Film and Literature Course Content Revised

         If I were to teach a film and literature course, I would use many of the literary works and films used in this class. There are only a few changes I would make to the course content.

         I would keep William Wyler's 1939 film Wuthering Heights and Luis Buñuel's 1954 film Los Abismos de Pasión, both based on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847), as part of the course. Watching these two films gives students a chance to see two cultural interpretations of a literary work. It would also offer a chance to see which culture portrays the characters most accurately. Not only will students see different settings and costume styles, they also will become aware of the different cinematic features and styles from the two films.

         I would also keep both of Henry James's literary works and the corresponding films as part of the content. I enjoyed watching William Wyler's 1949 film The Heiress, based on James's Washington Square (1880), and was very interested in the novel. The film gives students an alternate ending from the original and shows how some film makers change an ending to be more dramatic. Using both of the literary works gives students a chance to look at two different works from the same author. Jack Clayton's 1961 The Innocents, based on James's The Turn of the Screw (1898), is intended to be a scary movie; however, compared to the horror movies of today, some students may wonder how anyone could have thought it was scary. By viewing this film, students can see how far cinematic features and productions have developed and improved.

         My Fair Lady, filmed in 1964 by George Cukor and based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (1913), gives the students a chance to watch a musical. The musical adds different features and shows how music can enhance a literary work. I would not include the Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard's film version of Pygmalion (1938) in the course. While I think it is good for students to view two different productions of a literary work, Pygmalion and My Fair Lady are very similar to one another. Both scripts follow very closely George Bernard Shaw's original and one another, with the exception of the music. Instead, I would use this time to show a modern-day film.

         The next film I would show would be Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire. This film, based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, is very joyful, and I think students would enjoy reading the play and watching the film. Students would also get a chance to see how films during this period were not allowed to show in graphic detail certain scenes, such as the one in which Stanley (Marlon Brando) rapes Blanche (Vivien Leigh), and how the producers had to present that part of the play.

         I would not include either adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879), filmed twice in 1973 by Patrick Garland and Joseph Losey, respectively. The play was written during a time when Nora's action were considered horrible and against society's norms. In today's society, however, Nora's actions are not seen in the same perspective. Instead of viewing these two films, I would include a modern-day film that challenges social norms.

         Many of the films and literary works in this class are good and teach students about cinematic history and how producers are able to adapt content from a literary work to film. However, students should be able to view some modern-day films that are based on literary works. One literary work I would add to this course is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) or maybe Emma (1815). Both of these literary works have contemporary film adaptations. Emma was directed in 1996 by Douglas McGrath. Using Pride and Prejudice, I could show both an earlier film, directed in 1940 by Robert Z. Leonard, and the recent production, directed in 2005 by Joe Wright, to allow students to compare the two and see what cinematic improvements might have added to or taken away from the more recent film.

         If I were to teach a film and literature course, these are the changes I would make. The majority of materials would be similar to this course, but I would provide the students with a few recent films to help compare older films and modern films to their literary counterparts.

Stacey Lee

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