Journal Article

Phantom adaptations: <i>Eucalyptus</i>, the adaptation industry and the film that never was

Simone Murray

in Adaptation

Volume 1, issue 1, pages 5-23
Published in print March 2008 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online March 2008 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/apm002
Phantom adaptations: Eucalyptus, the adaptation industry and the film that never was

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Since the 1950s, adaptation studies has almost invariably adopted a methodology of comparative textual analysis. This has obscured an alternative method for analysing adaptations derived from sociology and political economy disciplines. Such an alternative approach focuses not upon individual texts but upon the adaptation industry as a whole: the institutional, commercial and legal machinery through which book-screen adaptations move on their way from author to audience. This article adopts such a political economic methodology to analyse the ill-fated 2005 film adaptation of Australian author Murray Bail's prize-winning novel Eucalyptus (1998). The scuppering of the Eucalyptus film project in acrimonious circumstances just days before shooting was due to commence throws light upon complex issues of how to cultivate national culture in an adaptation industry based around globalized English-language flows. Moreover, the fact that there is no film for adaptation scholars to compare with Bail's novel directs overdue critical attention to the mechanics of the adaptation industry itself and the factors which facilitate or—in this case—stymie the production of book-to-screen adaptations.

Keywords: Adaptation; Eucalyptus; publishing; rights; runaway productions; celebrity

Journal Article.  8559 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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