‘Women Speak’: How the Film Differs from the Book

Sarah Polley’s Oscar-nominated “Woman Talking” is based on Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel of the same name. But when they adapted the book to the big screen, the team made one big change in the editing room that completely changed the emotional tone of the film. According to the organizer Christopher Donaldson, he and Polley took the decision to remove the character of Phato (Ben Whishaw) as the presenter of this program and reassigned it so that Autje (Kate Hallett) could present the programme.

When Polley wrote her version of the book, which is about a group of Mennonite women and young girls who are sexually abused, she followed and built the story around August, who learns about the horrors of what is happening to children. women.

“The first 10 pages of the article are about August,” says Donaldson Variety. But in the editing room, as he and Polley worked together, they started seeing the film again. “We saw the script as a template and a conceptual map, but the script no longer worked for us, so we needed to create a new visual language and conceptual concept.”

Donaldson explains, “Ultimately, what we needed to do was take this text and give it a completely different feel and meaning. There was this feeling that the word August, which was central to the book and easily transferred to the script, was the wrong prism through which to consider the film.”

It was a dangerous change, and Polley had not finished cutting his boss when they decided to change reporters. So, it is there in the release that Hallett’s character, Autje, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Mariche (Jessie Buckley), becomes the protagonist. He tells the story of “Women Talking” to Ona’s (Rooney Mara) unborn child.

Since Donaldson and Polley needed Hallet’s voice, which was not in the original, the actor was called upon to write his lines during the post-production process. “When you start making a decision,” says Donaldson, “all of a sudden the film starts working.”

The team also recreated the beginning of the film. The scene where August teaches the boys how to walk the fence was originally intended to open the film, but Donaldson and Polley pushed it back. “Even though it’s not the first part of the movie, it comes back later in the movie. We used it when he talked about boys and their ability to hurt women,” says Donaldson.

Donaldson and Polley’s next challenge was to create the first part of the film. He says: “That became the image of Ona waking up and realizing that she was attacked. “Those images are fed by the sound of the written voice.”

Similarly, in the fourth image, Claire Foy’s character Salome, along with Ona and August, sit and watch her daughter walk in the field. The players explain to Phato more about what is happening to them and discuss responsibility for their misfortune.

This was another example of an event being reimagined in print. Donaldson says, “We took the lines of Salome and Ona, and combined them with Autje’s voice. We used the images of the child in the field, but we removed August, Salome and Ona from it. We always went back to each event and said, ‘How do we look at this in one case?’ It was a matter of finding out what each person’s perspective on this event is – what is the emotional truth about this event – and changing the quality of the film from August to Autje. ”

Donaldson says that his experience working on the film was exciting and terrifying at the same time. “It’s exciting as an editor to be able to write a script in a broad way while doing your best to maintain the spirit and purpose of the text,” he says. “It was a time of incredible innovation.”

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