. . . And Now Here Is Mine

         So everyone has an agenda. That is not necessarily a bad thing. An agenda can be helpful in the learning and reasoning process. If I were to teach a film and literature course to follow a particular agenda, I would have to take the psychological study route. The novels and films the class would be required to examine would all have one underlying theme -- the psychological issues of characters and what causes these issues.

         The first film-literature combination I would use would most definitely be Henry James's 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw and Jack Clayton's 1961 film adaptation, The Innocents, both of which ooze psychological problems. What makes the governess, named Miss Giddens, as portrayed by Deborah Kerr in the film, lose her mind? What factors besides ghosts could have been in play? Was she really even seeing ghosts? The problems and questions abound throughout the work. It would definitely be interesting to get different points of view on what happened in the story and how she was driven to such ends.

         A Streetcar Named Desire, written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Eliza Kazan, would also be a prime candidate for a psychological profile--not only for Blanche (Vivien Leigh), but for Stella (Kim Hunter) as well. What on earth makes her stay with an abusive husband (Marlon Brando) for so long? The play and movie would be ripe for discussion. So many questions can be asked, and so many topics can be covered.

         Other films I would include in a psychological studies-based class would be Fight Club and A Clockwork Orange.

         Fight Club, Chuck Palahnuik's 1996 novel and David Fincher's 1999 film adaptation, deals with a man's insomnia and the creation of an alter ego to help him learn to deal with life and do things he could never do on his own. The man creates this character unknowingly and believes he truly exists as another person until his realization at the end of the film. A deep-seated psychological problem is the main point of the novel and film and would be interesting in such a class.

         Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange and Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film version tell of a young man's obsession with violence and his eventual capture and rehabilitation that unfortunately works all too well. This would be another interesting film/book combo for a class to analyze in-depth to gain a better understanding of psychological issues and studies.

         That would be my agenda, though I do not think I could hold myself to such a structured plan. I would simply have the class read good books and compare them with their film counterparts.

Christopher Reaves

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