Question 3: How does a film that has been adapted from a story/novel affect our understanding of the text through the shift of perspective? Illustrate.
Ans: Due to the powerful visual qualities of both mediums, there has been a tight link between literature and film from the beginning of cinema. D. W. Griffith aspired to make films in the same way that Charles Dickens did with his writings. Tolstoy, meanwhile, desired to write in the style of a camera film (Paech, 1988, pp. 122–3). George Bluestone believes that novelists and film directors meet in the endeavour “to make you see,” the former via the intellect, the latter through the vision, in setting the boundaries of both the novel and the film. The fundamental distinction between the two media, according to him, is “between the percept of the visual picture and the idea of the mental image” (1957, p. 137). Because each is independent and distinguished by distinct and particular qualities, he views the end products of novel and film to constitute different artistic genera (p. 139). “A film is not thought; it is perceived,” according to Bluestone (p. 141). As a result, because cinema is a presentational medium, it cannot directly access the force of discursive structures (except for its use of dialogues). Unlike the text, which “discusses,” the cinema “must picture” (p. 140). Bluestone was a pessimist when it came to the junction of the two mediums. “What is essentially filmic and what is peculiarly novelistic cannot be transformed without losing a fundamental component of each,” he concluded his chapters. (Page 150) As a result, adaptation would entail destruction rather than the creation of new reading and interpretation options. The majority of Bluestone’s theories have shown to be incompatible with how current works treat their material. As films grow more literary and books get more cinematic, the boundaries between the mediums assigned to each art form are dissolving. The demise of the video cassette business, which has been replaced by the advent of DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-ray, and computer downloading technologies, has allowed us to access video libraries in the same way that we can access book libraries, whether in electronic or hard copy form. One of the fundamental distinctions in the modes of perception between the two media is due to this feature. “A novel may afford diffuseness where the cinema must economise,” says Bluestone, “because its method of beholding enables pauses and starts, thumbing back, skipping, flicking forward, and thus lets the reader determine his own pace.” Whereas the novel’s manner of beholding permits the reader to select his rate, the cinema spectator is limited by the uncontrollable rate of a projector” (p. 142). Bluestone could not have anticipated that, in the so-called “developed” and “developing” cultures, movies would one day be as accessible in households as books when he published the book in 1957, and that spectators would indeed be able to rewind, fast forward, pause, acquire stills, and slow motion as many times as they wanted using the mouse or remote control, thereby erasing the distinction he created between the modalities of beholding. As Morris Beja (1979, pp. 25–6) points out, some critics prefer to link film with the visual arts by emphasising the role of the visual image above the narrative.
Moreover, the visual, dialogical, and narrative components of literature and film have a remarkable connection. Literature, in addition to telling, produces mental images in the brains of readers, which contradicts these ideas. Furthermore, in examinations of the history of both art forms, literature has frequently been linked to the visual arts. Since the turn of the twentieth century, there have been several comparative studies of literature and movies. Morris Beja (1979) quotes Tolstoy’s remarks from 1908 on the revolutionary impact film will have “on the lives of authors.” He considers Vachael Lindsay’s The Art of the Moving Picture (1915), authored by a poet, to be the “first major work of film critique in the United States” (Beja, 1979, p. 74). Virginia Woolf attacked the new media as inaccessible to words in her essay “The Cinema” in 1926, before sound was introduced to movies. She saw the two media’s collaboration as “disastrous” and “unnatural,” and she defined film as a “parasite” that had “gorged itself on its prey [literary] with enormous rapacity” (p. 350). Woolf was one of the first reviewers to criticise cinema’s hypnotic effect. She criticises film for producing a reality that is “more real than reality,” an analogy that is akin to the Tyrell Corporation’s slogan in Blade Runner. She claims that the sight can’t understand the new medium without the assistance of the brain since cinema separates the viewer of his or her surroundings. Because pictures are believed to be more efficiently imprinted in the brain, audiovisual presentations produce stronger impressions and greater recall. Films allow audiences to grasp the subtleties of human interactions. When reading a play or novel, it’s easy to overlook this. The use of the visual approach allows us to grasp what the writer has directly expressed as well as what the writer has not expressly stated.
The director’s involvement in films is crucial since he is the one who transforms the novel into a movie. There is a shift in perspective because he understands how much to reveal and how much to keep hidden. The spectator no longer sees the film through the eyes of the writer; instead, they see it through the eyes of the director (point of view of the director). Biopics (biographies adapted for film) have long been a favourite of filmmakers across the world. A good example is the Hindi film Bhagh Milkha Bhagh, which is about Milkha Singh, also known as “the flying Sikh.”
To have a better understanding of Milkha Singh’s perspective, read his autobiography The Race of My Life. We’ll start with an explanation of what autobiography entails. Autobiographies provide a unique perspective: that of the writer who is chronicling his or her own life. In autobiographies, the author tells his or her own story as he or she sees it. The term “autobiography” was most likely coined by Robert Southey in 1809, when he wrote about the writings of Francisco Vieura, a Portuguese poet. When a person published the account of his or her own life in the past, the term “self biography” was employed.
The Genre of Autobiography: Self-Representation Construction, People write autobiographies since they want people to read about their life, according to Roy Pascal in his book Design and Truth in Autobiography. Autobiographies may be inspirational at times, and such works can inspire a person to overcome obstacles and face problems fearlessly. Autobiographical works allow the reader to get insight into the writers’ mental processes and behavioural habits. Autobiographies can originate at any moment in the past or present. The authors are not required to portray the events in chronological order, and they may opt to focus on only those stories and situations that have had a significant impact on their life. They may begin to recount their life narrative from a certain point in time and then return to previous events that have impacted their path. They may also concentrate on simply a portion of their lives and the events that occurred during that time. As the writers reflect on their lives, they may opt to comment on the concepts that influenced their perspectives and the individuals who shaped their personalities. Although autobiographies are meant to be accurate descriptions of a person’s life, the truth may not always be expressed properly. A writer’s life narrative is sometimes written while he or she is very young. S/he may live to be a ripe old age, but instead of publishing a sequel, he/she prefers to let all the earlier work speak for itself.
The writer of an autobiography recalls previous events from memory, reconstructs them in his or her mind, and then delivers them to the readers. As a result, recollection is extremely important while writing an autobiography. The Wordsworthian idea of “emotions recollected in calm” might be applied to writers who chronicle their own lives.
Milkha Singh tells us in his autobiography The Race of My Life how he earned the nickname “flying Sikh” by racing and winning races. When reading his autobiography, one notices that Milkha is extremely honest, and this trait contributes to the book’s outstanding readability. It starts with a short prologue in which the author describes his experiences with running.
Milkha Singh’s autobiography is organized chronologically. It informs us about his life his struggles and tribulations, his sorrow and anguish as he lived an almost lonely existence following the death of his father the assassination of his parents and some close members. His autobiography helps one understand that, despite his numerous issues, Milkha remained adamant about working and making a reputation for himself. The biopic’s title, “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,” alludes to Milkha’s father pleading with him to go when Muslim rioters assaulted his village and family during India’s partition. He was able to survive the murder by fleeing to India, where he lived as a destitute refugee. Milkha got himself into some poor situation and was sentenced to prison. He was eager to join the army, though, and his brother Makhan aided him in this endeavour. There was no turning back for Milkha after that, and the rest is history. Together, the autobiography The Race of My Life and the biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag allow us to see and understand Milkha Singh from two different perspectives (one is the writer’s point of view as he starts writing his life story; another is the producer’s viewpoint as he tries to present the backstory of Milkha Singh to us in cinematic form). Because of the mental imprint it creates, visual impact is always permanent. The film Milkha Singh lets us understand Milkha’s troubles, which began during the partition, when he fled to save his life. The director’s and writer’s perspectives are opposites. The cognitive process required in writing about the characters’ thoughts and reactions is simply communicated via the use of words. Although a visual medium can provide a pictorial depiction of the cognitive process, it is not always sufficient.