A Passage to India When novels are turned into movies, each is subject to instant criticism. They are readily compared to one another. Not having read A Passage to India puts us at a disadvantage in comparing the novel and the film. Instead, we have to trust that David Lean's interpretation of Forster's novel is accurate. In most cases, the movie can be very helpful in relating the author's intended message.
There are various ways that a film can be more convincing than the printed text. Forster's message is about the tolerance and intolerance of people in different cultures. Through his film, David Lean was successfully able to convey the author's message. The most important aspects in any given novel are the characters. In the novel, you read their actions, speech and sometimes their thought. It is also sometimes easy to miss details in the plot, which could very well lead to missing details in the theme.
The film has actors and actresses in order to portray the characters in the novel. They are extremely vital in relaying the message of the film to the audience. Their interpretation and performance of their character must be accurate upon the novel. The more convincing and candid the actor is, the easier it will be for the audience to understand the personality and traits of the character. There is so much more to grasp, when you can see the way a character is acting and the manner in which they speak. For example: Mrs. Callendar was extremely snooty toward the Indians.
She was quick to patronize whenever she encountered them. When she met the group of Indian ladies she talked to them in a belittling manner as if they could not understand what she was saying. Then she tried speaking their language and in turn, completely mangled it. The ladies then replied by saying that they could speak English. From the audience's perspective it is easy to understand Mrs. Callendar's character. Another example of character would be Dr. Aziz.
In the end of the film we see a different person than we saw in the beginning of the film. Aziz undergoes a character change after he has been subjected to the dissonance between the two groups. We first see Aziz as a humble and almost clumsy character. After the trial he becomes confident and secure. Forster's message was shown through Aziz's metamorphosis in character. The background music provided in the film is also very important.
The music is used to provide mood for the setting and sometimes used as a method of foretelling. Many times, it's hard to depict the mood of a certain scene in the novel. Most times in the film the marching band was used to provide the English people with majestic music to represent them. Ironically, the marching band was pretty bad, which made it seem like a mockery of the English. (Western music operates on a 12 semi-tone system, where Indian music operates on a 22-semi-tone system) To people more familiar with Western music, the Indian music just sounds completely erroneous. Images and symbols are used equally in novels and films to illustrate deeper meanings and associations.
There were quite a few symbols in the film. The monkeys, and the erotic statues were used to show discord and confusion. The most obvious symbol was the little voice that Adela would constantly hear. This was obviously used to show her conscience.
The comparison of a film to a novel all depends on the interpretation and accuracy of the filmmakers. There have been movies of books that have been entirely different from the novel. It was relatively easy to figure out the theme of the movie. Nevertheless, Lean's method of directing the actors, his use of music and use of symbols and images aided in conveying E.M. Forster's message in A Passage to India.