"Mr Ripley’s Renaissance: Notes on an Adaptable Character."
The misdemeanours of Patricia Highsmith’s infamous character Tom Ripley (who originally appeared in five novels, published between 1955 and 1991) have enjoyed a fruitful life on screen. The new millennium saw the production of three Ripley adaptations, a fact that is testimony to the audience’s ongoing fascination with a shady character whose motivation remains in the dark. This ‘Ripley Renaissance’ is indicative of the way the impostor figure has risen to global stardom in the last decade, and it also points to the void which is to be found at the core of Ripley’s character. Due to his ambiguous sexual identity, the character is immensely adaptable to a multitude of genres and interpretations. Consequently, Ripley’s on-screen embodiments range from a tragic 1950s closet homosexual ( The Talented Mr. Ripley , 1999), a sadistic sociopath who is out to destroy the existence of a reliable breadwinner ( Ripley’s Game , 2003), to a dilettante upstart with more than just a touch of the gigolo ( Ripley Under Ground , 2005). By focusing on the unique problem-case of the Ripley character, this article not only attempts to challenge the traditional, hierarchical relationship between ‘original’ and ‘adaptation’ but also points to some parallels between the field of adaptation studies and gender discussions.