Sunday, 4 November 2012

Week 4 Of University (Mon 29 Oct)

In today's lecture/screening, we looked at Folktales and Ballads, specifically the adaptation of The Decameron (10 Days in latin, a book with 100 stories) by noted Italian Film maker Paolo Passolini (some of his hallmarks being the lack of professional actors, a 'raw, grainy, rough' quality to the footage, and the upping of the sexual elements) which picked only nine stories to adapt, those being:
  1. A young man who is duped by a woman into thinking she's his sister and gets robbed.
  2. A young field hand goes to a convent disguised as a mute and ends up having sex with all the nuns.
  3. A woman who cheats on her husband with another man, whom she convinces her husband to believe is buying a pot, and even has sex while he cleans it.
  4. A dying 'collector' lies to a priest about his sins as a bet with his friends, and ends up being elevated to sainthood after death.
  5. (Which becomes an overarching story, intersected throughout the remainder of the film) deals with a painter and his crew who paint a fresco for a church, and some of the characters from other stories appeat to him in a vision he has while painting.
  6. A rich girl and a boy from another family sleep together, and when discovered by her father, end up marrying to avoid shame.
  7. Three brothers kill the lover of their sister, and after he appears to her in a dream, digs up his head and places in a pot of basil.
  8. A priest tries to take advantadge of an old ma
  9. n's wife by claiming he can turn her into a mare.
  10. Two men bet that, after sex, if one dies, he will come back to tell the other if he is in hell.
Afterwards, in the seminar, we discussed where Passolini's interpretation differed from one of the original stories, the one about Lorenzo and the Basil Pot:
  • The film segment starts at the discovery of the affair, whereas the book starts long before.
  • The sexual element is alot more explicit.
  • The way Lorenzo is killed by the jealous brothers is shown (running after him with daggers).
  • The setting has been changed from Messina to Naples.
  • The foucs of the story is more on the brothers than the sister.
  • The ending has been changed (the film one ends with her putting Lorenzo's head in the basil pot, whereas the book has the brothers discover this, take the head and eventually, she cries herself to death).
Then, we looked at the basic elements of folktales, specifically the character types, following the example from the book Morpholgy of the Folktale (which can also be combined into the same character):
  • The hero (protagonist/someone who wants something)
  • The villain (antagonist/impeeds hero)
  • Donor (provides useful.magical item to hero)
  • Dispatcher (send sthe hero on the journey)
  • False Hero (someone who pretends to assist the hero but impeeds them actually)
  • Helper (an assistant to the hero)
  • Princess (what the hero wants/the reward)
  • The Princess' Father (the character who rewards the hero)
After, we were split up into groups and asked to make up our own story, set in modern times, that utilises these character types. My group came up with the following story:
There were two brothers (the hero and villain/false hero, respectively). One day, the bad brother kicked the mother (princess) off a chair and gravely injured her. He tried to lie to his brother about what happened, but a neighbour (dispatcher) alerted him to the truth, and he rushed to the hospital, driven by a friend (donor/helper). There, the doctor (princess' father) told him that his mother would be alright.

My final thoughts on this are that, once again, the analysis of these classic stories and finding out that they have more depth than at face value is absolutely fascinating to me, and we had some interesting discussions in class because of this. Plus, what we had looked at with Myths and Campbell parrallels with this as well, gvien the similar breakdown of familiar elements and cliches, and that a lot of old stories derie from classic mythology.

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