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Mediated Utopias: From Literature to Cinema

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Edited By Artur Blaim and Ludmila Gruszewska-Blaim

The volume comprises adaptation studies of ten selected utopian/dystopian fictions written and filmed in Europe and America during the 20 th and 21 st centuries: Things to Come, Lost Horizon, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Lord of the Flies, The Andromeda Nebula, Brave New World, Total Recall, The Secret Garden, Harrison Bergeron and Never Let Me Go. It focuses not only on the ways of constructing fictional realities and techniques of rendering literary utopias/dystopias into film, but also on their cultural and political determinants.
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H.G. Wells’s and Cameron Menzies’ Things To Come: A Neurotic Utopia of Progress: Justyna Galant

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H.G. Wells’s and Cameron Menzies’ Things To Come: A Neurotic Utopia of Progress

JUSTYNA GALANT

Either life goes forward or it goes back. (H.G. Wells, Things to Come, Treatment)

A novel written in the form of a history of the future from 1933 to 2106, The Shape of Things To Come provides a rather demanding basis for a film adaptation. H.G. Wells, enthusiastic about the cinematic version of his text and eager to control its ideological and imaginative impact, was not only the author of the story’s treatment but also a constant presence on the set, overseeing the work of the actors, the director, the music composer and the producer. For him, the artistic function of the project was secondary to the ideological content and its educational potential. In fact, it was his intention that audiences watch Things to Come equipped with the programme of the film and a manifesto about its purposes (Frayling 56).

In an attempt to translate the novel of ideas into a filmable script, Wells concentrates the history of the future on the development of Everytown and introduces a set of characters who link the various parts of the story. Still, despite the writer’s best efforts and due to the nature of the original text, all the creators of the adaptation face difficulties resulting from the central tension in the film—that between the author’s need to express the abstract, general and conceptual by means of the specific,...

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