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But his originality as a filmmaker lies most strikingly in his having successfully adapted film, originally a Western cultural medium, to the needs, pace, and structures of West African culture.

I know all the meanings of the vocabularies in this sentence, but stil I don't understand this sentence because of the structure. Can someone explain the meaning and structure of this sentence by parts?

  • Surely you mean words and not vocabularies....? – Lambie Jun 12 '17 at 14:24
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The clause headed by having represents this clause:

He has successfully adapted film to X, where X = the needs, pace, and structures of West African culture.

That is, he has used the medium in ways which reflect West African artistic forms and speak to West African audiences.

This clause is recast with its verb, has, in the -ing form, having, and its subject he in the possessive form his. In the possessive form the subject thus acts as a determiner and the verb is in effect 'recategorized' as a nominal, something noun-like. In consequence, the entire clause can be employed as the object of the preposition in

His originality . . . lies in Y, where Y = the having clause.

To say that "A lies in B" is a spatial metaphor for expressing the notion that the essence of A is B.

Paraphrase:

What is original about his work is that he has found ways of making the Western medium work for West African audiences.

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But his originality as a filmmaker lies most strikingly in his having successfully adapted film, originally a Western cultural medium, to the needs, pace, and structures of West African culture.

1) in his having successfully adapted film to the needs, pace and structures of West African culture.

Answers the the question: Where does his originality lie? It lies in [etc.]

Ergo, it is an adverbial phrase even though it is very long. It modifies the verb to lie (from the verb lie, lay, lain). The verb lie in the phrase here is: x lies in y. Which means is found in y.

2) to the needs, pace and structures of West African culture.

One thing is adapted to another. to the needs etc. is a prepositional embedded in the longer adverbial phrase.

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