When writing the novel, there is a greater opportunity to vary the style of narrative in order to provide the reader with as much information as possible, whereas in the film adaptation the addition of the visual narrative removes the opportunity to vary between different styles and it becomes much more definite. As a result of the visual information, the narrative is further affected by factors such as how something is said and the visual actions that accompany the words.
Film complicates literary narration by practicing two parallel and intersecting forms of narration: the verbal narration, whether through voice-over and/or the speech of characters, and the films capacity to show the world and its appearances apart from voice-over and character narration. (Stam, 35) Lees novel employs the use of first person narrative through the female-child voice of Scout.
However, in A Series of Unfortunate Events, the third person narrative used in the text has been maintained in the film via the use of voice-over, a technique often avoided by many directors and film producers. When adapting a novel, definite decisions have to be made, such as where and when the events are located and the exact time period in which events take place, and the narrative becomes a part of this.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel concerned with time and at certain points in the story, time is presented as moving fairly slowly, even suspended at times as the characters themselves watch the action, the spectators were quiet (Mockingbird, 185). There is also a cyclical notion of time present as the story moves through the seasons and events take place over a number of years, shown through Dills annual summer visits to his Aunt Rachel, and the development of the children, particularly Jem.
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident (Mockingbird, 9). Throughout both the novel and the adaptation, time is used as part of this narrative structure as there is a multi-layer of time as well as a multi-layer of narration. in the motion-picture, a first-person angle of vision functions primarily to provide transitions and shifts in time and place (Shackelford).
The film becomes much more dependant on the narrative in order to portray this time span as the visual narrative will not show this development as effectively without using more than once actor to play the different ages of the children. The novel is written from the perspective of Scout, Jean Louise Finch, the youngest member of the Finch family. This use of the female child narrator may suggest that the narrative will be different to traditional, stereotypical novels of the time, due to the female-child narrator describing events involving rape and racial issues.
However, what aids the text in being so successful is the fact that Scout doesnt limit her narrative solely to events she has experienced herself, she also relays stories other people have told her and information she has overheard. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night (Mockingbird, 15). Although it is through the voice of Scout that the story is being told, she does relay certain events as a watcher, giving the feeling of a third person narrative and enabling the audience to gain other peoples opinions and make their own judgements.