Literature-to-Film Series, Everything from A to "Z"

One of the most influential entertainment advances in the 20th century has been the innovation of film. It has breathed life into the words that we read and made our favorite characters into untouchable heroes.

Starting March 4, at the Santa Monica College Art Complex, Professors Josh Kanin and David Zehr will be kicking off the 2005 Film Discussion series. These presentations will include four films which were originally adapted from plays, novels and short stories.

"What makes this film series unique is that it combines scholarly insight with pure entertainment," said Josh Kanin, professor of cinema at SMC.

The first film showing this Friday is the French political thriller "Z," adapted from the acclaimed novel written by Vasiles Vasilikos. This film comments on many of the political issues occurring in 1960s Greece.

It involves a government cover-up surrounding a violent attack on a passionate left-wing protestor. What seems to be an innocent accident could potentially be a government conspiracy.

This picture has received a number of awards, including two Academy Awards, one for best foreign film (1969), and a second for best film editing (1969). In addition, the picture received a Golden Globe for best foreign film.

Director Constantine Costa-Gavras, has been involved in the entertainment industry for nearly 50 years, and has directed such films as, "Cliar de Femme" (1979) and "Betrayed" (1988). The movie itself contains a mixture of actual events, intertwined with a powerful fictional story, that relates to many of today's political issues.

All of the pictures in the series will be followed by a short but insightful discussion looking into the messages portrayed in the stories themselves. "We will have lively and intellectual discussions after watching each of these superb films," said Kanin, who will be leading the film discussions with Zehr.

The concept for this film series is the idea of literature created into film. The combination of English Professor Zehr and Cinema Professor Kanin will help others understand the similarities and differences in both. The viewers will be able to see how the author portrayed one concept in the novel and how the director chooses to interpret the idea in the motion picture.

The second installment, to be shown on Friday, April 1, is the film "Tom Jones," adapted from the novel written by acclaimed 18th century writer Henry Fielding. This film won four Academy Awards in 1963, including best picture. This story deals largely with the ideas of love, sex, scandal, money, and makes for an interesting, funny adventure.

The third novel-turned-film is "Woman in the Dunes." This amazing story, written by the Japanese author Kobo Abe, and directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, was adapted in 1964.

"This film is as close to perfection as you can get," said Kristen Eimer, a Santa Monica College student who has a profound interest in cinematography. "It is strange, yet fascinating."

The story takes place in a far away desert where an entomologist is trapped in an enormous sand dune and soon discovers a strange woman. This movie will be shown on Friday, April 29.

The last picture that will be discussed on Friday, June 3, is Shakespeare's classic, "The Taming of the Shrew." This version of the play was released in 1967 and includes such Hollywood stars as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The film was overseen by the Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, whose entertainment history includes such motion pictures as the 1990 version of "Hamlet" and the 1968 rendition of "Romeo and Juliet."

The classic Shakespearean story deals with the comedic relationship between a stubborn, angry wife and an adventurous husband. Their struggles to get along and manage one another create a hilarious story.

All four of these films are said to be "electric" and the discussions following them should be thought- provoking and exciting.

These lectures are free of charge and will be held at 6 p.m. in room 214 of the Art Complex on the dates provided above. Parking is sufficient and free, and this event is not only open to students but also open to the public.