Friday, December 21, 2007

(242) The Lady in the Water

On July 20th 2008 I visited Cala Cortina beach, a couple of kilometres from my home.

I chatted with a Spanish lady called Florentina who had once before helped me there with my attempts to acquire Spanish.
After a while she was joined by a friend whom she introduced as "Encarnita".

I remarked that there were many religious names in Spanish culture, and that this sounded like a soul in a body - "Una alma en un cuerpo".

She laughed and agreed.

Presently I fetched an English/Spanish dictionary from the car and our informal lesson stumbled along until I bid the ladies farewell.

At home that evening I sifted through our desultory collection of DVDs until my eye alighted on one which I had noticed several times but never yet watched: La Joven del Agua.

Plot summary

After falling beside the swimming pool of an apartment building, the caretaker, Cleveland Heep, is rescued by a mysterious girl named Story. Cleveland tells her that she must return home, and takes her outside for fresh night air. Something in the bushes growls, waking Story up, and chases them. She screams all the way to his door.
In Heep´s apartment, Story discovers his journal, and in it his secret; that he was once a medical doctor but gave it up – along with his sense of purpose – after his wife and child were murdered.

While talking to a young Korean tenant, Young-Soon Choi, Cleveland asks her the meaning of "narf", a term Story uses to name herself. Young-Soon replies, that in an old Korean fairy tale such a creature occurs, but she has forgotten it. With the help of her mother and Young-Soon herself as translator, Heep finds out that narf is a rare type of sea nymph or water-faerie. A narf is occasionally sent from the "Blue World" to "awaken" a human (called a "vessel") who will help change the world for the better. He also learns there are creatures that try to kill any narf that leaves its world, called "Scrunts". In order to control these and other spirits, there are laws in our world upheld by three bloodthirsty creatures called "Tartutic", which are the only things scrunt fear.

Heep then asks Story for the description of her human "vessel". She says it is a writer and that once she finds her vessel, she can be returned home by a large eagle called "The Great Eatlon".

Heep asks tenants if they are writers. A man called Dury is completing a crossword and asks out loud for the answer to the clue "In human form; 9 letters". A few moments later he hits upon it; "Incarnate!"
Heep wonders if this could be the writer he seeks, and says that Dury is very good with words.
He replies that it is only with crosswords.

His son then says that he is at Grandmaster level, and that one day he too will be.

Heep eventually finds out that Vick (played by writer and director M. Night Shyamalan) is presently writing, but suffers from writer's block. Believing that he has found Story's vessel, he arranges a meeting between the two. When he meets Story, Vick feels an "awakening" that clears his mind and allows him to complete his book, which is a compendium of his apparently clear-sighted political paradigm. Story's task now accomplished, she is free to return to the Blue World.
As she attempts to go home, a Scrunt attacks, breaking the law, and badly injures her.

With the help of some humans who, according to the story, have special powers which may aid a distressed narf, Story is healed, and The Great Eatlon carries her back to the Blue World.

I watched the DVD through but was not very taken with it.
Yet my attention was caught by some coincidences.

The first to grab my attention were, naturally, to do with the crossword -

(1) Nine letter word for "In human form".
´Incarnate´ and the Spanish ´Encarnita´ both fit, but Encarnita is a familar form of the lady´s true name; Encarnacion,

(2) He is at Grandmaster level.
I am one at chess. There is no such thing as a crossword Grandmaster.

But then I go on to note -

(3) The lady in the water.

(4) A sea nymph.

Encarnita was on the beach.

(5) Cove

The name of the apartment block in and around which the whole film is set is The Cove.

Cala Cortina means Curtain Bay. But the type of bay it is could also quite accurately be described as a cove.

(6) Writer´s block.
As this Blog (and particularly the last few years) show, I was apt to encounter about nine record-worthy coincidences per annum. (Many of the examples are verifiable.)

But I had noted to my wife a few weeks before the events of this example that I had gone some nine months now without an outstanding coincidence (although it was true that I had perhaps met with three or four in that period which could yet come to fruition).

I wondered what might lie behind the drought.

In the film the role of vessel is played by writer and director M. Night Shyamalan, and his meeting with the sea nymph cures his writer´s block, just as my coincidence drought came to an end that day, enabling me to add more to my Blog.

On July 24th 2008 another (smallish) one arrived thus: -

I noted through the Statcounter at this Blog who had been viewing it and saw that on July 24th 2008 one viewer had arrived via entering ´Tim Vaughan-Hughes´ into a search engine. (See Entries 233 and 93.)

Following, through curiosity, the same entry, I discovered that it throws up references to a writer of whom I had not previously heard; Pip Vaughan-Hughes.

One of these read - Relics: Pip Vaughan-Hughes: Books -
Relics by Pip Vaughan-Hughes is a decent a debut novel and an entertaining start to .... Similar in standard and genre to the Tim Severin 'Viking' trilogy. ...

Tim Severin was a name I only knew through having worked with Brian Watkins at Cornhill Publications in 1992, the same time as I worked with Tim Vaughan-Hughes.

Brian said that Severin was his brother and an adventurer and sea voyager, á la Thor Heyerdahl, whom Brian told me Tim had met.

Through this Google hit I discovered that he had now recently turned his hand to writing fiction.

(7) The date

The Lady In the Water was also reportedly responsible for the director´s break-up with Disney, whose Buena Vista Pictures produced and distributed his previous films.

The tumultouous behind-the-scenes drama was detailed in Michael Bamberger's 2006 book The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale.

The publication date of that book was also, like the date of my coincidences, July 20th: July 20th 2006. That was a deliberate date, the opening weekend of the film itself being 21-23 July (2006) in the United States.

Shyamalan, who credits the development of the movie to a bedtime story he told his children about what happens in their pool at night, wrote the 72-page children's book Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story (Little, Brown, New York, ISBN 0-316-01734-5) to coincide with the movie.

It was released on the same day as the film, July 21, 2006.

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