Cinema and literature
By: Badreldin H. Ali
Cinema and literature is, undoubtedly, an interesting subject. It is actually one of the subjects that I have always aspired to accomplish ever since my early study of the theater or, more accurately, my entry into theatrical criticism. World cinema is full of movies taken from famous novels. It is a pleasure to remember those movies that were based on literary works by such authors as Naguib Mahfouz, Youssef Al-Soubai, Ihsan Abdul-Kuddous, Yusuf Idris and others.
Egyptian cinema has paid due regard to literary works that have managed to achieve massive popular success besides impressive critical acclaim and have thus entered the lists of best-selling novels. Filmmakers have invested in these "bestseller" novels by turning them into movies that won popular acclaim.
The relationship between cinema and literature is in fact as old as cinema itself. There would not have been cinema, had it not been for literature to exist. This is attested to by many old and vanguard films taken from novels by early Arab and Egyptian writers such as the ones based on Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy,1956-57: "Palace Walk, The Palace of Desire and Sugar Street"; Thief and the Dogs-1961, Cairo 30, Midaq Alley-1947. Also movies on Yusuf es Sibai: The Land of Hypocrisy-1949, Give Back My Heart-1954, We Do Not Sow Thorns-1969. And movies from Yusuf Idris: The Sin (Alharam), The Summons (Naddaha), An Incident of Honor and A House of Flesh.
The novel remains one of the main sources of cinematic drama. Filmmakers and producers will always find within world novels, drama and literary works an infinite fountain to quench their desire for movies. Conversely, some novels that were traded solely among the elite, became world famous in their filmic versions!
Some met with success and a bolstering of the literary kind of work, others were lackluster and without an addition to remember.
Some of the most prominent world-renowned literary works turned into a film include Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago and ….Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, in addition to the many films based on William Shakespeare's works.