Thursday, 20 June 2019

Wakefield (2016): less like a mystery and more like an extended prank

(Русскоязычный прокат продолжает импровизировать: Wakefield = это "Во всем виноват енот").

Manhattan corporate lawyer Howard Wakefield (Cranston) is first introduced as a crotchety, miserable presence, growling his way through New York’s Grand Central Station on his commute home to his family. A freak power outage brings his train to a standstill, forcing him to walk to his quiet suburban neighborhood, which he evidently despises. Nothing seems to please this guy.

Finally home, he’s greeted by a raccoon in the driveway. He hates it too, and throws his briefcase at the animal. The critter escapes into his carriage house-turned-garage, so Howard goes after it to scare it out. In the seldom used and dusty room he’s drawn to a big window that looks into the back of his house, allowing him an ideal vantage point for spying on his clan, which he does with a twisted sort of glee.

It’s firmly established that Howard is a grade-A dick: a neglectful father and terrible husband with zero concern for those that love him. This is a man who takes pleasure in witnessing the pains of others.
- source

Quotes from the movie:

"In the suburbs, we live in nature." That's a quote from my realtor the selling phrase she used when Diana and I first looked at this place. Oh, crap.
And you do see deer, rabbits, crows. But we don't live in nature. That's the point of the suburbs. You live apart from humans. And you're protected from what's wild.

• Have I mentioned the loneliness? When you are alone for so long you forget the simple human exchange.

"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath."* Your whole life you hear that quoted. I never got it till now. Mercy is not something you ever get to request. Not strained means not forced. It's given freely. No reason. Just a gift drops from the sky. Twice blessed. Blessing him that gives and him that takes, if I remember it correctly. The giving and the taking all in one.

*строфа из «Венецианского купца»:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes...

Перевод Щепкиной-Куперник:

Не действует по принужденью милость;
Как теплый дождь, она спадает с неба
На землю и вдвойне благословенна:
Тем, кто дает и кто берет ее.

* * *
Cranston plays the title character, a New York lawyer who lives with his wife and twin daughters in the suburbs. On his way home from work one night, his train breaks down, causing him to get home late. Rather than go into his home, he decides to stop in the storage room above his garage instead. He watches his family eat dinner without him, finds that he likes playing the voyeur, and decides to keep the game going. He sleeps in the storage room overnight, then resumes spying on his wife and daughters in the morning. His wife, worried about Wakefield not coming home, calls the police to investigate his disappearance. The husband watches this unfold with growing bemusement; the pleasure he derives from the game inspires him to stay "missing" indefinitely. Time goes by, and the family learns to live without Wakefield. Meanwhile he continues spying on them from the storage room, eating food he finds in dumpsters at night, and generally enjoying the life of a ghost.

Doctorow's story is an update on a tale written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1835. The original also follows a married man named Wakefield who pretends to disappear for a long period, except in Hawthorne's version Wakefield moves into an apartment across town rather than haunt his own home. Hawthorne's story transpires from the point of view of an outsider who learns about Wakefield from reading his obituary. At the beginning of the tale, the narrator reveals that Wakefield left his home for decades, then returned without a fuss, and lived out the rest of his life as if he'd never left. The subsequent pages find the narrator imagining how this stranger carried out his scheme and trying to understand why he did it. The narrator ends up unable to provide an explanation, filing the story away as one of the unexplained mysteries of human behavior.
This theme of human experience being ultimately unknowable recurs throughout Hawthorne's short fiction, and it contributes to what makes his work so haunting.
Doctorow's update, on the other hand, makes Wakefield all too knowable. The story transpires from the character's point of view, and he explains precisely why he was unhappy enough with his life to want to disappear from it. Doctorow's Wakefield talks about his unsatisfying marriage and his frustration with daily drudgery, usually in whiny terms. In brief, he's motivated by the sort of middle-aged, suburban malaise that many other movies and novels have explored. I don't find this subject particularly interesting, especially when compared with the eerie metaphysical inquiry that Hawthorne created. I will acknowledge that some fiction and films manage to explore that subject and evoke a Hawthorne sense of mystery at the same time. Doctorow's story and Swicord's film just don’t belong in that category.

In explaining the character's unhappiness from the start, Doctorow and Swicord make Wakefield's disappearance seem less like a mystery and more like an extended prank. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if Wakefield were funny, but none of the humor (at least in the film version) merits anything more than a chuckle.
- source

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

“Chernobyl” tv-series

Отрывки из книги Светланы Алексиевич «Чернобыльская молитва».
Сценарист Крейг Мейзин:
«Я долго занимался комедией, люблю её и ни о чем не жалею. Но „Чернобыль“ показал ту сторону меня, в которой больше меня настоящего. Он отражает мое любопытство и интерес к миру, науке и природе человека. К тому же я повзрослел, и теперь больше связан с горестями жизни. Так что для меня это самая естественная вещь на свете».
«Точность была самым важным пунктом, ведь это история о важности истины».
Я всегда знал, что мы снимаем историю, которая касается огромного количества людей, и они до сих пор живы. Это тысячи, десятки тысяч людей, потерявших любимых из-за чернобыльской катастрофы, их жизнь стала короче, у многих появились заболевания щитовидной железы. Поэтому для меня было важно рассказать эту историю точно. Я думал об историях, которые мы обычно рассказываем на Западе о Холокосте и Второй мировой войне, мы стараемся быть очень точными, потому что это знак уважения»

Режиссером картины стал Йохан Ренк — шведский музыкант; «математически выверенный» сценарий сильно облегчил его работу как режиссера — все удалось уместить в пять эпизодов. «Меня тянет к вещам с темной красотой внутри. Как скандинаву, мне нравится безнадежность и странная аскетичность вещей. Меня очень тянет к меланхолии и подобным эмоциям. Так что, просто увидев титульный лист [сценария], я понял, что все это там будет [и согласился работать]».

- источник

* * *
From the very beginning, “Chernobyl” amazes with its realism and the way the Soviet entourage is transferred from those years. Attention to detail is literally manic. But...

- At night the inhabitants of Pripyat (with the children) watching the fire. In reality, most residents of the city learned about the fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant only in the morning.

- When power plant employees went to the reactor and looked inside in order to understand what state it was... The film shows that they were actually forced to go. In fact, it was enough just to understand that it needs to be done. And the people themselves agreed and left. The first went Alexander Kudryavtsev, then Anatoly Sitnikov. Soon they died.

- The collision of people with radiation described accurately. The show demonstrates all the symptoms mentioned by eyewitnesses: nausea, taste of metal in the mouth, Eritrema ("nuclear tan", a consequence of radiation damage to the upper layer of the skin).

- The tragic accident with a helicopter happened several months after the explosion (not the next day, as shown in the film). The liquidators helicopter crashed after colliding with a crane, hooking its cable.

- Three NPP workers, knee-deep in radioactive water, went into the room, found valves, opened them, provided drainage of water, and returned successfully. In the series, their fate was sealed. In reality, all three of them later participated in other tasks to eliminate the accident. One died 20 years after the accident, the other two are still alive.

- Approximately 36 hours after the explosion, the inhabitants of Pripyat were given only 50 minutes to collect their belongings and evacuate on the buses that came after them. Taking pets was not allowed. Residents of the city believed that they could return home in a few days, but as you know, this move was permanent.
As a result, the whole city was filled with orphaned animals. To avoid the spread of radiation contamination and rabies, the soldiers were instructed to shoot them.

- source

Chernobyl is too far from Moscow to reach by helicopter...
Nor, of course, could Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina even imagine threatening to throw Valery Legasov, an esteemed member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, off a helicopter — this was 1986, not 1936.
...Russian miners don’t drink vodka right at the mine, before they wash off the coal dust.
...the soldiers in the series appear to hold their weapons U.S. style, butt to the armpit, not Soviet-style, across the chest.
...Soviet people in 1986 didn’t go calling each other “comrade” except at Communist Party meetings.

- source
* * *
Screenwriter Craig Mazin (source):

"When you're reading the personal stories of people who were there — people who lived near the plant, people who worked at the plant, people who were sent to Chernobyl as part of the effort to clean it up — in those individual accounts, that's really where the story came alive."

He decided to write something that addressed "how we're struggling with the global war on the truth right now".

"I didn’t know why [Chernobyl exploded], and I thought there was this inexplicable gap in my knowledge ...So, I began reading about it, just out of this very dry, intellectual curiosity, and what I discovered was that, while the story of the explosion is fascinating, and we make it really clear exactly why and how it happened, what really grabbed me and held me were the incredible stories of the human beings who lived through it, and who suffered and sacrificed to save the people that they loved, to save their countrymen and to save a continent, and continued to do so, against odds that were startling and kept getting worse. I was so moved by it. It was like I had discovered a war that people just hadn't really depicted, and I became obsessed."

Mazin said that "The lesson of Chernobyl isn’t that modern nuclear power is dangerous. The lesson is that lying, arrogance, and suppression of criticism are dangerous."

Еще о сериале Чернобыль.
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