Adaptation (2002) A film by Spike Jonze Written by Charlie (and Donald Kaufman)
Definition • Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism. Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism. It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.
Postmodernism in Film • Postmodernist film attempts to subvert the mainstreamconventions of narrative structure, characterization and destroys (or, at least, toys with) the audience's suspension of disbelief. Typically, such films also break down the cultural divide between high and low art and often upend typical portrayals of gender, race, class, genre, and time with the goal of creating something different from traditional narrative expression.
Adaptation and Postmodernism • Inventing a twin brother (and then coyly denying the invention in interviews, and co-crediting Donald for the screenplay) • back-and-forth multi-narrative, each story-line commenting upon the others • plays with the different meanings of “adaptation”—both film adaptation and behavioral adaptation as part of natural selection • “Charlie is a postmodernist, wanting to write a screenplay that avoids the tropes of his time, to escape genre and formula, to escape the past by writing a film that is unique and can only be valued on its own terms.” Dempsey
Metafiction • Metafiction- fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions (especially naturalism) and traditional narrative techniques. • “a deft metafiction that jumps back and forth among Charlie’s feverish self-doubts, his erotic fantasies, and the story he is attempting to write.” David Denby • Charlie suffers from writer’s block so he inserts himself in his story • Does this character remind you of others?
“the film is less an adaptation of the book than it is a story about adapting an unfilmable book into a screenplay.” Jough Dempsey • an exercise in postmodernist pastiche and self-refexive intertextuality” (162). Frank Tomasulo
Mix of High and low art • Charlie vs. Donald • Tomasulo argues that “Charlie Kaufman, attempts to preserve Orlean’s ‘book about flowers’ from the clichéd commercial formulas of the Hollywood assembly line.” • I think it’s a great book . . . and I’d want to remain true to that. . . . Y’know, I just don’t want to ruin it by making it a Hollywood thing. . . . Like an orchid heist movie or something, or, y’know, changing the orchids into poppies and turning it into a movie about drug running. . . . Why can’t there be a movie simply about flowers? I don’t want to cram in sex or guns or car chases. You know? Or characters learning profound life lessons. • Irony at the end?
Charlie’s Disdain • Script guru Robert McKee • Based on real person as are most characters in this film • McKee believes that all screenwriters write in a genre, and that they must write in their genre and master it • Charlie believes that each film is unique, that there is no way to write a good film in a formula. • Mckee strongly denounces the use of the voice-over and deus ex-machina • Kaufman’s neurotic voice-over is almost constant, and he gives Susan Orlean a voice over as well, in which she speaks what she has written in her book • What is the deus ex-machina in Adaptation?
Ending • Melodrama • Self-parody • Donald Kaufman film
Ahhhhhh…….Nicolas Cage • https://youtu.be/Iu19igk-qsk?t=10