Short-film adaptations of Munro’s stories in the 1980s. A multimodal stylistic analysis


This paper presents and deconstructs the four clichés regarding the inferiority of adaptations to adapted texts identified by Linda Hutcheon (2013), by examining screen adaptations of Alice Munro’s short stories. It focuses on three short Canadian films released in the 1980s: Boys and Girls (1983), Thanks for the Ride (1983) and Connection (1986). The theory derives from Hutcheon’s reconceptualization of adaptation(s), while the methodology relies on multimodal stylistic analysis. The inspection of the adaptation process reveals lines of narrative continuity and discontinuity that show the distinct narrative potential of audio-visual artefacts. Contrary to what is commonly thought and expressed by the clichés, the three Canadian films manage to negotiate intimacy and distance through point of view; to express interiority; to shape nonlinear, fractured and layered temporality; to give form to metaphors and other figures. In Thanks for the Ride, the representation and negotiation of intimacy and distance in point of view are central and fluid, functional to the intersectional discussion about gender and social class. Interiority is expressed in Boys and Girls through close-ups and eye-angles, with particular attention to the filmic representation of the female protagonist Margaret. Connection deploys and intertwines two diegetic and temporal plans, and the resurfacing past profoundly affects the present time. Ultimately, all three films convincingly depict a mirror scene, a semiotically layered and complex trope, which represents Munro’s concern with introspection.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v33p87

Keywords: short-film adaptation(s); clichés; multimodal stylistic analysis; Alice Munro.


Bateman J. and Schmidt K.H. 2012, Multimodal Film Analysis: How Films Mean, Routledge, London & New York.

Bigot C. and Lanone C. 2014, Sunlight and Shadows, Past and Present. Alice Munro’s Dance of the Happy Shades, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, pp. 110-114.

Burke M. (ed.) 2014, The Routledge Handbook to Stylistics, Routledge, New York.

Burn A. 2014, The Kineikonic Mode: towards a Multimodal Approach to Moving Image Media, in Jewitt C. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis, Routledge, London & New York, 2nd ed., pp. 373-383.

Duncan I. 2011, Alice Munro’s Narrative Art, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Francesconi S. 2018a, “A sign of a letter coming”: Adapting Munro’s (Faked) Epistolary Correspondence, in “Lingue e linguaggi”, 28, pp. 111-122.

Francesconi S. 2018b, La traduzione intersemiotica: da ‘The Bear Came over the Mountain’ di Alice Munro a Away from her di Sara Polley, in Faini P. (ed.), Terminologia, Linguaggi specialistici, traduzione. Prospettive teoriche e pratiche, Tangram, Trento, pp. 141-154.

Francesconi S. 2019, Film Adaptation as Intersemiotic Contact Zones: Edge of Madness by Anne Wheeler, in “Textus: English Studies in Italy”, 32 [2], pp. 77-91.

Halliday M.A.K. 1978, Language as Social Semiotics: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning, Edward Arnold, London.

Halliday M.A.K. and Hasan R. 1985, Language, Context and Text. Aspects of Language in a Social-semiotic Perspective, Oxford UP, Oxford.

Halliday MA.K. and Matthiessen C. 2004, An Introduction to Functional Grammar (revised by, 3rd ed.), Arnold, London.

Harrison J.K. 1983, Thanks for the Ride, National Film Board of Canada.

Hooper B. 2008, The Fiction of Alice Munro. An Appreciation, Praeger, Westport.

Howells C.A. 1998, Alice Munro: Contemporary World Writers, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Hutcheon L. with O’Flynn S. 2013, A Theory of Adaptation, Routledge, London & New York.

Koenig W. 1986, Connection, Atlantis Films and National Film Board of Canada.

Kress G. 2010, Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication, Routledge, London & New York.

Kress G. and Leeuwen T. van [1996] 2006, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. 2nd ed., Routledge, London & New York.

McBrearty D. 1983, Boys and Girls, Atlantis Films.

McFarlane B. 1996, Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

McIntyre D. 2008, Integrating Multimodal Analysis and the Stylistics of Drama: A Multimodal Perspective on Ian McKellen’s Richard III, in “Language and Literature”, 17:4, pp. 309-334.

Munro A. [1968] 2000, Boys and Girls, Dance of The Happy Shades, Vintage, London, pp. 111-127.

Munro A. [1968] 2000, Thanks for the Ride, Dance of The Happy Shades, Vintage, London, pp. 45-59.

Munro A. [1982] 1987, Connection, Moons of Jupiter, Vintage, London, pp. 1-18.

Neary C. 2014, Stylistics, Point of View and Modality, in Burke M. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Stylistics, Routledge, London & New York, pp. 175-190.

Nørgaard N. 2009, The Semiotics of Typography in Literary Texts. A

Multimodal Approach, in “Orbis Litterarum”, 64 [2], pp. 141-160.

Nørgaard N. 2014, Multimodality and Stylistics, in Burke M. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook to Stylistics, Routledge, London & New York, pp. 471-484.

Pillière L. 2014, Crossing New Frontiers? Investigating Style from a Multimodal Perspective, in “Études de stylistique anglaise”, 7 Online since 19 February 2019, connection on 24 April 2019.

Stam R. 2004, “Introduction: The Theory and Practice of Adaptation”, in Stam R. and Raengo A. (eds.), Literature and Film: a Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 1-52.

Thacker R. 2005, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives: A Biography, McClelland & Stewart, Toronto.

Toolan M. 2014, Stylistics and Film, in Burke M. (ed.), The Routledge Handbook to Stylistics, Routledge, London & New York, pp. 455-470.

Toolan M. 2015, Why Write Stylistic Analysis of Munro’s Stories, in “Etudes de Stylistique anglaise”, 8, pp. 9-14.

Ue T. 2014, Incarceration, Focalization, and Narration: Adapting the Two Selves in ‘Boys and Girls’, in “Short Fiction in Theory and Practice”, 4 [2], pp. 175-185.

Ventura H. 1992, Alice Munro’s ‘Boys and Girls’: Mapping out Boundaries, in “Commonwealth Essays and Studies”, 15 [1], pp. 80-87.

Zurru E. 2010, Breaking the Crystal Shoe: A Multimodal Stylistic Analysis of the Character of Cinderella in the Shrek Saga, in “Textus: English Studies in Italy”, 23 [1], pp. 235-261.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.