Saturday, June 17, 2006

Getting Closer

I just finished watching the film "Closer" -- directed by Mike Nichols, and written by Patrick Marber -- after watching, a few weeks ago, the Prince George production of "Closer" -- written by Patrick Marber -- at the Central Interior Zone Drama festival, after reading, some weeks earlier, the play "Closer" and the proposing that play to direct for next season, and having that proposal rejected.

My association with this story has been complicated to say the least.

I've made it a policy to avoid seeing productions of things I have an interest in directing. I believe very strongly in bringing a unique vision to a play, a vision that came directly from me, untainted by outside influences. I've always felt that was what art was about. Bringing something to life that had never lived in quite that way before. There is no more extraordinary a feeling than that.

Seeing "Closer" at festival this year was a tough decision, even after my directing proposal had been rejected, because the rejection didn't change the fact that I still wanted to direct it. But I went. And surprisingly, I found my reaction wasn't so much of the "wow, that's really cool, I'll definitely have to do that!" variety, and more of the, "Huh, I wouldn't have done it quite that way," type.

So, coming away from seeing the play, and feeling like my artistic vision had not been compromised, I decided to watch the film. Because, having already seen the play, I decided to take a different approach to this one.

Instead of locking myself away from other takes on something I want to do, I want to drown myself in it. I want to enrich my understanding of the material. And where the play made me think of things I wouldn't do, the movie made me think...not so much of things I *would* do, but it made me look at certain scenes, certain moments, certain characters, differently.

And ultimately, it's just left me wanting to direct the play that much more.

The film, as a film, stumbles a little. A lot of the dialogue -- which, for the most part, is verbatim from the play -- seems a little awkward on screen. And a few powerful, beautiful moments (like Alice's decision to give all her love to Dan because he cuts the crusts of his sandwiches) are thrown away, which is unfortunate. The film shifts the time, and direction, of another pivotal moment, though I'm still undecided if it's an improvement or a detriment. And they tossed out the final scene, which was definitely a loss.

Regardless of the changes, though, the heart of the story remains the same: that people are cruel animals. That they will destroy anything and anyone in their path seeking their own happines. Thank God the moral of the story is that damnation ultimately awaits them at the end of that path.

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