“The Translators” (M) *** and a half
RELATIONSHIPS between books and movies are commonplace in our era of gorging on moving images – “from so and so’s best-selling book”; “based on the major movie”, a kind of creative incest.
On the other hand, there’s not a lot of movies in which a particular book is the foundation of the plot. “The Translators”, director Régis Roinsard’s second feature film, is one such.
It’s a mystery movie in the truest sense. Nine linguists come to a large country house to translate the unpublished final volume in a best-selling trilogy from its native French into their nine languages. Mystery surrounds the books’ authorship. And publisher Eric Angstrom (Lambert Wilson) has imposed very restrictive conditions on the translators to create enough mystery to boost sales when the book hits the stores on release day.
The title of the trilogy is “Daedalus”. Remember Daedalus? He’s the bloke in Greek mythology who designed the labyrinth where Cretan King Minos kept his pet minotaur, half man, half bull, the child of Minos’ wife Pasiphae and the Cretan Bull that Hercules got called in to kill. When he fell out with his boss, Daedalus built wings for himself and his son Icarus to use to escape from Crete. The wings were held together by wax which melted when Icarus flew too close to the sun against his dad’s warning. The moral of the story was, and still is, “aim for the middle course and avoid extremes”.
An element characterising all good mysteries is, who dunnit? Romain Compingt’s screenplay for Roinsard’s film asks, who then among the nine translators is demanding big bikkies not to reveal the denouement and the author’s name? It could be any of them. I’m no good at solving mysteries. You may be better at it. Test yourself. Watch the movie. The experience will be rewarding.
At Palace Electric