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FILE PHOTO: A Display of DIALECTIC OF NOVEL-SCRIPT-FILM ADAPTATION (2023) © Envato / Ryota Nakanishi


Copyright © 2023 by Nakanishi, Ryota

Published: 9/25/2023

ISBN: 978-988-76066-2-8

Length: 833 Pages

Cover Design and illustration: Envato Pty Ltd.

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any system, without prior permission in writing from the author.

First published in Hong Kong, China

Introduction (A Question of Film Adaptation)

This book proves that the filmability of an original work becomes a criterion of faithful film adaptation. A theory or a theoretical work is to de-mystify illusions and misconceptions which were concocted by the ruling class ideologues. As part of RYOTA NAKANISHI’S FILM STUDIES TRILOGY (Hong Kong, China; 2021-2023), the 1st book A Study of The Three Act Structure (2021) explained the human-centric nature of The Three Act Structure as organism; the 2nd book Marxist Film Aesthetics (in Chinese; 2022) explained the nexus of Marxist aesthetics on cinema and general art practice defined as intrinsic nature / logic of an intrinsic object and dialectically turning them into specifically accurate methodology; this 3rd book (2023) is specifically written for one of the grave aesthetic issues arising in media after screening, film adaptation and its fidelity to the original (the theme of the 2nd book is a base principle for the 3rd book). Thus, this one is for promoting media-literacy not mainly for pure methodology of film adaptation.

As a matter of fact, the most direct film adaptation / translation / transposition of a novel is filming an actor literary reading the novel in front of a camera and lighting as the avant-garde Spanish Director Pere Portabella (1927-) asked the legendary British actor Christopher Lee (1922-2015) to read the last part of the original novel, the Irish Gothic Horror novelist Bram Stoker (1847-1912) ’s Dracula (UK, 1897) in a ‘film-commentary’ film Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970) to indicate Dir. Jesús Franco (1930-2013)’s infidelity to the original in his Count Dracula (1970). Exactly this reading part in Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970) is the simplest example of pure film adaptation and LITERAL fidelity to the novel. In other words, the phonetic art form audiobook is aesthetically located between the novel and film as the most primitive form of artistic adaptation / transposition / translation of a novel. Furthermore, radio-show is closer to film than audiobook in terms of diversification of its production parts in contrast to the simpler production model of audiobook in job divisions.

The conclusion of this book is that fidelity of film adaptation is decisively about narrative. Injection of a certain designated narrative for social purposes of the ruling class is done via various narrative media in their hands which called art forms. Only narrative is literally transpositional / translational into a film via its meditating phase, screenplay / script because other aesthetical aspects of cinema are relatively subject and vulnerable to general filmmaking factors which are external to narrative itself and as same as an original-story project. Furthermore, the case of William Peter Blatty (1928-2017) proved that even the same author cannot secure faithful completeness of film adaptation due to external factors arising throughout pre-production, filming, and post-production (three dialectic phases of cinema) in the entire capital movement under capitalism. As a result, good or ideal film adaptation is not logically and automatically equal with a good or ideal film work. Many books about film adaptation fatally lack dialectics, meanwhile some missed the mediating phase script; some fell into the sea of trivial superficial aspects of a materialized film story as a completed film.

Besides this, this book also inevitably and simultaneously solves a question of decades that adaptability of The Three Act Structure on the novel. The answer is that the narrative structure was originally from Ancient Greek literature. Thus, it is totally ridiculous to alienate the structure from its origins. The gravest misunderstanding among filmmakers and film students is that ‘The Three Act Structure is a film-specific methodology.’

This book is to evaluate the theses mentioned above by analyzing Viy (1967); Mother Joan of the Angels (1961); Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970); The Exorcist III (1990) and Resident Evil (2002). Part 1 is composed with chapter 1 - Viy (1967) and its relations with the original novel Вий (1835); chapter 2 - Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) and its relations with the original documents The History of the Devils of Loudun (1887);chapter 3 -Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970) and its relations with both the original novel Dracula (1897) and the original film Count Dracula (1970); chapter 4 The Exorcist III (1990), The Exorcist III: Legion (2016 restoration of the director’s cut) and its relations with the original novel Legion (1983) and the script; chapter 5 Resident Evil (2002) and its relations with the original game Resident Evil 1 (1996) and Resident Evil 2 (1998).

Appendix is this author’s recent film-commentary on world films (1888-2023). Plus, it includes a special research report for Dir. William Friedkin on the legendary initial theatrical screening of The Exorcist (1973) in Taiwan under dictatorship in the early 70s (2012).

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Analysed films in my new book below:

Viy (1967)

Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)

Vampir-Cuadecuc (1970)

The Exorcist III (1990)

Resident Evil (2002)



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