Ecstasies of Remodeling: Adaptation Between Betrayal and Incommensurability

Christophe Collard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


The November 1997 issue of Index magazine featured a rather unusual piece by avant-garde theatre- and filmmaker John Jesurun, which apparently had surprised even the editors - and this despite having commissioned the contribution themselves. In effect, they introduced it as follows: "From time to time, we ask someone: 'If you could re-make any film, what would it be, and how would you do it differently?' And until we asked John Jesurun, no one had ever written all-new dialogue for the original film."

Building on the already troubled conversion from James M. Cain's 1941-novel to the 1945 film produced by Jerry Wald via multiple screenwriters and many more rewrites, this paper aims to tackle the theme of betrayal so conspicuous in both works - on a narrative level - here from a processual angle, and this precisely by juxtaposing said 'classical' adaptation from the Hollywood studio era with Jesurun's experimental reimagining of the betrayal theme as an affective consideration.

Moreover, given that both Cain's novel and as Wald's film already notably departed from generic expectations (see LaValley, 2008), it is believed that the angle offered by both Jesurun's remodeling as well as another, parodistic 2013 musical remake Mildred Fierce holds the potential of presenting the adaptation principle not as a pejoratively connoted act of betrayal, but rather as denoting the generative character of incommensurability.


Jesurun, John. "Mildred Pierce Remake/Remodel." Index November 1997. Print.

LaValley, Albert J. "Mildred Pierce: A Troublesome Property to Script." Authorship in Film Adaptation. Ed. and Introd. Jack Boozer. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008. 37-62. Print
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Comparative Literature Association 2015 Annual Conference
Place of PublicationSeattle, WA (USA)
PublisherUniversity of Washington
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2015
EventAmerican Comparative Literature Association 2015 Annual Conference - Settle, WA, United States
Duration: 26 Mar 201529 Mar 2015


ConferenceAmerican Comparative Literature Association 2015 Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySettle, WA


  • Adaptation
  • Avant-garde
  • John Jesurun
  • Mildred Pierce
  • Remodeling
  • Incommensurability


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