Professor Gianluca Parolin has published a new chapter entitled The Mise-en-Scène of the Investigation in Diary of a Country Prosecutor from the 1937 Novel to the 1969 Film in the book The Adaptation: From Literature to Cinema.
Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm's Yawmiyyāt Nāʾib fī ʾl-Aryāf (1937) has become one of the classics of modern Egyptian literature, and one of the prime examples of cinematic adaptations of literary works (Shafik 2016: 133-134). The 1969 film directed by Tawfīq Ṣāliḥ substantiates the paradox of Egyptian Realism turning to literature for its réel; and it is clearly not an exception in the director's filmography (Darb al-Mahābīl 1955, al-Mutamarridūn 1966, al-Sayyid al-Bulṭī 1967, al-Maḫdūʿūn 1972).
The chapter considers one particular aspect of the adaptation: the mise-en-scène of the investigation. The investigation is often overlooked because it offers no solution to the énigme. On the contrary, by the end of the narration the mystery of the killing of Qamar al-Dawla is even more embroiled by two further énigmes: the previous murder of Qamar al-Dawla's wife as established through exhumation, and the finding of Qamar al-Dawla's sister-in-law drowned in the irrigation canal.
Looking into the mise-en-scène of the investigation, the chapter intends to move beyond considerations of 'realism' of both the original serialised work of Tawfīq al-Ḥakīm (1937), and its adaptation in the film by Tawfīq Ṣāliḥ (1969). The investigation illuminates on broader representations of the functioning of the modern state and its law enforcement agencies (Boltanski 2012), and thus revisits a debate on detective fiction in modern Arab literature (Fuṣūl 76, 2009) through one of its core elements: the enquête. In doing so, the thirty years between the literary and the cinematic works also need to be taken into due consideration, and not only as a function of the late 1960s filmography engaging with the present through the lens of the past (Fawzī 2014: 111-112).
In the case of Yawmiyyāt, we also have a middle instantiation of the adaptation: a radiophonic serial broadcast by al-Iḏāʿa al-Miṣriyya. It serves as a useful third element to the mise-en-scène of the investigation through a middle medium.
Professor Gianluca Parolin
Professor of Law and Governance Programme faculty lead at AKU-ISMC, London.