You've seen the movie, but chances are you thought the book was better -- it's rare that anyone says the opposite. When a book is adapted for film, questions are immediately and inevitably raised as to how "true" the movie is to the written version.
That idea of fidelity -- what it means, whether it matters and how contemporary film criticism takes it into account -- is the subject of a University of Pittsburgh Film Studies conference on Fri., March 23. "The Virtues of Fidelity: Film Adaptation as Literary Truth," which is open to the public, features several well-known and respected voices in film criticism and literary theory presenting on specific instances of, and ideas about, adaptation.
The conference was organized by Colin MacCabe, a professor of film studies at Pitt who also teaches at Birkbeck, University of London. MacCabe is writing a book about the works of Irish novelist Patrick McCabe, and the adaptation of some of his work (The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto) into films by director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire).
McCabe, whose prose tends toward the rapid dialogue and hyperbolic violence also prevalent in the work of such Irish contemporaries as playwright Martin McDonagh, is in town too. On Thu., March 22, he'll give a reading in conjunction with the conference, and as part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. Pitt's English department has awarded McCabe the title of 2006-07 William Block Sr. Writer.
On March 23, conference speakers will include James Naremore, of Indiana University; Dudley Andrew, of Yale; and Laura Mulvey, of Birkbeck, University of London. Mulvey, whose 1975 essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" is widely viewed as one of the earliest and most important works on gender and film studies, will discuss the adaptation of Louise de Vilmorin's Madame de . . . into film by Max Ophüls. Mulvey's most recent book, Death at 24x a Second, uses the same psychoanalytic approaches as her past work to look at the theme of death as an integral part of filmmaking.
Patrick McCabe at Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series 8:30 p.m. Thu., March 22. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6506 or www.english.pitt.edu.
The Virtues of Fidelity: Film Adaptation as Literary Truth conference with Dudley Andrew, Tom Gunning, Laura Mulvey and James Naremore. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri., March 23. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. 412-624-6564 or www.pitt.edu/~filmst/FilmAdaptionConference.