Defying the cycle of thought…

Posts tagged “theme

How to visibly adapt.

Okay, now to talk about how to make the visible MORE visible. But, also, how to translate the verbal elements, since this is a book, into s0mething completely visual. Here is where I turned back to the theme of this novel. Seger writes about how there is a certain amount of description needed to get images across in a book. These are chosen carefully to construct an overall image, or theme. This is often done by repeating the same image or idea, by adding details to the original image, or also by using contrasting images. I tried to implement these techniques when it came to my adaptation. I focused on the ideas of silence versus noise – of the implications of both, and how it can affect the overall image of a household. Seger talks about how movement is fluid in a novel. The narrator moves through the book in a way that helps readers understand the connection between details, ideas, and information that may appear again in different chapters. The author connects the past, present, and future. An interesting aspect of My Sister’s Keeper, is that the novel jumps around in time. The mother is often reflecting on the past, and many times whole chapters are flashbacks. This helps connect the imagery and themes of the novel, though. It illustrates how the past inevitably affects the present, which will also impact the future. These images are closely intertwined.

When considering my adaptation, I tried to fixate on repeated words, and the resultant images they formed. It was also interesting to note that sometimes the same words prompted totally different results, or images. Because of the ways in which the characters changed, the words took on new meanings, and formed completely different images. This contributed to the confusing mood of the novel and the inability of characters and readers to get a firm grasp on what is right and wrong. The words create images, however, which help form a general mood and theme for the book.

What I really wanted to capture in my visual adaptation, was the interconnectedness between verbal word and the formation of images. Whether these images are created by the character or the reader, they are a reaction to something said or not said. Image and word are tied together. And even though the relationship bonds in this novel are tested and torn and pulled to a stretching point, the bond between written word and visual image, remains constant. The words might change, the images might change, but the coexistence of the two, does not.


Exactly how do we adapt?

A writer who creates an exact image or mood or storyline makes it both harder and easier for adaptation. It is easier in the sense that there is something precise and tangible to work with. However, due to the exactness of this created world, one also runs the risk of not capturing it precisely and to the degree that the author did. There is more to risk when something is that exact. However, because Jodi Picoult does such a great job at really sculpting this world, she does provide the adapter with a gripping point, something to hold onto and work with.

Seger talks about exploring the theme when it comes to adaptation. This seems highly relevant when it comes to a discussion on exactitude, because part of being exact, is being able to create a precise theme. Seger talks about how novels and plays tend to be more theme-oriented than films. Films tend to be more story oriented. Translating the theme from one medium to another is not always an easy matter. However, Seger says that “one central theme will come to the forefront” (139). She also writes that “all of the great novels, however, and most of the good ones, are not just telling a story but are pursuing an idea” (14). The theme is just as important as the plot, if not more important.

When it comes to finding the theme, Seger mentions five things one must look for:

1. Narration of the writer

2. The dialogue

3. Story choices that the writer has made

4. Choices that the character makes

5. Images used in description that can be translated into cinematic images

Therefore, when it came to pondering how I might adapt the exact theme present in My Sister’s Keeper, I focused on those issues. It is interesting to note that these five things mentioned above all imply a sort of exactness. Here is this idea of trying to mimic a sort of preciseness fostered by the writer. It is about pinpointing exactly what is needed to convey these same ideas via images. What themes are most integral to the storyline? What exactly must be included to capture this, and what, maybe, can be left out of the adaptation?

For me, it came down to the mood that Picoult captured in this novel. I felt like the mood was highly tied to the theme. Her novel is very much one giant question. The story is a novel about how easy it is for a world to shatter, how confusing the aftermath can be, how certain choices led to particular outcomes, but how fuzzy life can appear. The theme has to do with trying to contain something that is, by definition, difficult to explain or define or understand. Kate has cancer. There is no reason why she got cancer. It does not make sense. However, Anna was born to save Kate. There was a precise purpose here. But, at some point, this purpose becomes more gray, and it is challenged. What once seemed completely black and white, right or wrong, is no longer as easy to define. The exact central theme here has to do with morality.Therefore, I tried to capture this when it came to adapting this work.