Mood Indigo

Mood IndigoThere is a recent movie based on Boris Vian’s novel, L’Écume des Jours, and conveniently, a new translation from the French titled Mood Indigo. Since the original was written in 1947 you might find references to such as James Bond books somewhat jarring but each of the translators has worked up the text so as to make it more approachable by modern audiences, especially in the United States. One would think Vian would approve of this, especially since all things American are good in his experience, especially Jazz.

Mood Indigo is a simple novel: Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, girl contracts deadly illness, boy goes broke caring for girl, girl dies, mouse commits suicide. Along the way a friend dies addicted to the works of Jean Pulse Heartre and his girlfriend snatches the hearts and torches all the booksellers in the neighborhood. In order to buy flowers or books, the characters find work which is more and more absurd. There is a comment which caused my high-liter to leap to the page, only to be stopped by the hard glass screen of my iPad:

What I mean is that they work in order to live instead of working in order to make machines which would let them live without having to work.

It’s so simple!

Some might call this surrealistic, others might say highly imaginative. In some ways it reminds you of Master and Margarita without the allegory.

I haven’t seen the 2013 French film yet (it stars Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris) but I have watched the trailers and it seems to capture the surrealistic magic of the novel. As I think about it, there are quite a few French films that as like this: one of my favorites being The City of Lost Children.

Mood Indigo is a must read. It’s been translated three times and at least three different movies have been made from it (one Japanese). Boris Vian was an extremely talented and interesting person who, amongst so many other things, just happened to write a few excellent novels.

For more on the author I have an earlier post you might find useful.


2 responses

  1. Thanks for reminding me. I read this book about 40 years ago and can remember nothing about it other than the excitement of reading it. I’ve always loved the title.


    • You should check out the recent French movie. I haven’t gotten a copy but may buy the DVD (’cause it has variable sub-titles). Going back even further, I must have seen Les Parapluies de Cherbourg dozens of times and fortunately have my own copy so I can drool over the young Catherine Deneuve.


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