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Transformative Screenwriting: Charlie Kaufman’s Postmodern Adaptation of Story

Sundberg, Johan LU (2015) LIV704 20142
Film Studies
Abstract
The essay's investigation of postmodern storytelling and transformative screenwriting, in relation to how Robert McKee's Story is reflected in Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation – in text and subtext, form and content – shows that the film's form is that of the classical archplot. It is only Adaptation's content, reflecting the dream of an art film/antiplot that is critical – while the form is a complicitous Hollywood form. The ideas and discussions in the film are original, but not its form of storytelling. This is reflected in Adaptation's doubleness, its postmodern mix of complicity and critique, and in how it uses the postmodern device of parody to play with what's real and what's not, and how the film – in a sense – is a conscious failure.... (More)
The essay's investigation of postmodern storytelling and transformative screenwriting, in relation to how Robert McKee's Story is reflected in Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation – in text and subtext, form and content – shows that the film's form is that of the classical archplot. It is only Adaptation's content, reflecting the dream of an art film/antiplot that is critical – while the form is a complicitous Hollywood form. The ideas and discussions in the film are original, but not its form of storytelling. This is reflected in Adaptation's doubleness, its postmodern mix of complicity and critique, and in how it uses the postmodern device of parody to play with what's real and what's not, and how the film – in a sense – is a conscious failure. The film’s illusion of writing itself, however, forces the viewer to active engagement, creating a critical, Brechtian verfremdung effect – most notably in the film’s third act.

Adaptation proves to be a process of evolution and adaptation through transformative screenwriting. The real and fictional Robert McKee's idea of story as change is reflected in its plot, and the fictional Charlie Kaufman himself is transformed at the end. Adaptation's form is conventional, and the film was a box office success – but neither the real nor the fictional Charlie Kaufman managed to express what they originally intended; stasis. The real McKee's ideas are made fun of, but his Story ideas are surprisingly deeply inherent in the film’s formal backbone. With Adaptation, the real Charlie Kaufman wasn’t yet able to free himself from his TV/Hollywood background to write the antiplot he dreamed of, and when he finally fully did so – with Synecdoche, New York – viewers deserted him. (Less)
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author
Sundberg, Johan LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Postmodern Story Adaptation: Transformative Screenwriting
course
LIV704 20142
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Charlie Kaufman, Storytelling, Writing, Screenwriting, Transformative Screenwriting, Transformative, Postmodern, Kaufman, Robert McKee, McKee, Thesis, Essay, Master's, Master, Donald Kaufman, Plot, Archplot, Miniplot, Antiplot, Change, Statis, Screenwriter, Hollywood, Art Film, Synecdoche, Eternal Sunshine, Being John Malkovich, Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief, Orchid Thief
language
English
id
5044913
date added to LUP
2015-02-11 13:04:15
date last changed
2015-02-11 13:04:15
@misc{5044913,
  abstract     = {The essay's investigation of postmodern storytelling and transformative screenwriting, in relation to how Robert McKee's Story is reflected in Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation – in text and subtext, form and content – shows that the film's form is that of the classical archplot. It is only Adaptation's content, reflecting the dream of an art film/antiplot that is critical – while the form is a complicitous Hollywood form. The ideas and discussions in the film are original, but not its form of storytelling. This is reflected in Adaptation's doubleness, its postmodern mix of complicity and critique, and in how it uses the postmodern device of parody to play with what's real and what's not, and how the film – in a sense – is a conscious failure. The film’s illusion of writing itself, however, forces the viewer to active engagement, creating a critical, Brechtian verfremdung effect – most notably in the film’s third act.

Adaptation proves to be a process of evolution and adaptation through transformative screenwriting. The real and fictional Robert McKee's idea of story as change is reflected in its plot, and the fictional Charlie Kaufman himself is transformed at the end. Adaptation's form is conventional, and the film was a box office success – but neither the real nor the fictional Charlie Kaufman managed to express what they originally intended; stasis. The real McKee's ideas are made fun of, but his Story ideas are surprisingly deeply inherent in the film’s formal backbone. With Adaptation, the real Charlie Kaufman wasn’t yet able to free himself from his TV/Hollywood background to write the antiplot he dreamed of, and when he finally fully did so – with Synecdoche, New York – viewers deserted him.},
  author       = {Sundberg, Johan},
  keyword      = {Charlie Kaufman,Storytelling,Writing,Screenwriting,Transformative Screenwriting,Transformative,Postmodern,Kaufman,Robert McKee,McKee,Thesis,Essay,Master's,Master,Donald Kaufman,Plot,Archplot,Miniplot,Antiplot,Change,Statis,Screenwriter,Hollywood,Art Film,Synecdoche,Eternal Sunshine,Being John Malkovich,Susan Orlean,The Orchid Thief,Orchid Thief},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Transformative Screenwriting: Charlie Kaufman’s Postmodern Adaptation of Story},
  year         = {2015},
}