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March 20, 2008 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008- 3B

Film threatens
historical context

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ost people would qual- said, himself studying Coetzee.
ify a good book-to-film "And most people won't even real-
adaptation as a faithful ize it."
at unless you're working with But there are more obvious parts
mWorks budget, matters of of the film viewers with a basic
e and understanding of South African
ience geography will notice. While most
et in the of the latter two-thirds of "Dis-
reative grace" take place in the Eastern
sion fac- Cape, filming took place a few
too.) hours north of Cape Town. Instead
what ofsimply hale green countryside,
con- craggy mountains frame Lucy
tes Lurie's "farm."
ing a CHou "Disgrace" was directed by Steve
faithful Jacobs and adapted by Anna Maria
etation, whether by choice Montic'elli. Reportedly, to Capeton-
'ssity, besides the chance ians' questions of whythey hadn't
u incite the ire of fanboys relocated to the Eastern Cape,
of the Rings," graphic novels one of the filmmaker's said, more
he Watchman") and academ- or less, "Well, isn't it all the same
he Count of Monte Cristo," anyway?"
d all attempts at Shake- The potential problems of this
? Even bad adaptations version of "Disgrace," then, don't
chance to become cultish really lie in casting actors as sexi-
orites, like the film version er, more physically attractive than
McInerney's "Bright Lights, the author describes - something
y," which translates the I've often noticed in other films.
omist's boozysecond-person (I imagine John Malkovich is
ve into an away-from-type fantastic in this role, although
el J. Fox - though it's mostly the character Lurie - not exactly
for what a disappointment it a silver fox but obviously once
IcInerney adapted the novel handsome - is supposed to start
f. out with a rather nice head of
nome degree it's a matter of hair.) But placing a farm in the
)the original's dialogue, set- Western Cape while still sug-
aracter descriptions and gesting it to be in a completely
But it's also important how different part of the country com-
imaker conveys the author's promises the film's cultural con-
;e. What can seem like the text. The core act of violence in
st change - shooting in a "Disgrace" is Coetzee's address-
onvenient location, cutting ing of "farm attacks" during the
to fit a time limit - may per- 1990s in South Africa. Although
e context in which the mean- only a slight majority of victims
eant to be conveyed. were white, the attacks or rob-
ing for the screen adapta- beries were often perpetrated by
J.M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" young, unemployed black men,
er of the 1999 Booker Prize and seen as acts of vengeance
n lastyear in South Africa. against white Afrikaners by black
vel opens with an affair Africans in a post-apartheid state.
n a graying, dissatisfied In a country like South Africa,
assuming that everything and
everywhere is "the same any-
way" might have more implica-
ompromising tions than condensing the fourth
installment of Harry Potter for
lierary a feature film. The history of
South Africa is a complicated one,
,ntegrity, for and the Eastern Cape has borne
.,tter or worse some of its heaviest blows - the
original border wars between the
Dutch and British colonialists
and the Xhosa and Khoisan come
to mind. Coetzee's placement of
the attack on Lucy's farm in the
or at a Cape Town techni- Eastern Cape takes on greater
ege and a much younger meaning, symbolic in the sense of
. He is white and she, the "deep time," when one considers
alludes, is "coloured" (the the especially tumultuous his-
ble term for mixed race in tory between whites and blacks
kfrica). She's uncomfortable in the Eastern Cape concerning
e affair, and he's eventu- land ownership. To take away this
d because of it. The novel added heaviness, the added years
the disgraced professor, of meaning, would be to lessen the
,urie, from Cape Town to impact of the event.

Not as angry as they look. Maybe.

Raveonettes lay low, recharge

Daily Arts Writer
Unfortunately, when I reached
The Raveonette's Sune Rose Wag-
ner for a phone interview yester-
day, the circumstances were a
little different than I'd expected.
Wagner, singer, guitarist and in
no uncertain terms, leader of the
band, had just chosen to cancel
the evening's scheduled show
at the Magic Stick. Road weari-
ness looming heavily in his voice,
I couldn't help but sympathize,
even if he does get to play rock 'n'
roll for a living.
Wagner explained that the
band has played 25 shows straight,
lamenting, "We haven't had one
single day off since I don't know
when." Reasoning that it was in the
best interest of the tour as a whole,
he said it was the only choice.
"It was either cancel one show,
or possibly just play shit
shows for the rest of the
tour," Wagner said. "The
point is to put on a really
good show, and if we feel
we can't do that then there's
really no point for us in
Frustrated with a gru-
eling promotion sched-
ule, Wagner was still kind
enough to talk at length
about the band and their
new album Lust Lust Lust,
as well as reveal some of
his personal influences and
songwriting process.
The Raveonettes's latest
albumresurrects the reverb-
soaked guitar squall from
earlier albums but the rea-
sons for the shift seemed a
bit foggy. Wagner's articula-
tion was nearly as enigmatic

as the record itself. He described Lust heralds comparison to
the conception of the disc as the Jesus and Mary Chain, but
"more chaotic ... more raw" than Wagner, though calling Psycho-
previous efforts, saying the sound candy a "great album," doesn't
"sort of just happened by chance" consider them a substantial influ-
- which is more a reflection of his ence. Instead, he pointed to Sonic
life and mood than the product of Youth, The Ramones and various
a specific plan. His direction for girl groups, as well as The Everly
Brothers, Buddy Holly and Richie
Vallens as his chief sources of
M usic inspires inspiration. However, he quickly
Sadmitte d that music hasn't been
music. But his primary inspiration.
*I B "I'm much more influenced by
film and lit movies and books," Wagner said.
But Wagner isn't interested in
work, too. the pulpier grind despite his pen-
chant for more retro, indepen-
dent-looking album covers.
"I don't like B-movies at all,"
Wagner said. "That's why they're
the album collided with the writ- called B-movies: 'cause they're
ing of quasi-title-track "Lust," terrible."
after which he decided to just It was difficult to argue with
"build from there." his rationale, especially when he

listed his favorite filhsmsakers as
"Hitchcock," "Tim Burton" and
"David Lynch." The man clear-
ly knows his stuff. Though he
confessed after some prodding.
B-movies were good for their
graphic and shocking artwork,
but not much else.
He eagerly explained that he
considers his songwriting to have
a very cinematic quality, and that
he writes with "images in his
head," with music and lyrics com-
ing to him simultaneously and
After some guitar talk (he has
no intention of ever abandoning
his Jazzmasters or Fender Twin
amps - "it's always been like
that," he said), I figured it was
time to let him rest his fatigue-
plagued voice. He had no resched-
uling plans, but when I suggested
the Blind Pig for the future, he
seemed all for it.

his daughter's farm in the Eastern
Cape, where they become victims
of a seemingly random act of vio-
lence and must deal with the con-
sequences in a new, post-apartheid
South Africa.
In the film, parts of the Uni-
versity of Cape Town (where I
am currently studying) substi-
tute for Coetzee's fictional col-
lege. The Beattie humanities and
Arts Block buildings provide
lecture theaters and classrooms,
while UCT students and staff
serve as human backdrop. If
you look carefully, Professor
Carrol Clarkson, an authority
on Coetzee in the UCT English
department, appears briefly as
an extra.
"It's funny that someone so
big in the world of Coetzee stud-
ies appears in a role so small in
the film," one doctoral student
For an application,

Chou liked "Jurassic Park"
as a book more because of its
historical accuracy. E-mail her
at kimberch@umich.edu
Need some FR
time to callhot
We'//giVe y
10 minutes.

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