Die ongelooflike avonture van Afrikaanse filmaanpassings: filmic adaptations of Afrikaans literature with specific focus on novels, youth literature and stage plays

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

South African cinemas, and Afrikaans cinemas in particular, have mostly been studied for its political, representational and socio-political value and its often-problematic furnishing in these categories. This dissertation explores different lenses through which Afrikaans cinemas can be studied. It models itself on Alexie Tcheuyap’s framework in Postnationalist African Cinemas (2011) which directly questions the notion that African cinemas have to be revolutionary, nationalistic, subversive and/or post-colonialist. These demands were clearly set out by FEPACI in the 1960s and many scholars never revised their strategies of scholarship or kept up with the vast political, social and cultural shifts of most of the continent’s cinemas and audiences. Tcheuyap argues for a new way of studying these cinemas that allows for emphases on genre, myth construction, sexuality, dance and the refraction of some cultural practices in the imagination of filmmakers, audiences and the screen (2011). Because this study models itself on new frameworks of investigating African cinemas, it contextualises Afrikaans cinemas within African cinemas. Afrikaans as a language should own its connections of a history of oppression and terrorisation of around 90% of South Africans for a very long time before, during and even after apartheid. It is however imperative that the language’s function, representation and literary and artistic contribution to South African culture is revised and included in studies of African cinemas. The unabashed subversiveness of Afrikaans filmmakers like Jans Rautenbach and Manie van Rensburg during the height of apartheid is often overlooked. Even though scholarship of Afrikaans cinemas is relatively limited, the domain of the discipline is rather large with a history that spans across 83 years. The parameters for this study beacon off one sector namely that of filmic adaptations of Afrikaans literature. Specific focus will be given to adaptations of novels, youth literature and stage plays. Adaptation theory has, like the study of African cinemas, only very recently moved away from the popular essentialist, page- to -screen view of what filmic adaptions should be or do. Kamilla Elliott teases out a complex history and development of scholarship and tendencies in adaptation studies in her book, Rethinking the Novel/Film debate (2003). I unpack Elliott’s tracing of interart wars and interart analogies and concepts of adaptation in chapter two. This proposed framework for adaptation studies is used to map some of the primary texts ’ film aesthetics and strategies of thematic moulding in Roepman (2011) in chapter two. Chapter three explores the special interaction between adaptation and particular narrative component and how the director uses a mixed film aesthetic to move between a character’s interiority and exterior environment in Die Ongelooflike Avonture van Hanna Hoekom (2010) . This chapter also analyses how Afrikaans films have posed challenges to the nuclear family – both Skilpoppe (2004) and Hanna Hoekom feature overt explorations of this theme. A contemporary stage play has never been adapted for Afrikaans film. Chapter four regards two adaptations from stage plays – Moedertjie (1931) and Siener in die Suburbs (1975) to observe how space and genre, with specific reference to melodrama, has entered into and functions in these texts.

Includes bibliographical references.