Fiction Into Film: A Guide To Finding Literary and Film Criticism
Almost as soon as moving pictures began telling stories, they drew upon literature for ideas—popular poems, Shakespeare’s plays, and later novels and short stories provided the basis for many films, and continue to do so to this day. Finding in-depth criticism about these films, and the works that inspired them, can be challenging—until now. This guide will help you find critical essays on movies, their literary sources, and the art of film adaptation.
The first step is finding films that have been adapted from literary works. The following resources are an excellent place to start:
Based on the Book This site, from the Mid-Continent Public Library, allows you to look up novel/film combinations. You can search by author, book title, movie title, or the year the film was released.
Movie Adaptation Database From the University of California at Berkeley, a searchable database for movie and book titles.
The Literary Filmography: 6,200 Adaptations of Books, Short Stories and Other Nondramatic Works. Leonard Mustazza.
Entries are listed alphabetically by title of the original work and include the author, year of first publication, literary prizes, and a brief synopsis, followed by film title, credits, and availability on VHS or DVD. Sources include books, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, and poems. Covers English-language works only.
There are two approaches to finding criticism about a particular book or author:
Check the library catalog. Doing a subject search on the author’s name (last, first) will bring up books about the writer’s life and works.
See the Humanities Department research guide Literary Criticism for High School and College Students to find online and print resources, as well as helpful information about writing a research paper.
Film Criticism/Literary Adaptations
English filming, English writing. Jefferson Hunter.
The Cambridge companion to literature on screen. Deborah Cartmell.
Adaptations: From short story to big screen. Stephanie Harrison.
If the movie that interests you is not covered in any of the books listed above, there are still many excellent resources where you can find articles and reviews:
Internet Movie Database
Do a title search to pull up information about a particular film. Under the heading “Awards & Reviews,” click on the link for “external reviews” for links to different reviewers.
Movie Review Query Engine
A gateway to reviews of movies past and present. The reviews come from a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times and Roger Ebert, and occasionally include foreign press sources.
Film Literature Index
This online version annually indexes 150 film and television periodicals from 30 countries cover-to-cover and 200 other periodicals selectively for articles on film and television. The periodicals range from the scholarly to the popular. Contains citations to articles, film reviews and book reviews published between 1976-2001.
Print & Online Film Journals
Found a good citation in the indexes above, and want to get hold of the actual journal? See the Periodicals Department’s list of Film Magazines and Journals at the Pratt Library. Or, search the archives of the following online film journals:
Bright Lights Film Journal
Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture
Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies
Senses of Cinema
If you would like to know more about our film and literature resources, e-mail us through our Ask-A-Librarian service, call us at (410) 396-5487 or mail your question to:
Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
400 Cathedral Street
Baltimore MD 21201