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TitleA Companion to Literature and Film
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size2.5 MB
Total Pages465
Table of Contents
                            Robert Stam Alessandra Raengo
	Contents
	List of Illustrations
	Notes on Contributors
	Preface
	Acknowledgments
	1 Novels, Films, and the Word/Image Wars
	2 Sacred Word, Profane Image: Theologies of Adaptation
	3 Gospel Truth? From Cecil B. DeMille to Nicholas Ray
	4 Transécriture and Narrative Mediatics: The Stakes of Intermediality
	5 The Look: From Film to Novel. An Essay in Comparative Narratology
	6 Adaptation and Mis-adaptations: Film, Literature, and Social Discourses
	7 The Invisible Novelty: Film Adaptations in the 1910s
	8 Italy and America: Pinocchio’s First Cinematic Trip
	9 The Intertextuality of Early Cinema: A Prologue to Fantômas
	10 Cosmopolitan Projections: World Literature on Chinese Screens
	11 The Rhetoric of Interruption
	12 Visualizing the Voice: Joyce, Cinema, and the Politics of Vision
	13 Adapting Cinema to History: A Revolution in the Making
	14 Photographic Verismo, Cinematic Adaptation, and the Staging of a Neorealist Landscape
	15 The Devil’s Parody: Horace McCoy’s Appropriation and Refiguration of Two Hollywood Musicals
	16 The Sociological Turn of Adaptation Studies: The Example of Film Noir
	17 Adapting Farewell, My Lovely
	18 Daphne du Maurier and Alfred Hitchcock
	19 Running Time: The Chronotope of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
	20 From Libertinage to Eric Rohmer: Transcending “Adaptation”
	21 The Moment of Portraiture: Scorsese Reads Wharton
	22 The Talented Poststructuralist: Hetero-masculinity, Gay Artifice, and Class Passing
	23 From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”
	24 The Bible as Cultural Object(s) in Cinema
	25 All’s Wells that Ends Wells: Apocalypse and Empire in The War of the Worlds
                        
Document Text Contents
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choice of angles often appear straightforward and simplified, sharp contrasts of light and

shade, unsoftened by the lens or in processing, eloquently impart the subjugation of these

Sicilians to the Mediterranean climate, the punishing sun, the arid earth, in dramatic

terms. The drama of the light and the textured contrasts become as much objects of the

representation here as they are the means by which we see what the camera has enframed.

Does Verga’s work reveal some consciousness of, does it acknowledge the bind between

fact and expression, reference and poesis, denotation and connotation in photography’s

ontological constitution? Under the violent sunlight and harsh shadows that mark their

faces, three Sicilian farmers from Tébidi are frontally grouped, from the waist up, in an

1897 photograph (figure 14.3). Such an image clearly exceeds the neutralizing function

of cataloguing or of the identity card. The subtle low angle of the camera just suffices

to endow these figures with an heroic aspect that is made more eloquent by the unsoft-

ened light, enhancing the shiny, deeply marked foreheads, the hands looming large in the

front, the depth of the glances right into the camera, confronting the lens in defiance of

the sunlight, each from a slightly different position.

A late photograph (1911) of a little girl at the window in Novalucello (figure 14.4)

is reminiscent of some of Visconti’s most memorable framing in La terra trema: the ele-

gance of its composition seems dictated by the window’s “natural” enframing of the girl,

just as the theatrical organization of other photographs appeared naturally dictated by

the given setting. Yet precise choices determine these graceful images of Sicily. For here,

again, the slight angle and harsh contrasts enhance the texture, indeed the expressivity,

214

Figure 14.2 Giovanni Verga: Mascalucia (?), 1897.
Collezione G. Garra Agosta. From Verga Fotografo (Catania, Italy: Giuseppe Maimone

Editore, 1991).

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of the wall surrounding the girl, who emerges into the sunlight dramatically defined against

the dark interior of the room behind her. But even in such compositions – so evocative

of pictorial renderings of “the woman at the window” as a conventional trope – the inter-

framing seeks to present actuality as itself already fully expressive, “naturally” poetic,

and as such ready to lend itself to the photograph. These Sicilian photographs – like

Verga’s literary chorale of factual, documentary sources and poetic embellishment – aspire

to render reality-as-art by sheer, spontaneous self-manifestation. The verista yearning

for unmediated registration invariably results in an aesthetically satisfying chorale, com-

posed from “a specific visual angle.”

The case of Verga as photographer reveals an impulse behind a nineteenth-century

realist school as it aspires toward and is taken up by photography and film. While he

must have contemplated cinema in corresponding with several institutions concerning prac-

tical and economic possibilities for the adaptation of his work, Verga’s thought on this

front is not as developed as that on photography.22 Yet as associative threads that lead

from verismo to Visconti’s cinematic return to the sites of I malavoglia, Verga’s photo-

graphs speak most eloquently. For they themselves constitute an adaptation, a visual

215

Figure 14.3 Giovanni Verga: Tébidi, 1897.
Collezione G. Garra Agosta. From Verga Fotografo (Catania, Italy: Giuseppe Maimone

Editore, 1991).

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now rigid handling machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were

the Martians – DEAD! – slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their

systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices

had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth” (II, 8).

47 The narrative of besiegement manifests itself in both Westerns and combat films. As previ-

ously noted, the film stages World War III as a recapitulation of World War II; thus, it

alludes and enlarges upon the platoon film. There is a strain of Westerns, combat films, and

colonial adventure stories in which a tiny band has to hold its position against an anonymous,

mostly unseen, dark Other. For example, as Robert Stam and Ella Shohat have stated,

“the Indian raid on the fort, as the constructed bastion of settled civilization against nomadic

savagery . . . became a staple topos in American westerns.” See Ella Shohat and Robert

Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (New York: Routledge, 1994),

p. 116. In these films, such as The Lost Patrol (1934), Bataan (1943), Ulzana�s Raid (1972),

or Platoon (1986), the group, depicted as a microcosm of society, fights the dark Other, which

threatens not just to win the battle but to overrun civilization entirely. Though most of the

characters in films of this type do not survive the narrative, the values of Western society,

which they symbolically depict, are, nonetheless, affirmed. This is connected to apocalypse,

as a desirable way to purge civilization of the unsavory, Other elements. The narratives of

besiegement allow the films to work through the characteristics of national identity through

contrast to a ruthless, faceless, undifferentiated, resolutely evil enemy.

In American narratives of imperialism, this mode of besiegement is played out through the

myth of the frontier. Therefore, the film The War of the Worlds is intertextually consonant

with a distinctly American configuration of the apocalyptic narrative. In the popular American

imagination, and the cinema by extrapolation, empire’s equation between oppressed and col-

onizer was inverted and became an instrument of the powerful against the marginalized. The

apocalyptic expressed empire, not resistance to it, perhaps inevitably in the context of an affluent

society, which was itself sometimes viewed as a New Jerusalem. As Richard Slotkin has exten-

sively argued, the Puritans produced an impressive literature of the apocalyptic through which

they filtered their experiences in North America. Indeed, Increase and Cotton Mather proved

adept at finding apocalyptic biblical interpretations for contemporary events. See Richard Slotkin,

Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier 1600�1860

(Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973). The Native Americans were viewed as

extensions of the physical landscape, as demons of the apocalypse, and their presence allowed

the colonizer an outlet for a struggle against their own moral deficiencies. King Philip’s War,

during which the Puritans committed atrocities against the Pequot Indians, was interpreted

as evidence of the onset of the Tribulation. Increase Mather suggested that the war was proph-

esied in the book of Revelations as the red horse of the Apocalypse. See Paul Boyer, When

Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard

University Press, 1992), p. 69. Indeed, in the American colonial period, religious themes and

secular events were increasingly intermingled in popular writings before the Revolution. As

Richard Slotkin argues, the Puritans viewed the frontier as an existential landscape, and their

purpose was to impose order upon a “formless” world. Thus, colonial discourse is necessar-

ily predicated on the body of the Other and regeneration through violence, a reflection of the

purifying destruction of the apocalypse, which becomes a justification for imperialism. See

Richard Slotkin, Gun�ghter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth Century America

446

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(New York: Athenaeum, 1992), p. 12. The polysemic vagueness of Revelation permits an easy

inscription of the Other within the crisis subjectivity of the colonizer as constituted by the

apocalyptic.

48 J. P. Vernier, “Evolution as a Literary Theme in H. G. Wells’s Science Fiction,” in Darko

Suvin and Robert Philmus (eds), H. G. Wells and Modern Science Fiction (Lewisburg, PA:

Bucknell University Press, 1977), p. 82.

49 Quoted in Hughes and Geduld, Critical Edition, p. 1.

50 Quoted in Bergonzi, The Early H. G. Wells, p. 125.

51 See Michael Rogin, Independence Day: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the

Enola Gay (London: British Film Institute, 1998).

52 McConnell, Science Fiction, p. 11.

447

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