Title

Perceval for All Time: Searching for the Holy Grail in Literature and Film

Faculty Sponsor

Timothy Tomasik

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Foreign Languages

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015

Abstract

Perceval, the last romance of medieval poet Chretien de Troyes, recounts the adventures of a young knight who stumbles upon a mysterious castle with even more mysterious objects inside, one of which he later learns is the Holy Grail. He leaves the castle before he can even ask about these objects and is then resigned to wandering the forests in search of them. Because Chretien left this work unfinished, we don't know if Perceval finds the grail again, though several authors have written continuations of the story, and it continues to fascinate authors as well as filmmakers today. This paper examines two particular adaptations, Eric Rohmer's 1978 Perceval le Gallois and Terry Gilliam's 1991 The Fisher King and how they adapt their scripts to the unfinished nature of the original story. Though very different from each other, both films present an understanding of the story. Rohmer's adaptation is extremely faithful to the text and tries to let us experience the story the same way a medieval audience would have, while Gilliam's adaptation is set in modern times and has a new take on the plot and characters. Both films tackle an unusual task by adapting an unfinished story, continuing our search for the meaning of the mysterious grail.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Charlotte Lindstrom is pursuing a bachelor's degree in church music and French language. She became particularly interested in the connections between literature and film while studying the two in the French senior seminar and chose the story of Perceval because of the fascination that continues to surround the story of the Holy Grail (from academic debates to Monty Python, we all love a good quest!)

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