Friday, July 12, 2019

Dahl Study: Nunc Dimittis/Depart in Peace

My author study of Roald Dahl started with a reading of his Collected Stories while watching the accompanying episode of Tales of the Unexpected. Each Friday I'll recap a story and show (with spoilers, just so you know), but I encourage you to read and watch them on your own if you're interested!

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"Nunc Dimittis" from Collected Stories (read 1/13/19)

A man who has been seeing a woman for a long time finds out that she has been telling people in their circle that he is boring. It embarrasses him and makes him so mad, he decides he wants revenge. He secretly commissions a painter to paint his girlfriend's portrait. The painter is known for painting in layers - as in, he paints a woman nude, then adds her undergarments, then adds her dress. Once the painting of the girlfriend is complete, the man, an art collector, carefully uses turpentine to remove the top layer of paint. He hangs the portrait of the woman in her undergarments in his dining room and invites all of their rich friends over for a dinner party. He slips away from the party right after the painting is unveiled. He later finds out that his revenge backfires - everyone hates him. The girlfriend forgives him, though, and sends some of his favorite caviar, which he eats - then feels ill.

"Depart in Peace" from Tales of the Unexpected (viewed 7/4/19)

The episode is called "Depart in Peace" even though the short story was titled Nunc Dimittis, which means "Now you dismiss." I like that the new title is a variation of the same sentiment, and I like how both versions of the title add meaning to the end of the story. The short story was originally published as "The Devious Bachelor", which also applies to the story, but isn't as clever as the two later titles.
          The show is the same as the story, but with a bit more clarity. The man doesn't leave when the paint is unveiled, but rather makes eye contact with the girlfriend and watches as she faints. Later, she comes to him in person to forgive him and say she loves him and always will, and he must not listen to gossip from people in their circle. She gives him the caviar and he makes a cracker for her and then eats his own. He starts to feel strange, looks at her, and she puts her uneaten cracker back on the tray with a smile. She leaves and he walks away, towards the painting of her (for reasons I didn't understand, if there are any). He's basically hiding behind a curtain without really hiding when the butler comes in to clean up the tray. The butler looks around, sees no one, and sneaks a bite of the caviar. He is walking to the door when the man falls from behind the curtain. The butler drops his tray and falls into a chair, as if he is also feeling ill. The woman comes back into the room, looks at both men, and smiles at what she's done.

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