“here the original artwork can be likened to a crystal chandelier whose formal beauty is a product of its intricate but fully artificial arrangement of parts while the cinema would be a crude flashlight intersecting not for its own shape or the quality of its light but for what it makes appear in this or that dark corner” (Andrews, p.423)
Seen in light of this definition, A Day in the Country is the cinematic intersection of the literary work, for it brings to the table unique cinematic qualities of expression. This is most evident in passages in the film where dialogue takes backseat to visual setting, camera angles, dramatic pauses, shot montages, etc. Renoir’s application of intersection succeeds because “it produces an experience of the original modulated by the peculiar beam of the cinema.” (Andrews, p.423)
Under this framework of analysis the keywords are ‘fidelity’ and ‘essence’. To study transformation is to measure the extent to which the original text is retained in the film. Andrew identifies two broad classes – those that conform to the ‘letter’ of the source and the rest that are attuned to capturing the ‘spirit’ of the original. The
“letter would appear to be within the reach of cinema for it can be emulated in mechanical fashion. It includes aspects of fiction generally elaborated in any film script providing the fiction’s context, and the basic narrational aspects that determine the point of view of the narrator (tense, degree of participation, and knowledge of the storyteller, etc…the skeleton of the original can, more or less thoroughly, become the skeleton of a film.” (Andrew, p.423)
Evaluated in the light of this understanding of transformation, A Day in the Country is a work of very-high fidelity. Various aspects of the audio-visual narrative, including the characters and their inter-relation, the geographical, sociological, and cultural information, etc adheres to the Maupassant text. Even when evaluated for the transformed work’s capturing of the ‘essence’ of the original, the film in question answers affirmatively. The story, in essence, is one of chance romantic opportunity that eventually turns out to be a nostalgic memory for Henri and Henriette. This is the central feeling that the reader of the short story as well as the viewer of the film carry with them afterwards. It can be claimed that Renoir’s faithful replication of various socio-cultural details mentioned in the original is not for its own sake but in order to encapsulate the ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ of its source.
Dudley Andrew, Adaptation, From Concepts in Film Theory, retrieved from <http://dramaandfilm.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/files/2011/06/Andrew-Adaptation.pdf> on 23rd October 2013
Guy de Maupassant, A Country Excursion, retrieved from <http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/gdemaupassant/bl-gdemaup-country.htm> on 23rd October 2013
A Day in the Country (Partie de Campagne) 1936, accessed from < http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjkr30_partie-de-campagne-1936_shortfilms> on 23rd October 2013