May 31, 2008

Books Vs. Movies: A ‘Taha Hussein’ Example

Posted in Books Reviews, Movies Reflections at 3:30 am by Rou...

The question that immediately pops in one’s mind when talking about novels that had been screened into movies, is whether the movie had actually presented the exact plot of the novel, or simply created a brand new one…? Moreover, what are the variations between them, and which of them is actually better in terms of presenting the main theme…?


Two of the famous writings of Taha Hussein were screened into movies, and the interesting thing is that both movies were directed by Henry Barakat; the famous Egyptian director.


Written in 1942 and signed on its final page with the date 1934, “Doaa’ el Karawan – دعاء الكروان” is a novel that takes a rural poor servant as its main heroine, and throughout its flow, it shows up the suppression that has been put on the Egyptian women in general and the rustic women in particular, highlighting the fact that this community did not see women except as insignificant creatures that should be covered up and concealed. Zahra the mother, Amna and Hanady the daughters, presented the female figures of this community in general and the novel in particular who had been subject to injustice by male characters portrayed through the adulterer father, the tough uncle, and the handsome womanizer engineer whom Hanady and Amna worked for respectively.


Considerably, the main plot of the movie was similar to that of the novel; however, some differences occurred resulting from shortening some incidents from the novel due to the time constraints and limitations that have power over any movie. The important difference that you can find in the movie is the scene finale; in the novel it was left openly for the reader to decide what will happen next, whilst in the movie the ending was written by putting an end to the engineer’s life as if to fulfill his debt for being the main reason of Hanady’s death by the hands of her uncle…


Although “Doaa’ el Karawan” movie is considered one of the best 10 movies in the history of the Egyptian cinema, but the novel is much more attractive and attention-grabbing with its flowing words and catching way of writing that at times you seem to be hearing the voice of the curlew singing with every word you read…


On the other hand, in 1970 a totally different experience in transferring a novel into a movie was made when Barakat screened Taha Hussein’s novel “Alhob Alda’e – الحب الضائع” that was written in 1938… I am saying a totally different experience here because this time the plot has changed a lot from the original novel script. Even though the main theme of both works was similar in presenting the classical dilemma between love and duty through the forbidden love of a woman to her best friend’s husband, but everything else was changed starting with the place where all these events took place; France during World War I in the novel, Egypt and Morocco in the movie, passing by all the characters’ names and nationalities who were French in the novel and Egyptians in the movie, and ending by the scene finale which was the death of both heroines in the novel, and the death of the guilty heroine only in the movie.


While Doaa’ el Karawan movie is considered one of the best, the movie of Alhob elda’e is considered a very neutral movie that is sometimes classified weak because of some slips in its script and poor screening at some shots such as those taken in Morocco and Ismailia of Egypt. Alternatively, its novel is extremely fascinating and gripping, that the moment you start reading it, you can’t help stopping except in its final page.


Still, it is not a must that all people agree that a book was better than a movie or vice versa. See, such opinion is basically subject to one’s understandings and feelings towards both works, and in most cases it is a biased point of view that merely presents personal opinions.



All the best,



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