Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It may taste like an adaptation but the film flavor says butter

In the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly,the main story was a preview of major movies for 2012 and naturally the third Christopher Nolan directed Batman film took center stage.

While the article didn't give away anything too major,it was mentioned in passing that the screenplay for The Dark Knight Rises was heavily influenced by the classic Dickens novel,A Tale of Two Cities. Given the sociopolitical undertones of TDKR's latest trailer,that does seem fitting in more ways than one.

The timing for such a timeless tale to be in the background of a such a big league commercial film is beyond perfect,since 2012 happens to be the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens and many pop culture events will be occurring to celebrate the continual power of his works.

With The Dark Knight Rises boasting of it's TOTC connection,getting more folks to read this novel(either for the first or the hundredth time)should be a snap. You might think that comic book fans are an unlikely lot to check out something that sounds like required reading but you would be sadly mistaken. Dickens wrote for the masses and a comic book tie-in would be right up his alley:

Also,this is not the first comic book based movie to showcase the inspiration of a time honored novel upon it's characters. The masked leading man of V For Vendetta was a big fan of The Count of Monte Cristo,especially the 1934 film version starring Robert Donat.

Other literary contributions to the plot,based on the Alan Moore graphic novel,included Orwell's 1984 and the French classic The Phantom of the Opera. However,the spine of the storyline was strengthened by Dumas' saga of hard earned revenge and the stylish treatment it received in the Donat depiction:

Comic book adaptations are not the only place where classic literature is used as a template for the plot. While Disney's The Lion King is not directly based on any previously published work,the film makers did acknowledge that the seed from which the story sprang forth came from Shakespeare's ultimate family drama,Hamlet.

Naturally,the Disney folks watered down most of the play's adult content there,making Scar's desire to overthrow his brother based more on sibling envy rather than an illicit romance with the queen,for example.

Yet,it is a good introduction for young people to Shakespeare that makes it more lively than your standard stage production:

Classic novel have also lent themselves to live action genre films as well,with some influence being more deliberate than others.

Amy Heckerling made no bones about her teen comedy Clueless being a modern day twist on Jane Austen's Emma and those familiar with the book can easily connect the dots between Austen and Heckerling's shared social satires.

What makes Clueless such a excellent film on it's own merits is that anyone can enjoy without having to read Emma first. Mind you,the film does serve as a great incentive to new readers and knowing the basis for some of the movie's character developments and set-ups is a nifty bonus.

Yet,it has to be first and foremost work as a comedy that can deliver enough original punchlines without over relaying on Austen and on that level,it succeeds rather handily:

So,it looks like the influence of classic lit to genre films is going to get a pretty sweet charge to it's pop culture engine this season. Who knows what the future may bring,if this reliable source is continually drawn upon and what kind of interesting new media mergers will be born from this loosely acknowledged alliance. Could be fun for some or a nightmare to others,we'll just have to wait and see:

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