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Characters as fictional migrants: Atonement, adaptation and the screenplay process

Journal article
Authors Joakim Hermansson
Published in Journal of Screenwriting
Volume 11
Issue 1
Pages 81-97
ISSN 1759-7137
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 81-97
Language en
Keywords adaptation fictional beings migration problem-solving screenplay development screenwriting
Subject categories Sociology, Studies on Film, General Literature Studies, Specific Literatures


The migration metaphor has been widely used in connection with media adaptions, but the metaphor has remained an abstract figure of speech. Yet, to understand characters as migrants who go through journeys of acculturation when they are adapted for the screen may enhance understanding of both the characters’ potential and problems that may arise during the development process. This article proposes that the development of characters and their processes ‐ as fictional beings ‐ can be understood through the use of models that describe real migrants’ adaptation processes. Using Christopher Hampton’s screenplay drafts for the film Atonement (2001), it outlines how such migratory journeys go hand in hand with screenwriters’ problem-solving processes. The article thus develops the idea that migrating characters, in their capacity as fictional beings and the thematic issues that they represent, both adapt to and appropriate their new media environments; simultaneously, they are appropriated by new creative forces and by the conventions of those new media environments, who in turn must adapt to the characters in this process of bi-directional acculturation.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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