There is a wonderful Polish novelist, Dorota Maslowska. Her 2002 novel “Polish Russian War under the Red and White Flag” translated as “Show White and Russian Red” (USA) or “White and Red” (UK) is a stream of consciousness of a hoodlum cooking his brains on speed.
Maslowska’s style is difficult to render in English, which might be a reason for the novel not getting the recognition it deserves. (An attempt to translate the novel to the screen in my opinion failed.) In the book the hero, despite his moronic state of mind frequently offers refreshing takes on life. For example:
(Benjamin Paloff’s American translation):
“Magda says that she's really against the Russkies. Now I get pissed off, I say: And how do you know you're against them, exactly? The radio's on, the news is on, various songs. She says that's just what she thinks. I say that she's on speed and laying down a big judgment, laying down big opinions, how does she know she really thinks that way and not some other way?
(and my grammatically risky take):
“Magda says that she is rather against the Russkis. Now I get really fucking pissed: I say, and how do you know that you are indeed against? Isn’t radio playing, news playing, various songs playing? She says she is of such a conviction. I say she’s dragged herself out of her fucking mind and now stages the big conviction-ing, the big opinion-ing but how does she know that she opinions really that and not the opposite?”
Regardless of style, the message is clear: how do we know that we really mean what we say? How much of what we say is really ours? Do we really think for ourselves?
Directed by David Fincher, script by Steven Zaillian
from the novel by Stieg Larrson
The narrative in the Zaillian and Fincher version works hard to expand vulnerability of Blomkvist, the main character. The Swedish version (a very fine film itself) seems to relay more on a certain physicality of the male hero, whereas the American needs to work more against the unquestionable vitality and a former Bond allure that comes with casting of Daniel Craig. The allure is still lingering for most, which I guess the makers assumed and kept working with. There are several examples of such approach throughout the film.
One is the moment of Blomkvist reluctantly accepting Martin’s invitation for a drink. It plays the complexities of the moment and of the character. This beat in the American version is sold twice: the second time in the dialogue further within the sequence:
Can I ask you something?
Why don’t people trust their instincts?
They sense something’s wrong
- someone’s walking too close behind them
- yet they don’t cross the street.
You knew something was wrong
- you even knew what it was -
but you came back into the house.
Did I force you? Did I grab you and drag you in?
I just offered you a drink.
You’d never think the fear of offending
could be stronger than the fear of pain
- but you know what? It is.
They always come willingly.
Such repetition, first showing than discussing the event is very effective here. Plus I can almost here the star insisting "give him more hesitation, make him more human, show more of his weaknesses".
I am interested in the lofty and in the mundane, in the metaphysical and in the hilarious too. My film work has recently dealt with bridging the fictitious and the documentary as well as with seeking connections between the abstract and the visual.
The projects are described at www.directing.com