Write An Essay Comparing The Film And The Novel Versions Of The Joke

1621 words - 6 pages

When a literary work is adapted into a film, the common question that arises is which of the two versions is better. Each medium, written or film has its own unique qualities: a film capitalizes on visual imaging to captivate its audience, while a novel delves into the mental aspects of a plot sparking our creative imaginations. When observing both the novel, The Joke, by Milan Kundera and the film version, done by Jaromil Jires, it is essential to understand that the two are not in competition. Rather, the novel and film compliment each other in various ways with their unique qualities. What one lacks in quality, the other makes up for in its own magnificent way.In the novel, each character is a foil to the other, and through the characters' monologues, the relationships they develop with each other can be viewed from diverse points of view. In the film version, the only point of view that is observed is that of Ludvik's, even though we never see Ludvik. All of the other characters, on the other hand, address the camera directly. This is because the point of view is a constant one. As a result of this, the audience loses the creative beauty that the novel has to offer. There are six main characters in the novel: Ludvik, Lucie, Helena, Kostka, Jaroslav, and Zemanek. Only Zemanek and Lucie do not have monologues in the novel. Kundera intentionally made these two characters different by not allowing them a point of view in his novel, thus drawing attention to them as a reflection of the character in whose monologue they appear. He portrayed them in a very artistic and intelligent manner.Lucie is a very important character in the novel. She was an integral piece of both Ludvik and Kostka past, and it is because her involvement in their lives that their present is as it is. However, she is entirely omitted from the film. The film focuses on the political implications of the time, thus, Lucie is not a necessary component in relating those themes. The speech that was made by Zemanek against Ludvik, the ceremonious and ridiculous communal "baptizing" of the children, the flashbacks to Marketa and the parades all serve to criticize the political climate of the 1960's. The exemption of Lucie from the movie was a great injustice to the depth of Kundera's novel. She is not part of the political realm of the book; she belongs to a different climate. She is a reflection of man's soul, she represents lost love, her presence questions reality, and the human capacity to trust, love and understand one another.Kundera is a master at questioning identity and the basis of human relationships. It is through Lucie that he subtly shows that neither Kostka nor Ludvik ever really knew or understood her. Both men know Lucie as a reflection of themselves, as a mirror reflecting the time at which they loved her and needed her most. Lucie revealed herself to Ludvik as "religious truth reveals itself." She also reveals herself to Kostka because he finds a way to ease her...

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