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.