Script is the challenge in adapting Pram’s Earth of Mankind to film

Detik Hot – May 25, 2018
Script is the challenge in adapting 'This Earth of Mankind' to film (Monica Arum)
Script is the challenge in adapting 'This Earth of Mankind' to film (Monica Arum)

Monica Arum, Jakarta – It is no easy thing to take the story of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind from a novel and put it on the big screen. Screenwriter Salman Aristo says that the writing the script has become the most challenging point.

Yet this is not the first or second such experience for the man who is known by his friends as Aris. He has already written scripts for almost 20 films and not a few of these have left a deep impression. The Dancer (Sang Penari) is one such film.

“As a literary work, it is very challenging indeed to turn it into a film. Adapting it has indeed been perplexing, for me it has been a big struggle. I have gone through many debates since I began work on it”, said Aristo during a visit to the This Earth of Mankind set in Sleman, Yogyakarta.

The debates have among others come from director Hanung Bramantyo. And not without reason, because writing the script has proven to be no easy task.

There is a huge span of time that has to be transcended in taking a story about social life under Dutch colonial subjection during the 1900s era to now.

“Hanung very much wants it to be adapted to appeal to the millennial generation. In the end there is one thing for me, I want to celebrate Pramoedya Ananta Toer in this time. Because he has never been celebrated in an audio-visual format”, explained the screenwriter.

Not just basing it on the novel, the screenwriter of the film Garuda in My Heart (Garuda di Dadaku) is also using other books as a reference in order strengthen the story he is writing. Namely, Max Lane’s book Indonesia is not Present on This Earth of Mankind (Indonesia Tidak Hadir di Bumi Manusia).

The film has become a huge project for the man who also wrote the script for the film Crescent Moon (Mencari Hilal). For Salman, if his script proves a success it will demonstrate his love for Indonesia.

“It is an extraordinary blessing that [writing] this film [script] has fallen to me. A great challenge for myself personally. It is one of the stories that will determine my becoming an Indonesian, to adapt this perfectly”, he said. (doc/tia)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Skenario Jadi Hal yang Menantang Adaptasi ‘Bumi Manusia’ ke Film.]