There seems to be no end to the abundant talent of Walter Murch, film editor extraordinaire and subject of Michael Ondaatje’s rapturous, book-length profile The Conversations. As if the film work didn’t keep him busy enough, he found time in 2001 to pen In the Blink of an Eye, still the best primer I know on the technical craft and philosophy of film editing. But who knew he was moonlighting as a translator of Italian poetry?
In the latest issue of A Public Space, a quarterly journal edited by former Paris Review honcho Brigid Hughes, Murch debuts his English rendition of “Murdered: A Narrative with Six Songs, in Four Scenes,” by the late Tuscan writer (and onetime fascist) Curzio Malaparte. Here’s the introduction to the piece:
“The Academy Award–winning film editor and sound designer Walter Murch is known for his work on such films as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and The English Patient, but over the past decade he has also been at work translating the Italian writer Curzio Malaparte, who served in a voluntary brigade of Italians fighting alongside the French during World War I, and worked as a war correspondent during World War II. In the late 1940s Malaparte returned home to Tuscany to attend his dying mother. ‘Murdered’ was found among his unpublished papers after his death in 1957.”
Murch may have his nose in the notebooks of a long-dead Italian writer, but his adventures in poetry haven’t led him that far astray from his other passion: Malaparte, of course, built the famous Villa Malaparte in Capri, an oblong, salmon-colored abode with flanking pyramid-like steps that lead up to a stone roof patio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Still don’t catch the reference? It was the location Jean-Luc Godard used to such splendid effect in Le Mépris.