NABOKV-L post 0005900, Wed, 11 Apr 2001 11:32:36 -0700

[Fwd: Luzhin Defense film]
EDITOR's NOTE. Several people have written in to correct John Malkovich
to John Turturro. One wag suggested retitling the film "Being Andrey
Luzhin." Maybe John Turturro crawled down that duct and became John
Malkovich. And then there is Aida Turturro, better known as Janice
Soprano. Below Lara Delage offers more substantive thoughts on the film.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Luzhin Defense film
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 08:31:39 -0000
From: "Lara Delage" <>

I'd like to bring two corrections to what has been said so far: firstly,
is not John Malkovitch (who would have been very appropriate, though),
John Turturro who plays the part of Luzhin. Secondly, the film's
as far as I know, was at the Edimburg Festival in August 2000.
As to the film itself, it stands - intentionally or not - poles apart
Nabokov's novel.It's a shame that Gorris didn't try to convey Luzhin's
from an internal point of view and translate into visual images
masterful evocations of a man's distorted perception of reality. The
director opted instead for a tragic romance observed, largely, from the
point of view of Luzhin's wife.Where the novel described the
of a mind within the confines of a passion which excluded any normal
relationship, the film mimics Luzhin's wife's constant attempt to bridge
unbridgeable gap between Luzhin's representation of reality and a more
'normal' representation.Luzhin's wife doesn't choose, however, to step
the bridge in order to grasp her husband's apprehension of the world.
Instead, she painstakingly applies herself to drawing Luzhin towards her
side. Likewise, the film remains, rather banally, on the side of the
with its picturesque decor and period costumes. The climactic sex scene,
which made me laugh out loud, is paradigmatic of Gorris' approach to the
story: whereas the novel is remarkable for its absence of sexual
intercourse, the film contrives a (melo)dramatic convergence of sex and
chess, thus actualizing a metaphor (the 'pulling power' of chess) which
remained a powerfully latent and conflicting virtuality in the
of the novel's impetus depended upon the tension between two realities;
Gorris' film, this tension is all too swiftly consummated. Its release,
unsurprisingly, falls flat. Hence the film's diverging end, which
quite logically, the directrix of Gorris' interpretation.

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