Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chicken or egg? Book or TV script?

In my last post, meant to mention another telenovela made featuring the visual symbolism used by scriptwriter Julio Jimenez (someday I'll try refreshing my memory by re-reading comic novel "Aunt Julia & the scriptwriter", about a radio serial writer who starts mixing up his "real life" with flamboyant fiction??) I think it's titled EL CUERPO DEL DESEO, tho I could be wrong, confused by fact that book version has very similar title, only substituting word AJENO for part of title. (I won't give full title or author until I can at least borrow book from library! listing for TELEMUNDO station lists time on locally is 1 PM - 2 PM. ENTIRE series is apparently now available in local stores for less than $20. But while I'd snap up complete DVD of MADRE LUNA or LA VIUDA DEL BLANCO at that price (or even an edited version), probably will wait to borrow CDD from library, if I ever do try to view what I missed.

And I have missed a lot. That may be why I never got really engaged in following the story. (Other reasons may include telenovela seems based on story by someone other than Jimenez--or at least, the parts I've seen lack the warm & witty humor of the other two colorful stories (that wonderful "fool"--wise court jester to kingly Don Justino--the memorable Megateo in "White Widow"! And unrepentant "wicked rich old man" playboy Don Fidelio (unfaithful, in a way) who acts as "deus ex machina" (can't reveal now, as will spoil surprise for current view).

CDD basically is about "elderly" wealthy husband (played by Andres Garcia) who is killed by his young wife's lover, whom she then marries. But--Latin American magical realism alert--dead husband's soul is reborn into body of a dead peasant (see him busting out of wooden coffin in opening credits). "Young" man then works up his way to the top of the company he had owned in his previous life. Missed all that part, but appears he was befriended by middle age medium, played with pathos and humor by same actress who played prim, strict teacher who doted on deceptive lawyer that helped falsely convict innocent heroine Alicia in LA VIUDA DEL BLANCO.

CDD seems to have a lot of unappealing unfunny characters who apparently were put in for comic relief (i.e. Walter the bald butler: maybe hair styles have symbolism too, like "handsome hero's" weird beard. I guess if actor wouldn't cut his Fabio-like flowing locks to play Victorian twins in TRACION--I think it was called--guess only other distinguishing feature was facial.
Actress who plays widow/wife of husband back from grave also looks very different with bare forehead; used to seeing her with lots of long wispy bangs in eyes, 1980's type "big hair" curls.

Most of the "good" characters, to me, are missing the personality that made viewers become fond of; very sweet and beautiful--inside and out--examples like sweet Dulce Elena, niece of rich Fidelio, who at first seems a daddy's little girl, coy, shy blond airhead (her young male relatives really ARE Eurotrash idiot drones, even worse that P.G. Wodehouse's hilarious upperclass twits like Berty Wooster saved by butler Jeeves). We rapidly recognize (like "foolish" Megateo), she's very observant and intelligent, remarking simply and straightforwardly, very insightfully.

Maybe many "buenas" are too young, unlike 30ish Haydee (pronounced like English Heidi), the timid "grey" little mouse sister of our hero ( long squelched by their dominating mother used to running her family, business and entire town) who secretly becomes singing star after winning contest wearing mask in local caberet, going under name La Panterita, the Panther, wowing local Don Juan doctor who she's been secretly in love with, but who ignored her as quiet "good girl" .

Possibly CDD (aka "In the body of another", "The desire of another" or a neighbor) was inspired by biblical commandment against adultery, coveting another's wife or possessions.
At least one other telenovela I know of used familiar moral/religious lessons as a framework. Got to check if title is ABRAZAME MUY FUERTE most recent version based on book PECADO MORTAL ("Deadly Sin") by grand dame of golden age of radio & early TV serial dramas, Caridad Bravo Adams. Characters seem to embody so-called seven deadly sins--even hero & heroine!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More Julio Jimenez

Only because I was home sick, I found out MADRE LUNA is also being re-aired in daytime (10:30-11:30 AM my time). Today's episode was when banditos of the sierra lead by Roman Garrido (aka Veneno) set fire to Alejandra's little rancho.

Have much more I've been planning to post, but may return to do so after today's capitulo of Paraiso that just started!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Paradise" returns

Just found out that telenovela SIN SENOS, NO HAY PARAISO is being rebroadcast (locally anyway) at noon. Today's capitulo takes place after Catalina has had first operation, returns home--and her school sweetheart/love of her life confronts her as to who paid for it & why.

She gives him snow job as Greek type chorus of catchy-rappy music comments she's sliding down the slippery slope of mendacity.

Reminds me of 18th century Hogarth prints illustrating some morality tales of temporary society; one famous series MARRIAGE A LA MODE tells of marriage arranged between two young people whose families sell a title for wealth. Don't know how PARAISO ends, but can't be much worse!

Think I saw etching's of Hogarth paintings in Time Life book THE WORLD OF GAINSBOROUGH, 1727-1728. Very likely Jane Austen could have seen those; as one essay I read comments (I think in collection of her Juvenalia), she was a child of the robust 1700's, not a prim Victorian ignorant of or blushing at facts of life like those included in this 21 st century telenovela which I think Jane might have enjoyed!

Lots of likable, entertaining characters as well as amusing villains that "you love to hate". Think title (original book title is slightly different, a bit more crude) refers to a Spanish saying, meaning the Garden of Eden wasn't paradise for Adam until Eve showed up (with her "girls" as Oprah calls her front "bumpers"--well, want to be sure it's clear what's being refered to!)

Jane reviewed a novel called SELF-CONTROL by Mrs. Brunton which can be read online for free. She said something like Laura's journey down the American river may be the most believable happening in this unlikely tale (which apparently begins with heroine being assalted by "hero"--I haven't read it myself; for one thing, hate reading an entire book on a computer screen. Give me paper pages!)

Been busy busy busy and TIRED. So it may be awhile before I go back to edit and add to previous posts (if I wait until posts are "perfect" before making public, no-one would ever see them--I've got at least a dozen drafts of emails languishing in limbo because I didn't have time to finish and polish before sending. I need more time in my days...... can you do that in the new year, dear Santa? ;-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jane!

Today is Jane Austen's birthday (born 1775--you do the math as to which anniversary this is...)

I enjoyed reading her published letters (mostly to her closest friend & older sister Cassandra; which more letters could have been saved!). Especially interesting to me were her "book reviews"; insightful comments on books she read. Would also have loved to browse her (family's) own personal home library.

Wonder if any of legion of Austen scholars/historians have been able to investigate what titles she and her family borrowed from lending libraries in Bath or wherever.

Her NORTHANGER ABBEY is a favorite of mine, in part because of description of un-heroic Catherine's childhood play (realistic & amusing!), and her love of reading (tho not of the "highest literary level" perhaps!

CASTLE OF UDOLPHO by (got to look up author)is actually much more than the sensational novel that many (who never read it) suppose dismisively. One modern edition--perhaps Oxford Classics-- includes critical essay pointing out how its heroine's applying logic, cool reasoning and scientic method (then-in vogue among upper classes with intellectual interests)helps her overcome superstition and emotional excesses, and likely helped inspire Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fictional "pirate queens"

Novel DONA BARBARA has elements that remind me of a tale involving pirates in the Caribbean, published in 1921 (wonder if Gallegos might have read it!) by then-popular writer of swashbuckling adventure novels, Jeffery Farnol. I think he was British. (May be unrelated fact that DONA BARBARA includes British character who calls himself "Mister Danger", one of the few who gets upper hand over the Dona).

Titled MARTIN CONISBY'S VENGEANCE, dedicated to author's "Dear aunts", it is sequel to title character's adventures begun in BLACK BARTLEMY'S TREASURE. Vendettas that wipe out most of two neighboring families are also featured in beginning of book DONA BARBARA.

The most striking resemblance between novels DB and MCV are the two bloodthirsty women characters who seek retaliation for same tramatic event in their youth. Could be just coincidence: ancient British warror Queen Bodiacia reportedly fought Romans after what their soldiers did to her daughters. In early 20th century, it might commonly be thought that the only reason a "weak female" ("by nature", femininely passive) would act like a forceful (violent) man is suffering "a fate worse than death".

Young "Barbarita" lives on river boat with what are called pirates; bloody Joanna is granddaughter of a Spanish govenor and British (got to look up passage to quote here).

Another parallel shared by two novels: for both "villanesses", there is a mirror image character; DONA BARBARA's daughter (rejected from birth by her mother, she is cared for as child by the village idiot, so grows up "innocent" and unspoiled roaming the wilds of nature. (In tv version, same young actress plays "Barbarita" and her becoming-a-woman daughter.

Captain Jo has rival in childhood sweetheart also named Joan, who had Lady & protective worshipful knight relationship with hero--until he discovers her father is his worst enemy. Shipwrecked hero at one point mistakes Jo for his Lady Joan. I suspect both "evil" women will find redemption by an ultimate sacrifice. Likeness may simply be example of common dicotomy of "good/bad" views of women; former mostly passive, latter willful.

Compare strong women in those early 20th century stories with 21st century heroines for young readers in TORRIE QUESTS books; the first is TORRIE AND THE PIRATE QUEEN. Young Captain Anna, however, is not a pirate--she's trying to remedy what her pirate grandad did. (See woman author's profile at Like J.K. Rowling, seems like her gender was disguised by using initials so maybe boys will try her adventure stories!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dona Barbara

I read English translation of novel DONA BARBARA by Romuo Gallegos, wanting to finish book before telenovela currently being aired ends.
Though I missed much of the tv version, I can tell it is very different--lots of romances added for TV (hero and title character never get together in book for instance, though the Dona falls madly in love with Our Hero. Modern TV version (filmed in lusher, very greenColombia, rather than book's Venezuela plains area) also seems prettier & funnier too!

Novel dwells more on conflicts of "barbarism" or lawlessness and Civilization, as symbolized by the tow protagonist and their associates. Spanish word "barbara" is related to barbaric (from bearded invadors of ancient Roman territory) means "terrible"; barbara also came to mean "terrific", as in English usage for something great!

(This word play on a woman's name was used in comic novela PICARA SONADORA by Eduardo Palomo's character for first fiancee he never really loved. Reminds me of 1930's screwball romantic comedy's--pampered heir to department store empire pretends to be poor when he falls for toy dept clerk/law student(who is secretly saving money by living in furniture dept; her uncle is night watchman--who turns out to be long-lost love of hero's grandmother, very business-like matriarch who ran store empire; forced to marry rich man.)

Another aside on word origens: "barbequeue" comes fom words meaning beard and tale, refering to something like roast goat which includes everything from beard or head to tail or "queue" in French, I think).


When I have more time, I plan to finish this post and also re-arrange and add to posts of past week...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chinese zodiac signs & characterization in DJY

Comic relief cousin of my favorite character in MOM'S DEAD UPSET might be played by same actor as wily Mimosa in DJY. Refugee from dispursed kingdom of Baekje, Mimosa eventually becomes strategist for Gorguyeans headed by DJY (he also saves the latter's life with his medical skills) .

Mimosa embodies traits of Monkey: clever, cheerful--and tricky. Some of those qualities appear in ChulinFan favorited clip in which Geumlan dances at banquet given to "conqueroring" forces in house of entertainment run by Mimosa (secretly funded by King).

Introductory info about Chinese zodiac can be found in children's novel ARCHER'S QUEST