How does the composer of "Clueless" use film techniques to transform the social, historical and environmental context of Jane Austen's "Emma" to the modern context of "Clueless"?

Essay by AEKHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2006

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Amy Heckerling's "Clueless" involves a storyline, which closely follows the text of Jane Austen's novel "Emma". However, there are some key points of difference in the transformation that has taken place. This is due to the individual context of the nineteenth century prose text and that of the modern appropriated film text. The context can be divided into three focal categories, the social, historical and environmental context. In order to be able to address the question, these three groupings must be identified accordingly. Social context refers to the life and relation of human beings in a community, how people interact with each other and the hierarchy/social circles. Historical context concerns the impact of a particular time period and what is expected of gender roles, sexuality, and etiquette. Finally, environmental context relates to setting, geographical location and surroundings. Camera shots, camera angles, camera movements, lighting procedures, the soundtrack, music, editing methods, narrative devices (voice overs), filmmaking approaches, characterisation, and allusions/references (language) are but some filmic techniques to mention which Heckerling employs to transform the social, historical and environmental context of Jane Austen's Emma to the modern context of Clueless.

By analysing the literary techniques found in Emma such as narration/point of view (mostly third person/omniscient), writing style, syntax, diction, punctuation, irony, humour, authorial commentary, and dialogue Heckerling is able to specify the above mentioned film processes in order to get her perspective/interpretation of the novel across.

Emma provides a social context typical of an English community town in the early 19th century. The social hierarchy of Highbury is very much the guideline for the townspeople on how they should present themselves in the public eye, how they must interact with each other, and who holds what status and superiority over others. Austen describes the social setting of Emma, through the heroine's...