Silent Era adaptations of 19th and early 20th century Gothic novels with a special emphasis on psychological and aesthetic interpretations of the monster figure
Blakeney, Luda Katherine
My research is centred around Silent Era films adapted from nineteenth and early twentieth century Gothic literature with a special emphasis on the figure of the monster and its translation from literary to cinematic form. The corpus I have assembled for the purposes of this analysis comprises sixty-six films made in ten different countries between 1897 and 1929. Many of these films are considered lost and I have endeavored to reconstruct them as much as possible using materials located in film archives. The Introduction lays out the ground covered in the thesis and provides a working definition of ‘monstrosity’ in this context. The first chapter deals with the historical, economic, cultural, social and technological contexts of the films under discussion. The second chapter approaches the eight literary monster figures who form the core of this thesis through the lens of Adaptation Theory. The third chapter examines the elements of cinematic language that were particularly relevant to translating monster characters and Gothic literary narratives into silent film, placing this corpus into the context of silent film history and theory. The fourth chapter reviews a cross-section of intermedial systems of classification that have been applied to monster figures, and proposes a new system that would reflect the multifarious nature of the silent film Gothic literary monster. Chapters Five through Nine offer a theoretical framework for classifying the principal characteristics of the silent film Gothic monster by applying various philosophical and aesthetic concepts. The final chapter summarises the material presented in earlier chapters and offers relevant conclusions demonstrating how these films employ the unique characteristics, conventions, and limitations of the silent film medium in their representations of the Gothic literary monster.