It turned out Wakefield (the movie we had nothing to do about) was no big deal. I mean, no offense intended for any filmmaker involved, I’m talking about The Wakefield Variation: yes, the source material is (almost) the same, and yes it sort of upset me.
I haven’t read the updated short story by E L Doctorow the film claims to be based on, but the narration is linear and ends exactly as Hawthorne’s original story does. That is, without an ending. Which was our premise to the series.
The film relies entirely on Bryan Cranston’s performance, with almost the whole story told in voice over, often breaking the fourth wall, something that also goes back to Hawthorne’s novella.
The story chooses to be all about Wakefield and doesn’t make much of the other characters, and the overall tone felt like an adult, dark-ish comedy with some hint of drama. So the atmosphere is pretty far from my idea for the (mini)series. Also, not exploring much beyond the original story, it is leaving us space to do so. At least I think it does.
Did it take me four months to elaborate such thoughts? Not really, as I came up with this five seconds after the lights went back on at the Princess of Wales Theatre during the TIFF premiere. And the above is actually part of an email I sent to a few friends and colleagues after the screening.
So what’s the point? Five years ago today I set up this blog and against all adversities I’m still here, discussing The Wakefield Variation. A vaguely similar movie will not stop me… after all, it is what the film industry is all about.
Geneviève Bujold and Cliff Robertson in the opening credits of Brian De Palma’s Obsession (hint hint…)
So, as 2017 will see my effort focus on moving more or less permanently to Toronto, I’ll also do my best to make something as big happen for The Wakefield Variation.
Happy New Year to all of our the loyal followers 😉
This is going to be a major post. Not in terms of lenght, but because of its importance in the whole Wakefield universe. I’m revealing one of the major sources of inspiration here, and the title is not only a reference to my Songs in the key of Wakefield series, it does define an undeniable truth. My Weakness, from 1999 album Play by Moby, was the first “external” song included in the soundtrack of The X-Files (the episode was 7×11 “Closure”) and my devotion to that show is the weakness meant in the subtext.
Not that The Wakefield Variation is going to dig into paranormal anytime soon, but the atmosphere, the mistery, the unresolved tension between the main characters is something I’ve always been looking at when developing our project. The X-Files sits among the best television series ever, and has been the first popular culture phenomenon to spread across the internet back in the 90s. These two things alone should be enough make it a model to us. But that grim chorus repeating itself, mixing so perfectly with Mark Snow‘s music (who praised the choice instead of complaining), kind of made me preview the expression of Wakefield, then greatly portrayed by Michael Brian.
That episode, and that music, marked one the darkest revelations of the show, that is Mulder finding out his sister (whom he spent looking for over two decades of personal and professional life) was dead. Seeing the closure of that obsession – or it becoming immortal – made me think it was the same Wakefield needed to feel towards his relationship with Eleanor… that it was all his experiment was about, overcoming his obsession and being at peace with the world.
If you’re eager to know whether Wakefield is going to succed or not, well we’re even more!