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The Greatest Showman – Chapter 108

Chapter 108 – Surviving through madness

Even as the director, Rodrigo was left speechless by that scene.

In fact, Renly changed the lines during the performance, and many parts were improvised. The most obvious example of that was in the final stage of the performance, the script actually had Paul speak after being shocked, and he couldn’t help but swear; and after despair, he also said, “You brought me here,” which triggered the “I’m sorry” from the other end of the phone.

But in the actual performance, Renly was completely silent, cutting off all the lines, relying only on the subtle changes in his eyes and breathing to portray the emotions of despair to powerlessness vividly. Compared with angry rebuttals and unwilling accusations, this silent disillusionment brought about even more surging shock; the faint smile on the corners of his mouth fully showed the irony and powerlessness.

The power of performance was amplified to the extreme at this moment, and the powerful aura even affected his scene partner – Alex Vilaragrasa. He was just a field assistant and a professional actor would be found later to record the voice on the other end of the phone, but even Alex, who was not considered a professional actor, deeply felt the extreme despair, so much so that his vocal performance was given more life.

After the suppressed emotions converged, they burst forth with multiplied energy, leaving every onlooker in shock.

Rodrigo had to admit that Renly’s performance even surpassed the script, reaching a higher level. It wasn’t just the last scene; in fact, his entire act was like this, without any trace of carving, the whole performance was smooth and flowing, yet it evoked such overwhelming reflection in the audience:

Paul’s sense of responsibility to his family was the biggest motivation in his heart, even if the audience didn’t understand what happened between him and Linda – Linda never answered the phone, and the Company maliciously said that Paul was having an affair with Pamela, but the audience could deeply feel Paul’s obsession and attachment to his family. He may have made some wrong choices, and he may not have a very likeable personality, but there is no doubt that he is a good family man.

He came to Iraq for his family, and now he is going to be buried here.

The chilling indifference of large corporations towards powerless low-level employees is truly horrifying. Not only do they do nothing, but they also go to great lengths to shirk responsibility. The cold and cruel indifference in the face of profit is fully displayed in this phone call. It peels off the sugar coating and reveals the evil nature of putting profit above all else. Each employee is just a tool to them – even the HR manager Alan who made the call. In the face of the state machine and large institutions, individuals are like ants, insignificant.

Paul believed in the company’s protection and came to Iraq, but now even his right to compensation after his death had been stripped away.

Taking it a step further, what is the difference between these large corporations and the government?

In this scene, Rodrigo clearly felt two layers of performance, just as Renly said, one layer is real emotion, and the other layer is Paul’s character. The restrained performance contained such terrifying energy, that the power of acting made his soul tremble.

The shooting of “Buried” has entered the sixth day. He originally thought that he would not be more surprised, he originally thought that he was used to Renly’s acting, and he originally thought that Renly could not be even more outstanding, but obviously, he was wrong.

Turning around, the other crew members were still in a daze, as if they couldn’t turn their thoughts around, or as if they were shocked beyond words. Each one stood there with a blank look as if their souls had left their bodies, at a complete loss. Especially Alex, who seemed unable to snap out of it, his face blank and despondent.

Rodrigo looked at Renly again, not hiding the concern in his eyes. Although the quality of the shots far exceeded the expectations and his inner ecstasy had overwhelmed him, Renly’s state… Even an acting layman could see that it was bad, very bad as if he had personally experienced Paul’s torture.

“Renly, are you sure you don’t need a good rest?” Rodrigo asked again.

Renly laid down again, the exhaustion in his eyes impossible to hide. He shook his head slightly, but his head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. That kind of simple movement seemed to drain all his energy, leaving him with an exhaustion that was deeply worrying.

“Let’s continue filming. The sooner we finish, the sooner we can wrap up, and then I can finally take a long, long vacation.”

His teasing voice was weak, and even the arc on the corners of his mouth was like a wisp of smoke, it looked like it would dissipate at any moment.

Rodrigo wanted to say something more, but Renly had already picked up the script again, lying in the coffin and starting to read through it to prepare for the next scene. The words of dissuasion got stuck in his throat, and so he turned around and shouted, “Next scene! Get ready!”

The only thing he could do now was to speed up the filming progress and wrap up as soon as possible. After all the work was done, Renly could take a good rest.

Renly knew that he was not in a good state now. The poor sleep quality had been draining his physical strength, and the trance-like state of being unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality was extremely dangerous. He knew that he was starting to lose control.

Originally, he thought he could handle the situation. After all, he came from a background of representational style of acting, and even if he tried Method Acting, there wouldn’t be too many surprises. It was more likely that he wouldn’t be able to break out of his own framework and would return to representational style again as he performed because this was the acting style he was most familiar with. Then his intention to try to integrate the two acting styles would be in vain.

But in fact, after delving into the character using the Method Acting, things started to get a little out of control. His mind couldn’t help but think back to his previous experience in a confined space. The eight hours felt like a century, but also like an instant, deeply imprinted in the depths of his mind, permeating every cell of his body. During all of his scenes, there seemed to be an invisible thread in his mind, pulling him along in a frenzy. All his actions seemed to come naturally, blending in with the real, and before his brain had time to think, his body’s instincts had already reacted. Even the lines he knew by heart became part of his body, flowing out naturally.

This situation is like a wild horse that has broken free from its reins; any attempt to control it would be insignificant. But what was worse was that he was even losing the idea to control it now. Everything felt so natural, and excessive control would only affect the direction, making his acting go off track. Releasing the brakes and letting himself enjoy this bumpy ride would actually make things easier and more genuine. The so-called control sounded like a big joke.

Things were becoming more and more unpredictable. He should stop, he should stop trying immediately, and he should take a good rest as Rodrigo said.

But he didn’t want to.

In the final moments of that scene just now, a force in his subconscious suppressed his urge to speak and plunged him into silence. He didn’t know why, but he just followed the guidance of his reason, cut off all his words, and then let his emotions ferment slowly in silence.

This state is quite marvellous, the exact opposite of the one when he acted in “The Pacific.” At that time, he was controlling the rhythm of the performance, but the moment he saw that dying woman, his emotions went a bit out of control, as if he had truly entered Eugene’s world. Just now, in the midst of chaos, confusion, and loss of control, he grasped the last string of rationality, pulling his emotions back. That momentary control made all the chaotic order become clear.

Upon careful reflection, it was actually the feeling he had while reading the script earlier. He believed that sometimes silence speaks louder than words.

If he followed the instructions of the script, Paul’s scolding and powerless accusations would indeed be very appropriate, in line with the screenwriter’s setting for Paul, and would also make the theme of the entire plot clear; but he thought it was a bit low-level. A truly outstanding script is not a “preaching”-style sermon, but a reflection brought about by the power of the plot itself, leaving the thinking part to the audience themselves, rather than telling the audience how to think. Therefore, silence is sometimes truly more powerful, and it can also elevate the core of the entire film.

During the performance, at the last moment, the out-of-control reins returned to his hands just in time, and the scene of thousands of horses galloping instantly became orderly. Even if it was only for a moment, the new world presented before his eyes was amazing and unbelievably beautiful. This made Renly realize that his ethereal attempt was real and that he could do it!

So, even if he still couldn’t tell the difference between reality and dreams, it’s very possible that everything was still Paul’s dream, he was still trapped in the coffin, or maybe it was Renly’s dream in his hotel room, he dreamed of himself completing a great shoot; even if he still couldn’t define his own identity, the line between Paul and Renly seemed to have disappeared, and the confusion of memory fragments made him exhausted; even if his physical strength and energy had reached their limit, and he seemed to be on the verge of collapse at any moment now…

But he still didn’t want to give up, he wanted to firmly grasp the fleeting inspiration he felt just now, to continue to explore this path, push open the door to the new world, and glimpse at the mysterious, profound and beautiful scenery. Without madness, there is no life, isn’t there?

Closing his eyes again, Renly plunged into the throes of struggle, as if his soul had been torn into two halves, one Paul and one Renly, one fiction and one reality. The heart-piercing pain seemed to smash open his brain, forcibly prying it apart, and a torrent of agony swept over him, causing every muscle in his body to tremble slightly. Barely visible sweat seeped on his forehead.

Standing at the threshold of darkness, he couldn’t tell whether the other side held nightmares or reality, despair or hope. Yet, he gritted his teeth and, with determination, took another step forward.

T/N – Wow, this author is really good at writing the inner struggles of the characters, I think soon the filming of Buried is going to finish. Then a good rest for our boy and a third project, I wonder what is that going to be…

T/N – If you like this novel, please give a review or rating on Novel Updates🙂

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