Sergei Eisenstein argues in his essay, ‘ Film Form,’ that the great works if Dickens has influenced film makers; in particular the influence of Dickens on Griffith films. Eisenstein says that, “We can recognize this particular method of Dickens in Griffith’s inimitable bit-characters who seem to have run straight from life into the screen. I can’t recall who speaks with whom in one of the street scenes of the modern story of Intolerance. But I shall never forget the mask of the passer-by with nose pointed forward between spectacles and straggly beard, walking with hands behind his back as if he were manacled. As he passes he interrupts the most pathetic moment in the conversation of the suffering boy and girl. I can remember next to nothing of the couple, but this passer-by, who is visible in the shot only for a flashing glimpse, stands alive before me now and I haven’t seen the film for twenty years!” (Eisenstein 199) This particular comment said by Eisenstein really stood out for me. I cannot help but think of the many times that particular scenes in a movie or a novel have stood out to me, and may have not been such a big part of the central plot. This begs the question: What can novels do to film makers to allow a certain scene or characters to jump out of the book and into the screen? What has the influence of authors had on film makers to allow these scenes to stick for ‘twenty years’ to come?
Eisenstein argues that the films of Griffith are more perceptive to the idea of using texts as an influence to his films; He says, “As children we paid no attention to the mechanics of this. As adults, we rarely re-read his novels. And becoming film workers, we never found time to glance beneath the covers of these novels in order to figure out exactly had captivated us in these novels and with what means these incredibly many-paged volumes have chained our attention so irresistibly. Apparently Griffith was more perceptive” (201). He argues that Griffith is able to capture what we love most about novels and use those methods into his films. He grips the audience the same way we are gripped to characters in novels that we love most. The characters come to life on screen much like the characters come to life for us while we read a piece of text we feel connected to. Is it possible for film makers to continue to use great authors like Dickens to influence their films? Can they still create characters that come to life to us like characters written in text?