Title: Narrative Discourse of Otherness in Burning (2018) as a Transnational Adaptation: William Faulkner, Murakami Haruki, and Lee Chang-dong
Stream: Film and Literature: Artistic Correspondence
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Minsoo Pyo, Myongji University, South Korea
Korean Filmmaker Lee Chang-dong’s "Burning" (2018), based on Murakami Haruki’s short novel "Barn Burning" (1983) and William Faulkner’s short novel of the same title (1939), is an exceptional case of transnational adaptation. While Faulkner’s novel depicts class conflict after the civil war through a vision of an audacious child who eventually breaks with an incendiary father, Murakami only uses the motif of arsonist and reworks the narrative into a surrealistic drama. Lee’s film, on the other hand, synthesizes the different historical conditions between early 20th century Mississippi and present-day Tokyo and Seoul. Existing research on Burning, however, tends to overlook how its aesthetic style and sociocultural context are interwoven in the process of adaptation.
This paper scrutinizes Faulkner’s and Murakami’s original work, and Lee’s in three different approaches. First, it compares their narrative strategy based on Gérald Genette’s narrative discourse theory while focusing on the narrator’s role inside the text. Second, it analyzes how Faulkner uses the image of fire based on Gaston Bachelard’s material imagination theory, and examines how Murakami appropriates it and how Lee transforms it into a cinematic image. Based on narrative and image analysis, I will demonstrate how the problem of class in Faulkner’s work develops into the problem of alienation in Japan and social polarization in South Korea. Conclusively, I will discuss how Lee renewed the discourse of otherness in a transnational perspective by adapting and synthesizing the two novels cinematically.
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