Saturday, October 29, 2022

Take Me To Your Reader - Something Wicked

I was invited to make a return visit to the Take Me To Your Reader podcast, to discuss Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

TMTYR deals with books and their adaptation to movies, TV and other media. On this occasion, what you might think is a simple process of adaptation (book ---> movie) turns out to be more complex, since Something Wicked actually began life as a screenplay, before becoming a book, and then being adapted for film.

Thanks to regulars Seth, Colin and James for inviting me back on!

Listen to the show here:


Friday, October 28, 2022

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - "Weir of Hermiston" Oddity

Here's an oddity, which I first wrote about on Facebook in 2014, but I don't believe I've ever commented on it here on Bradburymedia.

FAHRENHEIT 451 (Francois Truffaut, 1966): A dying man teaches a young boy the text of Weir of Hermiston by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of the most touching sequences of the film.
Although the viewer assumes that the text is accurate, the film actually uses a paraphrase of Stevenson, and the highly affecting final line is made up for the film:
"And he died as he thought he would, while the first snows of winter fell."
The paraphrase might be easily explained: Truffaut and Jean-Louis Richard wrote the screenplay in French, and then had it translated into English; they may well have quoted Stevenson from a French-language source, and something was lost in translation. (This is conjecture on my part. I would love a French-speaking scholar to compare the original French screenplay and the contemporary (early 1960s) published French-language version of Weir of Hermiston.)
Ray Bradbury was so taken with the ending of the film, that he borrowed it for his own stage play version. And he borrowed the Weir of Hermiston scene from the film: Hermiston isn't mentioned in Ray's novel, but is quoted in the play, exactly as in the film. Ironically, the play misquotes exactly as the film does. How curious - especially for a work (Fahrenheit) whose logic depends on accurate oral reproduction of texts which have been physically destroyed...

It's been pointed out that the first section of the Hermiston dialogue in Fahrenheit 451 is, in fact, a direct quotation from Stevenson. But that leaves the final two lines - which are either made up, or are (at best) a paraphrase. Given that the first lines are a direct and accurate quotation, my conjecture above about something being lost in translation looks unlikely. Instead, it looks as if Truffaut was adapting Stevenson's words to fit the situation of the snowfall.
And the snowfall is known to have been accidental. Filming in England in (if I recall correctly) April, there was an unexpected and unseasonal snow shower. Ever the instinctive filmmaker, Truffaut took advantage of this opportunity to enhance the poignancy of the scene, with that line: "And he died as he thought he would, while the first snows of winter fell."

Curiouser and curiouser...

Thursday, October 20, 2022

New Podcast Episode: The Tragic Death of Ray Bradbury's Uncle Lester

Time for another new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast! And this time, it's something of a true crime mystery...

Several years ago, I mentioned on this blog that I would soon be publishing never-before-seen facts about the shocking murder of Lester Moberg, Ray's uncle, which happened when Ray was just twelve years old. Uncle Lester popped up in several of Ray's interview anecdotes, although Ray never wrote Lester into his fiction.

Somehow, time ticked by with me never quite getting round to writing the article. Until Bradbury 100 became a thing, and I figured that, one day, I'd probably talk about Uncle Lester on the pod.

Well, it was ninety years ago this week that Lester's life was brought to a sudden end, so this seems like a good time to tell all. Besides, it's spooky season, and what better way to celebrate than with a murder mystery?

Not much has been published previously about the murder of Lester Moberg. Sam Weller, in The Bradbury Chronicles, merely says it was a random hold-up. But when I studied the transcript of the coroner's inquest (thanks to the Waukegan Historical Society, who have a copy in their Bradbury files) along with related documents, I began to sense that there was more to the story. The evidence is circumstantial, but I was able to put a suspect in the frame. Listen to the pod, and see what you think. But - as I warn near the beginning of the pod - do be warned that this is an unsolved case, so don't go expecting a definite resolution.

...and here's a short out-take: a little snippet of testimony which didn't make the final cut of the episode. In this clip, you'll hear what Lester's brother Philip had to say about Lester and his divorce:


Thursday, October 06, 2022

New Podcast Episode: Ray Bradbury's October

Specially for October, here's a new episode of my Bradbury 100 podcast. I discuss The October Country, Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Halloween Tree.

I cover the origins of each of these classics, including the peculiar way that both Something Wicked and The Halloween Tree started off as film projects before turning into the books we know and love.


In the episode, I mention other places where I discuss these works. Here are are some handy links to those:

You might also want to check out this previous October-themed episode of the podcast!


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Wednesday, October 05, 2022

October - Bradbury Month!

How can it be October already?

It's the month most associated with Ray Bradbury, so I thought I'd post links to some of my pages/posts related to Ray's "October" books. Starting with...

The October Country, the 1955 short story collection. Click here to read my potted history and review of the book - and click here to see my YouTube video about the book.

And coming soon is my next episode of the Bradbury 100 podcast, in which I discuss October Country, Something Wicked and The Halloween Tree. Watch this space!