So, I didn't know what to expect, joining the class for the first time in its third meeting, witnessing the postponement of our first assignment and the sight of Daniel Day-Lewis running bare-chested through the forest. But the study of these texts in both literature and film, as well as the media-based approach that was a contrast to my otherwise black and white Carolina English-class experience, proved a very interesting investigation into the complex layers of film adaptation and encouraged the comparative analysis of something I had rarely before considered.<!--EndFragment-->
Beginning the class with the Soundtrack assignment resulted in a good first introduction to the Film Writing site and to struggling and cursing at the webpage. When first presented with the assignment, I was stuck on finding another work on which to base the tunes. However, upon further pondering, I began to realize that an abstract idea would not only provide a broader theme from which to choose the pieces, but it would also allow me to think deeper in the possible connections between songs and concepts. I finally chose "nostalgia", and despite being teased by my housemates for its presence in almost every piece of music, I maintained the idea that the true beauty behind the topic was the search for many different styles of nostalgia within my favorite artists. I finally found the different pieces and was very pleased that they were still ones which I loved to share with the class. I will discuss revisions to this specific assignment later.
Before joining this class, the idea of analyzing film adaptations originially seemed overrated, as though there was little to discuss but which scenes the director chose to keep and elimate from his final product. However, as we began to examine both the literature and film of a certain piece, many different viewpoints appeared. The most complex of all comparisons was given to me by the Coen brothers' in my analysis of their adaptations of Homer's The Odyssey and Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. Through the group Web Essays, we discovered the true brilliance of the Coen brothers, and their overall purposes that they presented in each separate work and as an overall theme of their movies. Again, I will discuss this further later.
In revisions of each of these works, I began to see that the analysis of the transition of literature into film was not too unlike transition of lyrics into music. In the comments on my Soundtrack, multiple people suggested I add to the page more about the sonic elements of the musical segments, as I had been focusing largely on the lyrical interpretations of nostalgia. Therefore, as we have discussed how a film's landscape, colors, setting, and virtually any visual aspect of the film can further the overall theme and purpose of the directors, my attempts to reveal the nostalgia in not only the lyrical parts of my songs but also the auditory found the same to be true of the musical aspects of an artist. Much like the landscape of the Coen brothers' No Country For Old Men lends the elements of toughness and solitude to the viewer, the sad and screeching chords, or the lonely plucking of a guitar, can help paint the same purpose to the listener.
Likewise, one example I have found upon revising the page is that the theme of a reflection on the olden days surfaced in both Nick Drake's song Place to Be and in both texts of No Country For Old Men. Drake's theme of a reflection of his past engulfs his lines,
When I was young, younger than before, I never saw the truth hanging from the door. And now I'm older I see it face to face, and now I'm older, gotta get up, clean this place.
The lyrics reflect a theme of nostalgia for the past of one who is caught in a paralysis of his modern life. The theme stretches in a sense into the text of No Country for Old Men; while it is argued that there has never been a time or place for old men, due to the harshness of the country, there still surfaces a desire for older times, where the seeming insanity and overwhelming progress and even fate of the modern life and culture is blamed for the events that scar the characters.
After multiple edits of the Web Essay, I began work on the Print Essay, comparing the work of two poems and a painting: T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Sherwin Bitsui's Atlas, and Edvard Munch's Scream, respectively. Not only did I find similarities between the otherwise very different works, I once again stumbled upon a connections to my Soundtrack. One example of this connect occurs in Megafaun's song Impressions of the Past, as they sing the lines,
Impressions of the past will be moored, until I find what it is I'm looking for, what it is I'm looking for, what it is I'm looking for.
This idea of confusion of one's surroundings and of his perspective appeared also in Scream, Atlas and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Each of those works follows a similar idea in the confusion and inability to function due to the effects of the past, as seen, for example, in Prufrock's fear of society in his growing, or, better stated, his 'thining' age and life. He remains 'moored', just like the speaker in this song, until he finds what he's looking for, in his case the escape of even death to remove him from the drowning voices of society.
After discovering the connections between these texts, I've realized that my greatest achievement in this class has been my growing ability to discover comparisons within any works of art, even if they seem to be in the most unlikely of places. This is also the case for comparisons between a piece of literature and the adapted film, as I have been able to participate in class with growing confidence in my discoveries of themes that are shared between the two.
Soundtrack: Upon receiving comments and editing the Soundtrack, I ventured more into the sonic expressions of nostalgia than just the lyrical aspects. After these changes, I also applied each form of nostalgia to a previous text, hoping to set a stronger understand for the reader. Likewise, as I have discussed earlier in the portfolio, I have been able to find many connections between the works we read in class and the personal songs I have chosen and used an example of a text from our class for almost every song. Finally, getting more comfortable with the Film Writing Website, I was able to embed the YouTube videos of the songs to attain a greater atmosphere for the reader.
Web Essay: In our first draft of the Web Essay, we wrote about a completely different theme than the one which we submitted to the Pit Journal. Upon our further review and the critique from our classmates and professor, we decided to abandon the ideas of epics and landscapes and to focus instead on their shared Re-Interpretive styles. We found that through their adaptations, they demonstrate a clear ability to cross genres and styles, incorporating elements of comedy, drama, action, and philosophical introspection into a single film, defying simple categorization and providing a greater commentary on the nature of contemporary film itself. The final product was very positive, as we added videos and pictures to enhance our essay and get in ready for presentation.
Working with a group was a great experience, as all of our ideas and our critiques and editing of each others' work was a big help for the overall production.
Presentation: The presentation was a good experience, though we did not get selected for the presentation in front of the PitJournal committee. Instead, we were able to present to the class, and this allowed a much more "group discussion" of our product. Not only were we able to share our research and analysis, but I actually discovered many things about the movies due to simply expanding our already formed ideas with the class. One thing I discovered in the presentation is that both movies end with a character walking away from the camera, our a path leading to the distance. These characters, Anton Sigur in No Country and the blind prophet in O Brother reflected the same roles of control in both movies, an interesting quality that they shared.
Essay: The print essay was a great challenge. After the first draft, I received a suggestion to not only follow the similarities, but to also point out differences that gave insight into how they differed. This idea was very helpful in a portrayal of each piece, as it showed their complexities without refusing the wonderful and unique expressions in each.
Blogs: The one thing I regret not doing more of in this class is blogging. I only submitted one blog, a reference to Hamlet and His Problems, an essay by T. S. Eliot on his thoughts on Hamlet that I mentioned in class. I did read many of the posts, and added some comments on my thoughts to soundtracks and other posts.