THE SHIPPING NEWS
About The Story
The Shipping News is the tale of Quoyle, a hapless man whose life has been filled with failure and pain, seeking to find solace in his beautiful ancestral home of Newfoundland. Set amidst a wintry landscape and anchored by powerful story of renewal, The Shipping News is a story of love, healing and rediscovering ones vitality.
Hallstrom was immediately drawn to the story when he first read the novel. "The storytelling of Annie Proulx has few boundaries: It mixes drama with comedy and farce, poetic beauty with absolute trivia and factual journalistic reports on life in Newfoundland. Also, I am drawn to anything that tries to portray people honestly and realistically." Often funny, in The Shipping News Hallstr6m's characterizations rely less on sentimentality and exhibit candid insights into the human spirit.
Hallstrom's first challenge was breaking down the story to truly understand his protagonist. "The Shipping News centers on the story of a man who from very early on was deprived of his self-esteem by abusive parents, who led a life of no self respect and who through the course of this story finds a way to regain that respect and start a new life,"
Hallstrom asserts. "This is the story about his awakening, about his resurfacing to a life of self-esteem. He is awakened to find a world where he is met with respect and where love becomes a real possibility." In this bleak wintry fishing village, Quoyle finds the warmth he so desperately needs.
Many associated with the project note that Hallstrom was uniquely qualified to handle this challenging story because he possesses a rare sensibility that helps a very subtle story spring to life. "Lasse is one of the great humanists," producer Leslie Holleran imparts. "He loves to explore the wonderful, imperfect nature of human beings -- their strengths, weaknesses and contradictions," Holleran notes. The Shipping News is a tale of a man on the mend; Hallstr6m needed to approach the material with a very sensitive touch.
Adds producer Irwin Winkler: "Lasse is a man who's always dealt with odd characters, a man who's always found humanity in the strangest places. Even going back to My Life as a Dog."
Producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton notes, "My Life as a Dog happens to be one of my top favorite films ever. Lasse's sensibility and his way of dissecting and then presenting human foibles and human emotions is very touching. It's very authentic and it doesn't happen all that often in film."
Kevin Spacey (Quoyle) insisted that Halistrom direct the film because, as he says, "no one does family like
Lasse. At its heart, this is a story not just about Quoyle's discovery of himself and his untapped potential, but it's also a story of family, of those connections that are made through generations and inform who each of us are." Hallstrom's body of work— from My Life as a Dog to What's Eating Gilbert Grape to The Cider House Rules —illustrates his ability to deal with odd characters in complicated familial situations and find humanity in unusual places. The material is consciously unemotional and understated, so the approach needed to be unlike anything Hallstr6m had ever done before.
Hallstrtom worked hard to understand Quoyle's character and believes one of his strengths, as a director, is his ability to identify with the misfit. "My attraction to depicting outsiders has to do with the fact that I have been there, on the outside,"
Hallstrom replies. "I can relate to it and recognize it. That is one main reason why I tell stories — to have people recognize their inner feelings, to receive confirmation that they are not alone in the world." There is a little underdog in everyone, and in The Shipping News it is nearly impossible not to root for
The filmmakers eliminated a few of the novel's subplots an
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