It is my great pleasure to welcome Sally Gardner to Book Angel Booktopia today as part of The Double Shadow blog tour. I adore classic movies and the way in which the imagery of the movies inspires Sally is just stunning. Enjoy:
DOUBLE SHADOWS: images that stay with you...
I've been told that reading The Double Shadow is a very visual, filmic experience; perhaps this is the reason why...
Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orpheus’ is a film I saw as teenager, and was blown away by the sense of magic. It’s the classic story about Orpheus who goes to the underworld to bring back his beloved, but when he turns around, she’s gone. The film was so beautifully shot, in such a dark surrealist style. I found the images stayed with me for a very long time, and I wanted these haunting qualities to come across in my new book,The Double Shadow.
Billy Wilder’s 'Sunset Boulevard' is one of my all-time favourite films. The opening scene with William Holden floating in the swimming pool is an extraordinary visual concept. The effect was achieved by putting mirrors in the bottom of the pool and filming his face with cameras hanging from above the water. I love the way the narration works backwards to the point of why he was in that swimming pool. The film has had far reaching influences. Sam Mendes’American Beauty is narrated in a similar fashion.
Gloria Swanson’s performance as Norma Desmond, the aging actress who smokes a cigarette with a contraption on her little finger and lives in a past of deluded glory, has echoes of Miss Haversham. The most memorable scene for me is Holden’s early entrance as the supposed undertaker for Norma’s dead monkey. Her German butler Max (played by Swanson’s former director Erich Von Stroheim) was one of the key inspirations for Silas, and Gloria was part inspiration for Vervaine Fox.
I had in my head Gloria’s opulent salon for Vervaine’s scenes in the picture palace. I love the scene with Cecil B. DeMille when she goes to Paramount studios believing she is to become a star again, and everyone gathers around her - ‘Norma! It’s Norma Desmond’ – when all they want is to film her car. This was a big inspiration for the idea of memory - there she is lost in another world, yet for her this is more real than the world she’s living in – who is to say she isn’t right?
I think Billy Wilder really captures the sort of joker that memory can be in one's life, how it can trick you into a false dimension and how memory can become fictionalised in the reliving of it.
The Double Shadow
Author: Sally Gardner
Publication Date: 3 Nov 2011
Synopsis from Amazon
Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever, a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain. But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place. Something has gone terribly wrong with her father's plan. Against the tense backdrop of the second World War Sally Gardner explores families and what binds them, fathers and daughters, past histories, passions and cruelty, love and devastation in a novel rich in character and beautifully crafted.