On 17 June Katrin Kangur will defend her doctoral thesis "Poetics of adaptation and point of view: literary and documentary sources of the historical-biographical film”
Professor Marina Grishakova (University of Tartu),
Professor Jakob Lothe (University of Oslo)
Professor Asbjørn Grønstad (University of Bergen)
The doctoral dissertation "Poetics of Adaptation and Point of View: Literary and Documentary Sources of the Historical-Biographical Film" focuses on historical-biographical films as adaptations. This is a subject matter that has received surprisingly little attention, considering the importance and impact that written and filmed life narratives have had on contemporary culture. The Second World War has been depicted in thousands of historical films in different genres and from different perspectives that each influence the public understanding of history. While recognizing that contesting perspectives on history and subjective interpretations exist, the viewer of a historical-biographical film still expects to see “a true story”. Furthermore, if a historical-biographical film is based on a published (auto)biographical book, the expectations of meeting not only history but "his or her story" on screen are relevant to film’s reception. Besides historical and biographical facts, a personal story, individual life experiences and subjective point of view on events are also important in these films. This dissertation explores and discusses the process of adaptation of autobiographical stories. How the subjective point of view of the autobiographical narrator has been adapted into film text, is examined closely in three case studies presented in this thesis: Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002), Max Fäberböck’s A Woman in Berlin (2008) and Jan Troell’s Hamsun (1996). Specifically, the focus is on the ethical and technical issues filmmakers face when they attempt to combine the “subjective perspective” with a historically “accurate” story.