Another Studio Ghibli adaptation.  A beautiful film.  A pleasure to adapt.

I’m in this video. I hope they never correct it.

image

I recently finished adapting Hayao Miyazaki’s reportedly last film The Wind Rises. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt will lead the English dub.  

For my part, the art was less about bridging the dialogue to English-speaking audiences, but about translating the culture.  In adaptations of other foreign films I found cultural differences glossed over, diminish, or outright pulled from the English dub.  I wanted none of that here.  And neither did John Lasseter, who made it clear I was not to change the intent of Miyazaki’s words.

So when I went looking for intent, I found this quote to be useful clue:

"It would be wonderful if I could see the end of civilization during my lifetime. But it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. So that’s why I use my imagination to think what it could be."

Pulled from this interview with the master animator:

From the NY Times obit of Jim Buck:
Jim Buck’s School for Dogs was equal parts exclusive preparatory academy, exercise class and reform school. 
The dogs included the intractable, the obstinate and the profoundly pampered.
One, an otterhound known to Mr. Buck’s staff as Oliver the Awful, was used for some years to audition prospective employees.
“Oliver knows when he’s testing someone new, and he can be counted on to leap into the first phone booth along the way and slam the door and wedge himself against it,” Mr. Buck told The New Yorker in 1965. “Brute force is of no avail; the only way to get him out is to remain poised and quietly talk him out.”

From the NY Times obit of Jim Buck:

Jim Buck’s School for Dogs was equal parts exclusive preparatory academy, exercise class and reform school. 

The dogs included the intractable, the obstinate and the profoundly pampered.

One, an otterhound known to Mr. Buck’s staff as Oliver the Awful, was used for some years to audition prospective employees.

“Oliver knows when he’s testing someone new, and he can be counted on to leap into the first phone booth along the way and slam the door and wedge himself against it,” Mr. Buck told The New Yorker in 1965. “Brute force is of no avail; the only way to get him out is to remain poised and quietly talk him out.”

People watching for profit

Besides unattended purses, the easiest targets were hanging over the backs of chairs, even when the women were sitting in them. He would use a menu or, sometimes, his female partner to block the view of his hand darting in. Purses hanging from hooks under bar rails were also easy. When he saw a purse on the floor, he said he would use his foot or an umbrella to hook it and drag it closer.

“Those are the most common ways,” Mr. Christopher said. “People are talking, they’re in their own worlds.”

Michael Wilson’s piece on a smooth pick pocket reminded me of the many nights I spent in NY bars, drinking pints of cider and handrolling cigarettes with my friend Dion.  In close conversations Dion would tell me things like his plans to go to France and join a theater group (soon after, he did.  And he’s still doing it).  

I forgot what I would tell him but I’m sure it was about whatever project I hoped to make at the moment.  We were absorbed in each other’s plans and absorbed in our own.

But to be alone at a bar makes for less self absorption.  There is always another personality or two that draws attention - sometimes they don’t have to say a thing.

There is an art to observing people.  Mostly you watch them through your hazy peripheral.  Or you catch them at right moments of their own self absorption.  Track the hand gestures, the body language, the posture long enough and you’ll get a good idea of what’s going on with them.  Or a good idea of what you think is going on.

So I wonder if Cory Christopher’s narrow focus made him a master at reading what people were talking about - at finding the right moment to step closer to their wallet as their conversation grew more intimate and their sphere of perception shrunk. 

Certainly the benchmark would be when everyone is in the tunnel of conversation, and little else can knock them out of it.  So Cory’s best work was done when he observed emotion was beginning to drive the talk, thus locking everyone’s eyeballs to each other.  

Was it better to hook a person’s wallet when they were in a close conversation about a breakup? Or job loss? Rather than a movie they liked or album they got?  Are first dates better than a married couple’s date night?  Are second dates even better than first dates?

From the research files of writer Mike Jones.

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