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I have been an avid Enid Blyton fan all my childhood. Like me if you
have been one too, and happen to watch "Enid" the first thing that
happens is morality kicks in. You feel betrayed, robbed of the
childhood fondness and unknowing partaken to support the evil Enid
Blyton was in real life. You would think life would have been better
off not having watched it in first place, leaving the uncontaminated
innocence as it should be and to narrate the Enid Blyton tales to your
grand children. Alas truth is stranger than fiction.
Nonetheless, playing the devils' advocate - I still feel I should give due credit to Enid Blyton for all that magical adventures I have been during my childhood. The fond memories of Famous Five and Secret Seven are too strong to be dusted off. For whatever she was in personal life, that was her prerogative. I hardly paid any attention about it in my childhood so why should I now?
Enid had ghosts of her own but prefers to live in her own wonderland, and this was brilliantly brought to life on the screen.
Helena Bonham Carter put her life and soul into breathing life to the character of "Enid Blyton". I always thought Tim Burton mentoring her success, but clearly she can stand tall for herself.
Mathew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson provide adequate support.
This film is about the life of the famous and prolific author Enid
Blyton, who wrote over 750 children books.
"Enid" is very powerful in portraying the character of Enid Blyton. Helena Bonham Carter portrays Enid Blyton to be a detached, phlegmatic, rude and deceitful hypocrite. This portrayal is very powerful, and I do hate Enid so much for her unloving ways towards her family. It is so effective, I feel so sorry for the husband and her children. The production is also of great quality, with high standards of costumes, sets and cinematography.
I used to pride myself for having read all the Famous Five books. If this portrayal of Enid Blyton's life is accurate, that I think I cannot put my hands on an Enid Blyton book again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I began watching this quite by accident and became so absorbed in
Helena Bonham Carters performance it was impossible to turn it off.
Helena Bonham Carter completely absorbs the role of Enid to such an extent it seems that she has been taken over by her. Enid Blyton is portrayed as self absorbed, selfish and a terrible mother which is quite true in reality, although some scenes have been added purely for the narrative.
After having two children she becomes more absorbed in the lives of the children who write to her and love her books. She needs the reassurance of being idolised by these children who know nothing about her more than she cares for her own daughters. Her husband Hugh is driven to drink and another woman by her complete self absorbed behaviour and blatant disregard for him now he has served his purpose and been the one to have published her books. She meets another man and begins an affair with him, a doctor called Kenneth Darrell Waters. She asks her first husband for a divorce, ignoring her own adultery and using the children as a bargaining tool. He agrees on the understanding he can see the children whenever he wants and Enid initially agrees. She slowly begins to cut him out of her children's lives by destroying letters he sends them and saying the children are out when he telephones. When her youngest challenges her Enid accuses her of lying and simply send her off to boarding school.
This is a very good film, even for people who are not fans of Enid Blyton's, purely for Helena Bonham Carter's breathtaking performance. I would highly recommend this to people.
When I was a child, I absolutely adored Enid Blyton's books; like
Beatrix Potter's simple but charming, whimsical and beautifully
illustrated stories, her books were full of characters I could relate
to(ie. Silky from the Magic Faraway Tree stories), magical or exciting
adventures and moments where I laughed and cried. At 17, I still have
the utmost respect for her work, and while it was flawed, I liked this
One definite plus was the way it was filmed, it was shot in a very sumptuous visual style that was most suitable. The costumes were ravishing, the scenery was breathtaking and the makeup was immaculate. The music score had parts that were a) haunting, b) poignant and c) hypnotic, the same effect that a minimalist score would have. I also liked the embedded references to her books, some as Enid sat at her typewriter, the script was well above average and the ending was somewhat moving.
The acting is very well done. Both Matthew Macfadyen and Dennis Lawson turned in great work as Hugh and Kenneth, and to some extent I felt sorry for both their characters; Hugh because of the way Enid treated him and Kenneth because he was seemingly oblivious to what Enid was really like. Helena Bonham Carter looked beautiful and gave a wonderful performance. If I were to be honest though I prefer her more passionate and headstrong characters in A Room with a View and Howards End.
It is here though where the flaws of this drama come. I think it was more to do with how she was written than how she was acted, but somehow I wasn't sure whether Enid was really that one-dimensional, here she is quite hypocritical and insensitive, then again it may be just me. Another problem if not so significant was that I felt some of the earlier scenes, particularly the scenes where Enid is a child, were a tad rushed.
Overall, I generally liked this biographical drama, not perfect in my opinion but worth watching. 8/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Quite by chance, British television recently showed on the same night
biopics about two famous female children's authors of the early
twentieth century, "Miss Potter" about Beatrix Potter and "Enid" about
her younger contemporary Enid Blyton. I must admit that I never liked
either of them when I was a child, although this had nothing to do with
any prejudice against female writers; I continued to enjoy the works of
E. Nesbit even after discovering that the "E" stood for "Edith", and I
loved the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliffe. Beatrix Potter's
books, however, always struck me as twee and babyish, and as for Blyton
I found her works dull and formulaic. (OK, I probably didn't use the
word "formulaic" in those days, but when you had read one you had read
them all. All 753 of them). I also disliked the preachy, moralistic
strain in Blyton's works.
In this film Blyton is played by Helena Bonham Carter, although there is no physical resemblance between them. All the photographs I have seen of Blyton show her as a severe-looking, unattractive woman, whereas Bonham Carter, in her early forties, is as lovely as she ever was. Helena, of course, was once Britain's reigning Queen of Period Drama, although she has now abdicated that particular crown in favour of Keira Knightley, with Carey Mulligan as heiress presumptive. "Enid" might appear to represent a return to the sort of role Helena was playing twenty years ago, but in fact the title character here is very different to the sweet young heroines she played in films like "Lady Jane" or "A Room with a View". As in the "Harry Potter" series, where she plays the evil Bellatrix Lestrange, she gets to play a villainess.
The portrayal of Enid Blyton is this film is a remorselessly negative one. She is shown as snobbish and ruthlessly ambitious, caring for little except her own financial success. She is cold and unfeeling to her first husband, Hugh Pollock, to whom she is unfaithful. When during the war he leaves to take up an important command, she complains bitterly that he is putting his duty to his country before her. She poses as a lover of children, but neglects her own daughters Gillian and Imogen. She wants little to do with her mother and her two brothers. When she wants to marry her lover, a doctor named Kenneth Darrell Waters, she decides that she will divorce Hugh on the grounds of his (non-existent) adultery rather than allowing him to divorce her, and expects him to oblige her wishes.
(There was a curious convention during the first half of the twentieth century that it was morally worse for a wife to cheat on her husband than vice versa; a woman who had been the guilty party in a divorce case would be forever branded as a harlot. Rather surprisingly, the English courts, which in other contexts held strictly to the maxim "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth", were prepared to turn a blind eye to the vast amount of perjured evidence that was manufactured to uphold the legal fiction that no married woman was ever guilty of adultery).
Indeed, the only thing that seems to upset Enid is the rumour that her books are ghost-written. (This was a persistent rumour during her lifetime, largely because people could not believe that one woman could be so prolific. Today, it seems to be generally accepted that she did indeed pen every book that bears her name). Bonham Carter is a very talented actress, and her performance here is a good one, but it never becomes a really great one. Indeed, the script never gives her the chance to give a great performance, because the portrait of Blyton is so negative and one-dimensional, never allowing her any good qualities except an immense capacity for hard work. There are also good contributions from Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson as Blyton's two husbands. Hugh Pollock was nine years older then his wife, whereas Macfadyen is in fact eight years younger than Bonham Carter, so the make-up department also deserve credit for making him seem credibly middle-aged.
Another weakness of the film is that the early scenes were very rushed. In the space of a few minutes Enid goes from an Edwardian schoolgirl to a married, middle-aged author with two children in the 1930s. One of the film's theories is that Blyton's emotional difficulties in later life were the result of her coming from a broken home after her father, whom she idolised, left her mother, so it is unfortunate that her early life was not examined in greater detail.
I never met Enid Blyton- she died when I was a young child- so for all I know she might have been every bit as unpleasant as the character portrayed here. I just wondered why the film-makers bothered to make a biopic of someone they obviously regarded as a prize bitch. 6/10
Enid Blyton is one of the best known children's authors to come from
the UK, writing around 800 books during her career and created notable
characters like Noddy and the Famous Five. When BBC Four made a season
called Women we Loved they went for a warts and all telling of her
Enid starts of with Enid Blyton (Alexandra Brain/Lisa Diveney/Helena Bonham Carter) in the middle of a broken home. She would tell stories to her brothers to reassure them when their parent argued. Her father leaves the family Enid blames her mother and when old enough leaves to London to be come a writer. After some initial rejection Enid meets the publisher Hugh Pollock (Matthew MacFayden) and the two quickly fall in love and marry. With Enid becoming successful their become wealthy, start to have a family. Yet their marriage soars and whilst Enid was very good with young fans was a terrible mother to her own children. With the looming Hugh's stress increases and Enid finds comfort with another man, Kenneth Walters (Dennis Lawson).
Helena Bonham Carter is one of my favourite actresses and basically I would watch her in anything: even if a film is bad she is still very good in it. Her performance in Enid was very grounded and shows a very complex character, a woman who was brilliant children who were not own and had millions of fans, but awful with her own, often letting the nanny take care of them. Enid was made out to be a woman who would escape into fantasy and pretend nothing bad was happening, lying to save face. A woman who was too focused on her reading and had daddy issues for all her life. Bonham Carter was great at portraying this complex and rather vile character. But it was not just the Helena Bonham Carter show, Matthew MacFayden and Ramona Marquez were also great in Enid. Matthew MacFayden is an excellent actor and my favoured choice to follow Daniel Craig as 007. Here he has to play the archetypal 1930s man, some who had to bury his emotions and used alcohol to suppress them. But MacFayden was not just an emotional constipated, he does show a character who loves his children and who did love Enid once. Ramona Marquez is a great young child actress, best know for her role in Outnumbered. She still plays a naïve character, but this time much more scared and confused. She worked really well with the adult actors in the film.
James Hawes is best known as a television director and with Enid he didn't have much he could do. He did try and bring in some flair with flashbacks and the occasional fantasy sequence, but for the most part he was making a period pieces. But he still does a fine job, working with limited settings and with a limited budget was able to make Enid very authentic. He also got excellent performances from his actors and shows he has some talent.
Overall, worth watching, particularly if you are a Helena Bonham Carter fan.
This is a remarkable achievement in television film-making for the BBC. Helena Bonham Carter delivers yet another stunningly brilliant performance, which quite takes one's breath away. She truly 'becomes' the children's' writer Enid Blyton to a degree which even has one worried, as can she really turn back into Helena Bonham Carter again, after all that? As an actress generally, she just gets better and better (see my previous reviews of her films of recent years), and soon she may explode and become a kind of super-nova perhaps, scattering the screen with particles of light and stray atoms, building blocks of a future galaxy. (In any case, she is a star, whether she explodes or not. And she can certainly be seen at a distance of several light-years, even in her present state, without causing undue alarm to all those extraterrestrial observers who must be peering at her through their telescopes.) The director, James Hawes, who comes of the unlikely pedigree of some Dr. Who episodes and does not have a heavy-weight drama CV, turns out to be a serious quality drama director of immense skill and sensitivity. So well done Hawes, and may you let 'er rip as often as possible in that vein, which is clearly your true metier, as we can all now see. Wonderful performances are delivered by Matthew Macfadyen as Blyton's first husband and Denis Lawson as her second. It cannot be stressed strongly enough how easy it would have been for this biopic to go disastrously wrong. Everything depended on subtlety and impeccable judgement, all of which the director, the two writers, and the actors uniformly delivered to absolute perfection. Even the children in the film were superb, lacking all the annoying qualities of so many children in films and television these days. This film really does deserve several awards. It is so much better, for instance, than the over-rated feature films about Iris Murdoch which came out a few years ago, as well as the over-hyped '84 Charing Cross Road' of many years before, and several other similar attempts at films about authors. This film is simply sensational in its high level of achievement. As for the subject matter, it could not be more horrifying, but accurate, a portrayal of a famous children's' writer. Enid Blyton was an absolute monster of a human being, a hypocrite of cosmic proportions, and totally vile and disgusting as a person. (How could either of her husbands stand her even for a day? The first one clearly could not, which is why he turned to drink and stood looking stupefied at her, as if he were staring at an anaconda, which in fact he was, albeit one with a woman's face.) It is difficult to think of anyone other than Helena Bonham Carter who could have pulled this off with such sensitivity and delicacy, as this was a highly specialised assignment, playing Enid Blyton, and not to be undertaken lightly, or by anyone hackneyed and overly 'actor-ish'. The whole film and all the performances exude a powerful honesty, authenticity, and balance which are so difficult to achieve with an ensemble of people ranging from director to writers to performers and cameraman. It just all works so well. But why, oh why, did this appear on the tiny minority channel of BBC-Four, as if the idiots and morons who run BBC were ashamed of something of such high quality? They of course prefer such loathsome persons as Russell Brand and the unspeakably disgusting (pardon me while I am sick) Jonathan Ross. A change of government in Britain cannot come quickly enough, so that the BBC can be brought to its senses, its executives who lack any semblance of ability or competence can stop being paid more than hedge fund managers for doing nothing of any worth, and some kind of appreciation of public service broadcasting can be brought back again whereby magnificent films like this one will be given their due prominence on a main channel at peak time viewing. It gives one hope that there is still anyone out there capable of making a decent television film in Britain at the present time, other than Stephen Poliakoff of course, when the Philistines are so rampant and are in control of every inch of the high ground, and with culture on the run, harried by unrestrained and in-your-face mediocrity, idiocy, lack of taste, and vacuity, which are the hallmarks of the BBC in this year 2009. Hawes, Bonham Carter, and co. have taken a stand. We should drown them in little statues to go on their mantelpieces, to testify to how we appreciate what they have done. If only!
Everybody has read at least one of Blyton's books ;it brings back good
In "Enid" ,Helena Bonham- Carter portrays a malicious cold calculating writer ,incredibly selfish.when her books are lessons in moral (although a bit obsolete nowadays) ,she's only interested in the others ' children,and only because they admire her ;her own daughters do not get any love or affection (that's what the younger daughter wrote ,the other had reportedly another opinion).
She seems still in love with her father who nevertheless left the family when her siblings were young;Ken ,her second husband ,is an older ,mature man;she despises Hugh ,the first one,and she ruins his life .When WW2 breaks ,she acts as though she does not care ,still living in the Famous Five world ,on their private island ;but when business is at stake,she 's no longer a child,but a ruthless person,even a woman ahead of her time: that may be the key to the George /Georgina character to whom being a girl was a disgrace.
Bonham-Carter's excellent as ever and her performance is terrifying.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After watching the "E. Nesbit" episode from "The Edwardians" I realised
why her books ("The Railway Children", "The Enchanted Castle" etc) have
become classics enjoyed by children and adults alike - it is because
she truly loved children and could put herself into their world. Enid
Blyton as portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter was a harpy - a person who
could write formularized children's books that appealed to only the
young but had no empathy with her own!!
I watched this as a couple of friends had recommended it and was completely absorbed in the whole strange story of Enid Blyton's life - and Helena Bonham Carter can take full credit for this. I think the signs were there from the start, having a father who is the apple of your eye desert you, then trying unsuccessfully to escape from a mother, who from the couple of scenes she had, was not going to sugar coat life - here was a girl who wanted to escape reality.
From the film she didn't seem to struggle for recognition with her writing, once she started she married her publisher who then began to drink heavily when he realised she was completely self absorbed and only thought of herself and her "little friends" - he and the kids could go to Hell!! One of her children, Imogen Pollock wrote a book about what having Enid Blyton for a mother was really like, called "A Childhood at Green Hedges" and I am sure the film must have borrowed heavily from this.
The film opens with an explosive Enid answering a charge from the B.B.C. that her books are not her own but as the film unfolds it's clear that she has written every single word, she doesn't have time for anything else, she certainly wouldn't win "Mother of the Year"!! Enid is so full of love and gratitude to her fans, her "little friends", but as exasperated Hugh says "if they knew you they wouldn't like you" - she takes them on outings, invites them to parties where they can eat as much red jelly as they like but up at the top of the shadowy stairs it seems like the only children not having any treats are her own!!
Worse is to come when Hugh goes to war, Enid takes up with Kenneth Walker (Denis Lawson) and he returns to find Enid about to divorce him. He shoulders all the blame for the privilege of seeing his daughters whenever he likes but with the divorce finalised, Enid reneges on her promise and also is the means of him never being able to work in publishing again!! Her new husband is just as happy to shield her from life's brutal facts. One scene where the father comes home on leave and the little girls are eager to show him their rabbits - ""There were two but Mummy and Uncle Ken ate one". Another is when Enid puts a little Noddy doll in pride of place on a table and moves her family photos to the very back and in the most telling (for me) Enid, as a new mother, just staring and staring at her little baby screaming, not having the least inclination to pick her up or soothe her, wanting desperately to get back to the books for her little friends.
Life can't always be put on hold and when her brother Carey reappears in her life (she had told everybody that her family had died) to tell her that her mother had just died and why had she forsaken them, plus a few shocking truths about her beloved father, Enid suffers a complete breakdown which may have led to the dementia that killed her.
Pretty gripping stuff if you only know Enid Blyton as the author of Noddy, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Secret Seven and the Famous Five!!!
This film promulgates the stories spread about that Enid Blyton was a horrible person and a cold mother. This is not factual. If you read Barbara Stoney's very accurate biography - "Enid Blyton, The Biography" with a foreword written by Miss Blyton's own daughter Gillian - you will see that she adored her children and loved both her first and second husbands. She contributed enormous amounts of teaching aids to the teachers and children of the twentieth century, and should be remembered with love and admiration. Do not take this cinematic telling of her life as factual. It isn't. In her daughter's own words - "I was very close to my mother, and talked with her freely from early childhood." which disputes the notion of her having been a cold mother. I have read her biography, and whilst this film captures the atmosphere of the time, it does not capture the true events.
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