Eileen John (Warwick): 'Based on a true story’: The experience of fiction in film adaptation of non-fiction

Eileen John (Warwick): 'Based on a true story’: The experience of fiction in film adaptation of non-fiction

28th March 2019 - 4:15 pm,


Abstract

Along with the rich history of adaptation of novels into films, there are numerous examples of films that adapt works of prose non-fiction: Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, based on Janet Frame’s autobiographies; Alan Parker’s adaptation of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything from Jane Hawking’s Travelling to Infinity; Walter Salles’ film of Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries, and Bennett Miller’s and Adam McKay’s films, respectively, of Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and The Big Short. I will discuss some linked questions about such adaptive relationships. First, it seems obvious, or pretty obvious, that the films are all works of fiction. They are not, for instance, documentary films. So, the first question concerns why that is and whether there is a conception of fiction that makes this clear. Second, is there something we might call ‘the experience of fiction’ that can float free of the actual requirements for fiction? In general I will reflect on what seems to be a process of fictionalisation manifest within these adaptations.


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