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Brian Moore’s «Black Robe»

Novel, Screenplay(s) and Film

Series:

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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1. Introduction 11

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11 1. Introduction The prolific Irish-Canadian novelist and screenwriter Brian Moore1 only wrote one historical novel in his career, namely Black Robe, which was published in 1985.2 Moore based his work on the annual reports the Jesuits sent home to their Superiors in France, which were published as the Relations.3 Thus, the novel fictionalises actual history. It tells the story of the well-born Jesuit Paul Laforgue, a missionary who comes to New France at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He is sent on a journey from Quebec to Huronia4 with his young companion, Daniel Davost, a carpenter who is in love with Annuka, an Algonquin girl. Essentially, Black Robe is the tale of Laforgue's and Daniel's adventurous journey into an unknown continent and of the encounter of alien cultures. It is also a chronicle of Laforgue's growing doubts and faith crisis as well as of Daniel's and Annuka's transculturation process thanks to their love for each other. Adventure and love stories are favourites of film and the adaptation process of Black Robe to the screen was begun before the novel was even published. Yet, it took six more years to release the feature film Black Robe, directed by Bruce Beresford.5 Black Robe has thus been adapted twice, as it were. The novel is an adaptation of history and it is worthwhile to study Moore's fictionalisation of the original sources. That will be the task of this thesis's first section. In a second step, I will dedicate my attention to...

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