Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Film, Television, and Adaptation

July 10th, 2014 · No Comments

I remember when i was going through elementary and secondary education, that the most valued ideas were ideas written on paper, that most things online are evil, and that film, television, music, any other medium of presentation was purely for entertainment. Nothing could bring critical thought to the table if it was not in print form. However, I did love watching adaptations of my favourite books come to life in the movie theatre. I think I remember the first one I ever watched in the theatre – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It caused my heart great joy to see it on the big screen. However, I was deeply saddened when many of the tasks that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to go through in order to get the Philosopher’s Stone. Overall though, I was thoroughly impressed that through the magic of cinema they were able to depict a world that blew and stretched my imagination even further. I kept wanting to watch these movies because of it.

This idea of adaptation and how Bortolotti and Hutcheon express their ideas on treating the adaptation as an original work in and of itself is quite curious. I totally agree with this idea for many reasons. First, this idea of what a “text” is in British Columbia is a pretty ambiguous term. Teachers use film and television in the classroom in order to use the time for marking or to give the students a break from intense course work – as a form of reward for finishing the unit for the most part. Rarely have I seen teachers use film as a method of critical thinking. The only instance I have seen film used as such was in a Philosophy 12 class at my practicum school. His rationale behind it was that films reflect current philosophies, textbooks reflect past philosophies. Ultimately, he wanted his students to be aware of who they were as individuals.

Secondly, as teachers, we always teach our students how to compare and contrast and even synthesize two or more texts in an essay. Bortolotti and Hutcheon advise their readers that adaptations should be treated originally because of this. We should be able to engage in critical thinking not only with the text that we see on the page, but the text that we see performed. This distinction between the two is rather curious. During my practicum, my SA was concerned with the final project that I assigned my English 11E class. I told my students to create an adaptation of Act V in Othello in whatever way they could as long as it doesn’t take away from what the original text is saying. I had projects ranging from so many different genres – Hitchcock thriller, The Avengers, a really bad kung fu dubbed movie, a dark socialite world in high school, and a simple modern day application. All these projects ended up being amazing and it turned out that my SA had reservations about the project because he wasn’t open to the idea of adaptations as, in his view, they often strayed away from the original or were never as good as, case in point, the fidelity discourse.

– Kevin

Tags: adaptations

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