These days, our screens are awash with film and television adaptations of classic texts — many of them based on A-level set texts. Studying such adaptations can develop a considered critical appraisal of the source text, so helping to deliver insightful readings of these for AO4 (Explore connections across literary texts) and AO5 (Explore literary texts informed by different interpretations).
This article exemplifies such an approach by looking back to the seminal 1994 BBC adaptation of George Eliot’s Middlemarch by screenwriter Andrew Davies. To do so, it uses a new multimedia open access resource: ‘Transforming Middlemarch’ (http://middlemarch.dmu.ac.uk). This edition of Davies’ adaptation places the script and the novel side by side and includes commentaries on key scenes as well as links to multimedia resources, such as production images and interviews with cast and crew. ‘Transforming Middlemarch’ makes it easy to compare the script and the novel. It also helps to uncover many of the screenwriter’s techniques for transforming this nineteenth-century text to entertain a modern television audience, some of whom will know the novel, but many of whom won’t have read it.
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