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Back and forth and forward: Metareference in recent film adaptations

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This article explores the phenomenon of metareference within two recent adaptations, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and The Adventures of Tintin (2011), each of which adapts a body of work already adapted across a wide range of media. This article argues that by employing metareference, a self-reflexive strategy that seeks to engender an awareness of media properties among audiences, these films self-reflexively address cinema’s potential as a medium for adaptation. However, rather than marshalling these films in an assertion of cinema’s superiority, this article suggests that they explore anxieties over cinema’s changing position in the media landscape, ultimately reflecting broad shifts in our perception of film adaptation.
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Keywords: Sherlock Holmes; Tintin; film adaptation; media ecology; metareference; self-reflexivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wilfred Laurier University

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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