So I have this kind of crazy, weird idea lately. That, when you are talking to an indefinite audience of millions of people from Tasmania to Alaska there is always something that you say that refers to me. Not to me as a person, but something that refers to something that I like, enjoy, read, hear. It’s weird. Really weird. And makes me feel uncomfortable, inappropriate, unfulfilled. Because it has happened, after reading or hearing something you have said that accidentally I have surprised myself saying, for instance, “I don’t think that poem was in that book, but it was written for that show on purpose… don’t you…?” and I stopped with my bigmouth still open because I was talking to… no one. Because we will never have that kind of conversation. Those conversations that are like pulling Ariadne’s thread of Art and Life, passing from one book to another…
I’ve written this post in March, and I feel now the need to reblog it. Probably WordPress will ask me to add more tags. How comfortable we feel with labels, they’re so useful. In a world in which time is gold a tag helps you to save time in thinking with your own brain. Grab a label from a group and glue it where it is needed. Tags are useful but also unfair. And we do not care. I don’t want not to care. I hate labels because, most of the times, they hurt like daggers.
One thing that always haunts me is when, recalling something that I am sure I have read in one of my books, I am completely unable to remember exactly where. But, sometimes, I begin to pull the thread of an idea and I find the quotation.
Yesterday, thinking about a conversation I had with a friend, I remembered a mythological story about the definition of love and the idea that somewhere there is someone that fits you perfectly. Which reminds me also something that I invented when I was a child (I’ve always thought that the life of people without imagination must be a very boring one): there was an opposite of me somewhere in the world. That is, when I was sad, she was happy, when I got good votes she had bad ones, and so on. This “another me”, being my complete opposite, had quite an unhappy childhood…
Can I make a cheap joke and say that I’m impressed?
Mr. Chameleon has done it again (I guess that I should use “had done” given that my proverbial quickness has driven me to this series “only” after eight years of being broadcasted) and here we have in the first chapter of the series a young, determined and absurdely painfully absolutely beautiful Claude Monet. Before talking of my favourite scene in chapter one think for a moment about this… Manet, Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Renoir in a bar. A gathering of talent equal just to the one we can see in Rafaello’s “School of Athens” (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bramante, Raffaello, Sangallo)
My favourite scene is the “animated exchange of views” between young Monet and his master, Charles Gleyre, in front of a male model who has big feet. Gleyre accuses Monet of being to faithful to Nature and draw the guy as what he is (a bigfoot, apparently). Monet says these lines, which are simply an example of masterful writing and acting by Richard.
“… we will all draw him differently. And his (pointing to Renoir) feet will be different, just as we all are different and the world is different, in every moment, of every day“. “Style is what matters“, replies the master – “style, style, style…“. Monet interrupts him, almost shouting: “I want reality!“. “Reality has no place in my studio!” – answers Gleyre. And here we have the superb lines that Monet throws in the face of his already former master, as a tombstone: “I’ve just seen the future. And do you know something? You’re not in it“
My DVD recorder is still panting and recovering from the effort of repeated and continuated RW of this scene. Powerful. Total. Masterful. The way Richard’s voice slightly cracks at the beginning of the discussion when he says “for me Nature is an end itself” until he raises, losing his patience but never his temper, moving only his left hand as if handling a sword with it, stabbing with his revolutionary ideas Gleyre’s conservatism and stiffness, declaring him something past an old with that last line pronounced smoothly until the last, almost imperceptible, smirk.
I find these small gestures of Richard’s acting irresistible. As for instance in “The Crucible” promo video, when he shouts “we will burn together” that parkinsonian trembling in his hands which implies a total and complete symbiosis with his character. Give that scene to another actor and most probably that hand would be still.
I have always thought that things, in life, cannot be forced. If they should happen, they happen. I’m not a person of strong believes, I’m always skeptical and very ironic but I guess that I believe in fate. In something written, pre-established. I am also quite convinced that, should we have the opportunity to turn back time and live again a certain moment, trying to change what happens, it will never change. The result will be the same, maybe different but never the one we intended.
What has all that to do with the subject of the post? “The Crucible” production was announced a few days later I’ve booked a trip to London to visit my dearest friend M., in the weekend of May 2nd. Should I have waited a couple of weeks to prepare that trip I would have planned it differently. I would have organised it for end June and right now I would be one of the happy few (not so few) to have seen Richard’s extraordinary performance. I would have gone probably to a matinee in order not to bother my friend returning home after midnight, and even hubby would have liked to see the play although he would understand more or less 10% of what was said in it. He endured stoically an Othello’s production in English in Rome’s Teatro Valle without sleeping nor snoring and he didn’t even fall asleep on Turandot, and that was definitely a harder test for him.
That was the appropriate moment to see the play.
For my August holidays I had already planned to go to Northumberland to visit Vindolanda, the Roman Army Museum and the forts in Hadrian’s Wall. We had to make that trip last year, but we had to cancel it when we got everything already booked. Frankly speaking, I didn’t give a second thought to “The Crucible” when booking the Northumberland trip for the second year at the beginning of June. I really want to visit Hadrian’s Wall and I am as fond of Richard as I’m of history of the Roman Empire.
Of course, plane, guest house’s reservation in Haltwhistle, and hotel in our way back in Newcastle were made before being conscious of what I was missing. I was sure that “The Crucible” would have been great but not SO great. And here is where the big “ouch” goes; it hurts, it really hurts.
Therefore in a month, when I will be in Northumberland walking the moors, reading the famous Vindolanda letters, admiring the view of the garden in Ashcroft Guest House, eating a chicken and mushroom pie in a Haltwhistle pub, I will feel a small twang of regret, a tiny shadow of nostalgia thinking of the man giving himself to his audience several hundreds of miles south, in the same country, and me not being there watching him.
But, as it seems that Mr. A lives mostly in airports, it would be nice if he passes by Newcastle airport on Sunday August 24th around 3 pm. Just a glance from the distance would be fine for me, I respect too much someone who works as hard as he to disturb him in an airport.
PS. Nevertheless, I have the weird feeling that I won’t go to Northumberland neither this year. Maybe I’m wrong, I also thought this before travelling to Berlin two years ago.
We are having a weird summer in Rome, after a period of not very hot days, now it seems that we are in Macondo, the city protagonist of Gabriel García-Marquez novels. We’ve had heavy storms in the afternoon, followed by humidty the day after, circumstances in which mosquitoes thrive and live happy. Most of all those feeding with my blood that, apparently, has an irresistible bouquet. The other night, sleepless watching the tv, I came by “Love in the Time of Cholera”. I pitied deeply Fermina Daza in her XIXth century petticoats in the heat of Colombia.
I am convinced that García-Márquez novels are impossible to render appropriately to the screen. How can you transmit that magic world of saints and sinners? But there is also another risk, when putting into images a novel: to get the scene wrong. My favourite passage of the novel is the moment when Fermina, returning to her city, meets by chance Florentino Ariza. When I read that passage I understood the character of Fermina perfectly, because in that period I felt just like her; it can happen, in a moment of your life, that you idealise a love, build a world around it, nourish it, worship it, to realise in a blink of an eye, in a moment, that there was nothing real in it. A moment of epiphany, of inner awe, that you get conscience of how stupid you were, and that THAT meant absolutely nothing. This is just how Fermina felt when she saw again, after a year, Florentino in the market. After he whispers in her ear “éste no es un buen lugar para una diosa coronada” (this is not a good place for a crowned goddess), she turns, watches him, says to herself “¡pobre hombre!” (“poor man!”) and the only thing she tells him is “no, por favor” (no, please, don’t) and “olvídelo” (forget it) together with a single gesture, a slight wave of her hand, as if shooing a fly (or a mosquito). And then, by letter, she tells him that she realised when seeing him again that their story was not real. The scene is in this video, around minute three.
As I said before, in my opinion the director or whoever it was, got this scene absolutely wrong. What I see here in the Fermina portrayed by Giovanna Mezzogiorno is regret, whereas in that moment, Fermina did not regret at all to cast Florentino away. She didn’t care an inch about him. Should he be smashed in that very moment under a tower collapsed after an earthquake she would scroll her shoulders and go away. I don’t see, in Mezzogiorno’s acting, a hint to annoyance, disgust, rejection. The actress could have chosen within a varied range of feelings, most of them negative; instead the acting is focused on something the character should not feel that moment: pity and regret. This, together with the decision of making Fermina tell Florentino that their story were not real, instead of writing it, ruins completely the scene.
Should afterlife exist I must remember to search for Gabo and ask him what he thinks about this, if “my” vision was the right one.
PS. Fermina changed afterwards her mind. I didn’t and I’m sure that is one of the good decisions I’ve taken in my life.