Screenwriting Adaptation Workshop

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Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
311SAWA ZK 3 2 hours (45 min) of instruction per week, 57 to 72 hours of self-study English winter

Subject guarantor

Name of lecturer(s)


Learning outcomes of the course unit

By the end of the course students will:

-understand what the adaptation is both theoretically and practically

-learn about limits of the adaptation of the literary text

-be able to analyze text from the point of view of the possible adaptation for screen

Mode of study


Prerequisites and co-requisites


Course contents

During eight lectures, the possibilities that adaptation of a foreign literary masterpiece brings to filmmakers will be discussed. We will assume that film adaptation is a living, dynamic form of filmmaking that can be a means of further creative and personal development by a screenwriter or director. We will use mainly movies from the last two decades for the analysis, but we will also get lost in the early stages of film history. We will use movies from the USA, Europe and the Czech Republic and we hope to meet their creators as well.

Recommended or required reading


Assessment methods and criteria

Analysis of one film adaptation of one's own discretion. A film based on the student's national literature.


Lesson 1

How and why to choose.

Screening: Some of the new award-winning adaptations like NOMADLAND (D. CHLOE ZHAO, 20:20, 1H47M).

Introduction of me and my methods that we will use for analysis.

My dramaturgical method: Frank and Martin Daniel´s method of 8 – sequences. See here:

Fundamentals of film analysis: Kristin Thompson and her neoformalist analysis. It´s very useful because the roots are in Viktor Shklovsky´s formal literary analysis. And we are compare film and literature.

We will use both for film analysis.

Why choose adaptation: There are many reasons: to be in love with a book, for money (bestseller adaptation), the opportunity to bring something new to someone else's story, to find a personal topic in an existing book, etc. Adaptations are everywhere in cinema, in all epochs, languages, budgets and genres. Is your favorite movie an adaptation?

What we can use for adaptation: Not only fiction novel, but also non-fiction, newspaper article, poetry, myths… Let's just discuss it.

Lesson 2

One topic – many interpretations.

Screening: ROBIN AND MARIAN (dir. Richard Lester, 1976, 1h: 46m)

At Home THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1938, 1h: 42m) and ROBIN HOOD (dir. Ridley Scott, 2010, 2h: 10m).

I will use my Cinepur article to show how one story and one source (the myth of Robin Hood) can be told differently depending on the director's / screenwriter's personality and social and historical circumstances. Analysis of medieval legend in the history of cinema.

Lesson 3

Adaptation of a fiction novel.

Screening: VIRGIN SUICIDES (Sofia Coppola, 1999, 1h: 37m)

At home THE POWER OF THE (Jane Campion, 2021, 2h: 6m).

Development between the novel and adaptation on two examples of men - authors of the novel and women - directors.

Lesson 4

Adaptation of the classics.

Screening: LITTLE WOMEN (Greta Gerwig, 2019, 2h:19m)

At home: ANNA KARENINA (Joe Wright, 2012, 2h:9m)

How to be faithful to a hundred years old novel, but not do it the old school way.

LITTLE WOMEN: using a general story about women's emancipation updates the period, modern film design brings it closer to teenage audiences. Joe Wright's game with genres. ANNA KARENINA - a novel adapted as a theater in film. Compared to his other films: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (2005, 2H: 9m) or maybe CYRANO (2021, 2h: 4m). An expert in classical adaptations, always looking for new cinematic solutions. Comparison of ANNA KARENINA with War and Peace (Sergey Bondarchuk, 1965, 7h: 2m) - you will see something that can never be done again.

Use classics in a non-classical context: CESARE DEVE MORIRE (dir. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 2017, 1h: 17m)

Lesson 5

Based on a true story.

Screening: UTOYA 22. JULY (d. Erik Poppe, 2018, 1h:33m)

At home 22. JULY (d. Paul Greengrass, 2018, 2h:23m)

Possibility of non-fiction adaptation: non-fiction book, newsreport, real incident.

Utoya Movies: One incident made 2x different. Different topic, different structure, different storytelling time. We will analyze the structure of both films.

As a bonus, part of the documentary drama NOKAS (d. Erik Skjoldbjaerg, 2010, 1h:27m) and the documentary THE THIN BLUE LINE (d. Errol Morris, 1988, 1h:41m)

Lesson 6

If you need an idea.

Screening: JEANNETTE, L'ENFANCE DE JEANNE D'ARC (d. Bruno Dumont, 2017, 1h:45m)

At Home TRANSIT (d. Christian Petzold, 2018, 1h:41m)

How to save the money and become famous.

TRANSIT: transferring a period story into contemporary reality. Jan Němec used the same idea in his film GIRL FERRARI DINO (dir. Jan Němec, 2009, 1h: 8m). In the Czech tradition, the same idea in …A FIFTH RIDER IS FEAR (dir. Zdeněk Brynych, 1965, 1h: 40m). Spectator's participation in a story whose theme is timeless.

JEANNETTE: adaptation of a verse theatrical play into an intimate musical. Comparison with JOAN OF ARC (dir. Luc Besson, 1999, 2h: 38m). You can make a blockbuster. Or you don't have to. We will compare the television film THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (dir. Justin Chadwick, 2008, 1h: 55m) and its Hollywood version THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (dir. Phillipa Lowthorpe, 2003, 1h: 30m).

When the Legend Forms: CANDYMAN (dir. Bernard Rose, 1992, 1h: 39m) and CANDYMAN (dir. Nia DaCosta, 2021, 1h: 31m) as followers of Clive Braker's short story. How to find inspiration in a short story and live forever.

Lesson 7

Czech adaptations I.

Screening: The PAINTED BIRD (d. Václav Marhoul, 2019, 2h:49m).

At home TOBRUK (d. Václav Marhoul, 2008, 1h:42m)

A long way from book to film. An interview with a director who adapted the controversial American novel The Painted Bird in the Czech Republic. What you need to do if you love a book.

Lesson 8

Czech adaptations II.

Screening: MY SUNNY MAAD (d. Michaela Pavlátová, 2021, 1h:25m)

How to make a film when the shooting is not possible? Make an animated movie! Interview with the screenwriter Ivan Arsenjev who adapted the short story of Petra Procházková and with the director Michaela Pavlátová.

Schedule for winter semester 2022/2023:

room 307
Room No. 6

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel1)
once in 2 weeks, start Sept 28
Date Day Time Tutor Location Notes No. of paralel
Wed 09:00–12:15 Magdaléna BITTNEROVÁ Room No. 6
Lažanský palác
once in 2 weeks, start Sept 28 lecture parallel1

Schedule for summer semester 2022/2023:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans