In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education ...
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In 1920s and 1930s New Zealand, Janet Frame grows up in a poor family with lots of brothers and sisters. Already at an early age she is different from the other kids. She gets an education as a teacher but since she is considered abnormal she stays at a mental institution for eight years. Success comes when she starts to write novels. Written by
New Zealand screenwriter, producer and director Jane Campion's second feature film which was written by Australian screenwriter Laura Jones, is an adaptation of New Zealand author, essayist and poet Janet Frame's three autobiographical novels "To the Is-land" (1982), "An Angel at My Table" (1984) and "The Envoy from Mirror City" (1984). It was shot on location in New Zealand, England, France and Spain and produced by New Zealand-Australian producers Bridget Ikin and John Maynard. This New Zealand-Australia-UK co-production was originally produced as a television miniseries in three parts, but due to its audience's good reception it was released as a theatrical feature film. It tells the story about Janet, also called Jean, Nini, Topsy and Fuzzy, Paterson Frame, a shy and inspirited girl who grows up during the early 1920s in a working-class family in Dunedin, a city in the South Island of New Zealand, consisting of her father Curly, her mother Lottie, her older sister Myrtle, her older epileptic brother George and her younger sisters Isabel and June. Janet has a close relationship with her sisters, finds a good friend in her neighbor Marjorie and already at an early age she expresses a passion for writing. She is encouraged by her parents and her siblings, and at school her talent is noticed by her teachers. Janet's way of communicating and expressing herself through words becomes everything to her and as she grows into a teenager she begins to seclude herself and dedicates herself completely to her writing.
Acutely and engagingly directed by New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion, this finely paced biographical period drama which is narrated by the protagonist, draws an intimate and humane portrayal of a highly gifted and suppressed woman, marred by the deaths of her adolescent sisters and misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia, and her struggle to become a poet during the mid-20th century. While notable for its naturalistic and colorful milieu depictions, the fine production design by New Zealand production designer and art director Grant Major, cinematography by English-born New Zealand cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh and costume design by costume designer Glenys Jackson, this humorous and tragic character-driven epic traces four decades in the life of Janet Frame (1924-2004) and depicts a pervasive and variegated study of character which examines themes such as childhood, family relations, friendship and coming-of-age.
This detailed, lyrical and somewhat surreal independent film which premiered at the 47th Venice Film Festival in 1990, becoming the first film from New Zealand to be screened there, contains a great score by New Zealand composer Don McGlashan which emphasizes its poignant atmosphere, and is impelled and reinforced by its stringent narrative structure, the exceptional acting performances by New Zealand actress Kerry Fox in her debut feature film role, Alexia Keogh in her debut feature film role, Karen Fergusson in her debut feature film role and the fine supporting acting performances. A memorable homage from a profound filmmaker which gained, among several other awards, the International Critics' Award at the 13th Toronto International Film Festival in 1990, the OCIC Award and the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 47th Venice Film Festival in 1990 and the award for Best Actress Kerry Fox at the 35th Valladolid International Film Festival in 1990.
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