A young female landowner in 1840s Jamaica marries a just-arrived Englishman to avoid losing her property. All seems to be perfect, love arises, and happiness is on the way, but she is ... See full summary »
A young female landowner in 1840s Jamaica marries a just-arrived Englishman to avoid losing her property. All seems to be perfect, love arises, and happiness is on the way, but she is hiding an old secret regarding her childhood and her mother. Slowly, this secret begins to erode this perfect relationship and, perhaps, her mother's story will begin again...with her. Written by
Luis Carvacho <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The following review is taken from my contribution to a thread called "Worst novel adaptations" from the Film General board: Wide Sargasso Sea was originally a beautiful, haunting novel set in mid-19th century Jamaica written by Creole-Welsh writer Jean Rhys in the 1960s. Plot-wise, it's basically the prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, the story of a young Mr Rochester traveling to the Caribbean and meeting his first wife, the "mad wife" in the attic featured in Jane Eyre (though here she is young and not yet "mad", and we are described what gradually led her to losing her sanity). It's a sensual novel, mainly because the lush Jamaican countryside and emotional spontaneity of the local people was too much for the straight-laced, English Victorian gent, Rochester. But there are no sex scenes in the novel - basically, it's NOT an erotic novel as the film "adaptation" would suggest. It's written in subtle, understated yet powerfully-evoked prose that speaks of the movements of the soul rather than those of the pelvis. There's lots of passion in Wide Sargasso Sea THE BOOK, but it's mostly emotional. It's an extremely multi-layered novel and the work of a true master. The film on the other hand is just your classic, bad 1990s film, beautiful to look at, with lots of skin, languid copulation, heaving bosoms, bodice-ripping nonsense, etc and next to no substance. It has no artistic integrity whatsoever, as its shameless makers must surely know they lifted their middle finger at the spirit of the Jean Rhys novel when choosing to make the film the way they did. None of the understanding of the deepest secrets of the soul that the novel can so miraculously evoke. None of the beauty, poetry, deep, heart-felt tragedy, pathos, haunting quality. Nothing. Just a lot of pointless, choreographed sex between beautiful people in an "exotic" setting. Why not make an erotic version of Jane Eyre while we're at it? Plus there's nothing worse than eroticism that takes itself too seriously. I'd highly recommend the novel by the way: a book you don't forget in a hurry. Needless to say I think you should give this insulting (to the memory of Jean Rhys) film a miss, especially if you've read the novel: it'll just frustrate you, no matter how keen on a bit of easy titillation you may be feeling at the time.
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