A Popular Change from an Old Man to a Young Girl: The BBC’s Pardoner’s Tale (2003)
Adaptation, as Julie Sanders defines it, is an attempt to invite new audiences and readers by re-presenting the source text in a simpler, more easily comprehensible manner. Among film adaptations of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, BBC’s 2003 reimagining provides unsurpassed sensitivity to modern issues, and a new relevance. Tony Ground narrates a modern tale intertwined with gothic elements and sex abuse scandals. Compared to the original text, BBC’s The Pardoner’s Tale leaves its reader not with the simple conclusion that avarice can be ultimately conquered, but with the complexities motivating a heinous crime. With the emphasis on the transformation of a character from a pallid old man to a florid young girl, this essay aims to discuss how the reframing of a medieval tale through popular culture sheds light on Chaucer’s reception and adaptation in the twenty-first century.