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"SURPRISING CINEMATIC ENCOUNTERS WITH DICKENS"


DICKENS SOCIETY CONFERENCE ON DICKENS'S LANGUAGE

U OF TUBINGEN, GERMANY

JULY-AUGUST 2018

​My paper focuses on surprising twentieth-century film adaptations of Dickens as I explore the ways in which filmmakers translate Dickens’s work across cultures and transpose it from textual to visual media. Cinematic remediation beyond the most narrowly defined and fidelity-based projects offers interesting opportunities to explore how Dickensian language can be transformed into visual representation through the creative approximation of the visual for the linguistic.
 
My primary case study in this paper is The Kid with a Bike (2011), a Belgian film that makes ingenious use of Oliver Twist’s fairy tale elements and that translates Oliver’s hunger into the primary language by which the abandoned boy relates to adults. The film turns Oliver’s request for more porridge into Cecil’s discovery that his father—a chef—no longer wants to feed his son, and this begins a quest for paternal affection that culminates in a community barbeque. My second case study, An Orphan’s Tragedy (1955), is a Hong Kong film that takes the language of forgery in Great Expectations and remobilizes it to transform Dickens’s novel into a critique of Western capitalism. Both of these films challenge the restrictive fidelity paradigm that limits discussion of adaptation to the most textually faithful and obvious forms while encouraging us to recognize visual translation and transposition of Dicken’s texts in its most creative, constructive, and surprising emanations.

EXPLORING THE UNKNOWN

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LEARNING BY DOING

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