Book: Homo FaberQuite a few films I find as boring as "Voyager", directed by Wolfgang Schlendorf known by his older film "The tin drum", and staring Sam Shepard, drama writer turned screenwriter turned actor. That the film is limping slowly tough the story is not a broblem: I like slow films and I find a lot of dignity in the fact that such films don't rush to occupy viewer's attention every second of it's run, don't crouch to please at every cost, and wait for viewers to come to the film instead of tugging their sleave.
But even if film doesn't have tcome to the viewer, it has to invite the viewer to come to the film. Boring films, for me, are those that don't intrigue me, don't make me want to know what happens next. That happens when film is unimaginative, assembly product made of elements that have already been seen in other movies, when I can see every plot twist coming from far. It also happens when characters are flat, one-dimensional and, not being convinced that they are real people, I don't care what happens with them either.
"Voyager" strikes me that way, Sheppard portraits boring, passion-less middleage man who gets into affair with girl who's nearly 20. We are inclined to ask what attracts so young girl to such old bore. Shepard doesn't manage to bring needed edge that's make his characteintriguing both to us and to girl. Julie Delpy plays that girl and, even though she's supposed to play smart, talented dynamo of a girl, she's given such ridiculously stupid lines that she turns out as a real dummy. When she dies from snake bite in the end, we aren't all that sad. After that incident, Shepard's character finds out, or finds reasons to believe, that she is his daughter.
That's what the film boils down to; The story is exagerated, yes. It needs a dose of absurd that deadpan direction doesn't have. Shepard and Delpy need to convince us that they're characters that kind of thing could happen to, but they don't. They play like ordinary people, and ordinary people don't fall in love with their daughters, not even accidentally. Both characters need some lunacy in them; Instead, they're both boring. And the film is boring.
If I was paying attention to what the film was based on, might've not read a good book. Because I don't think I'd particulary care to buy Max Frisch's "Homo Faber" if I knew "Voyager" was based on it. This way, I reckognized writer's name by some short stories of his I've read, and purchased the book.
What makes the book worth is that the story is used as an allegory, moving the story into the philosophical context where it's significantly detached from all the little questions about credibility that we could ask.
It is stressful that film ommits entire level of alegory and concentrates on telling the story which makes me wonder why even using the book in the first place? Leaving the alegory, it's essence, out, we're left with a fairly short story and nothing special to work with.
So anyways. Walter Faber Is the main character. The key of interpreting hims the link between his name and the title (but of course). "Homo faber" is the man who controls his own destiny, creator of his own fate. Faber believes in that, he's an engineer, he finds explanations for every coincidence that happens to him in theory of probability. He strongly believes that the strings are in his hands.
But through the novel, chance throws more of such coincidences at him. He meets a friend of an old friend on a plane. In lucide little anventure, he joins him in travel through southamerican jungle to meet said old friend, who as it turns out married Faber's old love, only to find him dead. Novel doesn't rush to get to the point, it details unpleasant travel through mosquito land with special delight.
Returning to Europe, Faber takes a boat instead of (as usually) plane. He meets young Sabeth and promptly starts a love affair with her. Back in Europe, they travel through rural Italy where she is bitten by a snake on a lonely beach. The girl dies and Faber is prompted to rationalize that her death is just one of such probability-ridden events. Then it turns out that she is the daughter of the friend he fould dead in the jungle. Then, the course of events suggests that she is,n fact, Faber's daughter. And medical examination suggests that her death is caused by his mestake.
Therefore, fate has thrown into the hands of poor homo faber not only incest, but also death and guilt. Incest, avoided mothive in fiction (not without a reason) is used as tha last instance of unfortunate events.
Now you see why it's important that the events are so exagerated. Small odds of this course of events are here essential, while in film they are just that: very unlikely events. At the end, Faber is crushed and his system of belief shaken up. The last chapters remind of aimlessness with which Winston Smith stumbles about at the end of „1984“.