Irish Autobiographies Adapted for Film Essay

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Irish Autobiographies Adapted for Film

This image of mid-twentieth century Ireland embodied in the themes of emigration, cultural isolation, economic depression, literary censorship and religious conservatism have become a fixed concept in the collective imaginative and cultural production. At the start of the twenty-first century, far from seeking to exorcise such associations, Joe Cleary has noted that "the period is repeatedly evoked because it serves as the definitive image of the anti-modern which a modernizing Ireland needed both to define itself against and to transcend" (114). In other words, maintaining an image of "Irishness" which conforms to these themes is increasingly significant, thus the further divorced they become from
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An amendment to the Finance Act in 1983 combined with the potential of the natural landscape for filming on location saw an upsurge in Irish production (Flynn 149). The benefit of such investments began to be reaped around the early 1990s with Peter Sheridan's award winning My Left Foot taken to be the leading example. What is significant about the type of film that heralded this success and what forms of Ireland and Irishness did they represent to an international audience?

The adaptation of Irish literature to film has produced many interesting results, yet autobiography in particular continues to demand a high level of both critical and popular attention. The direct adaptation of any written text onto the screen raises a number of critical issues, Andrew Butler claims that

Adaptations come in three broad kinds: faithful translations from page to screen, unfaithful adaptations where things are changed for no real reason, and adaptations that offer a commentary on the original material. (32)

In the process of adapting from page to screen, Louis Gianetti observes that the "real problem" is "not how to reproduce the content of a literary work (an impossibility), but how close" to "remain to the raw data of the subject matter. This degree of fidelity is what determines the three types of adaptations: the loose, the faithful, and the

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