If this is your first visit, be sure to
check out the FAQ by clicking the
link above. You may have to register
before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages,
select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.
A radio sensation at WDR, on three radio waves simultaneously: WDR presents the reconstruction of one of the most uncanny and disturbing stories ever been witnessed: The listener can surf between the channels to experience the horror to the whole extent and from three different perspectives. By Mark Z. Danielewski. Translated from American English by Christa Schuenke, adaptation by Thomas Böhm, directed by Claudia Johanna Leist/Jörg Schlüter/Martin Zylka Produktion WDR 2009, ca. 53 minutes.
WDR main text:
THREE radio waves - ONE audio play - CHANGE channels
Three radio channels – three versions –ONE story! Please enter the uncanny “” of Mark Z. Danielewski. And change dauntlessly between the three radio channels. Because WDR broadcasts in three programs simultaneously different audio versions of this astonishing and frightening story. The premiere of a threedimensional audio play at WDR!
10th of December, 23.05 – 00.00
How it works
A peep behind the scenes
Video The making of
What you will listen to 1live: Footage from The Navidson Record with comments WDR 3: Form Zampanò’s records and background material, published after his death WDR 5: Based on the report of the apprentice Johnny Truant
What it is about
In the beginning of June 1990 the entrance of an almost endless system of caves appeared in the of family Navidson in Wisconsin USA. While exploring this system – sometimes interpreted as „entrance to hell“ – three persons died. The events of the expedition are documented in many cases. The documentary „The Navidson Record“, produced by Pulitzer price winning Will Navidson himself, caused a sensation. The film was on American cinema only for a short time; after that all the copies vanished. In the estate of the mysterious amateur cinematologue Zampanò documents and notes were found that analyze and reconstruct the uncanny phenomenon in the Navidson . It is part of the tragic history of reception and impact of the material that someone called Johnny Truant stumbled over it and lost his psychic health thereby.
Mark Z. Danielewski, born 1966 as son of the Polish film director Tad Danielewski, lives in Los Angeles. With his debut novel “ of Leaves” (2005) - that he worked on more than ten years – he created the firt cult book of the 21st century that was “sublimely uncanny” for Brat Easton Ellis, and for Diedrich Diederichsen the post-modern construction of the walkable book.
The adaptor Thomas Böhm, born 1968 in Oberen, arranged hundrets of readings as program leader of Literatur Köln ( of literature in Cologne) since 1999. He met Mark Z. Danielewski during one of those occasions and won his faith in the concept of this audio version. Up to that time Danielewski had rejected all offers for adaptation, even by film companies.
And here the translation of the interview, bitteschön.
WDR: What was is that fascinated you about „ of Leaves“ by Mark. Z. Danielewski? Thomas Böhm: Everything, right from the first syllable. I never read a book like that. When you thumb through it, realising how it is constructed, the different fonts, different kinds of texts. Then suddenly there are black squares, on some pages you find only one word, a sentence stretches over 50 pages with single words on each page. The book itself is a piece of art, you realise that it at first sight.
WDR: The publishing needed years to typeset the book. How did you manage its unusual structure? TB: I did not concern myself with this special setup, f. ex. the different fonts. It was the task of the directors to adapt this kind of textual surface and transfer it into an acoustic work of art – which they did very well. In each version so much happens on the acoustic level, so subtly they worked with sound effects, with different atmospheres, sound scapes. And the actors are grandiose. Some made me think: it sounds as if Danielewski had written his novel in German. Roberto Ciulli plays Zampano perfectly well, as if the role was written only for him. Tom Schilling, as Johnny Truant, sounds as if he really was this drug addicted tattooist from Los Angeles. Each radio play has a fantastic cast and it’s a fantastic acoustic work.
WDR: What was the particular challenge when you adapted the original novel? TB: It was my task to transport the reading impression into an audio play. There are sometimes three, four, five different texts on one page, and as a reader one has to decide: what is the next to read, which thread through the textual maze will I follow? My answer was to build up a textual maze myself and to actually spatialise it by making it not only one audio play, running from the beginning to the end, but three audio plays. The listener is the one to decide. The thread does in fact not run through only one hour on a Thursday evening on a WDR channel, but on three channels simultaneously. And like in a maze I have to make a decision in every minute: where do I go, is this the right way or do I miss the right turnoff?
WDR: What was the worst difficulty for you? TB: The author Mark Z. Danielewski required that nothing must be added. The audio plays must be developed by only shortening the text. The problem arises then that a scene is comprehensible just in the context of the text. But I have to shorten all the time. The final manuscript has 50 pages at best, so 650 pages have to get out! To extract three narrative strands that despite of their shortness have the spirit and drive of the of the book – that was the big task. Working on this I realised how incredibly well Mark Z. Danielewski wrote his novel, because it actually was possible to make those shortenings, and it was not that difficult either.
WDR: The three narrative stands are split up in three audio plays that will be broadcasted on 1Live, WDR 3 and WDR 5 at the same time - with the distinctive invitation to channel-hop. Won’t the listeners miss something? TB: When one listens one hour, one only will hear a bit and still will get the whole story. But we know: The whole story is never the whole story (grins). When I start to zap on my way, I get a whole story, too. This story is another story. No listener will have heard the same story in the end, everybody has missed something, but at the same time not missed anything. The three plays are constructed in a way that there is kind of a spine made of five key scenes the three audio plays run along. But (lowering his voice): Maybe those five key scenes are not the same in the end.
WDR: The author rejected each offer to make a film of his book. He accepted your idea of an audio play. What is so special about your project? TB: When you make a film you have to tell the story in a more or less linear manner. You watch the film and in the end you have the feeling, okay, this film might be a bit mysterious, a bit scary, but it was an experience you make in other films as well. Listening to our audio plays the listener becomes sort of an author of the play himself, because he has to decide which track to follow. Can I stand this part here, won’t it be too horrible, does it touch me too much, shoudn't I rather change the channel? He stays in the same maze but suddenly he is somewhere else. This effect would only be possible whith three different versions being shown in three different cinemas, and the audience could change the rooms at will. Only no film company will ever do that. Only the radio can do it.
WDR: The book had a great impact when published – not only in Hollywood, also in the Internet where people wonder whether the Navidson Record still does exist? TB: Of course Hollywood is interested in making this material into a film because there are splendid, gigantic, unseen images in it. But Danielewski refuses. There is a special irony in that the novel is about a film. By refusing, Danielewski prevents this film to come to existence. But the Internet is full of video snippets, and people claim that these are part of Will Navidson’s film. And some of them make you ask: damn, is it real? Because the photo the book talks about, of the little girl in a Third World country, dying, and the vulture sits close-by, only waiting for the death of this little girl, this photo is real. Is it possible then, that Danielewski found some film snippets in the Internet and reconstructed the case of Will Navidson? Is it possible that there really is the trailer the book is talking about, in the Internet? Some of the Internet snippets allow a conclusion like that.
WDR: A book for the conspiracy community in the Internet? TB: Yes, too. Of course for the conspiracy community in the Internet, but when you join them yourself you cannot resist the charm of this idea.
As I have been informed that off air recordings of the WDR streams are copyrighted, I can't really host them on http://markzdanielewski.info. However, a Google search at the present time for "wdr das danielewski .mp3" may assist those who want to hear this for themselves.
I applaud the talented Germans who created this radio drama and hope that the concept is adopted in other countries so that I can collect other languages as well.