Write an essay comparing the film and the novel versions of The Joke

Essay by pinoUniversity, Master's March 2005

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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...