27 April 2009 - 10:57teresa / calvino / video shorts
I stepped off the pavement, walked backwards a few paces looking up, and, from the middle of the street, brought my hands to my mouth to make a megaphone, and shouted toward the top stories of the block: “Teresa!”
My shadow took fright at the moon and huddled at my feet.
How can you not fall in love with a story that begins like that? The Man Who Shouted Teresa by Italo Calvino is one of my favourite pieces of writing, by one of my favourite authors. It is very short, and very pretty, and he wrote it when he was 20 years old.
The simple premise - a man shouts Teresa repeatedly under a window, people join in, and eventually he confesses that he doesn’t know who lives there but they keep shouting anyway - lends itself to the making of a short film. So I was not entirely unsurprised, but charmed nevertheless, that a number of people had actually made such short films. I wasn’t looking. Serendipity. Here is what I found: four video shorts and one pretty creative interactive flash animation. The names are mine - naturally, they’re all called “Teresa” or something similar.
- boston by gohfish, is set in Boston, in black&white, and most artistically captures the spirit of the story - although the American rather than Italian pronunciation of Teresa is somewhat jarring.
- italian dub by keepyourdayjob, produced “over a six hour stretch, while drinking beers out of the trunk of [a] car” was shot on Super 16. Nice, but the attempt to make “a total Fellini rip-off” falls a little flat with the Italian dubbed voices and rather dramatic “acting”.
- kids can read by brian smith is heartening, featuring a bunch of what look like high-school kids outside a suburban low-rise, acting like, well, enthusiastic high-school kids. Who read Calvino, apparently. This is quite true to the story, I think - Calvino was 20, and 20-year-old Italians do behave like schoolboys…
- Just when I thought I couldn’t find anything more, I came across this: korean, by korusinc. It’s not actually in Korean, though it has a Korean title and appears to feature at least a couple of rather young Korean (or Korean-American?) children. They look barely old enough to read Dr Seuss, let alone Calvino.
- Finally, the interactive animation by Timothy Moraitis is probably the best way to read the story, if you haven’t gone and bought the book yet. Click somewhere on the screen, and along with some stick figures moving about, the next few sentences appear. Very nice, and couldn’t be done with a much longer story.
All in all, this left me feeling happier about the future of civilisation. One puzzle remains, though: all these videos were American. Perhaps Italian kids read, or make video shorts, but not both?