Nabokov pitches a movie idea to Hitchcock: "A girl, a rising star of not quite the first magnitude, is courted by a budding astronaut."

A girl, a rising star of not quite the first magnitude, is courted by a budding astronaut. She is slightly condescending to him; has an affair with him but may have other lovers, or lover, at the same time. One day he is sent on the first expedition to a distant star; goes there and makes a successful return. Their positions have now changed. He is the most famous man in the country while her starrise has come to a stop at a moderate level. She is only too glad to have him now, but soon she realizes that he is not the same as he was before his flight. She cannot make out what the change is. Time goes, and she becomes concerned, then frightened, then panicky. I have more than one interesting denouement for this plot.

Nabokov’s plot pitch to Hitchcock (Via This Isn't Happiness)

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  1. In other words, “The Astronaut’s Wife” could have been a great movie (or at least a more worthwhile one?)

  2. If the astronaut were traveling to  a “distant star” he would have to travel at relativistic speed to get there and back within his lifetime. When he returned, hundreds or even thousands of years would have passed on Earth.

    Perhaps he begins the relation ship with the woman then on return resumes it with a holographic construct of her. He would want to resolve the emotional issues he had with the flesh and blood woman. But her construct is an artificial intelligence that processes emotions and interactions differently and is also technically a different being.

    1. I am only too happy to exempt Vladimir Nabokov from scientific rigours (which I’m sure he understood).

    2. If the astronaut were traveling to  a “distant star” he would have to travel at relativistic speed to get there and back within his lifetime. When he returned, hundreds or even thousands of years would have passed on Earth.

      That’s the twist! When he leaves, she’s the young hottie who can get any guy she wants. When he returns, he’s still a relatively young stud and she’s a wrinkled 300-year-old disembodied head floating in a jar!

      1. Lost In Space covered the issue of what happens to the unattended girlfriends of space travelers long ago.

        Marzipan?

      2.  I believe Einstein disavowed the twin paradox, but if somebody can explain this in words of 2-3 syllables I’d appreciate it. Relatively speaking, both of these people are traveling at relativistic speeds, so why won’t they both be simultaneously wrinkled 300-year-olds and young stud/hottie?

        1. The tl;dr version is that the person who leaves and comes back is different from the stationary (earthbound) person because they experience acceleration & deceleration forces (particularily at the U-turn they make to come back). So they actually have two separate frames of reference which means a simplistic view is not applicable to their aging.

          See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_paradox

  3. Hitchcock directing Nabokov, eh? That’d be cool. But what I’d really like to see is a Kubrick adaptation of something by Nabokov. 

  4. Maybe if the girl was a genie… that’s the ticket! But who could play the astronaut?

    Well, never mind. May I interest you in James Agee’s rough draft for a post-WW3 Charlie Chaplin movie?

    [The scenario has just described a brief subliminal of Chaplin being chased around a corner by a cop as The Bomb is dropped. We see the worldwide devastation from a great altitude, then the camera pans down to ground level, and…]
    C. (1) ENTER THE TRAMP
    He is back to the camera, hunched deeply over, in a tinily narrow alley between two buildings. A rigid forefinger is still jammed in each ear.
    He is still motionless; frozen.He comes up as slowly, timorously, tremulously out of his crouch (fingers in each ear pulling timidly away), as a grass-blade recovering, which has just been stepped on. Straightens, still back to camera; and starts straightening his legs and arms inside clothes, and the clothes themselves, turning very slowly, face close to camera, staring into it. He continues to straighten his clothes, going over them very carefully … polishing toes of shoes on calves of pants; sleeving his derby and resetting it with care on his head; testing his cane: then a sudden trembling shrug (involving a full check-over of body as well as clothes), which is a blend of what a suddenly dampened dog does, and of the feather-adjustments of a suddenly rumpled hen. Then very delicately and timidly, camera withdrawing, he advances, and sticks his snout around the corner of a building, and peers.

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