Sunday, 8 April 2018

Multi-Media Mania

A story can be narrated, enacted or depicted. Thus:

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.


S.M. Stirling said...

Visual media don't portray interior monologue well -- it has to be done by implication (acting), dialogue or the clunky voice-over. I think Poul's work would translate well; the devil's in the details, of course.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I certainly don't object to any filming of MIRKHEIM, esp. if it's done well and retells the story in a fascinating way. But I would prefer to see filmed "translations" of some of the Nicholas van Rijn stories first. One reason is that filmed adaptations of short stories should be easier to do than novels. Second, filming short stories set in the Technic universe would give directors experience in how to "do" stories set in an interstellar medium featuring non humans. Third, Old Nick is too fascinating, colorful, and important in his own right to be relegated to a fairly secondary role in a filmed version of MIRKHEIM.

Which of the earlier van Rijn stories do you think should be filmed first? The choices would be "Margin of Profit," "Hiding Place," "The Master Key," and THE MAN WHO COUNTS. I lean to "Margin of Profit."

You already know, from past discussions, how I favor first filming "The Game of Glory" first of the Dominic Flandry stories. Because that could be done in, say, the Bahamas with minimum special effects.



Paul Shackley said...

Ideally, I would like to see the entire Technic History filmed in chronological order. On this basis, the first van Rijn work to be filmed would be "Margin of Profit."