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TARGET Target4:1. 53-70(1992).oJohn BenjaminsB.

V', Amsterdam
Not to be reproducedin any form without written permissionfrom the publisher'

INTERNATIONAL
JOURNALOF
TRANSLATION
STIJDIES

Eorrons
CroroNTouny
(TelAviv University,lsrael
)
Lnvernr
JosÉ
(KU Leuven,Belgium)
Film (Adaptation)as Translation:
SomeMethodologicalProPosals I
EorronrmSrcnrrRny ceËi:5
Patrick
LtrveN D'HuLsr (Llniversityof Antwerp,Belgium) I
Srylr Eorron
Mtntnu SHrrstNcen(Bar-tlantJniversity,lsrael)
Abstract.. This paper proposes an application of some particular theories,
EorronlnlBonno known as the
'polysystem' theories of trawlation, to the study of
film adapta-
MnnrLvN
Cnoors-Rosr(SUNy, Binghamton,USA) tion. A, preliminary and experimental analysts of a series of film adaptations
made in the American film noir of the 1940sand 1950sshows that this approach
(Tel
lrnvnnEveN-ZoHen Aviv IJniversity,lsrael)
provides the basisfor a systematic and coherent method with theoreticalfounda-
(Bergen,Norway)
WrnNrnKor-rsn tions, and that it permits the study of aspectsof ftlm adaptation which have been
ReyvoNovANDEN Bnorcx(KVHAntwerp,Belgium) neglectedor ignored so far.

I NrrnHmoxll Aovlsony Bonno Résumé; L'article propose une application de quelques théories de la traduction
'polysystémiques'à t'étude de I'adaptation
spécifiques d.ites filmíque. une analy-
PierreBourdieu(Paris);EugenioCoseriu(Tilbingen) se prélimínaire et expérimentale d'un corpus d'adaptations ftlmiques réalisées
'40 et'50 permet de constaterqu'une ap-
Nils ErikEnkvist Armin paulFrank@óítingen)
(Helsinki); dans le film noir américain des années
BrianHarris(Ottawa);R.R.K.Hartmann(Exeter) proche polysystémique du phénomène de l'adaptation filmique fournit les bases
Theo Hermans(London);JulianeHouse(Hamburg) d'une méthode systématique,cohérente et théoriquement fondée, et qu'elle per-
Dell Hymes(Universityof Virginia);Vladimir tvír (Zigreb) met d'élargir le champ d'étude et d'examiner des aspectsde I'adaptation filmique
Kittyvan Leuven-ZwarÍ(Amsterdaml;AlbrechtNeubert(Leipzig) négligésou ignorés iusqu'ici.
RolandPosner(Berlin);Mary Snell-Hornbveilrich)
MarioValdés(Toronto)
1. Introductory Note
Al,r,rlNo Scopr
TARCETíocuseson the interrelationships betweenthe positionof translating The following methodologicalproposalsconcernthe study of film in terms
and translationsin culture,the normsgoverningthem, and the modesof perl of translation.This propositionis not presentedas a mere play on words
formingtranslation p.rocessesundervariouscircumstances.
lt publishesoriginal nor is its intention polemical.Film studiesand translationstudiesdo have
studiesof theoretical,methodologicaland descriptive-explanatorynature into
'approaches. different objects, of course.However, I think that an extensionof the con-
translationproblemsand corpora,reflectingvarioussocio-cultural cept of translation,and an approach to the study of film (adaptation)in
tssN0924-1881 terms of this extendedconceptcould provide us with new insightsinto the

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F-ILM(ADAPI'ATION) AS ]'RANSLATION 55
54 PATRICK CATTRYSSE

and 1960 were taken into consideration, which led to a corpus of approxi-
fundamentalpatternsofcommunicationinbothfilmandtranslation.Also,
have in mind just any theoret- mately 600 films recognized asfilm noirs in the most important publications
when I speak of translation studies, I do not
new tendency among a group of abouithe genre. Of those, I had some 250 at my disposal. From this study,
ical framework. I wish to join a relatively
are no grounds for reducing the several interesting observations have indeed resulted' for the study of film
translation scholars who bllieve that there
only and who accept noir itself as well as for the study of film adaptation in general.
concept of translation to interlinguistic relationships
of a general nature' In what follows, I will first explain the method that has been applied in
that tianslation is in fact a semiotic phenomenon will
sprung from a previous that study and present some of the results it yielded. A few perspectives
The idea of studying film as tianslation has film studies in
with the development of a then be added concerning the study of film adaptation, even
research project of mine which was concerned
is as old as cinema itself, but general.
theory oftit* adaptation.r This phenomenon
many studies were devoted to
although since the beginning Óf the century
to date which would allow one
it, no Joherent methoá has Éeen developed
In an attempt to lay the foun- 2. The Methodand SomeResults
to study film adaptation in a systematic way'
particular theories of translation
dations of a theory of film adaptation, tools
adopted'2 The use of these within the attempt to verify whether the PS approach could provide
known as polysystem theories were tentatively theory of film adaptation,
adaptation was deemed applo- for the development of a coherent and systematic
theories as a framework for the study of film of source
and film adaptation studies are four groups of questions were asked: about the selection policy
priate because, after all, translation studies were selected, the way film
of source into target texts under items, the adaptation policy of the items that
both concerned with the transformation and the rela'
The use of the so-called adaptations (ai texts) function within the cinematic context,
some condition of "invariance", or equivalence' on the
to translation also tions that may obtain between the selection and adaptation policies,
pàlyryrt"* (henceforth: PS) theories in their application
various procedures and situa- one hand, and the function/position of the adapted film within the cinema-
.""*"0 plausible because of their attack on
studies' which seem to charac- tic context, on the other hand.
tions in the traditional field of translation
terize studies of film adaptation as well:
a. Selection PolicY
is on the reconstruction of
a source-oriented approach where the focus
at that;
the source text, and a'faithful' reconstruction Thus, for instance, while trying to answer some of these questions with
clear
a p r i o r i e x p e c t a t i o n s ( o n t h e p a r t o f t h e s c h o l a r ) w i t h 'original"
respectt.oadequ-
leading respect to the American film noir of the 1940sand 1950s, it became
text to its
aiy andnoi-. of equivalenceof the adapted thai most of the films noirs were based on novels (34%) and short stories
film adaptations
to normative attituàes which prescribe how'successful' (33%). only 22"/" of them were based on an original screenplay. The study
revealed
shouldproceedratherthandescribinghowfilmadaptationshaveactu- of the authors whose prose fiction was selected for adaptation
for these practices;
ally proceeded and trying to explain the reasons that, next to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond chandler and James M.
cain,
of pairs of individual (source and
the scope restricted tá the comparison writers such as Cornell Woolrich, William R. Burnett, William P. Mc-
descriptions of the mechanisms
target) texts, leading to very iniomplete Givern, Mickey Spillane, and Dorothy B. Hughes have also provided liter-
process as well as the way
that may have deteimined the transformation ary material for the film noír. Flowever, until recently, critics tended to
the target text actually functions' attach more importance to literary writers and books in terms of their liter'
the PS approach co-uldprovide arv prestige, rather than to their (quantitative or qualitative) importance
In order to verify whether and in what way
thenecessaryinstrumentsforthedevelopmentofatheoryoffilmadapta- tor it" fiím noir itself.;This is illustrated, for example, by the fact that
study of a group of film adap- Horace McCoy has been studied earlier, and in more detail than Cornell
tion, some PS principles were applied to the
tationsknownastheAmericanfilmnoir.ol|yfilmsmadebetween1940 woolrich. As far as the credits tell us, McCoy never wrote a single
56 PATRICK CAT:TRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATTON) AS TRANSLATION 57

screenplayfor a film noir, andhad only one novel adapted into a film noir, ished in film adaptationsof detective stories.Actions or characterswhich
namely, KissTomorrowGoodbye.Woolrich,on the other hand,hadseven are not really important for the further developmentof the main story -
novels adapted into film noirs, and many more short stories. However, what Barthes(1977) calledcatalysesand catalyticcharacters- havegener-
Woolrich was a literary non-identitywhereasMcCoy acquiredliterary ally been suppressedtoo. In this way, one can distinguishseveralnorms
fame. The fact that a scholarlike Hirsch (1981:4l-43) wrote severalpara- that seemto have determinedthe transfer processfrom the novel to the
graphson McCoy's They ShootHorsesDon't They?,and only briefly men- film.
tioned the title of Klss Tomorrow Goodbye, seemsto have been deter- What is more, looking further at the novelsvs. the films noirs, one
mined by the samemotivation,that is. the literaryprestigeof the source noticesthat transpositionalnorms do not functionin isolation.Rather, var-
text. Although Hirsch stresses the importanceof the novel for thefilm noir , ious kinds of hierarchicalrelationscan be discernedbetweenthem. Several
They Shoot Horses Don't They?was only filmed in 1969, more than ten norms may combine into complexes.For example,next to the above-men-
years after the film noir in fact ceasedto exist. But Albert Camus had tioned norm of narrative pertinence,film noir adaptationsseemto 'prefer'
appraisedthe work as a "literary masterpiece".As I said, only Kr'ssTomor- a straightnarrativeline. Consequently,flashbacks,episodicnarrativestruc-
row Goodbye was adapted into a film noir in Da9 @y Cagney Produc- tures and compositenarrativesare generallydeleted.The overall effect is
tions), but this novel did certainlynot possess the sameliterary prestige. that of narrativesimplification.Thus, a norm suchas narrative simplifica-
Hence, film criticshave largelyignored the importanceof this novel for the tion would be situatedon a hierarchicallysuperiorlevel, from whichit gov-
American film noir.It seemstherefore that, more often than not, scholars erns severallower-rank norms (suchas narrativepertinence,straightnarra-
were rnore interestedin the cultural emancipationof their object of study tive line, etc.), which join force to produce a common effect.
than they were in studyingthe 'real' literary origins. At other times, variousnorms seemto install themselvesin a conflict-
When looking at the literary (sub-)genresthat were selectedfor adap- ing situationwhere the one tries to overrule the other insteadof cooperat-
tation, four typesof storiesmanifestedthemselvesasimportant: the private ing with it. For example, it is clear that the adaptationprocesscannot be
eye detectivestory.(e.9., Dashiell Hammett's The MalteseFalcon), the reduced to simplification. Many modifications (additions, permutations,
criminal storytold from the point of view of the criminal (e.g., JamesM. substitutions)produce an effect which, far from simplifying, is sometimes
Cain's Double Indemnity), the criminal story told from the point of view of rather complicating.Thus, one (more or less)common dramaticpractice
the victim (e.g., Lucille Fletcher'sSorry Wrong Number), and the spystory consistsin adding sceneswhere antagonists(e.g., the criminal and the
(e.g., Graham Green's The ConfidentialAgent). detective)are brought togetherin the same,or in an adjoining place.This
probably explains why, in contradistinctionto films based on detective
ó. AdaptationPolicy stories,wherenumeroussceneswhere the policefeaturesare deleted,crim-
inal films presentedfrom the point of view of the criminal add scenesof this
The searchfor an adaptationpolicy pertinent to the Americanfílm noir has kind. Thesesituationsheightenthe risk of discoveringthe culprit and end-
led to the conclusionthat not only the original texts, but other norms and ing the story prematurely. Therefore, apparently,an overall norm of sus-
(more or less) general mechanismsas well seemto have served as con- penseservesto explain why, in certain cases,the norm of simplificationhas
straintson the adaptationprocess.For example,the norm of narrativeper- been overruledand the literary sceneunderwentnarrativecomplexification
tinence vs. narrativeredundancyapparentlydeterminedthe suppressionof in the film.
many of the sourcenovel elements.When comparingseveralnovelswith
their film noir adaptation, one notices that actions which are repeated in
the novel are generallydeletedin the film. This practice is also generally
applied to actionsor charactersthat fulfill the same (narrative or other)
function. For instance,in general,the role of the police tendsto be dimin-
58 PATRICK CAT'TRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION 59

c. The Functioning of Adaptations position of the respective literary and cinematic genres can play a very
important role in the selection as well as in the adaptation process: When
In English, like many other languages, the wordsfilm adaptation (l'adapta- the importing genre holds a stable and successfulposition, the function of
tion filmique, Liíeraturverfilmung) indicate the transformation process as film adaptations tends to be conservative. As againstthis, when the stability
well as its product. Therefore, studying film adaptation also means studying of the film genre is endangered, the function of film adaptations becomes
how an adaptation (as a finished film) functions within its context. Ques- innovative. The conservative or innovative function of film adaptations
tions to be asked here are: Do film adaptations present themselves as adap- seems to determine the selection policy, as well as the ways of adapting the
tations of previous texts? Are they considered and/or evaluated as such by source texts. If the function of a film adaptation consists in sustaining and
critics and the public, or are they taken on their own merits instead?Turn- preserving a stable and successful genre, the selection policy consists in
ing to the American films noirs again, it becomes obvious that the films selecting source material which corresponds maximally to the dominant
mention.several sources they have used. The credits generally mention the film genre conventions. when exceptionally, a source text is selectedwhich
type of source text (novel, story, screenplay, etc.) and its author's name. does not correspond to the filmic conventions, the conventions of the liter-
However, most of the films noirs present themselvesin the first place as the ary genre are abandoned and the source material is largely modified to
autonomous work of a film studio, director and producer. Only when the meet the cinematographic genre needs. But when the function of the film
film is based on a famous source text, or the work of a famous writer, does adaptation consists in renewing a petrified film genre which is on the verge
the credit deviate from this practice and cast the name of the source text of decay, both selection and adaptation policies are reversed: source texts
and/or its author into greater prominence. are selected which are different from the dominant cinematographic genre
As for the way film adaptations are perceived by the public and critics, conventions, and, instead of being modified, those different literary charac-
this is not always a simple matter. It is not necessarilybecause the public or teristics are imported as they are into the film adaptation, in order to
critics are aware of the existenceof underlying literary source materials that revitalize the outworn film conventions.3
a film adaptation fupctions as an adaptation. Thus, French and American
public and critics in the 1940sand 1950swere all aware of the popular liter-
ary origins of the American film noir, but only in France did the films noirs 3. Evaluation
clearly function as film adaptations. French contemporary critics
appreciated both the romans noirs and the films noirs. As against this, It is too early to give a full-scale evaluation of the application of the pS
American critics had no high esteem for this pulp literature, which they method to the study of film adaptation. However, it does seem that this
considered morally depraved. They preferred to ignore the whole genre, approach offers more than one advantage. PS theories provide some prom-
and therefore, when they wrote aboul films noirs, they tended to skip their ising tools to start developing a theory of film adaptation without forcing
literary origins (cf., e.g., Higham and Greenberg 1968), stressingtheir fil- research to start working from scratch. The methods and results of previous
mic qualities only. studies can be integrated in the overall methodological program. Further-
more, the PS approach directs attention to 'new' aspectsof film adaptation.
d. The Retations btetween Functions and Poticies For example, a systematic analysis of the selection policy of (literary or
non-literary) source material, followed by the analysis of large corpora of
Finally, it is important to study adaptation (on the selection and transfer film adaptations, constitutes another aspect of film adaptation studies
dimensions) in relation to the function and position of the adaptations as which has not yet been undertaken. Also, the pragmatic and rather
films within their context. Thus, a brief look at the evolution of the selec- tautological conception of a film adaptation (following Toury's working
tion and adaptation policies of one particular seriesof films noirs, namely, definition of translation [1985: 20]) as a fiIrn which functions as a firm adap-
the private eyefilm noir, makes it possible to see that genre norms and the tation, that is, a film which presents itself as an adaptation of (a) previous
60 PATRICK CATTRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION 61

text(s) and/or is regarded as such by the public and the critics, can help do elaboration. The descriptive, historical definition of film adaptation can
away with the traditional, normative definition of film adaptation, based on pose some difficulties too. In some cases, films may be based on previous
postulated relations of adequacy between the adaptation and its so-called texts without being adaptations in the functional sense of the word (i.e.,
'original'. Replacing this a priori notion by a historic, descriptive and func-
they do not function as such within a given context). I have already men-
tional definition helps free some terminological discussions (e.g., about tioned the functioning of film noir adaptations in the United States before
what constitutes a film noir, a semi-documentary, a roman noir, etc.) from the end of the 1960s. The remake is another case in point. In contradistinc-
the deadlock that has characterized them until now. It also enlarges the tion to a film adaptation of a non-filmic text, the remake (; the adaptation
field of film adaptation studies, which can no longer be reduced to'faithful' of a previous film) generally does not present itself as one. In the credits of
adaptations of canonic literary texts: On the one hand, film adaptations a remake a previous novel or a screenplay will normally be mentioned
may be unfaithful to the source text; on the other hand, many adaptations rather than a previous film, so that the term remake is mostly used by critics
are based on popular literary texts; and all these too are worthwhile objects in metatexts (cf. critical reviews and film comments). Flowever, these dif-
for study. In addition; the adaptation of literary texts has to be seen next to ficulties lead to a terminological problem, not a methodological one.
the adaptation of other types of (non-literary) materiala such as letters,
police files, radio and television plays, previous movies, and so forth. This
observation may well lead to the conclusion that practically every film pro- 4. NewPerspectivesfor Film (Adaptation)Studies
duction represents some kind of adaptation, if only the adaptation of a
screenplay. Be that asit may, the observationsmade duringthe preliminaryandexperi-
The (conservative or innovative) function of a film adaptation (as a mental study of film adaptationvis-à-visthe American film noir make it
finished text) within its filmic context represents another new aspect in the possibleto detect some very interestingnew perspectivesfor film adapta-
domain of (film) adaptation studies, which has not been studied so far. The tion studies,even film studiesin general.Most important of all, descriptive
study of the presentation of a film alone implies a whole research program. (rather than prescriptive)analysesof the adaptationpolicy and of the con-
After all, a film is not presented to the public by its credits alone. It is also cept of equivalencelead one to the conclusionthat film adaptationsin gen-
d presented by a whole gamut of.parafilmic activities such as previews, pre- eral do not limit themselves tg one so-called sourc€. Rather -veral
(source)practices,simultaneouslyand at differentlevels,normallysL.ve as
/ sion, promotional activities of many kinds, and so forth. The functioning of models for the production process.This is particularly the casewith film
a film adaptation as such also concerns the film's reception by the public production which constitutesa real Gesamtkunstwerk.
and critics. Needless to say, the functioning of a film adaptation can vary in For example, in the American films noirs, the stories of many short
time and space, so that the study of this aspect may well result in the estab- stories and novels have indeed been adopted as a basis for adaptation.
lishment of a historical description. However,on the photographiclevel, directorsof photographywerelargely
Finally, let me mention the analysis of the possible system(at)ic rela- inspired by German Expressionismof the 1920sas well as American con-
tions between the function of a film adaptation (at the moment of its temporaryphotography,drawingand painting.Music,followedits own tra-
release) and the selection and adaptation policies, which constitute still ditions, asdid actingstyleand conventionsof miseen scène(cf. Stanislavsky
another new aspect that has been ignored in film adaptation studies up till and Method Acting). Even film adaptationsof famousliterary textsgener-
now. ally do not limit themselvesto adaptingthe literary sourcealone.The story
All this does not mean that the PS approach leaves no difficulties unre- of such a book may have guided the film adaptationon the narratological
solved. In the first place, it does not provide analytical instruments for level, but other aspectssuchas directing, staging,acting, setting,costumd,
studying and comparing film texts. Furthermore, some of its theoretical lighting, photography,pictorial representation,music, etc. may well have
concepts (e.g., norms, models, systems, dominant) are in need of more been governedby other modelsand conventionswhich did not originatein
62 PATRICK CATTRYSSE ,/(4 I
the literary text and did not serve as a translation of any otrts eÉ^ents. As
-lurning
I;I t,M (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION

back to the existingstudies of intertextuality, I think some


63

of their
a consequence, film adaptation had better be studied as a setlof discursive analytical tools can be made useful to film adaptation studies.
However,
(or communicational, or semiotic) practices, the prod.uctionlof which ha{v before using those concepts, three additional points have
to be borne in
been determined by various previous discursive practices and by its general mind.
historical context. First, one has to be aware of the fact that theories of intertextuality
This conclusion brings film adaptation studies close to the way studies have been developed within the domain of riterary studies.
The applicability
of intertèítuality have proceeded. This means that the purpose of the of these concepts to therstgdy of firm has therefore to be
't uerifi-ed,-ayuá r/
analysis consists in trying to: 1. find and explain the relations between dis- modified too. gn.ult
cursive practices with regard to their respectiVe..(socio-cultural,political, Furthermore,\ some studies of intertextuality are st1il
source-text
economical, etc.) contexts; 2. find out what transfèr practices have (or have oriented- This way of reasoning has to be reversed. In
this respect, it is
not) functioned as adaptation, translation, parody, etc.; and 3. explain why interesting to see that the source=text.oriented perspectives
and the oor-u-
all this has occurred the way it has. tive procedures, obserVed arready in, tradifonal iranslation
siuores ano
In this respect, some concern has been expressedabout the specificity studies of film adaptation, appear in various studies of intertextuality
too,
of the discipline(adaptation studies,translation studies,etc.), which would especiallythose (few) studiesthat have been applied to films (e.g.,
Mander-
be lost if adaptation and translation studies were to fall under the heading bach 1988). Again, the same questions arise: what conditions
have to be
of intertextual or comparative (film or literary) studies. However, I can see met for a film to be consideredas a remake, parody, or any
other type of
no immediate danger(?)s of this happening. Three things have to be distin- text variant? when can one say that a remake, a parody, etc.
is successful,
guished here: and merits this label? Consequently, while speaking of pre-texts
(Broich and
1. the historical (i.e., functional) conception of adaptation, translation, Pfister 1985) or hypotexts (Genette rgg2), it is important
to consider them
parody, remake, and the like, which is limited to those texts which not as source material to be reconstructed, but as models which
have deter_
have functioned, or still function as such at a particular time and place mined the production of the target text (adaptation, translation,
parody,
(cf. Toury 1980; 1985); etc.) in some way and to a certain extent.
2. the ,ivorking fièld, which must always be larger than the historically
determinêd conception, and comprise the sum total of discursive prac-
tices, along with their situational contexts, and the systematic study of
the intersystemic relations between those practices and their contexts;
3. the scholar's descriptive apparatus (method, definitions, labels), which
results from the analysis of the aforementioned relations between the
discursivepractices and their respectivecontexts.
The different disciplines of film adaptation studies, translation studies and
the like do not lose their specificity among the other disciplines(such as
comparative literary sciences,or theories of intertextuality) then. Even if
they share in method (3) and working field (2), the historical definition of
the object of study (1) still indicates the special focus and the (relative)
specificity of the discipline applied to it. In fact, it is only by juxtaposing
one particular type of text processing with other types within one and the
same theoretical framework that the specificity (or lack of specificity) of the
underlying transfer process can be accounted for in the first place.
64 PATRICK CATTRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION 65

Keeping these points in mind, one notion that appears rather commonly, adaptation practices may function as such, even being labeled 'adaptations'
but could still be useful, is that of marker (cf. Broich and Pfister 1985). by the practitioners in a certain cultural domain, while other transfer prac-
Starting from the (target) discursive practices and looking back at the prac- tices do not, for one reason or other; at least they need not be labeled as
tices or contextual situationswhich may have functioned as models for their such by the same practitioners, even though they may well resemble the
cstablishment, the scholar should be looking for markers which may give former ones in many respects (cf. the above-mentioned remake). Trying to
some clue of intertextual or intersystemic relations. Different types of inter- explain why some markers are explicit while others are implicit, then, is
systemicrelations can be discernedaccordingto different kinds of markers. part of trying to describe and explain how adaptations, translations, and
For example, markers may be either explicit or implicit. Generally, in every discursive practices in general function within their proper context(s).
adaptation of a non-filmic text, the type of source text (novel, short story, Besides being explicit or implicit, markers can be found in different
screenplay,play) and the name of its writer are mentioned explicitly; some- places and consequently indicate different types of relationship. Markers
times its title too. On the other hand, a remake normally does not present can be located in the textual part of the message(e.g., the citation) or in its
itself as an adaptation of a previous film. It will rather present itself as peritextual part (e.9., in the credits). Markers can also be found in metatexts
bascd on a non-filmic text, be it a novel, a short story, a theater play or a (e.g., reviews, publicity campaigns,previews, premières [as total happen-
screenplay.The link with the previous film(s) thus remains implicit. ingsl, retrospectives, etc.) and inthe general,larger (cultural, social, politi-
If the markers are explicit, the receiversof the message(adaptation, cal, economic) context.
translationor whatever), be they contemporary viewers, critics, or scholars, In his study Palimpsestes, Genette (1982) adds many more transfer
need no prior knowledge of the modeling practices and/or situations in categories, some of which have already proven their usefulness in the study
order to find them and be able to check their relations. As againstthis, if of film adaptation in the context of the American film noir (cf. cattrysse
thc markers are only implicit, the receiver has first to get to know of the 1990).0However, it is clear that only after having analyzed and described a
cxistenccof the previous material before he/shecan expose and evaluateits larger set of relations between discursive practices will one be able to estab-
modeling function.. lish, if not an exhaustive, at least a more comprehensive list of types of pos-
When studying the conceptof equivalencein a descriptiveway, that is, sible transfer processes. Looking back at the terminological difficulties
when looking not only at the explicit, but at the implicit markers too, one which came up in trying to describe the adaptation process of the American
bccomes aware of the fact that every film adaptation makes explicit only films noirs,I believe many new terms may have to be coined to account for
part of .the material that has constrained its production; in other words, it the different kinds of shift on various levels (such as staging, acting, kine-
only partially presents itself as an adaptation. For example, the American tics, proxemics, or music) which have not been analyzed so far. êIlbgt_
There is no
films noirs only mention the literary source-textand its author.
mcntion of the adaptation of German expressionistphotography or of pre-
vious film music conventions, for instance. The same goes for the remake.
So far, adaptation studies, maybe translation studies too, seem to have abels that are in currencv within ural sesmentunder
mostly bcen confined to the source, or modeling material which was men- importantrecurring question the historicaluser-
tioned explicitly (but see e.g. Toury in press). It goes without saying that labels have functioned in their proper context and how/why they do, or do
the implicitly marked relations should also be analyzed, if only in order to not correspond with the scholarlabels. In this way, the distinction between
scizc the relative importance of the explicitly marked relationshipsthem- the historical labels, used within the cultural context itself, and the descrip-
sclvesand supply a proper explanation for them. tive methodological labels, used by the scholar, will make it possible:1. to
The explicit or implicit character of the markers also has to do with the describe how certain transfer practices have functioned (or have not
functioning of the texts or the discursivepractices,as well as with the labels functioned) at a certain time and place; 2. to uncover anomaliesin the his-
tlrat are used within the cultural context itself. For instance, some film torical use of some terms; and 3. to detect anomalies in the descriptive ter-
minology elaborated by the scholar.
66 PATRICK CATTRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION 67

4. Film Adaptationand OtherTypes oÍ Text Processing general.Film would then be studiedas a more or lessspecifickind of trans-
lation (in the broadestsenseof the word) of previousdiscursivepracticesas
The study of film adaptation as a (more or less) specific set of explicit (: well as experiencesin real life. The underlyingassumptionis that by pro-
labeled) and implicit (: non-labeled) relationships between discursive ceedingthat way, one would not only be ableto describein a more detailed
practices and historical contexts places the adaptation next to other types of way how movieswere made,but also get one step closerto explainingwfty
text processing, and brings into focus types of film production which have
certainmovieswere madethe way they were made.
so far receivedvery little or no attention. I have already mentioned the film Also, the study of film astranslationcouldhelp considerthe conceptof
adaptations of popular literary texts as well as non-literary texts. Here, the
original from a different perspective, maybe help account for it in a more
preciseway. Until now, a film has generallybeenconsidered/labeled ,origi-
remake seemsto occupy a particular place too. Next to the remake, there
are prequels and sequels,seriesand compilation films, citations, parodies,
nal' when it was basedon an 'original' screenplay.euestions to be asked
pastiches,and so forth. here are: how original are originals?what kind of intertextualor intersys-
Another type of text processing which is very common, and which has
temic links with previousdiscursivepracticesand situationscan be found?
not been studied in any serious way until now, concerns the translated ver-
How are they labeledand why are they labeledthe way they are?
sions of films. At this point, adaptation studies join translation studies even
Parallelto the suggestions made by Lambert (19g0)in the field of liter-
more. closely. The importance of the translation of films has of course
ary studiesand translationstudies,film productioncould be consideredas
part of a group of similarpracticeswhich, after a certain time, yield some
increased since movies stopped being silent. Nowadays, films are constantly
being dubbed or supplied with translated subtitles. In the 1930s,simultane-
kind of a trudition. The next question, then, is how long sucha tradition
ous versions were produced in English, French, German, Italian, etc. In
can be successful,how long it takes before it needs to be renewed (or
before it disappearsfor lack of public and critical interest). If innovation
one of the few but interesting articles about these practices, Vincendeau
(1989) explains that the existing critical terminology is not sufficient to
occurs, does it proceed through the importation of innovativeelements
from other (artistic or non-artistic)communicativepractices?where do the
describe or distinguish the different types of text processing that exist
imported elementscomefrom? And what shapedoesthe importationpro-
within film practices. For example, some versions were made simultaneous-
cesstake? Does a refusalto import innovativeelementslead to the disap-
ly, with (at least partially) the same crew, sometimes the same director,
pearanceof the system(the traditional genreor whatever)?A first try to
while others were produced with a time gap of a couple of months, even a
come to grips with this kind of questionshas already been madewith the
couple of years in between. Consequently, the author asks herself at what
point.s-imultaneouspolyglot versions become remakes in another language.
evolutionof the literary and filmic detectivegenre betweenthe 1920sand
the 1940s.For the concreteresultsof this, I refer the readerto my study of
Such a discussion, which is basically terminological, may bp of minor
importance, though. Of more importance seems to be the precise descrip-
the American film noir (cattrysse 1990; 1992).The more generaltransfer
mechanisms have alreadybeen describedabove.
tion of the different types of film text-variants that were produced, and the
way they functioned in their proper contexts.
Theseobservationsmay also lead to someconclusionsconcerningthe
theory of translation.In recent PS discussions (seee.g. Even-zohar 19g1;
Toury 1986; Lambert and Robyns 1992), translation has indeed been
defined in very broad terms. This does not mean, however, that many
5. Conclusion
descriptivestudieshave alreadyadopted this attitude. Most studiesin the
PS vein concentrateon literary translation,and only recentlyand sporadi-
The conclusionbrings me back to a propositionI made at the beginningof
cally hasthe conceptof literary also been appliedto non-writtenmaterial,
the article. If every film production representssomekind of (film) adapta-
for instancein studiesof dramatranslation(thougheven there, the focus is
tion, there seemsto be no a priori reasonwhy the PS approachcould not
generallyon printed texts. The theatrical representationson stage,which
help developnot only a theory of film adaptation,but a theory of film in
68 PATRICK CATTRYSSE FILM (ADAPTATION) AS TRANSLATION 69

constitute another kind of translationof the printed text, still tend to be play, the studies offilm adaptation seldom take into account the screenplay.Rather, they
compare the source text with the filmic performance (registered on film or video tape).
neglected).7 Thus, althoughsometheoreticianstry to broadenthe concept
of translationand the scopeof translationstudies,this doesnot apparently
happen without difficulties. Perhaps for the same reasons, (oral)
phenomena,€.9., the work of an interpreter,are still largelyneglected. ReÍerences
(But cf. recentlyShlesinger1989;Harris 1990.)
Barthes, Roland. I9TT. "lntroduction à l'analyse structurale des récits". Bartes et al.
From what hasbeenexplainedabove,it mustbe clear, though,that the 1977:7-57.
similarity of the problemsand the questionsraisedwithin the studyof film Barthes, Roland, Wayne C. Booth, Wolfgang Kayser and Philip Hamon.1977. Poérique
adaptationsuggestthat the specificityof the issuesstudied by translation du récit. Paris: Editions du Seuil, Coll. Points.
studiesis very relative. As a consequence,there seemsto be no valuable Broich, Ulrich and Manfred Pfister. 1985. Intertextualitàt: Formen, Funktionen, anglis'
tische Fallstudren.Ttibingen: Niemeyer. [Konzepte der Sprach- und Literaturwis-
argumentto keep reducingthe conceptof translationto mere cross-linguis-
senschaft,35.]
tic transfer processes.The scopehas to be extendedto a contextualistic Cattrysse, Patrick. 1990. L'adaptation filmique de textes littéraires: Le film noir antéri-
semioticperspective. cain. Leuven. [unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation]
Cattrysse, Patrick. 1992. Pour une théorie de I'adaptation filmique: Le film noir améri-
Author's address: cair. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Even-Zohar, Itamar. 1978. "The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary
Patrièk Cattrysse. Dept. Communicatiewetenschappen,
KU Brussel. Vrij-
Polysystem". James S Holmes, José Lambert and Raymond van den Broeck, eds.
. .
heidslaan17 B-1080BRUSSEL Belgium Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies. Leuven: Acco,
1978.ll7-127. [a revised version in Even-Zohar 1990:45-51.]
Even-Zohar, Itamar. 1981. "Translation Theory Today: A Call for Transfer Theory".
Notes Poetics Today 2:4. l-7. [A revised version entitled "Translation and Transfer" in
Even-Zohar 1990: 73-78.1
Even-Zohar, Itamar. 1990. PolysystemStudies. Duke University Press. Í: Poetics
1. This research has resulted in a Ph.D. dissertation (Cattrysse 1990). See also Cattrysse
1,992.
Today 11:1.1
Genette, Gérard. 1982. PalimpsesÍes:La littérature au second degré. Paris'. Editions du
2. For more information about these theories, see Toury (1980), Hermans (1985) and Even-
Seuil, Coll. Poétique.
Zohar (1990).
Harris, Brian. 1990. "Norms in Interpretation" . Target2:1. 115-119.
3. The fact that these selection and adaptation mechanismscorrespond to those uncovered Hermans, Theo, ed. 1985. The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Transla-
by Even-Zohar (1978) in the literary field again illustrates the parallels which exist tíon.London and Sydney: Croom Helm.
between translation and (film) adaptation practices. Higham, Charles and Joel Greenberg. 1968. Hollywood ín the Forties. London: A.
4. The distinction between literary and nonJiterary texts can be very problematic. At any Zwemmer.
rate, it can never be made once and for all in a absolutist way. Again, only a historical, Hirsch, Foster. 1981. The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir. New York: Da Capo
functional description can help one out. Press.
5. The word "danger", which is often used in this context, seemsto me inappropriate, since Lambert, José. 1980. "Production, tradition et importation: une clef pour la description
there is no point in trying to present a scientific discipline as specific for pragmatic reasons de la littérature et de littérature en traduction". Revuecanadíennede littératurecom-
if it can not be made specific on a scientific basis. parée1:2.246-252.
Lambert, José and Clem Robyns. 1992. "Translation". Roland Posner, Klaus Robering
6. I would mention some narratological categories like dramatization, narrativization, trans/
and Thomas A. Sebeok, eds.Semiotics:A Handbook on the Sign-TheoreticFounda-
de/vocalization, trans/de/focalization,acculturation, periodization, modernization, and so
tions of Nature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. [forthcoming]
forth. For an explanation of the concepts, I refer the reader to the above mentioned
studies by Genette (1982) and Cattrysse (1990 and 1992). Manderbach, Jochen. 1988. Das Remake - Studien zu setner Theorie und Praxis.
Siegen,Universitát-Gesamthochschule.IMassmedienund Kommunikation, 53].
7. On this point. studies on film adaptation differ from those on theater translation: whereas
Shlesinger,Miriam. 1989. "Extending the Theory of Translation to Interpretation:
theater translation studies mostly concentrate on the comparison of the written texts of a
N o r m sa s a C a s ei n P o i n t " . T a r g e tl : 1 . 1 1 1 - 1 1 5 .
70 PATRICK CATTRYSSE

Toury, Gideon. 1980. In search of a Theory of rranslation Tel Aviv: The porter Insti-
TARGET
TNTERNATIONAL
JOURNALOF
tute for Poetics and Semiotics.
Toury, Gideon. 1985. "A Rationale for Descriptive Translation studies". Hermans STUDIES
TRANSLATION
1985.1,6-4r.
MRNuscntpts
Toury, Gideon. 1986. "Translation: A cultural-Semiotic perspective". Thomas A.
sebeok et al. , eds. Encyclopedic Díctionary of semíotics. Berlin-New york-Amster-
dam: Mouton de Gruyrer, 1986.1.11.1-1124. Contributions are welcomedfrom all countries.They shouldbe writtenin Eng-
Toury, Gideon. in press. "'Lower-Paradise' in a cross-Road: Sifting a Hebrew Transla- lish, Frenchor Cerman.All contributions shouldincludean abstractin both
tion of a German schlaraffenlandrext through a RussianModel". Harald Kittel, ed. English and French.
'History'
and'system' in the study of Literary Translation. Berlin: Erich schmidt.
Vincendeau, Ginette. 1989. "Films en versions multiples". Jacques Aumont, André Manuscripts shouldbe submittedto one of the Editorsin triplicate.Theyshould
Gaudreault and Michel Marie, eds. Histoire du cinéma: Nouvelles Approches. paris; be typewrittenwith wide marginsand doublespacingbetweenthe lines;please
Publicationsde Ia Sorbonne, 1989. 10'l-117. use one sideof the paperonly. Notes,references, figuresand tablesshouldbe
wienold, Gótz. 1981. "some Basic Aspects of rext processing". poetics Today 2:4. 97- presentedon separatesheets.PleaseÍollow the stylesheet which is available
109. from the Editors.
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thesecanbe acceptedfor publication.Submission of an article is takento imply
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Authorswill receiveproofsof their articlesand are requested to check these
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