The Big Picture
- The naming decisions in Mahalia Belo’s adaptation of The End We Start From were made to focus the story on the protagonist and her thoughts about her baby.
- Belo and Jodie Comer made the decision to use single letters for the characters’ names, which added difficulty to filming, but allowed the actors to bring their own touch to the roles.
- The End We Start From arrives in theaters on December 8.
In most forms of media — whether it be movies, television, or books — names carry meaning, even if it’s something as simple as the creator liking the way it sounds. A lack of typical names can be just as important, such as the largely nameless characters in Mahalia Belo‘s adaptation of Megan Hunter‘s novel The End We Start From. The feature premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival ahead of its wider December release. During the event, Belo stopped by the Collider’s TIFF media studio at the Cinema Center at MARBL to discuss the film, including the naming decisions she made.
When speaking with Collider’s Perri Nemiroff, Belo shared that she named the characters the way she did because it was true to Hunter’s novel. It was important for Belo to keep that in the adaptation because “it helped to focus the story so completely on what Woman was thinking, which is about the baby.” Though an ultimately significant part of the story, Belo wasn’t certain if she wanted to keep similar naming conventions for the film, sharing that she and cast member Jodie Comer made the decision together. She revealed it added a layer of difficulty to the film, “How many letters can you think of for various characters?” Belo also kept the baby’s name from the book, Zeb: “[I]t’s the end as well. So the end of the alphabet, the end you start from.”
Additionally, since a majority of the characters’ names were relegated to single letters, Belo said “it meant that the actors could bring their own character, and they could name them.” Of course, the names the actors decided upon aren’t revealed in the film, nor does Belo know what the names are. However, she views it as a positive element: “I think it adds a secret to the story, like, what is the character’s actual name? And a secret, for an actor, is gold, isn’t it? It’s like something they can hold on to.”
‘The End We Start From’ Tackles a Climate Crisis
The End We Start From centers on Comer’s character, Woman, who recently gave birth to her son, Z, amidst a devastating flood threatening to turn London into an underwater city. So, Woman, her newborn, and the rest of their family struggle to seek shelter where it becomes increasingly limited. As everyone fights for survival, Woman’s primary focus is to protect Z no matter what, facing taut relationships with those around her along the way. Meanwhile, Z takes in the world around him. Along with Comer, the film stars Joel Fry, Mark Strong, Gina McKee, Katherine Waterston, Nina Sosanya, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
The End We Start From releases December 8 in U.S. theaters. Watch Nemiroff and Belo’s full conversation below: