Do We Understand?

     In my opinion, few of the film adaptations truly did much updating as I feel they should. One that did do quite a bit of updating that comes close to my standards was My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor, based on Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical play.

     Usually films that are updated from their book predecessors are done so that the audience will better understand and related to the theme as a whole. My Fair Lady, the adaptation of Pygmalion, written in 1913 by George Bernard Shaw, did this by making the story a musical because musicals were popular when it was filmed. The audience found more interest in this than just a story about a man (Rex Harrison on screen) who teaches a girl, Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn in the film), to speak properly, and the songs better explained why everything was happening. Still the audience could not relate to the theme as much if it had been presented fully in the modern day with a modern setting.

     However, the latest adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet does do everything it can, short of changing the text, to help the audience better related to what is happening. This adaptation is not a period piece as the book version is. Instead of swords, the men have guns, called rapiers. Instead of horses, there are cars. Instead of balls, there are parties. The audience could relate to this piece because they recognized everyday things, not items they read about in books. It is a love story of the ages and it was brought up to this age.

     When a film adaptation is updated in this fashion, almost everyone understands and enjoys the story better.

Clint Todd

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