Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The TV Show

Posted 4 March, 2016 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Uncategorized / 4 Comments

This is the fourth and last post of my Outlander series, and how I was able to use one of my favorite series for one of my MA classes at University. It was a great class, and it was such a pleasure to be able to look at something I had read for myself with a more academic outlook. Today, I am using a small clip from the Starz hit TV Show, in order to have the same scene as I used for my analysis of the novel and the graphic novel.

Outlander TV cover - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Outlander The TV Show

Because the Outlander novels have become, so far, an eight novel saga, it seems that the choice to transform Claire and Jamie’s story into a TV show was a good one, in order to be able to keep the storyline close to that of the original story in the novel. The characters’ interactions and reactions make sense to those who had already read the novels, and for the viewers who discover the saga thanks to the TV show, they will also feel that they are enjoying the same story in both media, if they were to read the novels after watching the TV show. This clip shows the same scene as the one used for both in the discussion about the novel and the graphic novel in order to be better equipped to compare the three media and realise whether the story being told is indeed the same, and what differences are apparent even if the story may be similar in the three media. At the same time, it is a way to discuss how the actors, the lighting, the perspective and the music / sound can change the perception given to the audience once the same scene is brought to life on a screen.

The lighting is fairly dark in this scene, and this shows the audience that it is night-time, and the characters are all inside. The beginning of the scene shows Claire interfering quite strongly with the men who want to set Jamie’s shoulder. At the very beginning, the music also brings more tension to the scene, with the crescendo alerting the audience that there may be danger ahead. The danger is stronger than it was both in the novel and the graphic novel, as someone is showing his knife in order to stop Claire. While Claire does keep a stubborn set to her face, it seems that she is more aware of the potential danger here as well. Claire and Rupert are facing each other, both sure of what should be done next, but Rupert still listens to Claire and lets her move towards Jamie. The fact that the apparent leader of the Scots approves of what Claire says about lining up the bones before setting the shoulder joint back shows that he is sure of his leadership. 

The extreme close-ups used to show Jamie’s pain and Claire’s concentration brings the severity of the situation to the front of the audience’s mind. These close-ups also bring the characters right into the houses of those watching, making the story more real as well. The use of sound also shows a different side to Jamie’s wound, especially when Claire starts moving his arm to align the bones. This, coupled with the men surrounding Claire and Jamie making fists and scrunching their faces with phantom pain makes the scene come alive in a different way than it did in the novel and the graphic novel. Thus, there are even more senses in play for the audience of a TV show than there is for a reader of a novel or a graphic novel. There is sight and sound, and the sounds of the dialogues as well as the sounds of characters moving and breathing brings life to the story on another level as well.

The tension of the scene is diffused at a later point in the TV show as well, because it is only after Claire has set Jamie’s shoulder that the tension falls. However, it is comic relief that brings the tension down here as well, when Claire not asks, but tells one of the men “You, fetch me a cloth or a belt!” and he looks slightly amused  and incredulous while looking at the other men and answering “Fetch me, she says […]”  It is only when Rupert confirms that he should, indeed, do as Claire says that he starts to move. Rupert validates Claire twice in this scene, first by letting her approach Jamie to set his shoulder, then to make sure she gets what she needs to make a sling. This makes it seem as if the TV show reverts to the patriarchal society because Rupert is the one who has the final say. In the graphic novel and the novel, it is Claire who takes control and makes the decision alone to set Jamie’s shoulder while the men watch, rather, control is given to her. It is rather interesting that Rupert stays in power even when Claire is using her knowledge, whereas she didn’t really need Rupert to acknowledge what she was doing in the other media. 

The sound is also participating both in bringing tension, as in the beginning, but also the sound of fire as a background sound, Claire being almost breathless when she tells Rupert that they will break Jamie’s arm if they continue in the same manner. When Claire approaches Jamie and touches his arm, the sound of his breathing emphasises that he is hurting, and thus the audience has more sensory experience with the scene than could be had in the graphic novel and the novel. When Claire tells the men to hold Jamie steady, the audience both sees the men moving to hold Jamie, and hear the shuffling of feet when they do so. Finally, the sound of something moving inside of Jamie’s arm just before the final ‘pop’ of his shoulder coming back into its joint is yet another aspect that brings the severity of Jamie’s injury to the audience.

Again, while there are differences due to the way the various media work, the story itself does stay roughly the same in the TV show as it was in the novel and the graphic novel. Each media brings something different to the story, while keeping the narrative intact no matter which media is chosen to share it. One of the reasons why the story across media stays true to the novel may be that Diana Gabaldon has been involved with all three, which could be part of what contributes to the great success Outlander has both as a novel, a graphic novel and a TV show. 

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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