This summer I've been doing a lot of research about Waiting for the Barbarians because I run ONBC over at the Zone. For a piece on the struggle to get the book made into a movie, I came across an article about Venice. Here is the link:
This year again a list of heavy hitters competing at Venice on their way to the Oscars. Looking at the list I realized that the odds of this movie crushing the competition would be a long shot. I am still glad the film will be premiered there because it will increase the likelihood it will be vigorously distributed in 2020.
Well, twelve days to the premiere. I am having a mix of thoughts and feelings about this one. It's been awhile since JD was really commended for his work. We know he played some wonderful roles, but he hasn't been celebrated for his work for some time. I have my fingers crossed that 1) judges will like the film 2) someone will be found to distribute the film in the US or at the very least stream it. I just got through watching two Ciro Guerra films (he is the director on this one) and both were literally amazing. I saw both on Amazon Prime. Paid $3.99 for one and nothing for the other. If we have to look at WFTB this way, I can deal.
My fears are all over the place though. All about him not getting recognized. I noticed that he wasn't smiling in the cast photo and my heart went 'oh no, oh no' Yeah, unrealistic worrying about nothing.
My personal opinion is that Waiting for the Barbarians is a story that needs to be told, now more than ever. Regardless of what critics say about Johnny they will hopefully have the self awareness to understand the the film, this story needs to be told to a wide audience.
I expect that WFTB will not be widely seen. There is only a small audience for films set in the past, based on literary novels, fictional events, not-USA (for USA audience) and (as I understand it) quite miserable. Giro Guerra box office for past films average $1.7million box office worldwide. For comparison The Libertine took $9.4m and is considered barely seen.
Ciro Guerra's past films have won film festival awards and are well received by critics (Metacritic scores 82-85).
I am expecting the critical reaction to WFTB to be about Guerra and Coetzee with Mark Rylance as main actor.
Johnny Depp is the only reason I might see this movie and I don't know when that will be - probably years from now.
I am lucky to live in an area that has multiple indie theaters, so I 'think' I am going to be able to see this. I watched Curzon's Roma last year on either Netflix or Amazon and it was fine. I prefer the theater environment however. I have also been able to see two of Guerra's past films on line, again Amazon. Birds of Passage and Embrace of the Serpent. I had to pay $3.99 for Birds, but nothing for Serpent. Both were compelling films.
I guess my primary concern is not being able to see the film or not. I just want JD's work in the film to be positively reviewed. I am tired of the comment that he 'phoned it in.'
I was hoping for a while that this film would be aired on cable. Now, don't know.
But I am very glad I read the book last summer. Really made the summer for me -- just learning all I could about South Africa and JM Coetzee. Important topic and wanted to see all the actors who contributed to the final product. Wanted to listen to Johnny talk about the role, about Coetzee and what he liked or didn't like about the film.
It's a fairly quick read. Not at all challenging. It's the depth, the full understanding, the complexity of what Coetzee was saying.