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giovedì 24 marzo 2016
SIMENON SIMENON. THE BLUE ROOM: THE MOVIE AND THE BOOK
How the movie does not live up to Simenon’s book.
SIMENON SIMENON. LA CHAMBRE BLEUE: LE FILM ET LE LIVRE Comment le film n’est pas à la hauteur du livre de Simenon. SIMENON SIMENON. LA CAMERA BLU: IL FILM E IL SUO LIBRO Perché il film non è all'altezza del romanzo di Simenon.
release (2014) of The Blue Room movie stimulated me to read the
original (1963) La Chambre bleue novel before watching the film. As a
matter of fact, I recently repeated this sequence. Beyond my interest in
most things Simenon, I was curious to compare the two because I’m still
looking for a movie that accurately reproduces a book. Why moviemakers
change things the way they do, including wholesale alterations in plots,
especially the denouements, flabbergasts me. My theory? They consider
themselves independent artists and, also, they know that movie studios
have to produce what moviegoers want to be successful.
book is a thought provoking mystery about passion and murder and guilt.
Its construction is clever and intricate. Flashbacks to the opening
scenes and fast forwards to the criminal processes are interspersed
within the chronological descriptive narrative. Reanalysis of events is
the rule. The reader knows right away that crimes occurred, guesses
gradually about their nature, but only learns at the end what they
actually were. Within my world of Simenon, the book gets an A.
the other hand, within my world of movies, the film gets a B+. It does a
good job with the characters and plot. It meets the challenge of making
the flashbacks and fast forwards understandable through dialogue and
visuals alone—without the spoon-fed explanatory text that benefits
novels. However, numerous inaccuracies tend to diminish the film. Too
many changes stand out. A few are logical, but a lot are inexplicable.
make the point, the title should really be The Blue Bedroom. Sexual
activity in bed is fundamental to the story, and bedroom is the most
common translation of chambre. (To be fair, the book’s English version
made and has maintained the same inaccuracy since 1964.) What is more,
the major characters get new names, like Tony becoming Julien and Andrée
becoming Esther. The secret signal for the lovers, the pink-bordered
white towel in the window, turns all red, which is most unfortunate
since Simenon’s handling of color is a tour de force in the book.
Indeed, even the blue room is barely blue! The grocery store transforms
into a pharmacy, substantially converting multiple crucial plot
components for the worse. Does one order fruit preserve from a
drugstore? Handwritten ‘anonymous’ letters, all four of which are
importantly and ironically evidential as noted by the postman in the
book, take on other forms in the film, such as a glued-up collage stuck
under a windshield wiper. Even if updating to modern cars and trains and
farm equipment is logical and appropriate, adding digital images from
smart phones to the pot is not.
In sum, the bad news is
the movie’s accuracy comes up short, but the good news is the overall
dramatization does not disappoint.