Saturday, 6 January 2007

What's in a name

One of the things in The Stendhal Syndrome that I don't like is Anna Manni's confusion when she learns that the French guy is named Marie. Now, I know it fits with the general theme of gender confusion that runs through the film, and also allows Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini to make a further allusion to the titular Stendhal, whose real name was Marie-Henri Beyle, but it also seems to forget about Italians like Gian Maria Volontè and Enrico Maria Salerno whose names seem to follow a similar pattern.

Is there a difference between the French and Italian naming conventions here, an attempt at writing something multi-layered that does not quite come off (at least as far as I am concerned) or a generational / regional / other thing? After all, Asia Argento's 'real' first name is Aria, because of the rules of what a child could or could not be named that pertained in 1975.


Jean-Yves said...

I don't know about Italian naming conventions, but Marie as a second Christian name for boys and girls was very common in Brittany around WWII. Those second Christian names are very rarely used, though, and only appear on official documents, when you need to write down your full identity.
I have never heard of a stand-alone Marie as a first Christian name for a French boy, though. I know a Louis-Marie, but, just like Stendhal, that is his first name, not just Marie. Hope this helps.

K H Brown said...

Thanks Jean-Yves. I think I'll need to revisit The Stehdhal Syndrome and check whether the character is referred to as Marie or Henri-Marie, which would make more sense as a nod to Stendhal anyway.

As it is, I'm still leaning towards the attempt to do something clever that doesn't quite work for me interpretation, though maybe Anna Manni's response / confusion also suggests something of her youthfulness and lack of experience...