Double-Takes

Double-Takes: Intersections between Canadian Literature and Film

EDITED BY DAVID R. JARRAWAY
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 366
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vkc03
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    Double-Takes
    Book Description:

    Over the past forty years, Canadian literature has found its way to the silver screen with increasing regularity. Beginning with the adaptation of Margaret Laurence'sA Jest of Godto the Hollywood filmRachel, Rachelin 1966, Canadian writing would appear to have found a doubly successful life for itself at the movies: from the critically acclaimedKamouraskaandThe Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitzin the 1970s through to the award-winningLove and Human RemainsandThe English Patientin the 1990s. With the more recent notoriety surrounding the Oscar-nominatedAway from Her, and the screen appearances ofThe Stone AngelandFugitive Pieces, this seems like an appropriate time for a collection of essays to reflect on the intersection between literary publication in Canada, and its various screen transformations. This volume discusses and debates several double-edged issues: the extent to which the literary artefact extends its artfulness to the film artefact, the degree to which literary communities stand to gain (or lose) in contact with film communities, and perhaps most of all, the measure by which a viable relation between fiction and film can be said to exist in Canada, and where that double-life precisely manifests itself, if at all.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-1988-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-10)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 11-22)
    David Jarraway

    As the photo still on the cover of this essay anthology makes clear—Hollywood actor and director Paul Newman busy at work filming Margaret Laurence’s novelA Jest of God(1966) for a larger mass audience asRachel, Rachel(1968)—for the past four decades, Canadian writers have been witnessing their work translated to the silver screen in increasingly popular film adaptations. Such film adaptation, of course, has been around in Canada since the 1920s, when Canadian entrepreneur Ernest Shipman briefly undertook to produce some of Charles Gordon’s (a.k.a. Ralph Connor’s) novels for the Big Screen,The Foreigner(1909) and...

  4. PART ONE: REALISM AND ITS “OTHERS”
    • BEYOND THE NATIONAL-REALIST TEXT: IMAGINING THE IMPOSSIBLE NATION IN CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN CINEMA
      (pp. 25-38)
      JIM LEACH

      “Nation” and “realism” are two of the most contested terms in contemporary film studies, not least in critical discussions of Canadian cinema. Film theorists have argued that the study of national cinemas reinforces reactionary nationalistic ideologies and is, in any case, increasingly irrelevant in the age of globalization. Similarly, the aesthetics of realism, as developed in much early film theory, have been attacked for simply showing the way things are rather than encouraging the viewer to adopt a critical perspective. In this paper, I will explore some of the implications of the linkage between nation and realism in the discourses...

    • GRIERSONIAN “ACTUALITY” AND SOCIAL PROTEST IN DOROTHY LIVESAY’S DOCUMENTARY POEMS
      (pp. 39-58)
      TANIA AGUILA-WAY

      It is widely acknowledged that Dorothy Livesay’s poetics underwent a dramatic transformation during the Depression era. In 1931, the poet moved to Paris, where she encountered a climate of mass unemployment and state repression and witnessed various scenes of police brutality against worker organizations (rh36). Moved by these experiences, she became committed to the causes of Marxism and social activism, joining several Communist organizations and enrolling in a degree program in social work upon her return to Canada in 1932.¹ Livesay gained further insight into the realities of class struggle when she moved to Montreal in 1933 to do...

    • “STUNNING AND STRANGE”: ICELAND AS MEMORY AND PROPHECY IN ALICE MUNRO’S “WHITE DUMP” AND SARAH POLLEY’S “AWAY FROM HER”
      (pp. 59-76)
      NADINE FLADD

      Alice Munro’s second-most recent collection of stories,The View from Castle Rock,explores her family’s emigration from Scotland to the colony that would later become Canada, and depicts the population and development of this country from the perspective of her own ancestors. The collection marks the culmination of a career-long interest in ancestry, genealogy and parentage for Munro. Although much has been written about Munro’s focus on the local history of rural Southwestern Ontario, there is another recurring cultural strain that runs throughout her oeuvre that has received much less attention: a focus on medieval literature, and medieval Scandinavian literature...

    • MADDIN, MELODRAMA AND THE PRE-NATIONAL
      (pp. 77-94)
      JENNIFER HENDERSON and BRIAN JOHNSON

      Although our focus in this paper is on Guy Maddin’s recent trilogy,Cowards Bend the Knee(2003),Brand Upon the Brain(2006) andMy Winnipeg(2007), we begin with a statement that Maddin has made about one of his films from the 1990s,Careful, because Maddin’s protest here against national containment seems applicable to his entire oeuvre. Guy Maddin once remarked about this earlier film:

      The only real themes that matter to me are how humans love each other or hate each other or are envious of each other. All the timeless stuff…. But I knew that … sooner or...

    • DIALOGIC PHANTASY IN BRUCE MCDONALD’S ADAPTIVE NARRATIVES
      (pp. 95-110)
      GREGORY BETTS

      Bruce McDonald’s literary adaptations consistently undermine the singularity and authority of his own narratives. His embrace of what he calls “split screen crazy [and] expressionistic” techniques inThe Tracey FragmentsandHard Core Logobreak up the finality and closure of the narrative (Halfyard n. pag.). In this way, the films use their medium to trouble narrative certainty, mirroring the film’s simultaneous troubling or de-authorizing of adapted sources. Of course, the texts McDonald works with are already characteristically open works. Screenwriter Noel Baker describes his first encounter with Michael Turner’s experimental book upon which the filmHard Core Logois...

  5. PART TWO: ADAPTATION, FOR BETTER OR WORSE
    • READING CANADIAN FILM CREDITS: ADAPTING INSTITUTIONS, SYSTEMS AND AFFECTS
      (pp. 113-138)
      PETER DICKINSON

      What makes a “creditable” film adaptation? On one level, textual fidelity seems less important than fiduciary responsibility. To explain by way of a reductive distinction between opening and closing film credits: In the Hollywood production model, opening credits signify “above-the-line,” marquee investments aimed at ensuring a profitable return at the box office. A star’s name, a director’s track record, even the acknowledgement of a prior literary pedigree: all participate in the branding of a film’s relative credentials for success—as, for example, a familiar genre vehicle, a sure-fire hit or a “quality” picture. Closing credits, by contrast, mostly reflect “below-the-line,”...

    • SISTERS IN THE WILDERNESS: MYTHOLOGIZING CATHARINE PARR TRAILL
      (pp. 139-152)
      RUTH BRADLEY-ST-CYR

      Often called (at least by me) the “grandmothers of Canadian literature,” Catharine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie came from the talented Strickland family of England, six girls and two boys. Six of the eight siblings became published writers, but, of the girls, only Susanna and Catharine braved the emigrant’s journey to the colony of Canada, following their brother Samuel, to start new lives with their half-pay-officer husbands. The Canadian branch certainly clung tenaciously to the writing gift so prevalent in their family, despite backwoods conditions and roughing it to make a life in the New World. Their literary contributions are...

    • “TRIUMPH” IN THE BACKWOODS: THE CBC’S TAKE ON MOODIE AND TRAILL IN SISTERS IN THE WILDERNESS (2000)
      (pp. 153-168)
      CHRISTA ZELLER THOMAS

      In one scene of the CBC version ofSisters in the Wilderness:The Lives of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traillthe camera pans across a dimly lit winter landscape of snowy fields and barren trees while the voice-over narrator comments, “During her first Canadian winter, Susanna Moodie had cried with the cold. Now the Moodies can laugh at it.” Off camera, a man’s voice (John Moodie’s), accompanied by the voices of children (the Moodies’), begins singing, “Oh, the cold of Canada, nobody knows….” The song continues with lyrics of cold noses, frozen toes and thin blankets, and the view...

    • THE DIRECTOR’S MEDIUM: RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH’S DE-AUTHORIZATION OF GREY OWL
      (pp. 169-182)
      ALBERT BRAZ

      Richard Attenborough’s 1999 filmGrey Owlraises a series of questions about its relation to its subject and, in the process, the relation between cinema and literature. While the film purports to be “based on a true story,” it never identifies its source, or sources. The sole screenwriter listed is William Nicholson, yet anyone familiar with the writings of the trapper-turned-conservationist will recognize thatGrey Owlborrows extensively from its eponymous subject’s bestselling memoirPilgrims of the Wild. The film itself draws much attention to the 1935 text, to the point of creating the impression that Grey Owl wrote not...

    • NARRATIVE STRUCTURE AND NARRATIVE VOICES IN THE ENGLISH PATIENT: FILM AND NOVEL—A COMPARATIVE STUDY
      (pp. 183-198)
      CHRISTINE EVAIN

      Ondaatje’s novel is characterized by its complex narrative structure, which includes multiple shifts of timeframes and narrative voices. Although many aspects of the film are radically different from the novel, the overall effect of the film is extremely powerful, thus illustrating George Linden’s commentary: “A successful adaptation of a novel should not be the book. Nor should it be a substitute for the book. If it is truly successful, it should be a work of art in its own right which excites the reader to go re-experience that work in another medium: the novel” (169).

      My purpose will be to...

    • LOSER WINS: THE RHETORIC OF HIGH MODERNISM IN THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ
      (pp. 199-218)
      BRADLEY D. CLISSOLD

      Happy Bar-Mitzvah, Bernie, the film-within-the-film in Ted Kotcheff’s 1974 filmic adaptation of Mordecai Richler’sThe Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz(1958), provides a satirical, yet informative, glimpse into the elitist rhetoric and cultural intimidation necessary to sustain the niche market economies of modernist cultural production (Rainey 1996; 1998; 1999). Duddy’s intense desire to be “somebody” is simultaneously shaped by his perversion of his grandfather’s words about possessing land and his cultural status-anxiety in the face of difficult modernist aesthetics. While Richler’s novel constantly references modernist figures in order to set the rhetorical stage for the comical screening of Peter John Friar’s...

    • WHY THEY CANNOT GET IT RIGHT: A READER’S NOTES ABOUT RICHLER ON SCREEN
      (pp. 219-228)
      NATALIA VESSELOVA

      This paper appeared as a result of reading a film review in which Joe Wiesenfeld, a scriptwriter for the adaptation of Mordecai Richler’sSt. Urbain’s Horseman, remarked upon completing the project: “For the sake of the country, we wanted to get this right, and I think we have” (qtd. in Hays n. pag.). This ambitious statement leaves a viewer of the film who happened to have read Richler’s novel perplexed. On the one hand, the recent cbc production is a well-made and enjoyable mini tv series; on the other hand, it has little to do with Richler’s intense irony, complexity...

    • “[I]T’S MY NATURE”: A COMPARISON OF HAGAR SHIPLEY’S PRIDE IN THE STONE ANGEL NOVEL AND FILM
      (pp. 229-244)
      CARMELA COCCIMIGLIO

      Since its publication in 1964, Margaret Laurence’s novelThe Stone Angelcontinues to occupy a secure place within the body of Canadian literature.¹ One attestation of this fact is its appearance on numerous “best of” lists such as theLiterary Review of Canada’s 2006 list of the top one hundred books written in this country in the past 460 years (“460”).² Further, although it was not ultimately victorious, the novel was a finalist in cbc’s Canada Reads debate in 2002. It was perhaps an inevitability that the life of Hagar Shipley, the “Queen of all the characters” in Canadian literature,...

  6. PART THREE: IDENTITY:: “TO BE, OR NOT TO BE”
    • WHY SEX MATTERS IN CANADIAN FILM AND LITERATURE
      (pp. 247-258)
      KATHERINE MONK

      Why does sex matter in Canadian film and literature? It’s a really intriguing question to get lost in for the better part of a year. And one that’s surprisingly difficult to pin down; the minute you think you’ve got a handle on one part of the argument, another promising avenue of exploration opens before you—beckoning with promises of everlasting fulfilment … only to deflate after a sweaty five minutes at the keyboard.

      This last idea brings me to the first kiss of my argument: Sex matters in Canadian film and literature because it keeps popping up (Freudian pun fully...

    • THE NATURE OF THINGS: COUPLAND, CINEMA AND THE CANADIAN SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES
      (pp. 259-276)
      ANDREW BURKE

      Since 2002, Douglas Coupland has produced a series of works (several art installations, two books and a film) that examine Canadian cultural identity through the presentation and manipulation of ordinary, everyday objects, most of them culled from the recent past. In gathering together objects, the full force of which, he claims, can only be felt by Canadians (things ranging from the Windsor Salt box to tins of Habitant Pea Soup to packages of Nutty Club cashews), Coupland aims to establish a connection between cultural memory and everyday materiality at a moment when the global future threatens to overwhelm or liquidate...

    • ADAPTING MEN TO NEW TIMES? ENGAGEMENTS WITH MASCULINISM IN JOHN HOWE’S WHY ROCK THE BOAT?
      (pp. 277-298)
      ELSPETH TULLOCH

      English-language versions of Canada’s “cinema of male crisis,” as critics such as Thomas Waugh term it, were initially understood by evoking the largely unspoken but debilitating psycho-social effects on men of Canada’s colonial relations with Britain or its neo-colonial relations with the United States and linking these effects to the expression of crises in Canadian national identity in the male creative imagination.¹ Roundly criticized for their over-simplification, these interpretations were later rethought or extended in terms of either Central Canada’s or English Canada’s marginalization or exploitation of other regions, notably the Maritimes or Quebec (Ramsay; Parpart).² Critics remain divided, however,...

    • FILMING MUSIC: ADAPTING TRANSNATIONAL SOUND IN THE ENGLISH PATIENT AND FUGITIVE PIECES
      (pp. 299-316)
      KATHERINE MCLEOD

      Michael Ondaatje’sThe English Patientand Anne Michaels’sFugitive Piecesare novels written through music. Music not only informs plot and characterization, but also reflects the culturally hybrid spaces inhabited by the characters.¹ It is not that music becomes nation-less, but rather that music in these novels has the ability to cross over and permeate borders; hence, it represents the potential for what I am calling a transnational impulse—an impulse I would define in the lyrical terms of a desire to move across borders while, at the same time, one that acknowledges the power of these borders to limit...

    • “SOMETHING’S MISSING”: EXPLODING GIRLHOOD AND NARRATIVE IN THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS
      (pp. 317-332)
      TANIS MACDONALD

      In Maureen Medved’sThe Tracey Fragments, a fifteen-year-old girl, naked beneath a shower curtain, sits on a city bus and talks: about school, parents, her boyfriend, sex, her future career as a rock star. Bravado and hyperbole rule. But when she begins to talk about her search for her missing ten-year-old brother who vanished when “something happened” in the park two days ago, the public context of this private speech shifts; Tracey’s capacity for outrageous speech is large, but she cannot say “what happened” that day in the park. When Medved’s voluble “scream-of-consciousness” novel was published in 1998, it was...

  7. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 333-336)
  8. INDEX
    (pp. 337-362)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 363-366)