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Brian Moore’s «Black Robe»

Novel, Screenplay(s) and Film


Antje Schumacher

Studying Brian Moore’s Black Robe (1985), this book examines the dual adaptation process of historical sources into fiction and fiction into film. The fictionalisation process is analysed on the basis of the Jesuit Relations of the 17 th century and Moore’s novel. Besides transforming and compiling information from these annual reports, Moore also uses them to justify his choice of obscene language for the indigenous characters. The visualisation process is studied with the help of various versions of the screenplay with respect to the differences of narrative and narration in fiction and film. A final exemplary analysis illustrates in detail how the original historical sources were transformed via the novel and the screenplays into the final visualisation in the motion picture.


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The initial version of this study was presented as a master’s thesis at RWTH Aachen University in January 2009. I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Ludwig Deringer, for supporting me from the very beginning of this study and for suggesting its publication. I also owe special thanks to Prof. Dr. Geoffrey V. Davis who introduced me to both the novel and the film Black Robe. Without his hint about the hitherto unstudied material at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center I would never have undertaken this project. I wish to thank the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, for allowing me to use and quote the Brian Moore Papers. Many thanks go to Sue Milliken of Samson Productions, Moore Park, Australia, for permission to quote from the unpublished screenplays and film notes. I should further like to thank Birgit Haupt for granting me permission to quote from her unpublished thesis. Since permission to quote from Brian Moore’s diaries was unfortunately not given, some information especially on the pre-production process could not be used in this thesis. Moreover, I wish to thank the Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien e.V. for their grant towards the printing of this thesis. Finally, I thank Markus Oesterle – for everything.

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