Pirandello through the Eyes of Cinema: Authorial Texts and Intermedial Film Adaptations

Michael Edwards, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes film adaptations of Luigi Pirandello’s narrative and theatrical works. Arguing for a reassessment of the treatment of authorship in these films, this study considers how the adapted materials often problematize authors, blur boundaries between media, and extend beyond the explicitly named source texts to include works across the entire Pirandellian oeuvre. Through close readings of these cinematic works–such as Marcel L’Herbier’s The Late Mathias Pascal (1925) and the Taviani Brothers’ You Laugh (1988), as well as screenplays attributed to author himself–this project concludes that successful adaptations of Pirandello for the screen depend less on the faithful cinematic transposition of the so-called source texts, and more on the representation of the aesthetic impasses, existential tensions, and creative problems that characterize the playwright’s body of work. This research fills a gap in scholarship on Pirandello, which currently devotes little attention to the relationship between authorship and intermediality in film adaptations of his works. The present work is informed by a range of theoretical studies on adaptation and intermediality, such as Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation, Dudley Andrew’s Concepts in Film Theory, and Irina O. Rajewsky’s definition of distinct subcategories of medial crossings. These theoretical lenses not only facilitate an original contribution to scholarship on Pirandello, they also allow for engagement with central issues in the fields of Adaptation and Cinema Studies, such as the lingering evaluative criterion of fidelity or debates surrounding cinematic auteurism.

Subject Area

Italian literature|Film studies|Theater

Recommended Citation

Edwards, Michael, "Pirandello through the Eyes of Cinema: Authorial Texts and Intermedial Film Adaptations" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27544821.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI27544821

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