoidable.