Today I read some articles about Warcraft (Jones, 2016) film adaptation. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it yet, so I am not able to contribute with a review. Among others, I read a very interesting article from Erik Kain with the title: Five Reasons The ‘Warcraft’ Movie Is Way Better Than Critics Claim (you can find the article here ) that reminded me some issues on adaptation that I was exploring recently in various academic articles.
To make the long story short, my claim is that when adapting a story from one medium to another, a part of the audience will follow along with the story as it migrates to different media. While this is considered an added value for adapting popular texts, as it secures a devoted consumers’ base that results to more profits, it is also a burden in the adaptation process, since all the readers/viewers/players have already created in their minds their own adaptations. These adaptations don’t coincide with each other because they are based on the various social, psychological, cultural and personal conditions of the consumers. As a consequence, what some might consider as a “good” adaptation, others might perceive it as a total failure.
The old fashioned demand for “fidelity” is not only outdated, but also boring (Erik Kain is highlighting the importance of this element in his article: You Don’t Know What’s Going To Happen). The transfer has to differ from the original. First because we narrate stories differently from one medium to another and second, because it has to offer a new, fresh and interesting interpretation, in order to keep the audience’s engagement and not to be a mere repetition and recycling of the story that has already been told. The only elements that have to be faithfully transferred are those that affect the meaning, the message of the text. Depending on the specific text, these elements might vary a lot, from the storyline to the story world to the heroes, the specific aesthetics and the genre and so forth. Consequently, the only possible way to ensure a good adaptation and a satisfied audience is first to analyze and then to transport the deep structure of the text. Sometimes it seems simple to identify “what is the story about”, but in most cases, these “easy coming” answers are pinpointing only to superficial themes and relations. In order to define what it is significant for transferring and thus to achieve a successful adaptation, the production team has to thoroughly analyze the original text, its narrative and its content and to reach the deep structure of the text. In other words, they have to conduct narratological and semiotic analysis (For anyone who is interested, some simple theoretical principles are presented here). Additionally, they have to identify their targeted audience, for example, if they are primarily addressing to the devoted audience of the original text or they want to approach new audience.
So, yes, adaptation is a very difficult practice and I have a huge respect for those who are managing to provide us with successful transfers. With all these in mind, I am looking forward to watching Warcraft and I hope that I will enjoy a good adaptation.