Books & Writing · Movies, TV & Theatre

Midnight’s Children at TIFF: The Art of Adaptation

Midnight's Children (2012) Poster

I was given the opportunity by TIFF to watch this amazing adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, and there is so much I can say about the way this story was formatted for the screen.

First off, I will say this candidly: I find it really beneficial to watch a film adaptation before reading the novel. When you read the novel first, you have so many expectations of the film, and it leads to let-downs when something gets cut, or a character isn’t portrayed as you imagined. I like to enjoy the film and then get more information about the story by reading to novel later.

Films and novels are two different formats of storytelling, and I believe that a film is a visual story that needs to stand on its own, away from the book.

The film of Midnight’s Children was stunning, and just watching the film, I can see how beautiful the novel will be when I read it. I’ve noticed a lot of books made into film often keep the narrator of the story as a voice-over in a lot of instances, and this one is no different. It keeps the voice of the protagonist in the forefront of the film and allows the audience a bit more of the internal monologue that is expressed throughout the novel. Similarly, there were a lot of very literary-sounding quotes and dialogue in the film that allowed the story of the novel to resonate with the audience.

The visuals in this film spoke very loudly, explaining very effectively what Rushdie would have had to say in words. For instance, the way time passing was portrayed sometimes as a time stamp graphic, and others as a creative shot of Saleem first as a younger child and then transitioning flawlessly in the same situation to an adult. Or the film’s portrayal of Saleem’s visions of the midnight children, using an outer glow to determine that they were only in his head, and getting rid of that glow to express that what the audience sees is, in fact, reality.

The film is a beautiful depiction of dualism and destiny: showing a constant duality between Shiva and Saleem, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the civil war, dark and bright in the colours as well as the themes. Midnight’s Children is visually gorgeous, as well as a very interesting portrayal of the danger of looking at something in black and white, and later discovering that the truth had been in the grey.

I was given the opportunity to view this film from TIFF and their Films of Deepa Mehta series. Check out TIFF.net to discover what’s on now!

I highly recommend this film to those who are a fan of the book, and even those who are fans of Mehta’s other films.

Take a look at the trailer below:

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