Posts Tagged ‘Veronika Decides to Die’

Piano Cover ~ Veronika Decides To Die

April 15, 2012

From the film Veronika Decides to Die, based on the book Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho.

Veronika Decides to Die

April 2, 2012

Verónica Decide Morir sub español

Based on the book Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho.

Veronika Decides to Die is in part based upon the author’s own personal experience.

The middle class family into which Paulo Coelho was born were so horrified at his desire to be a writer that they had him committed to a psychiatric hospital, where he was subjected to electro-convulsive therapy to rid him of his delusions. Thirty years later he was to describe his experience in Veronika Decides to Die. His experience was to lead to a law in Brazil prohibiting arbitrary hospital detention.

Veronika Decides to Die is the second novel in the And on the Seventh Day trilogy. The other two being By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and The Devil and Miss Prym.

Veronika has seven days in which to live after a unsuccessful suicide attempt. Pilar has seven days in which to save her soul. Miss Prym is engaged in a fight with the Devil, an epic struggle between Good and Evil, seven days in which to save the village of Viscos.

Very irritating the setting of the movie is New York instead of the original location of the novel in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as this was a key component of the book.

Apart from the setting, New York not Slovenia, an otherwise excellent film.

The (not so) secret life of Paulo Coelho

January 14, 2012
The Arnolfini Portrait - Van Eyck

The Arnolfini Portrait - Van Eyck

I’m very good at archery. — Paulo Coelho

My parents were… so desperate that I wanted to be a writer that they locked me in a mental institution three times. Thirty-five years later I wrote a book based on this experience [see Veronika Decides to Die].

The household I grew up in… doesn’t exist anymore, but my childhood will never disappear.

When I was a child I wanted to be… a cameraman.

You wouldn’t know it but I am very good at… archery. The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later is my way of connecting to the universe.

You may not know it but I’m no good at… singing. However, every time there is a guitar around I will sing, and my real friends will tolerate it.

At night I dream of… what I’m going to post on my blog, Twitter and Facebook.

I wish I had never worn… an old hippie jacket, covered in patches and metal stars.

What I see when I look in the mirror… That I need to change the light bulb, as there is not enough luminosity (this has been going on for the past two years).

My favourite item of clothing… Japanese yukatas [kimonos].

It’s not fashionable but I like… to sleep naked.

My favourite work of art… The Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck, the most important painting in the world. With all due respect, the Mona Lisa is overrated.

My favourite building… Chartres Cathedral, in France. Original stained-glass windows and a labyrinth that reminds me of the journey we take from life to death.

A book that changed me… Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. It was while reading this that I discovered you need to use blood to write every single page.

Movie heaven… Once Upon a Time in the West, followed by Lawrence of Arabia.

The last album I bought… Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I did not have it on my iPod.

My greatest regret… I don’t have one. I’ve done everything I wanted to do, even if I have had to pay a very high price – which has been the case most of the time.

My secret crush… Audrey Hepburn.

My real-life villain… Fundamentalists – and you can find them in every single religion on this planet.

The last time I cried… I cry very easily. It can be a movie, a phone conversation, a sunset – tears are words waiting to be written.

My five-year plan… To continue to breathe.

My life in six words… Blessed, pilgrim, archer, writer, internet junkie.


Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. After enrolling in law school, he dropped out to go travelling. He worked as a songwriter, and in 1974 was arrested for penning ‘subversive’ lyrics. In 1982 he published his first book, Hell Archives. The Alchemist, his bestselling novel, was published in 1987. In 2009, his book Veronika Decides to Die was made into a film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, and his latest novel, Aleph, is out now. He and his wife, artist Christina Oiticica, live between Europe and Brazil.

A rather dumb pathetic interview with Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho published in The Independent.

A far far better interview was published in the Big Issue last year.

Paulo Coelho talks to Big Issue

switching on the codes

July 15, 2011

To all with mental health problems, just think – they may not always be problems. — Stuart Olds

Where do our thoughts come from?

Last weekend I was in Alton for the Alton Food Festival. I came across a copy of Veronika Decides to Die. I almost bought it, I had it in my hand, but I put it back, a decision I was to regret later.

I wandered around the market which was something of a disappointment, looked in St Lawrence Church, then bumped into Stuart Olds who was doing a book signing.

We had a long chat about many things, but in particular Gaia and the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. I especially mentioned The Alchemist and Veronika Decides to Die.

I told him about Paulo Coelho being locked away in a mental hospital and told him this was the subject matter of Veronika Decides to Die. He looked at me as though I had looked into his soul.

What I did not know was that he had gone through something similar. He talks about this in Hope’s Truth, of which I have a signed copy. This came to him in a manic period, as though downloaded into his brain, though what he describes is not manic depression or bi-polar, it is schizophrenia.

At a press conference in Istanbul, Paulo Coelho responded to a quote from Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk on mental health and writers. I think it was Orhan Pamuk saying he would go mad if he did not write and Paulo Coelho responding it was because he was mad that he did write. But not sure, maybe it was the other way around.

The Girl on the Landing
The meaning of life? The joy of meeting my many, many readers, says Paulo Coelho


January 22, 2011


“I don’t know what to do. I only know that it’s taken me years to understand that life was pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go in.”

“Some people always want to help others. Just so that they can feel better than they really are.”

“People never learn anything by being told, they have to findout for themselves.”

“There is alwayas a gap between intention and action.”

“Married couples think about sex only once a fortnight and transform that thought into action only once a month.”

“You have two choices, to control your mind or to let your mind control you.”

“An awareness of death encourages us to live more intensely.”

“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that in my view is a serious illness.”

“Live. If you live, God will live with you. If only everyone could know and live with their inner craziness … people would be fairer and happier.”

Extracted from Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog as his Character of the Week.

Synchronicity: I was in Guildford talking to a guy in the Oxfam Bookshop about Paulo Coelho and Orhan Pamuk. He said one of his favourites was Veronika Decides to Die. Two days later Paulo Coelho posted Veronika on his blog as his Character of the Week!

The Alchemist as a film

October 1, 2009

‘I feel like the luckiest man on the planet. It’s a dream come true for me, to be able to direct and star and bring Coelho’s book to the screen.’ —  Laurence Fishburne

I have my doubts of The Alchemist as a film. I am not the only one, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho tried unsuccessfully to buy back the film rights.

Nothing ruins a good book than a bad film. Something I have never understood, is buying the rights to a book, then producing a film that has no resemblance to the film other than the title.

If The Alchemist is to be turned into a film, I would have seen it directed by a Chinese director, say the director of House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower, as I am sure they would have done a better job, especially the desert scene.

The problem with American directors is that they are more interested in American bums on seat and their limited attention span, than producing a good film. To them a film is a product, not an artistic creation.

Two other Paulo Coelho novels have been turned into films: Veronika Decides to Die and The Witch of Portobello.

Veronika Decides to Die has been shown in Brazil, but as far as I am aware has not been released elsewhere. A key moment of Veronika Decides to Die  is as Veronika lies dying, she is annoyed by a supposedly witty comment of a journalist who does not know where Slovenia is. The film is set in New York!

The Witch of Portobello is as I write on its way to me on DVD.  Directed by Los Angeles filmmaker Tadeh Daschi, the film stars Carolena Sabah as the enigmatic Athena. The film was the result of a competition organised by Paulo Coelho. The original music featured in the film was composed by  Tadeh Daschi and showcases world music group Visa.

The Witch of Portobello will be premiered at the Rome Film Festival October 2009.

The Winner Stands Alone, the latest novel by Paulo Coelho, is a damning indictment of the film and fashion industry and the cult of celebrity.

At $60 million (a Harvey Weinstein production), a big budget film for a very simple story. In announcing his production on the beach at the Cannes film Festival in 2008, it was a parody of The Winner Stands Alone or what it the other way around? Do we have life imitating art or  art imitating life?

The Alchemist is a $60 million Harvey Weinstein production, staring and directed by Laurence Fishburne.  Following the announcement at Cannes, filming was scheduled to start spring last year at various locations in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The Alchemist recently celebrated two years in The New York Times best seller list. Not bad for a book that was first published twenty years ago.

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