Volume 10, Numéro 2, Pages 84-98

Purposeful Psychonarratological Cognitive Dissonance: Starship Troopers, Novel Vs Film

Authors : Souhali Hichem .


This paper is part of a series of papers dealing with the concept of cognitive dissonance in Robert A. Heinlein‟s novel Starship Troopers (1959). Envisaged from the perspective of cognitive dissonance within narratology and reception, this work aims at understanding the scope of narrative dissonance in the deliberate act of text to film transformation. Heinlein‟s narrative was and continues to be a controversial account of the militarization of youth for the sake of protecting the Western democracies from alien invasion. In 1997, Paul Verhoeven (director) and Ed Neumeier (screenwriter) released their adaptation of the book. The result was another controversy: Verhoeven and co were accused of either ridiculing the patriotic values of the US army, or unapologetically promoting fascistic themes and iconography. In the delicate exercise of film adaptation, the question of editorial choices (amplification, or downsizing, for instance) depend on subjective, esthetic and ideological standpoints. The case of Starship Troopers presents the double problematic of an ambiguous novel disambiguated by controversial authorial reception and rendition. Hence, this paper will question the adaptation process and the management of conflictive ideas between the original material and the film version. Subsequently, the findings will highlight the narratological artifacts, the semiotics of the film, and the underlying ideological discourse.


Starship Troopers; Robert A. Heinlein: Paul Verhoeven; cognitive dissonance; film adaptation.