The Woman In Black: Critical Essay

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The Woman In Black: Critical Essay

When novels are adapted for the cinema, directors and writers frequently make changes in the plot, setting, characterization and themes of the novel. Sometimes the changes are made in adaptations due to the distinctive interpretations of the novel, which involve personal views of the book and choices of elements to retain, reproduce, change or leave out. On the contrary, a film is not just an illustrated version of the novel; it is a totally different medium. When adapting the novel, the director has to leave out a number of things for the simple reason of time difference. Furthermore, other structures and techniques must be added to the film to enhance the beauty and impressions of it. Like a translator, the director wants to do some sort of fidelity to the original work and also create a new work of art in a different medium. Regardless of the differences in the two media, they also share a number of elements: they each tell stories about characters.

In the novel and the film, The Woman In Black, both the author, Susan Hill, and the director, James Watkins, have applied sundry techniques and developed logical thinking to the multiple adversities of both the novel and the film. Due to these elucidations, the two media are intertwined with copious clouds of detail, which relate to both media. Many key areas of the two media are worth investigating, such as setting and themes, which strengthen the bonds between the ideas and the implementation of the story.

Gothic novels recurringly use pathetic fallacy where weather symbolises characters’ emotional states. The narrator, Arthur Kipps, describes his love of all weather, starting with the sweet scents of summer, moving through autumn to winter, as if the writer is turning up the cold. Words like chilling and mist evoke emotional iciness and claustrophobia as Arthur says he can only see a few yards. Claustrophobia signifies a strategic theme and acts as a powerful potency, which is consistent throughout the novel. In the same way, building tension when the main character is trapped either with ghosts or of his own fears reveals an awareness of suspense and clandestine. Susan Hill later continues to use gothic conventions by drawing attention to the links between the weather and the mood in many chapters. The description of the Eel Marsh House takes on a melancholy and unfortunate air as “the cellar oozed damp”, smelled “sour” and the fires “sputtered and smoked”. The narrator also deliberately casts himself as a typical gothic protagonist where he says the weather often affects his moods.

This knowingness is also carried inside and out in the film by portraying different camera shots. Many establishing shots and master shots have been used in various parts. Many establishing shots provide the audience with key information needed and perhaps to suggest the narrative and genre. These affect in a positive way because they suggest the consciousness of...

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