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Archive for the ‘adaptation reviews’ Category

UK DVD cover

UK DVD cover

My day, has not been fabulous. Oh, its been great–class went very well, work was fun, and I even stole a little time not thinking about Dorian Gray perhaps never making it to American Theatres, and then I went to Keene. And there, packed away in a tiny brown box, not even out on display yet, was Easy Virtue. Even better? It was half off! Half off baby!!

Needless to say, my day is now fabulous. And oh, don’t worry, gushing will occur tomorrow if I can find at least a few minutes to let everyone know how great it is. Super excited!

Easy Virtue stars Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, and Kristen Scott-Thomas. It just released on DVD in the US.

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Desperate Romantics (main cast)

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve not only completely fell in love with BBC’s Merlin on CBS, but can’t get enough of Being Human, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Desperate Romantics.

How is this possible? Simple. For me, BBC simply has better tv. And two of them deal strictly within a historical/literary background.* This is where BBC always gets it right. They’re the masters of fantasy-drama or just the historical-drama.

Yes, Merlin is more modern retelling of the French/British classic and yet the storytellers of Merlin are able to mix a great amount of historical fantasy and plot, in a new and interesting way, with more modern relationships. Need I not remind everyone of the failure that was Crusoe on NBC? Such is an example of how the American tv medium gets it wrong consistently, especially with something that’s not a crime drama.

The point of this isn’t that American television is bad, but that British television gets it right. And when they get it right, they get it so right.  Turn to Desperate Romantics. (more…)

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This image, my dear friends, is from the new Wuthering Heights. Now before everyone goes crazy: yes, this is an American Masterpiece Theatre version; no, this is not the BBC/big budget version slated for 2010, that version has Spartans in it.

The short summary? I thought it was good, very well done considering it was an American production with an American director (at least, by the cinematography it was clearly shot in a style popular for American-audiences).

But first! And what I think is epically more entertaining, let me tell you how I came to know about this production …

Our Masterpiece Theatre is rather spotty and very poorly promoted here in the States. For example, I only found out Tess was on when I flipped to the second episode by chance. Needless to say, I should just bookmark the site and check regularly. But anyway, a lovely post over at shocked me out of my normally quiet friends page skimming. My first reaction was I’d been totally out of the loop and off my game. A costume drama I didn’t know about! And Wuthering Heights no less! Was this the one Natalie Portman dropped? And then there was the promo picture.

I quickly shot over to watch the episodes and learn more. But first, I have to tell you about learning who Heathcliff was. Now, I’ve been called a crazy movie watcher, and yes I’ve seen A LOT of bad movies, especially when it comes to SciFi. They just always look so promising! And then they fail epically. Well, I thought Heathcliff was being played by this guy because of his hair. (Random note, I had to find him (and that movie) through the female lead who I remembered from another movie I remembered the name of.) BUT NO! It turns out to be Tom Hardy who I didn’t recognize until I saw this picture. This might show my true epic nerd fail, but I literally went “Oh, Oh…OH!” because I loved Nemesis and I had an epically huge crush on young Picard (Tom Hardy). I swear, its his lips.

From that moment, I had sincere hope that this adaptation would be, at least, good. I knew Tom had the acting range to play such a horribly injured character and maybe, just maybe, he might also be able to pull off making us all love Kathy as much as Heathcliff does.

Critique on the adaptation

Again, I want to start off by clearly saying I have never read Wuthering Heights. I have picked up the book at least twice (that I clearly remember) to read it and after the first 10 pages I’ve had to throw it against a wall. (I will have to read it next year though for my Senior Seminar in English, of which I cannot wait for.) I have however, seen the 4 prevailing movie versions and read a slew of summaries to know what is cannon and what is not.

I watched the whole thing in one sitting, which isn’t really hard, and started at about 11 at night, it runs about 3 hours total, and that was after watching Prince Caspian, Dracula (1979), and half of Rocky Horror. Needless to say, there was a legit chance that if the movie got boring I would have definitely turned it off and went to bed.

It wasn’t boring. In fact, I found it to be one of the best versions made. I liked how this version began with Kathy and Heathcliff’s children, let alone included them. Some of the tragicness of the story seems softened by the fact that their children(in a strange – no biological Heathcliff baby gets to live way) find love. I thought the transition from the past to the present was very good, although by the time it happened I had checked the file twice to make sure it wasn’t episode two.

I generally think there are two ways of portraying Heathcliff. Either, Heathcliff hates Kathy for him loving her, or he loves her and hates that she’s chosen someone else. Whichever way, Kathy comes out as not the greatest lover of all time. What I think the adaptation did particularly well, though, was showing Kathy’s fear in loving Heathcliff, and Heathcliff’s vivid affirmation of revenge even though he still desperately loves her.

As we follow our anti-hero through his revenge upon Kathy through Isabella, I found the director’s choice to be rather compelling for Heathcliff. Instead of having it be a pure motive for revenge and Kathy’s destruction, Hardy filled his line, “So little [people] look to find the good in me, it makes me want to try to love you” with so much emotion that I really did believe he wanted to try and love her (and then his face as they embraced kinda killed it, but I still hoped).

Of course, I didn’t like Kathy as a character, she does after all, make her choice of her own free will; And we certainly can’t judge her when Heathcliff leaves her angry, with no word for three years; Clearly she is no Anne Elliot, but I didn’t hate her either. I actually felt bad for her when she died. Of course, I do think this stems more from Heathcliff’s love of her and Tom Hardy’s acting than from Kathy herself.

And I’m sorry, but Tom Hardy was just hot with his cleaned up looked when he came back. I know its the Darcy fangirl in me talking, but really, if Heathcliff wasn’t so filled with sudo-sexual/rejection-fearing angst, I would wish for him for Christmas.

Returning to the present Heights, I always in general found it interesting that Heathcliff took to Hindley’s cast off child more than his own. Although there is precedence (Linton did live away and Hareton with Heathcliff), it is interesting Heathcliff identifies and treasures, not his own son, but a child who is placed somewhat in the same situation as himself when he was a child.

The ending I found strangely forced, and I certainly don’t think the supernatural overtones in Bronte’s book comes clearly through (although Heathcliff’s necrophilia was an interesting twist). I enjoy the story more when Heathcliff is haunted to death. Instead, we see him die of a broken heart and Hareton sobs over his body as Heathcliff did with his own father: a rather fitting parallel to the beginning of the movie.

Overall, I thought the movie an adaption in the tradition of the new modern BBC drama. Someone definitely did their homework and watched the latest adaptations of Jane Eyre. It certainly lacked a finesse that Sandy Welch could have brought to it, but I still found the acting compelling and the adaptation valid. For anyone who is unsure about Wuthering Heights adaptations in general, I think this is certainly a good version to check out: fresh faces, intriguing acting, and beautifully tense moments make it a piece to watch.

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