Transformation of Literary Works into Film

Transformation of Literary Works into Film

Transformation of literary works into a movie and vice versa is not something new in the literature world and Indonesian movies. In mid-August 2019, Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s monumental work, Bumi Manusia, was adapted into a cinema with the same title.

The adaptation reaps the pros and cons. Some readers of Bumi Manusia felt dissatisfied and Hanung Bramantyo was declared to have failed to direct the film. Then, how should be a film converted to be a literary work or vice versa?

Joglitfest 2019 presented Abidah El Khalieqy and Ifa Isfansyah to discuss the process of transferring a literary work into a film or vice versa on Monday (30/09/2019). In the discussion titled Sastra dan Film: Berjarak atau Berpisah, Abidah told her experience in transferring her novel Perempuang Berkalung Sorban into a film.

Perempuan Berkalung Sorban was written in 2000. It was requested to be a film by Star Vision on the following year. Initially, the book was written for non-commercial interests with an NGO. It was distributed to various places, especially Islamic boarding schools in various regions.

“However, in 2001 the book was reprinted without any permission from the author and the person in charge,” said Abidah.

The misfortune transformed into blessing. The book was noticed by the Producer of Star Vision, Chand Parwez Servia. He was interested to film it.

Abidah said that it was not easy to make the film. She said that initially there were three screenplays and three directors who had worked for the movie. However, the producer had predicted that the movie would reap a controversy. The production house released the film in 2008. In the same year, Islamic movies like Ayat-Ayat Cinta by Habiburrahman el-Shirazy crowded the market.

“It was only Chand Parwez who dare to release Perempuan Berkalung Sorban and Hanung Bramantyo is the director,” said Abidah.

Abidah went back and forth to check the screenplay. However, on the field, the director made many changes. There were additions and reductions on several sides. That is the director’s right.

Ifa Isfansyah, the Director of Sang Penari, said that many literary works were written not for business purposes. In contrary, many films in Indonesia run with commercial logic. Nearly 140-150 films a year, according to Ifa, were made with business logic. Therefore, the film was not able to take all the themes that existed in literary works. The film should take its own perspective on the work.

“Creativity follows business logic. Starting from who the target audience is to how much it will cost,” said Ifa. (Translated by Handa Taulan)