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The Jury Is Still Out
//I just read all the other reviews. I appreciate the ones that compare and contrast to the 1970s first TV version, as well as the wonderful books by Winston Graham.//
When the Robin Ellis version first aired in the USA, I was too busy with school and such to be able to catch them all. Then in the nineties my local PBS station replayed them all; two hours every Sunday afternoon until the end! I was in heaven. I tape-recorded every episode. After that I went to my local library and tore through every single Poldark novel. So much great history interwoven through the characters' stories. When they put them on DVD for sale a few years back, I bought the series. Needless to say I really appreciate the books and the original series.
So, I have approached this version with trepidation. It is a testament to the superb production of the original series that it has taken so many years to make a proper new serialization.
The first thing that stood out to me was that this Demelza was too silent. In the book and as played by Angharad Rees, this character is spirited, feisty, and never able to !not! speak her mind. This interpretation has not shown us this so far (3 episodes). It was apparent from the first episode that they would be condensing this version more. They seem to have gone for a stylized camera to bridge some time gaps. The difficulty is that they don't quite help us become aware of how much time is supposed to have passed. The book describes Demelza with black hair. But Rees' character was so indelible with flaming red hair that this production made the same change from the novel. Both versions give us a lovely, heavily romantic first love scene between Ross and Demelza. Interestingly, the current one is the one taken from the book. My criticism of this important interaction (Tomlinson and Turner) is that I never felt that familial camaraderie, accompanied with sexual flirtation. All of a sudden - there they were in bed.
And even though Ross is supposed to be moody, I feel that Turner could let go a bit. Lighten up more. I think Aiden Turner is good. But Ross from the book and from Robin Ellis, laughed more, knew his mind and spoke it more, was obviously still tender towards his cousin Francis. I hope we get to see this more often in the ensuing episodes. And as I write this I begin to think that the "non-speakingness" of both Demelza and Ross, and maybe all of the characters, is part of the "style" that this production is using. It must be inherent to the screen-play, to the writing.
I think that the casting, in general, hearkens back to the 1975 production. If you saw that one, you think of them when you see Elizabeth, Francis, Jud, etc., in this one. Some other reviewers commented on a few better castings and some not so spot on, and I would agree.
I am thinking that with the comments of the UK people who have seen the entire year's series, they intend more years ahead to tell the story that the further novels contain. I believe they will keep a good audience in the USA, as well as other countries. Considering the popularity of "Downtown Abbey", this version could keep on going if these actors remain available for the next 7 years (the first generation of Poldarks took up the first 7 books). Guess we will see.
I find this series to be thoroughly enjoyable. It is well built, from the mystery in the beginning, to the quickly but solidly put together relationship of the threesome of Jason, Pythagoras and Hercules. They incorporate just the right amount of humor too.
The reviewers and commentators who dislike the show for lack of "correctness" in the telling of the Greek mythology stories, I believe, are missing the point. It stirs up enough interest in those names and incidents to, perhaps, encourage those who are not familiar to look up a few of the classical myth books. Or, those like me, to refresh my memory with parts of the old tales themselves.
||Besides which, technically speaking, there is scholarly opinion arguing that the accepted author of the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey', Homer, was not an historical person. That there were many stories combined into a canonical text by several people. This is called "the Homeric question". It is still debated. Not to mention that there are more than one version of many of the stories and "history" of the various Greek gods origins.||
So, no one must delve into the original texts to find this TV show has an intriguing setting, along with a basic adventure/(light)action element. The stories are not meant to be heavy, correct and ancient. It reminds me of one of our shows here in the U.S., called "Once Upon A Time". They take any and all fairy-tale versions: Original form, Disney, Author-specific (i.e.,Peter Pan). They use them, transform them, turn them inside out, add onto, create new back stories, etc.
Atlantis is doing the same thing with the ancient Greek stories. They add excitement, humor, thwarted relationships, mended relationships, mystery (i.e., The Oracle) and more. Sometimes Jason is super strong and super quick, sometimes he is beaten with no extra help. You just never know. A viewer has to take it for what it is. It is fun. It is sad. They find solutions. Or they do not. It keeps many of us coming back to watch the next week. Each episode can be enjoyed as it's own story. Yet, there are threads woven throughout that lead us to expect further developments in later shows.
Do we want Jason to be beautiful? Yes. Do we find it curious and amusing that Hercules is an "ordinary man" and not a body-builder? Sure, why not. Pythagorus loves triangles, but they give him the human interest of a flawed past with his family. Good. They add to; take away from; create anew; give to it a modern speech and a modern twist. . . In other words, they have created their own world for us to watch and follow.
I really like it!!!
Terrible telecast for the biggest night for the movies
I have looked forward to the Academy Awards telecast every year for as long as I can remember and I am 57. The best part of this particular year was replaying Bob Hope EmCeeing ("Master of Ceremonies"), and being introduced by one of the very best more recent EmCee's, Billy Crystal. However, showing those two, merely made the point that this year was a disaster.
It was not the fault of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, I don't believe. It was the writing behind it all. Hathaway and Franco tried so hard. And a good EmCee should never have to do that. By comparison to the telecasts of the Golden Globes, SAGs, and BAFTA Award shows of this year, the "Oscars" were pretty pitiful. The writers took away so many of the awards formerly given at the big night, and put them in special, separate ceremonies. One would think that this would shorten the length of the "Oscar Night" show, yet it did not. I found it an especially *bad* decision that they separated out the "Lifetime Achievement Award" and the "Irving Thalberg Award" from that special night. It was a disgrace.
I also found it irritating that Halle Berry got to give a special "In memoriam" to her idol, Lena Horne, yet there was nothing special for that absolutely, spectacularly special movie musician, John Barry. Jane Seymour was a personal friend. She could have been asked to give a special tribute to him. The BAFTA show had one of his award winning pieces behind their montage of those who passed away. I know Barry was English, but he won four Oscars, and countless other music, film, and television music awards here in the USA.
Here is a thought for next year...Tina Fey. Or Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin (both have been in movies). Or Tina Fey and Steve Carell (both have been in movies). Or Tina Fey and *anybody else*!!!. Those people are naturally funny, can wing it like Crystal used to, they can write their own stuff, or make someone else's funny, and they all know how to behave as Master (or Mistress) of Ceremonies!!!!
Of Human Bondage (1964)
Deeply moving version of story
I think that this film production of the book is the best that was made. Kim Novak is superb as Mildred Rogers, as is Laurence Harvey as Philip Carey in this telling of the story by Somerset Maugham. I don't think that Kim Novak really got the credit she deserved as an actress in general in Hollywood. The opportunity to play this role, really showed us how good she was. This version was produced by MGM British Studios and Seven Arts Productions (also British). It was first released in West Germany at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Kim Novak was always beautiful, but that was not played up here, as the book tells us that Mildred was not. It was something inside her that caught Philip Carey's tragic need. I found Laurence Harvey to be painfully brilliant in this role. His portrayal lets us see the only thing that he really knows as love, but what is, in many ways, an addiction to this woman (therefore the "bondage"). For whatever reason that Mildred fills his need, it is as if he can do nothing to stop the craving. Therefore, when she does not feel the same, he is not just hurt, but angered. He thinks that he wants to be sweet and kind, and do things for her. But he simply must have her absolute devotion in return. She can not give that to this man. He is not who she craves.
Up until a few months ago, I had thought that there were only two film versions of this book. The other being the more well known one starring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard done in 1934. I saw a 1946 version with some alterations to the story to suit the actor Paul Henreid, who played the male lead. Eleanor Parker played Mildred. It is also a good film, and quite true to the book. Though this is not surprising, as Somerset Maugham was the primary writer of all three screen plays of the various film versions of his book.
Though the '34 version is good, it never really got me to feel. It was much more like sitting back and just watching. The acting cannot really be faulted, but it never really moved me in any way.
That is what I find more impressive about this version made in 1964. It moved me to tears. The oppositional qualities of the primary characters are fully played out here. The desperation of Philip Carey. The indifference of Mildred Rogers. The tragedy in this story is very much a theme of other stories of Maugham's. There is a torment in the soul, and thus there is a need to dispense with the torment. Ultimately, there is a tragedy in the development of insensitivity in these people, since it becomes their only method of coping with the pain of life.
Law & Order: Called Home (2008)
I hope that the writing for Sam Waterston as the D.A. will get better than these first two episodes gave us. He is too fine a talent to go to waste on what we got here. And Linus Roache is a very fine actor, also not well used. Or maybe I should say that the writers didn't seem to know HOW to utilize his new character. You are going to lose the show ultimately, with this big a change, if you don't get with the program (pun, pun). I mean it. The writing for the detectives was done with the ease that the many years have given the authors. THAT part of the two programs was great, as usual. But if the writers do not give these excellent actors playing the District Attornies some superior scripts I think that the show will finally find it's finish.
Flesh and Bone (1993)
Haunting and lovely//underrated gem.
I just want to add that I concur with the summaries by "Amy Adler" and "carnivalofsouls". I think that this movie has absolutely wonderful acting by the entire cast. I disagree with those that feel that the ending doesn't hold up to the rest of the story. How could it end in any other way? Near the beginning Kay (Ryan's character) asks Arlis (Quaid)if he has ever been in love. They both admit to never having really felt that for anyone. Later, as Arlis' father comments to him, he could see that this girl was different for him. He could see the love they each had for the other. But even had the father not shown up, Arlis would have seen her family photograph, he could have made no other decision. And maybe part of the reason for his falling for her was her vulnerability, and his protection of her, even before the very end. He would not have been willing to sacrifice himself, except for the evil childhood that his father willed to him, and the love he had for this young woman. Especially THIS young woman. This woman, he had really fallen in love with. It could end no other way. I want it to. I think that the movie makes us want it to. But given the circumstances of the entire story, the whole point was to "tie up those loose ends." Arlis does this because by this point in his life, this love for Kay, he is forced to truly stand on his own. He just, simply, MUST tie up the loose ends for his own life, as well as to continue to protect the only woman he has ever really loved. And for me, as well as our two main protagonists, it is a devastating heartbreak. But it could end no other way. That is the climax of the entire story. That is the REASON for the story.
Yea, but . . .
"Lord of the Rings - Return of the King" was NOT what won all 11 awards, now was it. EVERYBODY who made a speech in accepting an award talked about ALL the movies. So...why didn't they just hold up on the first two, not include them in those award nominations for the last two years, and then allow the whole trilogy to be nominated this year, since that is, in fact, what really won those awards. And, I, not being a fan of the books (Oh, Heavens, a heathen in our midst!!!) did not find the movies to be engrossing. After talking to so many people, including those in my own family, I truly believe that it is those people who loved the books, who loved the movies, and wanted them to win. I WAS BORED! "The Return of the King" was especially boring without the first two movies. All it was, was one computer generated graphic battle scene after another. At least in the first two you had the interesting bits with the two wizards. Personally, I would have preferred to see any of the other four pictures win, and I didn't even see all of them. And I liked "Cold Mountain" and would have liked to see that one nominated. I want a movie with a story to win. "Titanic" had a story. The movie was masterfully done, so there is no comparison to it's awards.
But hey, at least "LOTR-Return of the King" didn't have any acting nominations. Why do you think that was??? The only one that would have even deserved a nomination out of the 3rd movie was Sean Astin. I was so GLAD to see all the actors that were nominated, and the ones that did win. All the comments so far have hardly mentioned any of them in a positive light. "Mystic River" should have won Best Picture. "Lord of the Rings" should have won some specially made up award for endurance that would have applied to all three movies. I also really, really liked "Master and Commander". I learned a lot about a lot of things. Sword fighting on a small ship for instance. How you can learn from nature and apply it to warfare or anything else. And THAT movie really built a real ship to work on, and had REAL battle scenes that were not computer generated. WOW!! What a novel idea! Oh well, I guess Buster Keaton had that idea first, when he did his own real stunts off of real trains, and clock towers and all kinds of things. And that was in the "silent era" of movies. People were really clever then. NO WAY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH should the final LOTR have won all those awards for all three movies in one year, unless they had asked to be allowed to do that to begin with. Many of those technical awards should have gone to "Master and Commander", "Seabiscuit", "Pirates of the Caribbean", etc., etc. Any other year they would have. Who votes on these things anyway??? Some somebodies need to get a grip. That is all.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Don't you get it?!?!
I suffered my way through all one hundred and ten comments that were listed to date about this movie, and the four comments on the message board. THANK YOU MR. VALENTINE, WHOEVER YOU ARE!!! Valentine wrote the most cogent notes about the movie from them all. Do yourselves a service and go read his notes on the message board.
I am STUNNED that most of the comments of this movie were negative in the first place, but even the positive comments indicated that this movie was just over everybody's heads. First of all, this movie was THE movie that started the grand movie making of "disaster films". This is actually very important, because this particular movie was NOT made with the purpose of BEING a "disaster movie". It is an allegory. Anyone out there know what an allegory is? Yes, class, it is a story about one thing, that is actually portraying some other story that most people know. It is done for various reasons, but I believe the reason here was for the purpose of putting a very old, possibly outdated story, into a present setting, so it could be understood in modern day. For any of you out there who are familiar with the New Testament, think of the parables. Now...what does a parable do? It tells us a story, but the story has a deeper meaning. THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is an allegory. It may or may not be politically correct in this day and age, but when it was made no one really cared. Several commentators have mentioned the book by Paul Gallico. While I have liked some of his work, I actually think that the movie improved upon it by leaps and bounds. But then I guess I am more of the persuasion of the movie maker than the "diametrically opposed" view of the original writer. Tough. The movie is the movie.
It is the story of someone who is preaching a new kind of religion, as opposed to the preacher who wears the traditional black with a backward collar. The two can sense a kinship for each other, but disagree about the way a clergyman ought to be. Is the class beginning to get it yet? OK, we'll carry on. All the characters are encompassed in a great, big, boat (think 'world'), so there are no additions or subtractions for our allegory's (story's) sake. We have a cataclysm. Some die at the first. We know that others at top were lost. Others hold on. Things settle for a bit. Then comes the disagreement about how to get saved (get it, "saved"). Most want to wait for a nonspecific someone to save them. They plan to sit and wait until that nonspecific someone comes to get them out of what is now the bowels of the ship, since it capsized. But the Reverend with the new ideas, grabs hold of something that a child says (get that, "and a little child shall lead them"). The Reverend Scott is not content to wait. He says "I know the way out of here. Come with me. Follow me", or words VERY close to that effect. Are we recognizing anything yet, class? He and his followers are creative in using the huge Christmas tree as a ladder to go UPWARDS (get it, up, up, up, as opposed to down further). He begs the others to come with his small group. But only just a very few do. Most do not. . . until. . . another explosion, and there is panic, and then because they have panicked, too many try to climb the tree/ladder, and it falls back DOWN. And the Reverend says to his people, that they can not take the time to mourn those that are lost now. They must persevere to try to find the hull which is now the TOP of the ship. Anyone out there know their New Testament and what was said about leaving mother, father, sister, brother, and "come and follow", . . .who? And so the journey begins.
Some places are not bad going, other places are dangerous, and very scary. Some intersections appear to be the end of the way, that there can be no way past, but with the help of Reverend Scott and the others using their own ingenuity, they find ways and means. At one hallway, they find a group going the opposite direction, and though it seems to those people the way to the top, it is the way to the former top. But they will not listen. They are firm in their pathway to the BOTTOM (going down anyone?). On go the little group of followers of the Reverend. Some DOUBT some of the choices, but end up going anyway. Others are devoted to the charismatic religious leader. Sound like anyone in history you have heard of class? Sadly, though all his group are trying, some lose their hold and fall. Some are not strong enough to make it all the way to the hull and are lost. And one sacrifices herself for her fellow human beings to help them get through an almost impossible, impassible underwater way.
Then comes the final hellish room of heat and long falls. There is a door that can get them through to the other side of it, but it has to be opened by a round GATE-like turning apparatus (seen only on boats). Who can do it, risking their life? Who is strong enough? Who has the courage to face that almost certain death? Who questions God about the only way to open that door? Who says I will do this for these people? I will do it for these brave good people, but you (God) better get them through if I do this? Yes, students, it is the Reverend Scott. And he SACRIFICES his own life, so that the ones left with him, will have a fighting chance at getting out of the ship. And those that do get to the hull are worn out, and sad, and can not believe that the Reverend did that for them. Some would almost have rather died with him, than to be left behind without him. But still they persevered. They got to the hull. They are lifted out and carried on the wings of . . . helicopters (or angels, whichever). They are SAVED. Yes, class, dear students (even the student of film who never understood the significance), dear Readers, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is an "allegory" (look it up in the dictionary if you doubt my meaning of the word). Even the best of the "disaster films" that followed, had, at the most, an interesting story to go with the dynamics of the disaster. This movie. . . was the story of a saviour.
Now, go and watch the movie again, and keep it in mind.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1995)
I realize that these commentaries should not try to answer to previously written ones. Those things should be reserved for the message boards. But I simply have to answer to some kind of general consensus, that I have no idea where some of the people writing these reviews get their ideas from. I am appalled that someone was looking for more sex and violence. That was not in the intention or the writing of Tennessee Williams. 'Nuf said.
I think that this production was so very fine. I saw Diane Lane bring a quality to Stella that no one else ever has. You can read her feelings on her face. How torn she is between her love for Stanley and the remembrances of a loving older sister. AND she is beautiful. She is everything that makes us understand that Stanley really couldn't stand to lose her. And Alec Baldwin as Stanley brought a humanity to his portrayal that others, even the famed Brando, did not...it is called REALITY. He was real. Baldwin was not the stereotype that Blanche wanted to convince Stella that he was. It was true that he knew the seamier side of life, so he recognized that part of Blanche that was, indeed, the fallen woman.[And, by the way, his accent was meant to be from New York, not the South.] But I also could see his very real pain of being talked down by Blanche, the fear of losing Stella because of Blanche trying to pull her away from him. Yes, he does turn mean and uncaring, which Stella especially can not understand. But he does so because Blanche is threatening his entire life, and the love of his life. So, he fights back. I have seen the '49 movie many times, and several staged productions, and have memorized and done scenes from the play myself. I have never seen anyone play Stanley with the pain, and the fear that Baldwin brought to the part.
I thought that John Goodman did a remarkable turn in the role of Mitch. If others couldn't get the comedy of his TV role out of their minds, I don't credit that to a fault in Goodman, but a fault in the viewer. Blanche was once beautiful and still was very attractive, but as she says "played out". She wasn't looking for a "beautiful boy" any more, even though her closing in insanity drew her that way. She was looking for a safe cleft in the rock in which she could hide. Goodman played Mitch as gentle, and caring and concerned about his looks not being up to the standards of someone like the Blanche that he perceived.
I felt that Jessica Lange was the one person that had seen the old movie, and Vivian Leigh's performance too much. Her accent was just like Leigh's. But she was good. She also won an Emmy for Best Actress for that performance if memory serves. But the two performances that just made me weep were Baldwin's and Lane's. Lane as Stella says to Stanley, "You didn't see her when she was young, no one was as trusting as Blanche." and I felt every word. But when Diane Lane cries at the end with such depth of anguish, I said to myself, that I would just watch and wait for her to win an Oscar. [I know, I'm still waiting, but she will, one of these days] She is the real thing, boys and girls. That woman is not only beautiful, but she can act circles around the lot of them. Her casting made Stella into a very real person. And I totally believed the love that she and Stanley had for each other. I can not say the same for Kim Hunter who did win an Oscar for her portrayal of the same part.
I have long loved this play. We can not help but love the old movie. But this production tears my heart out.
Sweet November (2001)
OK, so with all the many, many comments already here, why bother to write? I just got done watching it for the first time, and remembering the 1968 original with Sandy Dennis, I thought I would check out some things on the IMDb. I am very mixed in my reaction to the remake. I actually thought that Reeves did one of his better jobs here. I like to watch him in the movies. I don't think he is the greatest actor around, but I think that he improved by miles after being directed by Al Pacino in DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (also opposite Theron, by the way). But I can not review this version without comparison to the original film version. In 1968 a lot of the general population was just trying to get used to people openly living together at all. So this lifestyle of Sara's really did put a different spin on an otherwise, sort of, normalish, kind of woman. But for her to be taking in a different man for every month made her definitely not "normal". The word used most often by the commenters of the '68 film was "quirky". That simply does not apply to the Sara of Charlize Theron's era. Live together, don't live together, come and go, and especially in a liberal neighborhood of San Francisco, and OK, so who is going to notice besides the little boy across the street. So, did Charlie('68)/Nelson('01') need some changing in their "boring" unfulfilled lives? Well, according to many, "yes", but according to the way our society works these days, if that kind of work and business is your choice, than it IS necessary or you don't have a job. But, OK, we will accept that premise, and on we go. My question is this: Does the perspective that Sara lives under really hold up in true life? Is it a valid and honest thing to do with the end of your days, to show people with holes in their characters, that life is full and wonderful and everyone should "stop to smell the roses". Make it sound altruistic as a better way to live up to the end, than continuing with chemos that she has already been through, and likely would not work at all this time around. But then to push those that do love you away? And she loved her family and Charlie/Nelson too, but just wanted to be remembered as full of life! Is this not egotistical in the extreme?!? Is this not major fear of that inescapably absolute part of life, which is death?? Does this attitude and behavior in either film not belie every single thing she has chosen to do and live by, every time she takes and takes and takes again, love from strangers for the REAL purpose of being remembered? I think that the very fabric and premise of the whole story is that of a woman NOT quirky, NOT brave and strong, NOT just wanting to live simply and give of herself. THAT is what I think is the major flaw of this story both times around.
Thriller: One Deadly Owner (1974)
This fun little murder mystery "car" ghost story predates the Stephen King novel of "CHRISTINE" by nine years. Makes me wonder if Mr. King watched the series!!! No, it is a different story, but the use of the car . . . well. .. I watched this simply for the pleasure of seeing a pre-Sherlock Jeremy Brett. But it is American Donna Mills who stars in this British TV production. British standards of producing TV shows took a number of years to catch up to the American art. So, in 1974 you will see that difference. Reminiscent of a home video to some people who were not used to watching the early British imports on PBS. But, the writing is good, the mysterious feel is present, the acting just right, and a twist at the end for good measure! Other commentaries have outlined the plot, so I will not add to that. But it was an enjoyable hour to spend for me. I would recommend it for those that don't mind the British production levels of the 70's. And I don't. Many other wonderful plays and shows would be sorely missed if we cared too much about that.
The Unsaid (2001)
I just read all the comments. Some loved it. Some were bored with it. Some were, in my opinion, just trying to be supercritic. Here's the thing though. Having worked in the business of Social Work and Counseling, and having experienced the real world of some of these very real problems. . . I would like to simply add the comment that I thought the movie was so real it hurt. I thought the script was very realistic. It never went for the possible "extras" to hype it up. They could easily have let the former professor and his former student have an affair, they didn't. They could easily have played up the manipulation of the boy against the psychologist, they didn't. In all that it's downplayed, the realistic speaking type of performance, we were allowed to see the wretched grief, and anger, and blocked memories that do come out with horror and a bang. It was REAL. It was superb. It was better than that. From script, to acting, to film shots, to editing, from directing, and producing, from casting so perfectly a real woman who looked like a real mother, and even the psychologist's special lecture to the students at the beginning. It was all so real. So real it hurt.
The Scarlet Letter (1979)
Accurate, and Deeply Moving Rendition
I first saw this wonderful production of one of my favorite books, when it was initially shown on PBS in 1979, having been produced by WGBH Boston. This version of the famous novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was accurately portrayed, and true to my beloved book. Over the years, each time I re-read the book, I found new levels of meaning to Hawthorne's work. When I found that this PBS version had finally been made available to view again, I was anxious to see it. I was not disappointed. There was in recent years, a movie made of this story, with some very good actors, and a very bad script. I was saddened that in our modern times, and with the chance to utilize the talents of actors like Robert Duvall, the story was "Hollywoodized". In trying to satisfy some idea of what the public might want (i.e. love scenes, happy ending), the delicately written and deeply moving purpose of Hawthorne's book was entirely lost. Not so, with the WGBH rendering.
An early New England of around 1649 is portrayed. The high standards and harsh penalties imposed by the Puritan's Protestant church, is what allows for the events to unfold. These were people not far removed from our pilgrim founders. The story begins with a young woman named Hester Prynne, standing upon a scaffold holding her illegitimate baby. She was a married woman, whose husband had been presumed lost at sea, and thereby was known to have committed adultery in the getting of the child. She is pressed to reveal the man with whom she consorted and sinned. She will not. She is resolute. Because of this, her punishment is to wear a "scarlet letter 'A'" upon her bosom. She is gifted with the art of needlework, and embroiders an entirely beautiful and large letter 'A' on a dark red cloth. She wears this day and night, as she strives to raise her little girl, Pearl, in loneliness and poverty, using her skill with sewing as a means of support for them both.
We are soon, slowly and purposely, allowed to know who is the father of Hester's child, and partner in her sin. He is the honorable, and beloved of the people, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. But while Hester wears her "scarlet letter" openly over her heart, dealing with others scorn and social banishment, the Reverend Dimmesdale hides his same sin inside his heart, and suffers with his own knowledge, all the while the people seem to love him the more for his seeming humility, and self-deprecation.
To add salt to the wound for Hester, her husband, who had been found by "savages" and learned much in the arts of herbal medicines, made his way to the young Massechussetts settlement in time to see his wife upon the scaffold. He changes his name, forcing a promised silence from his former wife on the matter, and sets about to find and destroy the man with whom she sinned. Thus begins the slow, well thought out, and well executed plan of Roger Chillingworth. In the semblance of kindness as a doctor, he works upon Reverend Dimmesdale's secret shame, and guilty heart. For Dimmesdale, the shame is not just the sin of adultery. It is the fear of reproach from the people that leads him to choose to keep his part secret. To allow Hester to stand alone on the scaffold. To allow her to bear the chastisement of the entire community by wearing her "scarlet letter". And by putting her in the position of finding her own means to support their child.
It is after seven years of his suffering, obvious ill health, and a habit of holding his hand over his heart that the Reverend Dimmesdale is sought out by Hester Prynne, to reveal to him the evil that has been wrought upon him by his supposed friend, Roger Chillingworth. She does this in an attempt to release him from her husbands devilish clutches. To help him to look at the good he has done the community and to cease his slow and determined path to the grave. But in this long desired reunion between the two, Dimmesdale says to Hester, "Had I not loved God, even had I been an atheist, I would long since have found peace. Nay, I never would have lost it." They renew words of love and devotion to each other and look to leave the settlement, in hopes of finding a new life to live and be productive in, and to be together.
Hawthorne does not give us our "Hollywood ending", however. He chooses to bid us learn the value of an open admission to decisions and difficulties in life. To understand that the secrets that we carry in our hearts will show upon our outward appearance, whether we want it or no. He allows for God's goodness and mercy to the penitant, even though it may not be in this life that one attains it.
This version was produced at a time when PBS was primarily importing the serializations of books from British television. Therefore, it was made in that same style of the 1970's UK productions. The feeling while watching this video, is that of less production, and more of "right behind the camera". In recent years we have all become accustomed to the "movie" feel of the TV movies, or serialized books. Such as those produced by A&E or PBS, often in conjunction with BBC or another UK company (i.e."Pride and Prejudice", "Horatio Hornblower", etc.). Therefore, one must be prepared and not distracted by this type of production. In a way, I find them, interestingly, more intimate. I would say that this production is well worth the length of time spent watching a serialization (4 hrs). It is a deeply moving story, done with accuracy and quality, and wonderful acting. This viewer highly recommends it.
Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)
I have seen this movie in bits and pieces over the years and therefore had seen the entire film before. But not all at once. Tonight I did. For those who know the original ancient Greek plays that this was taken from, it enhances the modernizing that Eugene O'Neill did with his treatise. It is, in and of itself, a brilliant literary work. This story, whether in the old Greek, or the 20th century version (the writing of it), is a daunting tale to tell for any actor. For my tastes, the women in this film were over the top. Fine actresses both, Katrina Paxinou as Christine the mother, and Rosalind Russell as Lavinia the daughter (or Electra), they perhaps could have used the help of a better director. The men were all fine. Though Raymond Massey's greatest contribution was his wonderful movie presence. But to watch Michael Redgrave's amazing performance was worth every other flaw. He took a part that was, indeed, full of words, and made them flow so naturally from his mouth, that I believed people DID speak that way. And with that wonderful naturalness, he achieved such depth of emotion! Love, anger, fear, hatred, and guilt to the point of paranoia and virtual insanity. I have seen other movies of his, and have always understood, simply enough, how his progeny became such fine actors. Sir Michael Redgrave was an actor that could bury himself in any part. But I saw this performance, just now, as if for the first time. So real, so believable, so brilliant.
An Intriguing and Intimate Drama
Tim Roth never ceases to amaze me with the parts that he plays. He is an "actor's actor". Julia Ormond had some roles in which, I believe, she received unfair unfavorable reviews, here in the states. She is a very talented actress, capable of giving great depth to each performance. Without the experience of working in, and knowing prison systems, this story may seem improbable to some. Having spent some time working at an American prison during graduate schooling, I feel a need to say that it is not at all improbable. I feel that the short synopsis given for this film is not representative of the intention and depth of this creation. Both of the two main characters are in vulnerable personal positions. Their affair is one that is likely enhanced by the potential threat to her job and his upcoming parole. However, the actual relationship these two people establish, is so tender, touching and truly intimate. The trap that develops around them is frightening for them both. But it is this, that brings out each one's absolute need to protect one another, thereby cementing their bond and making them "captives", each to the other's heart. This is a film that I can watch over and over again, even in one evening. I highly recommend it.
Molly and Lawless John (1972)
Much more than just a little Western!
I came upon this little old Western because I like Sam Elliot in just about anything I see. I think he is a fine actor, underrated by many as just a one character actor. This early one proves them wrong. I thought that this movie had an early tone of the current independent movies being made. Also a little of a European quality to the way it was presented. Quiet, not a lot of background music. Sometimes seemingly slow, but well paced and always going somewhere. Sam Elliot's character of Johnny, was wonderfully played. We don't know him in the beginning, only his reputation. He reveals himself verbally at first, and by his actions as the movie progresses. Vera Miles as Molly, was so touching. A woman self described as once bright and fun when she was young, now afraid to speak. Her hopes and dreams gone with the dust of the town and aging without the much wanted children. Her husband, Marvin is the Sheriff. Softly played by John Anderson, he shows us how hard life has made him, and later his true caring underneath. This is a great script. It is about selfishness, and selflessness; the inability to change, and the ability to change; needing protection, and the empowering chance to protect. They just used a Western set as a backdrop. I wish that this great little movie could find wider distribution now with videos. I thought it was truly well played and well made!!