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UD Prepares You for the Soon to be Released Film of the Don DeLillo novel, White Noise.

Even if you haven’t read the novel, you’ve learned a lot about it, and DeLillo’s world view, just from reading this blog, which after all has a whole category devoted to DeLillo. The Noah Baumbach production opens August 31 at the Venice Film Festival.

A Bronx-born son of Italian immigrants, DeLillo is an entirely urban animal, yet he knowledgeably sets his novel in a small midwestern “village” (I’ll explain the quotation marks in a moment); a writer who has never had children, he sensitively places at the heart of the book the character and fate of many children in a blended family (their parents are much-divorced). As with many of my posts on the postmodern way of death, the novel first establishes the enviably, pleasantly, eventlessly “immune” life of affluent Americans, and then throws a lethal environmental catastrophe (“the airborne toxic event”) right in their faces. And lungs.

So DeLillo locates the Gladney family (glad; bland) in the cute village of Blacksmith, with its preserved nineteenth century main street and vernacular library and town hall and churches…

From its sweet pre-industrial name to its charming brick storefronts, Blacksmith could convince you you really are living a pre-modern life, before advanced technology, massive shopping malls, and endless ubiquitous streaming media; but, as White Noise makes hilariously clear, it’s all a simulacrum, a Truman-show facade behind which lies, like it or not, the late twentieth century.

When the disaster hits, Gladney’s first response is total denial:

“These things happen to poor people who live in exposed areas. Society is set up in such a way that it’s the poor and the uneducated who suffer the main impact of natural and man-made disasters. People in low-lying areas get the floods, people in shanties get the hurricanes and tornadoes. I’m a college professor. Did you ever see a college professor rowing a boat down his own street in one of those TV floods? We live in a neat and pleasant town near a college with a quaint name. These things don’t happen in places like Blacksmith.”

The filmmakers chose Wellington, Ohio for their Blacksmith – a heartland town whose preserved main street has won national awards.

The cast?

Adam Driver is a bit more young and ethnic than Gladney as described (put rumpled clothes and nerdy glasses on Mitt Romney and you’d get closer to the mark), but he’s definitely got the open-mouthed incomprehension/disbelief the plot demands. I’ll write more about the film as critical response to it, and then of course the film itself, begins to appear.
Margaret Soltan, July 25, 2022 11:15AM
Posted in: delillo

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3 Responses to “UD Prepares You for the Soon to be Released Film of the Don DeLillo novel, White Noise.”

  1. Rita Says:

    Very excited for this!

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    I am too. Unlike a lot of serious novels made into not very successful films (Under the Volcano; Ulysses; Unbearable Lightness of Being; Mrs Dalloway), White Noise is not dominated by film-unfriendly stream of consciousness, and in fact it includes a lot of visual comedy/event, so this could actually work…

  3. Rita Says:

    I think so, but I would watch anything Baumbach makes anyway, especially with Driver and Gerwig.

    I didn’t even realize these other books had been attempted as movies. But maybe that is a testament to the imprudence of the choices – man/woman walks around town all day, thinking about things, having small talks with small people.

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