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Archive for March, 2009

Escape book

Apart from a sicking Dunkin’ Donut addiction with Coffee (X cream, 2 splenda), and having Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah stuck on itunes repeat for the last week, and watching marathon’s of Paranormal State – to which I have to keep a nightlight on – I’ve been obsessing over Jane Eyre. The book, not the several film adaptations, or the fantastic musical. No, I’ve been thinking about rereading Jane Eyre and then thinking about the last times I’ve read one of the best love stories ever.

I first discovered Jane Eyre as a film. The 1985 version with Zedla Clarke and Timothy Dalton to be totally honest. I got to rummage through my piano teacher’s movie closet and pulled out a dusty, two decked box. I must have seen part of it on A&E some time before. Must have, because that’s how I discovered all the great BBCdramas of the 80’s and 90’s, and because I knew what I found when I saw the cover. I was totally enamored, and, most likely, dead to the real world for about three weeks as I went on my first Jane Eyre high. I read the book soon after, skimmed the post-Thornfield part because who really likes St.John Rivers?, and knew that my happily ever after would never be the same image again. (okay…so Mr. Rochester from Prince-beast from Beauty and the Beast is NOT a far leap, but I was 14…)

The second time I read the book the 85 adaptation drove me yet again. We were moving cross country the summer before my senior year of high school, and two days before leaving I found the 85 version of DVD in my local Borders. I couldn’t leave without it. And I spent one of my last days hidden in the corner of my parents bed room, watching my computer monitor playing Jane Eyre. Needless to say, it was one of the 10 books I said just had to go in the car with me. I read the whole thing on Highway 40 in our 4 days on the road.

And then there was last spring in my women writer’s class. This was the first time I read Jane Eyre from a more “outside” perspective” and realized it was so much more than the love story I had escaped to all my life. It was challenging to read it with others, challenging to read it in a different way, and ultimately, I wasn’t sure if I felt like Jane Eyre was mine anymore after the reading. It took me months to be able to go back and read it for what I once loved, while appreciating what I’d learned. (Stubborn fangirl. I know)

The point is, in this rather rant-like post, that Jane Eyre is my escape book. Everyone has one, Jane has one, and although it is not the wild, tropical adventure most escape books are, I’ll take my deery English world no matter what. Even without a Mr. Rochester.

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Before anyone goes into a crazy rant about how 1. Heather actually saw a comic book movie in theatres 2. She read the graphic novel too, and 3. You don’t want to hear another review about what people are calling a poor adaptation, I’d like to make it clear I am not reviewing the film The Watchmen — completely. What I am doing is going to show my geekdom far more: I’m going to try to relate what I think are some of the more complex/interesting themes of the movie and um… to look at theme as reflections on society and culture. Blame my history classes.

The Watchmen, gen 2

With multiple plot lines, and a multi-generational outlook, The Watchmen was an epic distillation of a complex graphic novel into 2.45 hours (without the giant Squid). But what does a movie, based on comic book, with so painfully clear a message to get across, say about American Society today? This is certainly the historian in me, proving I’ve learned something in these three year in undergrad (wow), screaming to write something about contemporary life.

If you’ve yet to see the movie or read the fabulous graphic novel, Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1980’s, where Nixon has been re-elected for a third term, the cold war has climaxed to the nuclear fallout clock set at a perpetual 5 mins to midnight, and justice comes wrapped in brightly colored costumes.

Even with its removal to an alternate future 20 years ago, The Watchmen’s apocolyptic essence and stormy emptiness is a harrowing parallel to today. Today, nuclear war is still imminent, crime is on the rise, and somewhere you just know there’s a naked, blue, superhuman, killing “evil doers” in another country. That being said, Watchmen is a satire of a time when American was neither politically correct, or very popular; surprising parallels? I’ll let you decide.

Snyder’s goals here are not subtle. He wants us to parallel his world with today, since God knows half his demographic think the 80’s were like the stone age, he wants us to ask what makes a hero and a villain, he wants us to question the importance of knowledge, and he wants us to clearly see that there are no scape goats in our reality.

But in spending so much effort on the levity of themes, Snyder lost the sarcasm and satire, not to mention deep character development, of the film. Ozymandias is a good guy who’s the bad guy, but he’s doing it for good and in the end he gets his way. His desire to make the world better at any means is completely opposite to Rorschach, whose principles will not let him make a packed of silence with Ozymandias. Dr. Manhattan, a man who becomes like a god, has little depth to him and a vast amount of sadness (ANGST. omg the ANGST) stemming from his ability to know his whole future no matter what outcome. He could be pissed too, because it seems no one will lend him a pair of pants through 7/8ths of the movie. And Nite Owl (this is where my room mate and I sang “All I ask of you” anytime he showed up on screen) is the uncompromising heroic figure, who blindly wants to do what’s right to help humanity.

In the end, I found Watchmen to be visually stunning, even with nightmarish flashbacks to 80’s fashions; and poignant in trying to study the greater themesĀ  the characters embodied. Ultimately, society was another character in the film, and it deeply surprised and intrigued me how easily I could fit our own into the role.

Does our society need Watchmen? We are, as the Comedian says, a violence people who don’t know what’s for our own good. But will we have Watchmen in the end? Will we have people from society, but not of it, make the final Earth-saving decision for us? Honestly, I don’t think so, but hopefully normal “do-gooders” will be able to become our super heroes. They won’t even have to wear fabulous costumes to do it.

One other thing, in the beginning of the film there is definately a shot of Ozymandias outside the Neptune Theatre, and behind him are a Bowie and Jagger look alike. I nearly died (I have a deep love of David Bowie), and I’m pretty sure the whole theatre heard my fangirl gasp and giggle. Oh and if you wanted to know my opinion, I thought the film was good for what it was although I wished it could have been more, and it was mind-numblingly long, but the Soundtrack is fabulous.

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