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The Relationship Between Cinema And Literature Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 2225 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Introduction: CINEMA and LITERATURE are connected /related to each other but still they are different in their own ways.It has always been one of the most fascinating forms of knowledge which has made great impact on human psyche.

From the early magical experiments till the recent release of Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons the relationship between cinema and literature has always been closely intertwined. It has proved on the whole a successful symbiosis, a relationship that remains to this day as inextricable as it is fruitful. Some half century ago, even one French film critic proposed the question as to whether the cinema was capable of surviving without the twin crutches of literature and theatre and the answer was “no”.

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Cinema is a nascent art, and as such, it has sought in its most vulnerable years succour from the previous generations of theatre and literature. This Borgesian library traversing ages, cultures and continents, written in a thousand languages, incorporating multitudinous philosophies and wildly incompatible theologies is the rich and fertile soil in which cinema has firmly planted its roots and has ever since flourished because it has recourse to the literature of millennia. Cinema has been a thousand years in the making.

The literature of antiquity has provided endless inspiration for cinematic epics like”The Bible” has spawned such films as The King of Kings (1961), David & Bathsheba (1951), The Robe (1953), Samson & Delilah (1949), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) there are countless others. The story of the prophet Moses was most memorably filmed by Cecil B. DeMille as The Ten Commandments (1956), a film that was an amalgam of several novels that were themselves based on the written word of the Hebrew Prophet himself

Hindi cinema portray’s women in more risqué clothing, but that doesn’t signify progress.  If anything, in their visual and story portrayal of women, most movies seem to be taking India backwards.

The British may have left India long ago, but the obsession with fairness and the idolization of foreigners hasn’t lessened.  There are an overwhelming number of non-Indian women in dance numbers and landing roles, as in the case of the Brazilian actress in “Love Aaj Kal.”  Even most of the stars who make it are increasingly the Western ideal: fair and blue-eyed or the ramp model no Sridevi’s or Madhuri Dixit’s to be found.

Movie stars represent idealized visions of female beauty, which does change through generations. Secondly, movie plots are riddled with the outdated “virgin” or “vamp” characters.  The “vamp” is overtly sexual, as if that alone shows strength.  But, if sexuality is to be empowering, it has to be owned, not just the fantasy of men in an item number.  Though stories may demand certain types of characters sometimes, most of the time in Bollywood, the modern, and often “bad,” woman becomes the one in less clothes and the “good” woman is the sacrificing, loyal one, even if it means being humiliated.  Even in comparison to decades ago, the handling of wives and affairs is offensively regressive in movies, like “No Entry” and “Biwi No. 1.”

There were more powerful female characters 30 years ago as in “Sharda.” Movies like “Salaam Namaste” may feature strong women but the story – unmarried couple deciding to have a baby is so far removed from average Indian society that they might as well be fantasies.  Women fare better in the indie cinema scene, like “Dor” or “Fashion.”

Since the inception of cinema, literature has attracted all creative filmmakers. In India, pioneers like Pramathesh Barua and Debaki Basu have based their films on the works of writers such as Sarat Chaterjee,. Satyajit Ray’s film Pather Panchali, which first brought Indian cinema international acclaim, was based on the great work of literature, by famed writer Bhibuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay. Eminent directors across the world are still making films based on the works of Shakespeare, Dickens and Hemingway. This proves, beyond doubt, the irresistible charm literature holds for filmmakers!


First chapter: How cinema and literature are related

It is said that if you’re going to see a movie based on a book you think is worth reading, read the book first, you can never read the book with the same imaginative responsiveness to the author once you have seen the movie.

Cinema is also used in a response to poetry. The tapes and films were chosen out of the American experimental tradition to exemplify various techniques of marrying the two arts. Poetry as the art of utterance and cinema the art of showing, both whole on their own, don’t easily make a good couple. But these film and video makers have taken up the challenge anyway by responding to the spirit and the letter of the poet, creating an original cinematic writing. Cinema and language meet head on, not unified as in conventional film, but remaining distinct and dancing, stepping on toes, wooing each other with the charms of mouth and eye and mind. You’ll see images’ own syntax shuffled, blended, chafing and dovetailing with language; you’ll hear and read poets’ work while seeing and hearing filmmakers’.

The advent of cinema in the early 1900s rapidly led to a link between film and literature, the confluence of both medium becoming especially significant during the early 1930s, and a period that is often referred to as the classic cinematic period. Although the relationship between film and fiction has been largely beneficial, often resulting in increased recognition for novels that were previously unpopular, critical study of the convergence has frequently focused on the drawbacks of this adaptive and interpretive partnering. In recent years, the tie-in between literature and cinema has seen an intense and sustained revival, but discussion continues among critics and reviewers regarding the credibility of film adaptations from texts of fiction.

Studying the relationship between film and fiction, critics have noted the value and limitation of each medium. A major point of discussion among scholars is the ability of the written word to convey multiple layers of meaning and consciousness, in contrast to the usually linear progression of events portrayed in film. In fact, some theorize that because of the sheer depth and intensity of novel-length narratives, the novella or short story is more often the right length for adaptation to feature film. Although controversy surrounds the adaptive methods employed by the screenwriters for both texts, there is consensus about the success of both the text and film versions of these works.

The second chapter:

Cenimatic Adaptations-

In this chapter ,try to project some of the best adaptations of literary works that have ever happened.In India, whose Hindi language film industry is nicknamed as Bollywood. Which routinely picks up movies and novels from around the world and copies them without credit and usually end up mangling them. But, sometimes, just sometimes, they get it and end up doing adaptations that are better than the originals they are based on. I do not know why. Basically, Hollywood almost always ruins literary adaptations. There is probably something in the methods of Bollywood that suits these works. Some of the best known works in Bollywood are-

No.1 is PINJAR, title means Skeleton and this movie was based on Amrita Pritam’s novel who is also an anti-socialist..

NO.2 OMKARA is Vishal Bharadwaj’s take on Othello is set in rural UP, where gun-toting gangsters fight with each other for turf control. Bharadwaj’s adaptation is very close to the original, differing only in little plot details..

NO.3 SURAJ KA SATWAN GHODAN which means the seventh horse of the sun,is another interesting film

NO.4 UTSAV is Girish Kannad’s movie is based on an ancient Sanskrit play called Mricchakatika. But, Kannad fills his movie with so many extras and have them debate theory of aesthetics that this movie becomes a succesful example of making your adaptation say what the original never said

The third chapter:


1)Pinjar film based on a Punjabi novel by the same name, written by Amrita Pritam is a story of Puro, a young woman of Hindu background, finding herself living a lovely life – in a period circling the time of the Partition of 1947 – with her family. All is well for Puro,the main protagnst who finds herself betrothed to a wealthy, sweet young man, from a promising family akin to her own background. Her family lives in Amritsar but journeys to their ancestral village of Chattovani to search for prospective grooms. They finally engage Puro to Ramchand from Rattoval, near her ancestral village. Although her life seems to be well-charted, Puro’s bliss is shattered one day as a leisurely trip in the fields beyond her home with Raj her younger sister turns traumatic as she is kidnapped by a mysterious Muslim man, who turns out to be Rashid.

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2)Omkara Omkara Shukla is a baahubali, a sort of political enforcer, leader of a gang which carries out political crimes for the local politici with ‘Langda’ Tyagi and the movie starts with Langra trying to and stop Omkara from abducting the bride where on the other hand,Dolly’s father an advocate, mostly referred in the movie as “vakeel saab” (lawyer sir), is furious and confronts Omi.He puts gun on omkara’s head so,to bring a final solution to this issue, Dolly is made to appear in front of her father and clarify that she eloped with Omi rather than being abducted forcefully. She also tells the events of how she fell in love with Omkara. The father leaves feeling betrayed and ashamed. Later in the story when Langda is disappointed with Omkara’s poor judgment and jealous of Kesu, his younger, less-experienced, superior; hatches a plot to avenge both his offenders.He On one hand, playing the role of a concerned friend Langda convinces Kesu to appeal to Dolly, Omi’s lover and bride-to-be to mollify Omi. On the other he starts to disrepute Dolly by implicating Kesu’s visits to ask Dolly for her help as meetings in an illicit love affair between the two. During the climax, on the night of their wedding, Omi is convinced that Dolly and Kesu have been having an affair behind his back. In utter rage, he smothers his new wife to death. Langda shoots Kesu with a silent approval from Omi. Kesu is hit with a bullet on his arm. Hearing gunshots and in shock, Indu enters the room where Omi is sitting next to Dolly’s corpse in remorse. Indu notices the kamarbandh and mentions stealing it, they both understand the fatal misunderstanding and Langda as its root cause.

Both the movies are adaptations of the novels .One of them written by an Indian writter and the other by a Britisher.They have their own styles of writing and the way they presented it.But there is one common point on which both the adaptations are similar and that is “The role of a women “,it seems that it is a male dominating society and both the adaptations portray it clearly.So the next chapter would be dealing with this only.

The fourth chapter:

FEMALES SUBJUGATED BY MALES- The portrayal of women in Indian cinema is the biggest clichι that the discourse on gender has to address. But the more specific aspect of this clichι i.e. the representation of the female body and the time and space that accommodate it is worth elaboration. Society was very patriarchal during earlier times; men were in control of all monetary assets. When a man died, his money was actually passed on to the closest living male heir and the women were left penniless. While men and women were allowed to choose their own partners, money/wealth/status was very important and often marriages were made on those grounds alone.

Both the plots deal with a very different story line but it shows the condition of a women.

In pinjar the very first line says” “Tu janam mein hi mar gayee hoti”. Marriage is the only possible course for the heroine’s life, and the main proagnist does not seem to expect anything more. We even get a hint of the heroien’s abduction and the resulting doubts about her sexual purity when her would be husband sings a song about the “agnipariksha” (trial by fire) that proves Sita’s chastity after her abduction by Ravan.

In omkara women is used as a commodity,not given any importance.The girl who is ready to leave everything for Omkara’s sake is in the end killed by him only.She is treated badly by her husband as she is no more trusted by her husband.

This shows that women are only sacrificing and are always at the receiving end.They are always dominated by males starting from the age of Chaucer till 21st centuary.


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