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Ieri, Oggi, Domani, and Walt Disney

As the Oscars are imminent, I do hope that King’s Speech continues being the favourite at the ceremony. In the meantime, below is a famous extract from Vittorio de Sica’s 1963 tour-de-force, Ieri, Oggi, Domani that won an Oscar as the Best Foreign Film in 1965. I do recommend reading the Italian Wiki page using a translation tool, as it gives ample information about the film. The narrative connects three novellas, by Eduardo de Filippo, Alberto Moravia, and Cesare Zavattini, each of stories unravelling in three large Italian cities: Rome, Milan, and Naples.

This “striptease scene” with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni (who collected a bunch of awards for his performance in this film) was later quoted in Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter and in Adrian Lyne’s 9 and 1/2 Weeks. But not many of you probably know that it was also used in the animated music video to a song Che T’Aggia Di, a duet by Adriano Celentano and Mina Mazzini. Not only that, the animation was inspired by Scrooge McDuck comic stips. Altogether, de Sica’s much-loved scene and McDuck imagery made a memorable contribution to pop-music videos.

Love Me (Michel Polnareff) – With Mina Mazzini Cover

I don’t always go back and republish the posts but now and again I simply have to draw the reader’s attention. I have just discovered Mina’s cover of Love Me Please Love Me that we must share with the world. It was made in the 1990s, and in the video the imagery kindly mocks Mina’s burgeoning figure.

Original post – 20 March, 2007

As you undoubtedly know, Michel Polnareff performed at Bercy in Paris earlier this month, and on his official website, Polnaweb.com, you can find dates for future concerts. (I wish I lived in France!) The performance was broadcast across the media, including mobile phones, hence it is no wonder YouTube and Google are already full of recorded extracts from the concert.

I highly recommend to visit this website, RTL.fr, where you will find several radio interviews with l’Amiral, as well as short reports from the concerts. The link to follow is Michel Polnareff en concert.

And below there is a video of Polnareff performing live one of his very famous songs, Love Me. I’m totally in love with the opening of the song, but even more so with the lyrics – which you can find below in French and in my English translation (not adapted to the music).

Love me, please love me
Je suis fou de vous
Pourquoi vous moquez-vous chaque jour
De mon pauvre amour?
Love me, please love me
Je suis fou de vous
Vraiment prenez-vous tant de plaisir
A me voir souffrir.

Si j’en crois votre silence
Vos yeux pleins d’ennui
Nul espoir n’est permis.
Pourtant je veux jouer ma chance
Même si, même si
Je devais y brûler ma vie.

Love me, please love me
Je suis fou de vous
Mais vous moquerez-vous toujours
De mon pauvre amour?

Devant tant d’indifférence
Parfois j’ai envie
De me fondre dans la nuit.
Au matin je reprends confiance
Je me dis, je me dis
Tout pourrait changer aujourd’hui.

Love me, please love me
Je suis fou de vous
Pourtant votre lointaine froideur
Déchire mon cœur.
Love me, please love me
Je suis fou de vous
Mais vous moquerez-vous toujours
De mes larmes d’amour?

Love me, please love me
I am mad about you
Why do you laugh every day
At my unfortunate love?
Love me, please love me
I am mad about you
Indeed, you take so much pleasure
In seeing me suffer
If I believe your silence
Your eyes full of boredom
There is no hope for me
And yet I want to take a chance
Even if, even if
It is to ruin my life
Because of such indifference
I sometimes wish
To disappear in the night
In the morning my confidence returns
I tell myself, I tell myself:
Today everything could change
Love me, please love me
I am mad about you
However your aloof coldness
Tears me apart
Love me, please love me
I am mad about you
But will you forever be laughing
At my tears of love?

Sweet Transvestite… The Way You Rarely Knew It

It may be strange or not, but the road to my discovery of Rocky Horror Picture Show was paved by Mina Mazzini. Or rather, by her spectacular cover of Sweet Transvestite. For those of us who are Mina’s fans it may be very hard to say when her performance is not great or her covers are not spectacular. But I am sure that the very fact that a female cover of Sweet Transvestite exists is enough to make one wonder how it could be performed on stage or screen. This is obviously not to encroach on the achievement of Tim Curry; instead, this is simply a question of how to make the classic not only long-living but also evolving. The most obvious way is surely to make Dr. Frank-N-Furter a woman and to tell – or imagine – the story from that perspective.

As for I got to finally watch the film – it was last year in Manchester, on the occasion of the Halloween. You can browse the film’s official fan site here.

Parole, and Paul Ennis on Heidegger and the Word

I wrote The Word in 2006, and then it took two years and a Dublin Heidegger student to write a review of it. Paul Ennis is writing a Ph.D. thesis on Heidegger, “mostly on topological concerns, but also trying to work out authenticity“. As I admitted in the comment to his post, I am not as good a student of this philosopher as Paul evidently is. In fact – and it even surprised me to an extent – I recently found some Heidegger-esque thoughts about language and its expressive potential in one of my paper notebooks that date back to 2004, whereas I first read Wozu dichter? in 2006. I suppose this means why I was so taken by this essay in the first place, even though it seems that by 2006 I’d forgotten about those jotted thoughts of mine.

I should be quick to say that I read several of his works, but invariably, the reason why I’m also so interested is because since 2003 my modus vivendi has been bilingual and multicultural in the widest sense of the word. I have also been taking considerable interest in Translation Theory, and Heidegger’s conclusions intrigue me because I am immediately aware that, when I read his works in Russian or English, I read the interpreted Heidegger. And while I don’t doubt the skill of his translators, I nevertheless understand that there are stylistical and interpretative differences between the German and English languages. The matter is all the trickier because Heidegger in those essays is concerned about poetry, and we all know how difficult it is to translate a poem.

Paul’s enthusiastic response to The Word enthused me, too, and I left a rather long comment on the post in his blog. Being a Sagittarius, hence ruled by Jupiter, I do have this strong inclination to Philosophy, on the one hand, and abundance, on the other, and in that comment the two happily came together. I think this frightens people off sometimes, but thankfully, Paul is now intrepidly answering the comments to that post. I am really grateful to him for this, especially because I have been following his blog, too. Another Heidegger Blog is tightly focused on Heidegger, the various themes in his work, and the response to Heidegger’s work both by his and our contemporaries. The only real problem methinks with Arts and Humanities blogs is that their authors often tend to do something else in life (like earning money to support the body, writing dissertations, and such like), whereas the thought requires time and – contrary to whatever we may think – some physical effort, especially when writing is concerned.

Discussion about Heidegger and The Word

I contemplated recently the use of language once again, which resulted in the poem that I titled in Italian, after Mina’s song. Both poem and its translation were impromtu, but when I read the text over I realised there was yet another link to Heidegger’s text. In Wozu dichter? again he speaks about the man being a “merchant” (apologies, I’m relying on the Russian text) who constantly measures things without ever knowing their true value. While the English translation is very faithful to the original, I substituted the Russian for “words” (слова) with the French “paroles”. The reason is simple: the Russian poem is titled after Mina’s song in Italian which was famously covered in French by Dalida. It made sense to highlight this in the translation, which can also elucidate the interpretative facility of language.

Paroles, paroles

Paroles, paroles… Is there a price to words,
Or their value is indeed invented,
When scales are used to measure their worth
To give to someone as a gift or credit,
To which the weights are always other words?

Paroles, paroles… From underneath their face
A subject lurks, occasional and silent,
Escaping to the infinitive’s maze,
Abandoning the predicate’s confinement,
Confusing all superlatives in haste.

Paroles, paroles… I also live the words
But now, taking off my famous smile,
I think: do you have really any worth,
So usual, wise, eternal, versatile,
Or are you always words, but mere words?

English translation © Julia Shuvalova 2008.

The Threepenny Opera, Mina, and Facebook

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Originally uploaded by robinhamman

This entire post very closely relates to the phenomenon of social media. Thanks to a good Italian friend of mine, last year I’ve discovered many names that made the history of Italian music in the 20th c. One such performer is the incomparable Mina Mazzini, whose fan I instantly became (probably to some regret on the part of my friend who adores Mia Martini). When I came across this picture of Robin Hamman’s Flickr photostream, it instantly made me remember of the famous song “Mack the Knife” performed by Mina in the clip below. But when I turned to find some information about the song, it turned out that the almighty Wiki doesn’t list this 1974 performance. I mention the phenomenon of social media because of the whole net of connections one can establish while surfing the web and remembering things they’ve seen before.

The song in question is a classic number composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper). Premiered in Berlin in 1928, the song has started a long and winding story of its numerous adaptations. The lines I particularly remembered in the case with Robin’s picture were “Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear/ And he keeps them pearly white”. What is interesting is that in Russia in the 1990’s there was a TV show called “The Pen Sharks”: it had a pool of journos and broadcasters throwing questions at the celebrities, mainly singers and mainly Russian, although I remember them “showing teeth” at Pet Shop Boys.

To round up this post, I’ll tell you a true story that happened when I was a student in Moscow. I had two tickets to the theatre, and I invited one of my best friends, another girl, to come with me. The tickets indicated that we’d be sitting in the first row, which was fantastic. On the day we came to the theatre (where none of us had been previously) and found out that the chairs in the first row were taken away. We asked for assistance, and it then turned out that I brought myself and my friend to the theatre a day earlier!!! I’ve only recently remembered about this experience, which was as embarrassing as it was hilarious, but this time I thought: what would have happened, had I was, in fact, a guy who took his date out for a theatre play? Would my romance be over because instead of the first row we’d ended up sitting in, like, twenty-first row? What is interesting, though – and which is the reason I’m telling you about this – is that we ended up watching The Threepenny Opera.

Happy New Year!

And so, I’ve been in Llandudno since December 28th, and at this very moment I’m sitting at my hotel’s lounge, occasionally looking at Great Orme and the lights along the Promenade, but mostly typing and sending greeting letters and messages to my Russian friends. I spent a wonderful weekend, strolling up and down the streets in Llandudno, but for some reason I found easier this time to jot down my impressions in Russian first. Whereas with my trip to Carmarthen in June I first wrote my memories in English and then in Russian, this time Llandudno Diaries are first appearing in my Russian LiveJournal.

So, the turn of the year is the time to look back and to see if one has kept up with their yesteryear’s resolutions. Last year I said I’d be looking to find more ways to express my creativity – and indeed I learnt to make slide shows and eventually accompanied the latest of them with my own narration. I wanted to keep writing great content – and this apparently has happened, as by the end of 2007 I have had my blog written about, shortlisted at the Manchester Blog Awards, and now included in the Open Directory Project. I wanted to travel, and I’ll say a few words on the subject later on, but in general this has been achieved, as well. I wanted to keep on meeting interesting and talented people and to continue to know those whom I already knew. This has happened, too, and I can particularly single out one such person who is fascinating enough to be lurking here and there on this blog, when it is appropriate. I’ve been following this person’s work for a number of years, this year I had the chance to attend a meeting with them, and what doesn’t stop amazing me is the amount of new things this person can tell every time they give an interview. I can only say that I’m looking forward to more in 2008.

One thing that I never did was visiting Moscow. Needless to say, this becomes my 2008 resolution #1. It must really be astonishing – and quite frustrating, too – that every time I say to myself “I must go to Moscow” something creeps up and I have to postpone the visit. I think the surest way to get me back to my native shores is by buying myself a ticket, as that way I’ll feel obliged to just drop everything and go.

So, in 2008 I resolve to continue with both blogs, hopefully by making the content more wide-ranging, since now I can produce short slide shows and animated stories. I’m planning to travel more. I don’t mention that I’m planning to write more, as this is what I’ve always been doing.

I’m looking forward to more inspiring meetings, trips, events. I hope that the inspiration I get from other people’s work, from nature etc. will be the inspiration for you. Which is where I want to thank once again all of you who have been leaving comments and emailing me to thank me for blogging and to encourage me to keep on with my enterprise. And I would like to thank everyone who wrote about and linked to me this year, this was a joy, a surprise, and always an honour to me.

Two things I can note about 2007. First concerns the travels: it’s all been about Wales. In June I went to South Wales; in December I went to North Wales. I don’t know what it tells (if it’s supposed to tell anything), but so it goes. The second thing concerns music. On a couple of my profiles elsewhere I noted my huge interest in music, since I love singing. 2007 has been entirely Italian in this respect. It started with me making great friends with an Italian colleague who began to send me YouTube links to such artists as Mia Martini, Mina Mazzini, Lucio Battisti. It continued with me going on my own for some time, when I discovered Patti Pravo. And it culminated in my making friends via LiveJournal with a few Russian aficionados of Italian music of the 1960-70s. I’m yet to see where it all takes me in 2008, but the start has been compelling enough to carry on in this direction.

As my circle of friends and acquaintances has grown considerably this year, I shall not repeat the last year’s personalised greetings. Instead I shall wish all of you, my friends, readers and occasional visitors, a very Happy New Year! Let all of you know that you are very dear to me for all your talent, wisdom, creativity, sense of humour and the simple fact that you are!

I should not forget to list the Top Ten posts in Los Cuadernos de Julia, as seen from Google Anaylitcs profile:

Barbra Streisand in Manchester

Lonely Shepherd (James Last and Georghe Zamfir)

Sonnet no. 3 (Edna St Vincent Millay)

My Fair Cabbage

If I Could Tell You (W. H. Auden)

Histoire de Melody Nelson (Serge Gainsbourg)

O Felici Occhi Miei, Arcadelt, and the Lute-Player

Women and Beauty in Art

Love Me (Michel Polnareff)

Matthew Barney in Manchester

I should note that this is the stats for the entire year, and they don’t entirely correspond to the most recent interest.

Last but not least, to carry on with the last year’s tradition of uploading some Russian New Year postcards, here is something many of you will no doubt cherish. This postcard comes from my family archive, it says Happy New Year in Russian (which is “s nOvym gOdom”) and – wait for this – is 100 years old!

error: Sorry, no copying !!