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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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4. Conclusion 151


151 4. Conclusion It was the pronounced aim of this thesis to present a comprehensive study of the novel, the screenplay(s) and the film Black Robe because to date no such work existed. First of all, it was necessary to analyse Moore's fictionalisation of history. Comparing the novel with its sources, the Relations, the conclusion was reached that the novelist adapted history in three principal ways: He compiles information from the sources in his descriptions of the Algonquin people, their beliefs and customs. The fictional character Laforgue has some of the experiences en route that the Jesuits Le Jeune and Brébeuf had in reality. Furthermore, some of their observations have been attributed to other fictional Jesuits in the novel, for instance the Jesuit Superior Father Bourque. Aspects like the indigenous belief in dreams are not only used as cultural background information, but determine the plot of Black Robe. Further, Moore has used passages in the Relations as justification for his portrayal of the indigenous languages. The obscene 'Savagespeak' should not be considered an authentic representation like the cultural details mentioned above, but must be regarded as a fictionalisation devised to recreate an authentic reaction. Readers are meant to feel just as shocked by these obscenities as the Jesuits were when they heard the indigenous people speak. Finally, Moore transforms elements found in the sources to suit his artistic purposes; an example of this is Laforgue's wish to die as a martyr, which may well be based on Le...

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