Can Visuals Overwhelm The Words? from A History of the Art of Adaptation [Video] (0:59)

You Can Please Some of the People Some of the Time… None of the People All of the Time: A History of the Art of Adaptation in Movies like Dune, The Godfather, Harry Potter and More!

Dr. Rosanne Welch speaks on A History of the Art of Adaptation in Movies like Dune, The Godfather, Harry Potter and More! at the California State University, Fullerton Library

Part of the program series for Dune by Frank Herbert: A 50th Anniversary Celebration.

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Can Visuals Overwhelm The Words? from A History of the Art of Adaptation



When I started to think about what to do here, I thought, “Well, what do writers have to say about adaptations.” And one of my favorite early American writers is Theodore Dreiser, who wrote a book called “An American Tragedy” and when they were discussing the idea — early days of film, obviously because we’re black and white, aren’t we — this is Josef von Sternberg and he was talking with Dreiser and this was his particular quote, “Literature cannot be transferred to the screen without loss of it’s values; the visual elements completely revalue the written words.” I don’t know that I believe that, but in the early days film, they weren’t sure. Was the visual going to overwhelm the words and actually, my joke is — I don’t have a slide for this, but, my joke is that one of my favorite adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” is the one The Muppets did, because in The Muppets version they let one of The Muppets read all the narration, which would normally never show up, because it’s not dialogue and so you hear Dickens’ words and you’re like “That’s so cool!” 

About this talk

Dr. Rosanne Welch (RTVF) speaks on the craft of history of film adaptations from the controversy of the silent film Birth of a Nation (protested by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1915) to Breakfast at Tiffany’s (to which author Truman Capote famously said, “The only thing left from the book is the title”) to The Godfather . Naturally, the behemoth in adaptation – Harry Potter (which depended on the relationship created by adapter Steve Kloves and author J.K. Rowling) will be discussed, as will the subject of this month’s celebration: Dune.

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm

About Dr. Rosanne Welch

Dr. Rosanne Welch is a professor in the Low Residency MFA in Screenwriting Program from Stephens College, California State University, Fullerton, Mount San Antonio Community College and Cal Poly Pomona.  In 2007, she graduated with her Ph.D. in 20th Century U.S./Film History from Claremont Graduate University.  She graduated with her M.A. in 20th Century United States History from California State University, Northridge in 2004.

Welch is also a television writer/producer with credits for Beverly Hills 90210 , CBS’s Emmy winning Picket Fences and Touched By An Angel . She also writes and hosts her own podcasts on, her first one titled “Mindful(I) Media with Dr. Rosanne Welch.”

Her upcoming book, “Why The Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture” will be published in Fall 2016

Three Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work and Kids and The Encyclopedia of Women in Aviation and Space are two books she has written. Los Angeles Times and the Journal of Screenwriting hold some of her published articles.

Dr. Rosanne Welch Web Site and Blog

Follow Dr. Welch on Twitter

Dr. Rosanne Welch on YouTube

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