“I don’t want to live in the world of the Avengers, I do this for the real world,” - writer-director Vaclav Marhoul | Sunday Observer

“I don’t want to live in the world of the Avengers, I do this for the real world,” - writer-director Vaclav Marhoul

7 November, 2021

Václav Marhoul is a Czech Writer-director and he spent 11 years working on The Painted Bird, Pinted Bird is a nearly three-hour adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński’s harrowing novel about a young Jewish boy who is subjected to unimaginable horrors as he wanders through Eastern Europe during World War II.

Speaking to the Wrap Oscar magazine about the difficult process of adapting the novel into film, he said, “The book adapted to the movie is a different language. We are not using the written word, we are using picture and sound.

That is why I worked on the screenplay for years and wrote 17 versions until I felt it was OK. And it was quite difficult, of course, for any screenwriter to pick up from the book the most important scenes and the most emotional scenes.

Jean-Claude Carrière once said that if you would like to adapt a book to a movie, the best way is that you will read the book, and then open the window and throw the book to the street, and then write only what you remember. I think that he was right. But of course I didn’t do that,”

Eleven years

Marhoul spent 11 years of his life to adapt the novel into a screenplay. Explaining why he decided to spend so much on this particular book he said that “This story is timeless. It’s universal.

It’s not about the Second World War. Right now, as we are doing this interview, in this very second, somebody is going to be killed by Turkish soldiers in Syria. In this moment, children are going to die. We’re still doing it, and it’s painful,”

In the story, the ‘painted bird’ symbolises that if you are different, you will get into trouble. And maybe this is the reason why so many people love the book, because they do understand. It’s about principles. It’s about mankind. Marloul just wanted to make The Painted Bird in the same way Jerzy Kosiński wrote the book: many questions and no answers.

Difficult film

The Painted Bird is a difficult film to watch. Many questioned the director saying, “Your film is so violent and so brutal.” And in return the director, Mrloul asked, “Do you really think so?” He also stressed that, “I didn’t show you anything. It’s only in your mind, not on the screen.

And so many movies are so much more violent and brutal, but the people watching them are drinking wine or beer and they are OK with it, because it’s not true. It’s a fiction, it’s a fairy tale. The problem with “The Painted Bird” is that it’s truthful, it’s too real. The real is true, and the truth is always painful,”

Despite the arguments the director received from the audiences he strongly believed that he made the film very decently. “It’s a poetry, a true poetry. That’s my duty. Not just to amuse people. I don’t want to live in the world of the Avengers. I do this for the real world,” he said in a TV show.

The good,love and hope

He further added that, “I say the movie is about hope, and good, and love. And people say, “Vaclav, you must be crazy.” I’m not crazy. But if we say that the good, the love and the hope is symbolised by light, that’s positive — but the light is visible only in the dark. That’s a fact.

Never you can see light in light. When I was writing the screenplay, I was thinking of opposing things. What does it mean, light and dark, good and evil, peace and war, love and hate? These things are really so important in our lives. And when you are watching The Painted Bird, you are so missing these things and so hoping to get them. And the last scene is bringing you to hope. Maybe,”

Václav Marhoul was born in 1960 in Prague, is a Czech film director, screenwriter and actor.

He studied at Prague's FAMU, graduating in 1984. He directed his first film Mazaný Filip, based on Raymond Chandler's books, in 2003. In 2008, his second film Tobruk was premiered.

His next film The Painted Bird, based on Jerzy Kosiński's novel and he also starred in several films such as Gympl (2007), Ulovit miliardáře (2009) and Cesta do lesa (2012).

He is set to make his English-language debut with a biographical film about Joseph McCarthy, with Michael Shannon in the lead role, and co-starring Emilia Clarke, Dane DeHaan and Scoot McNairy.