Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pygmalion and smoking guns

OGCMA0962NOTPygmalion_Kazan or NOT?

Reviews of Ruby Sparks, a July 2012 film by Zoe Kazan, has me wondering about matters of smoking guns, again. Does the filmmaker intend for her film to be categorized in the Pygmalion tradition? If critics say "Pygmalion" and the film's creator didn't intend it as such, does the film still "count"? Does anybody care?  [My slide.]

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald, 9 Aug 2012) observes that "the premise of Ruby Sparks, which is a clever riff on Pygmalion, explores what happens after [a young novelist] magically conjures up his dream girl (the how is never explained) and discovers that he can make her do anything he wants simply by writing it into his novel." Like Rodriguez, Stephen Holden (NYT 24 July) also links Ruby to Pygmalion in particular.

Calvin Covert (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2 Aug 2012) is less definitive in his assessment of the narrative's heritage. Zoe Kazan's film, he writes, "takes the premise of a hundred wish-fulfillment romantic comedies — wounded young creative guy revitalized by pretty, effervescent kook — and deconstructs it while delivering a smart, funny, challenging, dark but hopeful love story."

Since I haven't yet seen the film, I am still caught merely wondering whether Kazan knows that she's written a Pygmalion. As I read the "rules" of adaptation codified by Linda Hutcheon, I bolster my own views with the expectation that a classical adaptation tends to inform the reader that the narrative is adapted from the mythological source. Failing such acknowledgement, the narrative similarity is reduced to archetypal allegiance.

When I do watch the film, I'm going to look for clues that Kazan, the granddaughter of the noteworthy auteur, is aware of her narrative's descent from Pygmalion.

Just fussing.

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