The reader(s) of this blog may not agree with my hang-up on the presence of an overt, smoking-gun allusion to the classical myth being used in a given narrative adaptation; but I hope my insistence on finding the overt allusion to the source-myth in an a adapted texts is clear. I want to know that the creator of a classical mythological usage is aware of the source myth and not merely creating an archetypal cognate. (I.e. not all sons with problematic father relationships are big-O Oedipus, although they may manifest oedipal tendencies.)
31 minutes into Simone, the prodigious cinemaste Victor Taransky (Al Pacino) is enjoying a domestic moment in a sunny kitchen with his precocious teenage daughter Laynie (Evan Rachel Wood). She is working on her laptop at the counter. Her activity on the laptop
|A screen shot of S1mOne, 31:34, showing monitor|
of Laynie's laptop Gérôme's Study for Pygmalion and
his Statue and text from theoi.com
manifests her knack for computer technology which she shares with her father and which will resolve the film's final crisis, albeit implausibly. Laynie's skill gets foregrounded by Dad in the moment. He notes that she works on her computer too much. What he can not notice in this apparently meaningless moment is that Laynie is writing something about Pygmalion on her computer. In a fleeting shot past Laynie's left shoulder, a POV 180 degree opposite to Victor's (whose hands are in a sudsy sink of dishes anyway), for less than one second of screen time, the viewer sees a fleet image of Jean-Léone Gérôme's "Study for Pygmalion and his Statue". The image is cropped somewhat from the original; but the figure of Pygmalion embracing his marble sculpture in the moment of her erotic vivification is readily recognizable. Because Laynie's fingers are tapping at her laptop's keyboard we assume that she is writing something. To the right of the cropped image, a text is momentarily visible: "Pygmalion saw these women waste their lives in wretched shame..." Laynie seems to have written a couple of paragraphs on this topic. In point of fact, the text that appears on Laynie's screen is the text describing Ovid's Pygmalion narrative at Metamorphoses 10 on the website theoi.com. Although Pygmalion thus enters our awareness, Laynie and her father do not discuss the myth. No oral reference to Pygmalion occurs, neither at this moment in the film nor elsewhere in the film. By entering the film this way, the narrative is rendered into an acknowledged usage of the Pgymalion myth.
We might have seen the Pygmalion myth coming. Taransky has reached a professional precipice with the shenanigans of Hollywood's prime donne (exemplified in the character of Winona Ryder as director Andrew Niccols' antithetical Niccola Anders). Rather than jump of the ledge, Taransky throughout the film makes use of a mysterious computer code proffered by a probable lunatic who pioneered a simulation so realistic that the fabricated actress would dupe all viewers into believing her to be a real actress on screen. Simone is a name shortened from Simulation One. In the hands of the consummate director, which Taransky must certainly be, this encoded actress comes from out of nowhere to win two Oscars for Best Actress in one year. Plausible? No. Pygmalion? Yes. That moment in the kitchen reads the Pygmalion myth formally and securely into the record.
|Promo poster for S1mOne (2002)|
Hutcheon's Theory of Adaptation (Routledge, 2006) defines an adaptation as an intertextual narrative that engages three principal matters: