Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Movie Rant and Clouds

Do you ever lament the very existence of movie-adaptations of books? Maybe not the very existence, but at least the fact that you weren't the primary decision maker in them? Case and point:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - can anyone say "botched first kiss"???? In the novel, J.K. Rowling painted the perfect scene, after chapters and chapters of Harry refusing to even admit that he cared for Ginny, where Harry finally confesses, through a perfectly unexpected kiss full of energy after a surprise Quidditch win. Perfect. The movie? Yikes. A melancholy, Ginny-initiated, totally-expected kiss that was glanced over as quickly as possible. They dropped the ball, and I guarantee they heard about it afterwards.
Beowulf - a movie that ought not to have had the same name as the original poem. The original poem's main theme is that strength of character and faith in God will give great rewards and the title character is portrayed as a God-fearing, wonderful leader. And in the movie... yah, the King is the father of Grendel through a sordid affair with Grendel's mother. Beowulf kills Grendel but then instead of defeating Grendel's mother he sires a dragon. (Yah, weird.) Oh, and at the end, after Beowulf finally kills the dragon and dies himself, his right hand man looks uncertainly at Grendel's mother, causing the viewer to question whether or not there were a single man of integrity in the entire film.
And the latest to add to this list: Mansfield Park (1999), featuring Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price. Now, do not think I'm saying this wasn't a good show - it was. It was an enjoyable movie where the plot was based on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. It had some great additions to it, like putting in snippits of Jane Austen's writing from other pieces and letters as Fanny's own writing. That was fun. My primary issue, however, is with the characters. They changed a couple of them in a way that I was not cool with. First, and probably the biggest deviation from the original story, was Sir Thomas Bertram. In the novel, Sir Thomas Bertram was upright and moral to a fault. He was so wholely focused on propriety that he failed to pay any real attention to the heart of his daughters. In the movie, he is first and foremost a business man, who supports the slave trade and knows that his eldest son is strongly opposed to it but still maintains his slave workers, even after witnessing the abuses to them. Granted, the people who did the movie seemed to have done a lot of background research. It's highly probable that Sir Thomas Bertram was infact employing slaves on his plantations in Antigua. However, for the intent of the novel, Sir Thomas Bertram's propriety and upright conduct is never called into question; secondary to Fanny's own steadfastness, this is perhaps the character trait most integral to the unfolding plot. They changed Edmund a bit too, although those changes I could moreso understand. He was always apparently in love with Fanny. He was less head-over-heels in love with Mary. He was more attentive to Fanny as a whole and was more of a lively character than the novel portrayed him to be. For the intents of the movie, and not having a 10 hour long show, I get those changes. People needed to understand his worth quickly.
My last major issue was with Fanny herself. The synopsis of the movie refers to Fanny's "wit". As soon as I read that, I knew I'd have an issue. One does not extol Fanny Price's virtues by lauding her wit and failing to observe her strength of character. In the novel Fanny is not particularly witty. She's not brave. She's not daring, or lively, or particularly gay. She is a trembling, quiet, easily shaken individual who despite all of these things has an absolutely unshakeable sense of right and wrong and will never consciously err on the side of "wrong". This is the virtue that finally redeems her to Sir Thomas Bertram and Edmund. This is the worth that they value in the end more than wit and charm. This is the entire moral of the story. In the movie, they made her cocky, and surprisingly strong-willed, and more generally fun to be around and sure of herself than the book ever conveyed. Again, I can kind of understand why. Fanny Price is the anti-heroine, even moreso than Catherine Morland (the anti-heroine of Northanger Abbey). Fanny's beauty is always understated compared to the beautiful women around her. She's not supposed to be witty, but grave and pensive, more absorbed in literary musings than the conversation in the room. Oh, and she never was carried away with her fancy. In the movie, Fanny accepts Crawford, only to break off the engagement the next day. (As a note: this was most likely taken from Jane Austen's own experience - she did the very same thing) The Fanny Price of the novel never would have a) said yes, and b) said no afterwards.
OH and there was no William! There's a tall boy that says goodbye to Fanny at the beginning, but that's the closest we get to seeing William Price.
Now, all that said, again, it wasn't a bad movie. Purists - be warned, there are some deviations. Oh, and Puritans, be warned likewise: there's some nudity (you know it's coming, but I didn't think they'd actually show anything... I was wrong.)
WHEW! What a rant. I apologize. And to make it up to you, how about some pretty pictures?
The first: Muffins! I remade a batch of those muffins I posted the recipe to a couple weeks back - and this time I got a picture! Aren't they so nice and peaked???

Second: Clouds! My reimagining of Nathaniel's room is finally taking shape as I finally got that 3D wall art up! But I felt like it needed more, so I put up some clouds! They're merely batting with fishing line holding them together! I've only done a few (the 3 year old wanted to help which seriously impeded my progress) but I plan to put up enough that when you walk into the room it should look like a cloudy day! Fun, no?

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

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