The relationship between cinema and literature has always been the focus of many theoreticians and critics, as some sought to understand how the two artistic forms bind together. In fact, cinema veered from a low-level art form to a modern one by expanding its cultural reputation and establishing itself among the other art forms.Since cinema has taken over the artistic world, cinematic adaptations emerged to become universally prevalent. And in the quest for making good and successful films, film-makers, screenwriters and producing companies endeavoured to take literary texts as a source of inspiration.
Indeed, this was notably stated in James M. Welsh’s and Peter Liv’s The Literature/Film Reader: Issues in Adaptation when they claimed that since its beginnings, cinema had changed to a larger extent with the advent of literary sources, as 85 percent of it consisted of literary texts being adapted into cinema. Accordingly, the mutual influence between literature and cinema granted the media sphere with a new art form called “Film Adaptations”.Many of the highest-grossing and successful films had owed their success to the original novels they were based upon in creating a real hit and Hollywood-end like movies. For instance, big-name films like Dracula, Psycho, Frankenstein, Fight Club, Time Machine and many others proved to be successful adaptations of their original source.In spite of the fact that adaptations are widely acknowledged as being a big part of cinema, yet no accurate or exact definition of adaptation exists. Actually, critics and scholars cease to reflect on a precise procedure or framework by which adaptations could be judged as successful or not. The question originates from plenty of sources: Does a film owe the novel anything? How can a film remain faithful to its source? Is a film dependent on the novel or is it an independent work of art? Who is the responsible author for the work? Which text is given priority: the novel or the film? These set of questions represent a major part of the core of adaptation studies.
In fact, as a man of modernist norms, Wells himself was so attached to the cinematic field. Most of his works were adapted several times into a major science-fiction films namely: The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man(1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901), The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth (1904) and The Shape of Things to come (1933). Among them The Invisible Man that was adapted by James Whale into a major motion picture on November 13, 1933. The Invisible Man was released during the 1930s by Universal Pictures as a vintage horror film.
It was based on H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name and dealt with Griffin as a scientist who was ultimately driven power-hungry and mad by the side effects of the invisibility serum he both invented and ingested. The film has created a big legacy in movie theatres and launched a series of sequels in the 1940’s and onward.
It was advertised with various catchphrases such as “Catch me if You Can!” and “H.G. Wells’ Fantastic Sensation”. Even though the film has been described by Frank McConnell as a “nearly perfect translation of the spirit of the book”, yet some modifications took place in the adaptation for a variety of reasons that hopefully would be investigated in this dissertation. To this end, the focus of this dissertation is to introduce the 1933′ the Invisible Man adaptation and to compare it with the HG Wells’ original work (1897) of the same title. The aim is to analyze the changes that had undergone in the adaptation, with regards to the theories that were ought to be used in this adaptation, with the view of investigating the intentions behind the most remarkable differences between the two artistic entities. Thereby, the following problematic addresses: On what basis and for which purposes the film adaptation differed from the original source? These will be additional questions that are ought to be considered:Ø What were the most eminent alterations between the novel and its adaptation?Ø What ideological transformation has the novel submitted to in the process of this adaptation? Ø And what were the reasons behind making such transformations? In an attempt to carry out the study it is supposed that apart from creating a real hit as a classic monster-horror movie, the alterations were probably made to denote some socio-historical, political and cultural connotations. Apart from the fact that “the practice is born of theory”, this research reckoned the core of the other half of the equation “the theory born of practice” as a remarkable attempt.
On the grounds of that, this work would include both a theoretical and practical sections. The theoretical part is deliberately divided into two chapters in which a wide range of the previous academic literature in the subject field of “adapting novels into movies” will be critically analyzed. Therefore, the framework of this part will be divided into two chapters. The first chapter entitled on “The Review of Literature”.
It will place prior studies that have been conducted and contributed to the context of adaptation studies in general, and H.G. Wells and cinema in specific. It will also look for those subjects that were related to the area of study and place them in convergence with the aim of this investigation.The second one entitled on “From Novels to Film Adaptations”.
The chapter will pivot upon different definitions of adaptation from a variety of theoreticians and critics in the field. It will also assert about the most remarkable different types of film adaptations. In here, theoreticians and critics will be given credit for their work where deserved.
In addition, this chapter will seek to examine the challenges and dimensions that shaped and affected the making of the film adaptation as it is. And for putting the theory into practice, chapter three “Adapting the Invisible Man” will shed light on the making of the Invisible Man film (1933) with correlation to the novel. It will give a detailed comparison between the two works with regard to notions described by Adaptation theorists. Hence, it will analyze the changes in the novel and the film adaptation, and will also aim at highlighting the motives and the contexts that directed the transfer in that certain way. To meet the objectives of this study, the interpretive and analytical approach will be employed to inspect why those adaptive changes were instituted in relation to the context of its literary source. And more specifically the narratological analysis will be implemented since this dissertation will be addressing the place of the adaptation within its period of production, its political-ideological context, as well as the norms of its genre (horror and thriller).
The analysis will review in a limited way the plot and the narrative, in other words, the new added scenes, the deleted scenes, the modified sequence of scenes and the change in the point of view. However, there will be also the analysis of the characters and the scenes. The course of this plan will be through the use of the primary data, which will be selected from the English novel The Invisible Man (1897) written by George Herbert Wells, along with the 1933 film adaptation of the same title by James Whale. And the secondary data will be collected from other books and articles of journals. Although this study dealt mainly with the motifs that implied modifying some scenes in the film, yet there were some unavoidable limitations.
Since the question of fidelity to the original text is very much discussed when it comes to adaptations the focus will not be on the In/fidelity’s endless debate. Occasionally it seems to be the only aspect of interest for the critics. As Brian Macfarlane put it into words when he said that: “There are many kinds of relations which may exist between film and literature, and fidelity is only one _ and rarely the most exciting”.
Therefore, it should be clearly stated that this work focus only on certain changing aspects that effects the transfer. Yet it does not aim at faithfulness and unfaithfulness, but rather tries to aim at objectivity, because in this field “most rigour is needed to offset the lure of mere subjectivism”. (Macfarlane 202) Thus in a bid to resolve this perpetual debate of In/Fidelity, this study strives to prove that within this realm of “adapting novels into films” the desired result shouldn’t be revolving only about the scope of being faithful to the source text or not, but rather addressing the notions and the theories that put forth the adaptation as it is. Generally, the aim of this thesis is an analysis of The Invisible Man film adaptation according to the critics’ cinematic assumptions (theory) and to the novel’s main themes, motifs, characters, desires, and conflicts (practice). Thus it strives to prove that changes took place in the film adaptation not only to create a real success in American cinema but also to denote some political and cultural connotations of the period. In other words, it sought to prove that the degree of fidelity should not be the main concern in judging the quality of film adaptations, but that there are other factors that the researcher should pay attention to than that of fidelity.