Children’s literature paper: film adaptation and novel adaptation to the wizard of oz

Analyze what a single film adaptation of Little Women, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or Treasure Island does to adapt the novel. You must address, in detail, at least one mise-en-scène element in your paper (see a film terminology glossary for an explanation of mise-en-scène). Your analysis can incorporate aspects of your personal response to the film or adaptation, but you must go beyond this personal “gut” reaction by giving logical reasons for it, and by using specific examples from the film and from the text to support what you say.  For example, instead of just saying that you think the 2019 version of Little Women is shallow, explain exactly what is shallow about it, and what you think that those involved in the film could have done to adapt and update the novel so that the its true depth was communicated better.  Try to keep this paper tight, focused, well organized, and utilize material (quotations and specific details) from the films and from the novel in order to keep your argument grounded and specific. You must address the film as an artistic and visual interpretation of the novel. Your paper can even present an argument that the director and/or screenwriter had a specific purpose behind their adaptation of the work—that their film in some way “comments” on the novel it adapts.


While you’re trying to come up with ideas, some questions to think about are: was the film a perfect interpretation, or were there things you would have done differently?  What lines, scenes, characters, or subplots were omitted, and why?  Did the film’s interpretation change the work thematically in any way?  If so, how? How did elements like sets, costumes, lighting, editing, shot composition, and casting help or hinder the film, as an adaptation of the novel you’ve chosen? It is not possible to stick completely to the written text for novels, because there are certain aspects of novels (such as scene description and narrative structure) that cannot be literally transmitted into film, so film-makers must cut material from the novel in order to even make the film.  The interpretation lies in what aspects of the novel are kept in the film, and which are not.


General comments:

Your paper should be organized around a central point (your thesis), preferably not one that is either vague or self-evident. A vague, unclear thesis would look like “The 1994 film Little Women portrays Amy well.” A much, much better thesis would be: “The 1994 film adaptation of Little Women uses a change in casting to demonstrate Amy’s growth and maturation.”  Interpretations of film and literature are arguments–if it helps, think of your paper as a legal case in which you as the attorney must convince your audience that your main contention (stated in a clear thesis) is correct, through the brilliance of your reasoning and, more importantly, through the indisputable evidence that you present–you will need to support your argument with specific reasons and evidence from the works you’re discussing, including quotations from the text and from the film. Any statements you make about non-verbal film elements like lighting, costume, etc, should be described as specifically as possible.

You should think of your reader as hostile, or at least as needing to be convinced. The more evidence you provide, and the more you anticipate and refute possible counter-arguments or opposing views, the stronger your paper will be.

Credible historical, sociological, or biographical information will be useful, and may even be necessary, as additional support for your argument.  Generally, you will produce a better paper if you are well informed about your subject, Your outside sources, such as works of film or literary criticism, should be scholarly, meaning that they come from a university press or a peer-reviewed journal. Please note that quotes from these sources should be in a supporting role, and should not replace textual evidence from the novel.


Finally, you must document your quotations, whether from the novel or from other sources, using MLA documentation, with parenthetical citations and a Works Cited list.

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