How “The Clansman” Affected Racist Culture from A History of the Art of Adaptation [Video] (2:02)

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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Transcript:

What i wanted to mention about it is a couple of things. First of all, yeah it’s very incendiary right and the
scary thing is, this is a quote from President Woodrow Wilson in his own History of the United States.

So first of all — mmm — all right that’s a little scary, but because of the material, thank goodness the NAACP protested when this film opened. It didn’t stop people from seeing it sadly and in fact Wilson showed it at the White House and the power of movies — he actually said “it is like capturing lightning in a bottle” and he was very impressed with the power that movies had from watching that particular film which kind of sad.

Now what strikes me as interesting as the power of how you change a story and you change culture. We all know , sadly, that what Ku Klux Klan does is they burn crosses in people’s yards when they don’t like them. They didn’t do that before this movie came out. The actual Ku Klux Klan did not do that. Right?

In the novel what uh what they have happen is that when the men get together to go do a terrible you know lynching, they write the names of their families on little wooden crosses they’ve made and they toss them into a big bonfire and that shows the unity of all these men together and this is apparently based on a Scottish ritual that scottish clans will do when they come together for events, not for killing people but for regular
events. So we adapt a Scottish ritual into an idea in the book. DW Griffith gets a hold of it and he’s a
Steven Spielberg of his day, right? We cannot have little tiny crosses being thrown into a big fire on screen , no, we’re going to make a big cross on the mountainside. Isn’t that wonderful? That’s so visual oh that’s a great special effect. The actual Ku Klux Klansmen go to the movie, see the giant cross and begin burning
giant crosses in people’s neighborhoods.

They actually learn from the movie a ritual that wasn’t theirs to begin with. So I find that really fascinating, but I think it’s a sign of how powerful what we see in the movies can be.

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 3rdPass.media, 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

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Dr. Rosanne Welch on YouTube

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