African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen by Lindiwe Dovey

By Lindiwe Dovey

Analyzing quite a number South African and West African movies encouraged through African and non-African literature, Lindiwe Dovey identifies a selected pattern in modern African filmmaking-one within which filmmakers are utilizing the embodied audiovisual medium of movie to supply a critique of actual and mental violence. opposed to an in depth heritage of the medium's savage creation and exploitation by means of colonial powers in very diversified African contexts, Dovey examines the advanced ways that African filmmakers are retaining, mediating, and critiquing their very own cultures whereas looking a united imaginative and prescient of the longer term. greater than in simple terms representing socio-cultural realities in Africa, those movies have interaction with problems with colonialism and postcolonialism, "updating" either the heritage and the literature they adapt to deal with modern audiences in Africa and in other places. via this planned and radical re-historicization of texts and realities, Dovey argues that African filmmakers have built a mode of filmmaking that's altogether designated from eu and American varieties of adaptation.

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Films were also made specifically for African audiences as early as the mid-1920s, when colonial film units were set up in various African countries—predominantly those colonized by the British and Belgians—for educational and propaganda purposes. Some films were made with a very limited form of collaboration between Africans and the colonizing powers, as in the case of the Bantu Educational Cinema Experiment, conducted from 1935 to 1937 in British East Africa, but the organizers’ patronizing and essentially exploitative attitude toward Africans is evident throughout their report.

The films studied here harness embodiment by adapting to their objects— the literary texts, historical realities, and violence—in a way that “mimics” them, that approaches them closely rather than attempting to dominate or control them as do the rational discourses of academic disciplines. However, the films also access rationality through their complex re-historicization of the discourses of the literary texts and the historical moments in which they were made. If, as I have claimed, African film adaptations operate in the manner of Adornian mimesis, it is important to examine Adorno’s proposition that mimesis as critique is contingent on context.

Fanon did encourage mimicry on one front, however, urging colonized peoples to mimic the colonizers’ violence, and thereby transform it into revolutionary violence (Fanon 1983:28). This is the kind of violence that so-called “Third filmmakers” attempted to promote through their films. Solanas and Getino insist, throughout their manifesto, on filmmaking as a “guerilla activity,” the camera as the “inexhaustible expropriator of image-weapons” (58) and the projector as a “gun that can shoot 24 frames per second ”(58).

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