LITERATURE AND FILM- A GUIDE TO THE THEORY AND PRACTICE; Stam, Robert, Raengo, Alessandro. Print
A fourth, related source of hostility to film and adaptation is the obverse form of iconophobia , to wit logophilia , or the valorization of the verbal, typical of cultures rooted in the sacred word of the’’ religions of the book ‘’ . It is symptomatic, in this sense , that many litterateurs rejects film based on anthropology. The common current, coming from such different disciplinary angles, is the nostalgic exaltation of the written word as the privileged medium of communication.
A fifth source of hostility to film and adaptation – and here we move in more speculative directions – is anti-corporeality, a distance for the unseemly ‘’embodiedness’’ of the filmic text ; the ‘’seen’’, to recycle a venerable pun , is regarded as obscene. Film offends through its inescapable materiality , its incarnated , fleshly, enacted characters, its real locales and palpable props, its carnality and visceral shocks to the nervous system. Unlike film, literature is seen as channeled on a higher, more cerebral, trans-sensual and out-of-body plane . While novels are absorbed through the mind’s eye during reading , films directly engage the various senses. As the cognitive theorist points out, films have impact on our stomach , heart and skin, working through ‘’neural structures’’ and ‘’ visuo-motor schemata’’. Vivian Sobchak, following on Merleau-Ponty, calls film the ‘’expresssion of experience by experience’’ , which deploys Kinetic, haptic, and sensuous modes of embodied existence. Although novel reading as well as film spectatorship constitutes a purely mental event, novels are not literally seen through lenses, projected on wider screens, or heard in sound measurable in decibels, sounds which can break glass or damage eardrums.
A sixth source of hostility of adaptation is called the myth of facility , the completely uniformed and somewhat puritanical notion that films are suspectly easy to make and suspectly pleasurable to watch. This myth relates , first of all a cliché about production : ‘’ a director merely films what’s there’’. This idea is subliminally inked to what might be called ‘’apparatusism’’, the by-now –discredited and technologically deterministic assumption that the cinema , as a mechanical means of reproduction , merely registers external appearances, and therefore cannot be art. On the production side , the facility myth ignores the diversified talents and Herculean efforts required actually to make films .On the reception side, it ignores the intense perceptual and conceptual lobor-the work of iconic designation, visual deciphering, narrative inference and construction inherent I films. Like novels of any complexity , films too bear ‘’rereading’’, precisely because so much can be missed in a single viewing.( To Be Continued)