Analyzing Adaptations

Today you’re going to watch five examples of adaptations from last year. I want you to watch each one TWICE. On the second time through, you need to write down answers to the following questions. Do it on a paper you can hand in. (Give me a couple of sentences for each; you need to explain why something was either a strength or a weakness.)

1. What were the strengths of this adaptation?

2. What were the weaknesses of this adaptation?

Answer those questions for each of the five. At the end of the hour, put your name on it and turn it in. We’ll talk about them late this week.

Denzel Washington

Randy Pausch

The Dalai Lama

J. K. Rowling

Ellen Degeneres


A Note on Grading Your Blog Posts

Some people have not been very thorough, and have written extremely short blurbs with each speech they chose.

Some have not done all their posts.

Some have done no posts at all.

However, I will still give you FULL CREDIT if you just GO BACK and DO THE ASSIGNMENT IN FULL.

That is all.

Adaptation: Using Shakespeare to Sell BBC Dramas

Late last year, the BBC put together this advertisement for the drama series on their channel. It features Benedict Cumberbatch reciting Shakespeare’s “All the World’s a Stage” soliloquy from As You Like It, while images from the various BBC series play on the screen. A shifting, changing classical score plays behind, pulling it together and capturing all the various stages of life addressed in the soliloquy, and represented by the images. Take a look.

What can we learn from this, for our own adaptations?

Adapting Speeches: Step One

Your job in the next couple of weeks will be to find several speeches. These could be from graduation ceremonies or inaugurations. They could be speeches from films. If you want to include poetry, you can do that too.

You need to find three speeches this week and do the following on your blog for each:

  1. What is it? Who is speaking? When was the speech given? Or, if it’s a film, when did that film come out, and who directed it? Link to the video or transcript.
  2. Summary: What are the main stories or quotes that strike you as important? In other words, if this were adapted, what would have to be included from it?
  3. Purpose: What are the big ideas that the speaker is trying to convey? What emotions does the speaker get her/his audience to feel?
  4. Adaptation Ideas: What sort of images/music/etc. could you imagine combining with this speech to make for an effective adaptation?

Please embed the video so that I can watch it while reading what you have to say about it.

“This Is Water” x 2

The original speech:

While watching, take notes on the following five stories/moments in the speech:

  1. There are these two fish swimming along…
  2. These two guys are talking religion…
  3. Let’s say it’s an average adult day, and you get up in the morning…
  4. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
  5. The most precious kind of freedom…

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Alternative Assignment

If you’ve been told to read this, I’ve put you on an alternative assignment for the Argument & Persuasion Video. I want you to write an essay that incorporates images and video (both of which you’ll embed). You’ll write this essay on your WordPress blog you created for source logs earlier this year. Your topic will be this:

Choose a campaign meant to persuade teens: texting and driving, not cheating in school, etc. Discuss what you see as the reasons for the behavior, the approach that the campaign takes in trying to persuade teens, how effective you think the campaign is, and why. 

The images and video should help illustrate your points, either as specific examples, or simply to add interest. In your text, you should both cite evidence for your claims and, when possible, link to them.

Bukowski Comic Adaptation

By the way, if you’re looking for the adaptation I showed you in class of Charles Bukowski’s poem, “Air and Light and Time and Space,” here it is on


Adaptation: Carl Sagan

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this one until now, because I’ve loved this next video for a couple of years. This was an advertisement for NASA, but it wasn’t produced by NASA; it was produced by Reid Gower, a Canadian who just happens to feel passionate about science education and NASA’s mission. There’s a great story about him here. I’ve linked one of his videos below.

Advertising as Adaptation

In the middle of our presentations fifth hour today, I suddenly remembered this ad I saw last weekend. It takes a speech from Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and turns it int0–well, if you weren’t in class today, watch:

Then during sixth hour, I remembered that the same thing happened during last year’s Super Bowl. That time the voiceover was from Paul Harvey, a famous radio host.

UPDATE: Here’s more info on the Paul Harvey speech, which was from 1978, as explained in this article from the Atlantic.

A Couple More Commencement Addresses

Here’s one by Bill Cosby. And another. And one by Joss Whedon. And Anna Quindlen. And Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy. And Stephen King. And Billie Jean King. And Michael Jackson, who recorded “Billie Jean.”*  And George Saunders. And Jon Stewart.

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