Adapting for screen - RUSALKA by A. S. Pushkin (1832)
Long, long time ago, as a child, I listened to a story. It scared me, haunted me and yet, I loved it. I wanted to listen to it more, yet I did not, in the same time.
Years have passed and my love-hate relation with Rusalka changed. Having grown, my perspective about the world has changed. I understood what scared me as a child. Such simple mind, the one of the young. I hated the mad man and his screams, and the dying. So instinctual.
The 2020 Pandemic gave me time. So, I sat down and listened to the story again, and again, and again. And I saw it. Saw it unravelling before my mind's eyes, and saw its potential to become so much more.
I looked up the original. I wanted to know where it all started from. It wasn't much of a difference. The writer who adapted it for radio / vinyl disks didn't change much. Added a name, and rounded up the ending. Looked up more adaptations. All were the same. Either short noir Russian film or Romanian radio play, they kept within the same lines as the author.
A. S. Pushkin. Wonderful writer, if you ask me. Unfortunately, he died before finishing Rusalka, in 1832. He has a poem with the same name; it was quite difficult to get my hands on the verse drama - as it is categorized. I did, in the end, find it. In Russian. And step by step, I translated it (thanks God for Google!!).
Happy it was part of the Public Domain, I knew I could finally create my vision. Armed with the original text and my laptop, I begun the work. I did keep too, a lot from the original. Credit must be given to the Author. Obviously the dialogue had to be written for film, but it doesn't mean it has to lose it's archaic aspect. After all, it is not placed in the present. Our present.
A beautiful and creative process begun after the setting was set. I started to graft the fantastic and paranormal attributes of the characters on top of what the Author had birthed. And it grew. Like a vine, it intertwined with it's support, and then flourished and flowered in ways I can only hope the Author would love.
Action unravelled. Ager spewed. Revenge was plotted.
A war started. A psychological one.
Death. Sadness. Exile.
Return. Old memories. Regret?
One more war. A real one. Flood.
Confrontation. Jealousy. Bitterness. Envy.
Love. Sacrifice. Payment.
The truth in the end.
It was a wonderful process. So much magic, power and creative ways to enrich a story of betrayal and heartache. A story of not letting go when one should, not moving forward when things just don't turn up the way one wished.
A conjuncture where people are caught in between society expectations, tradition, societal pressure, pregnancy and the risk of becoming an outcast. Humans have always made it hard for the ones not falling in line, for the ones dreaming beyond their station. Humans also become envious, bitter and petty. They want. And wish to keep their want.
The truth is always in the middle. No one truly right, no one truly wrong.
The ending of the story?
That will be up to you to judge for your own.
© 2020 Carmen Silva