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I spent the evening with Jane.

I made my choice.  I started with this version of Jane Eyre.

Oh, friends… I liked it.  I liked the casting.  I liked the scenery and costumes.  I even liked how the story started with Jane collapsing on the steps of the Rivers’ home.  I liked the use of flashbacks (some extended) to fill in the viewer.  I think Bronte could have taken the same path. It was a dramatic way to start the movie: gothic even.  It allowed the viewer to see the highlights of Jane’s childhood: Aunt Reed’s cruelty, Lowood, and Helen Burns.  Didn’t you have the feeling that the story really began with Jane’s arrival at Thornfield anyway?

If I had any criticism, I’d say there wasn’t enough Bertha.  The veil-tearing scene was cut.  I watched it in the bonus features of the DVD… on mute… with one eye closed.  It was scary.  But I think it should have been included.  I also wish the screenplay included the relationship connection between the Rivers siblings and Jane.  The uncle dies, leaving Jane an heiress and that’s that.  She shares the wealth because she cares for her friends, not because they shared an uncle.  I suppose the St. John marriage stuff could have been dragged out a little bit too.  It was hasty.  But I won’t focus on the negatives.  All the good parts were included.

One thing I noticed in the movie is that after the failed marriage attempt, Jane tells Rochester that he’s deceitful, and it hit me that years ago Aunt Reed had told Mr. Brocklehurst the same thing about Jane.  Of course Aunt Reed was lying, but it hurt Jane deeply.  Remember at Lowood Jane was wrongly punished for her alleged deceitfulness?  In the novel, Miss Temple clears Jane of the untruthful reputation.  In the movie, Jane’s never found innocent.  In both print and film, Jane is always truthful.  I understand how deception would wound Jane terribly.  Watching this scene I heard myself say a thoughtful, “Hmmmmm…”  So, now I must write in my WEM journal that truth and deceit are reoccuring themes in Jane Eyre.

Have you seen this version of Jane Eyre (2011)?

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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Jane Eyre

 

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You’re Welcome

Trust me, you’ll soon be thanking me, because I’m here to spare you the two hours and sixteen minutes of torture that my husband and I just endured.

You see, we just watched the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter.

Not since the movie version of The Pilgrim’s Progress has there been such literary abuse on the small screen.  Oh wait.  I forgot about Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black.

Jerry first identified potential problems with the film when he spotted in large letters across the library’s DVD case:

We’ve both read the book.  This was not an adjective we would have used to describe Hawthorne’s tale.  Nor was this:

The second clue came from the byline immediately following the title shot.  It read, “Freely Adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne.”

Note for future reference:  Freely Adapted = Shares the Same Title.

The third encounter was an indication that the writing, not only the storyline would prove worse than mediocre.  Hester greets her new Puritan friends with a quote from scipture, “As it says in Psalms 92 . . .”

Psalms?  Yes, we went back and listened again.  She said “Psalms 92.”

Okay, fine, we can forgive one Biblically ignorant writer, but then there was this carefully crafted doozy spoken by Dimmesdale, “I would risk everything . . . to spend a few moments alone with you . . . Hester, I love thee.”

Yes, he used you, and thee in back to back sentences.  It happened again in later scenes.

The entire first half of the movie is really a prequel to The Scarlet Letter.  It begins with Hester arriving on her own in the New World, quickly moves to her first glimpses of Arthur – skinny dipping in the local stream, fully nude from all angles, introduces Mrs. Hibbins and her lot of rebellious young women, and then speeds the lovers into each others arms with notice of Roger Prynne’s death.

Did you miss that in the book?  They had “proof” that she was a widow, but due to Puritan laws she would still be unable to remarry for seven years.  But the “proof” was all they needed to free their consciouses and land them horizontal in the piles of grain out in the barn.

Yes, they had to hide in the barn because Hester’s slave was in the house, having her own “special moment” in the bathtub with a bright red bird acting as voyeur.  I know, there’s so much in that sentence to make you shake your head in disbelief, let’s concentrate on the slave.

Hester bought a mute slave, pretty handy, eh?  Her name is Mituba.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  You’re probably thinking of Tituba, the slave from the Salem witch trial.  Because at about the half-way point in this film it switches from being “freely adapted from The Scarlet Letter” to being “freely adapted from The Crucible.”

After the prequel portion of the movie is finished, and it seems doubtful that Hester and Arthur have the opportunity for showing a lot more flesh, the directors switch the focus to violence and accuse Mrs. Hibbins and her lot of being witches, and stage an uprising against the Indians.

Oh don’t worry, there is a little more flesh.  Actually, it’s Moore flesh.  She’s known for showing off her naked pregnant stomach, and this movie is no exception.  I wonder if she had a stunt belly.

I’ll spare you the rest, but since the directors have already spoiled everything about the film, I might as well spoil the ending.  It is most shocking.

It ends happily ever after.  Hester and Arthur ride off into the sunset, Pearl at their side.  The Scarlet A flicked carelessly into the mud.

Awwwww, isn’t that sweet?  *puke*

But what could we expect?  For there could be no other ending based on the most offensive element of the movie – the part I’ve saved for last.  The worst, and let’s remember things have been pretty bad, but they worst part of the film is that Arthur and Hester do not feel that their adultery was, well, adultery.  It was love.

Did you catch that?  Let me rephrase, they feel they didn’t sin, but acted in the way in God’s design.

Horrible.  It’s a must not watch.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter

 

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What to leave out?

Over the span of a couple of days, I watched this version of Oliver.   Day One left me feeling excited – I liked the characters, especially Ben Kingsley’s Fagin.   He gave Fagin a bit more softness than the novel, but he was such a delight to watch.   The first half followed the story line of the novel pretty closely, but the second half was a disappointment.   I realize that when turning a 350+ page book into a novel, you will need to make choices as to what to cut, but I thought his cuts made it difficult to understand the characters’ motives.    Gone was Monks, any mention of the Maylies, or Oliver’s mother for that matter.  No Noah, no Mrs. Bumble, no Giles, Brittles or Dr. Losbourne.    As a result, there was none of the mystery of the plot or wondering what will happen…it became obvious very quickly, with just one real villian, Sikes.   In fact, at the end, it seemed that, lacking any family, Fagin became a real father figure for Oliver.  Due to the absence of the Maylies and their country home, we do not get so much of the needed contrast to dark, sinful, smoky, foggy London.

I could go on, but I’ll let you view it for yourself and chime in with your opinions.   It was nice to watch a very well executed version of this classic, but after just coming off the “real genius,” I’m ready to go back to the written word!  Jane Eyre, here we come.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Oliver Twist

 

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Classics to Movies – Take Two (asprin, and call me in the morning)

A the winner of the Worst Movie Using a Stolen Book Title goes to . . .

Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black

Not just bad. Really, really, awful.

Next Friday night my husband and I are going back to taking Accelerated Reading quizzes.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels

 

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Now that we’ve crossed the river…

We’ve already had one PP viewing, but here’s another way that Classic Case of Maddness could celebrate the end of the book.  With a novel like this one, sometimes you need to celebrate being finished twice.

I did a little research in the film department.  Here’s what I found:
Made in 1979, this film features Peter Thomas, Maurice
O’Callaghan, and Liam Neeson.  It received rather mixed reviews, but then we gave PP rather mixed reviews.  Now I’m not familiar with Thomas or O’Callaghan, but Neeson!  I like him.  He plays the Evangelist.  Amazon‘s review says 

“Journey with Pilgrim, as John Bunyan’s famous allegory leaps from its pages to a movie. You’ll experience the Slough of Despond, Hill of Difficulty, Vanity Fair, Meet Pliable, Mr Obstinate, Worldly Wiseman, Evangelist, Mr Interpreter, and Pilgrim’s constant foe, Apollyon. Follow Pilgrim to the cross, and ultimately to the Celestial City. A powerful visualization of the Christian life.”

If we like this movie version of PP, there’s a sequel!  Some of the same actors return for Part 2.  Neeson’s role is that of Great Heart this time around.  Here’s Amazon’s review of Christiana’s story:

“The second chapter in the Pilgrim’s Progress story. John Bunyan’s immortal classic is completed with Christiana, Part 2 of the world-famous book, Pilgrim’s Progress. Christiana, who had earlier scoffed at her husband for leaving his family in the City of Destruction, truly repents of her sins. She is rewarded with a glowing faith and leads her daughter, Credence, and sons, Avail and Avow, plus her doubting neighbor, Mercy, towards the Celestial City. With the help of Greatheart, Christiana sets a wonderful example of a loving, but concerned mother who guards and guides her children through numerous dangerous adventures. At Doubting Castle, Mercy at last takes firm grip upon the promises of God’s Word and is rewarded with deep faith. Then, at Pilgrim’s Rest, the entire group discovers the meaning of the verse, “For me to live is Christ and to die is to gain.”

Ummm, I’m sensing some variation from the original text.  But maybe we’ll like the screenwriters take on Part 2 even more than we like Bunyan’s.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress

 

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Fire and CGI Brimstone

When we left off yesterday we had just finished our end-of-book discussion of Pilgrim’s Progress and were on our way to reap the rewards.

We couldn’t make it all the way to the English coffee house adorned with stained glass scenes from Pilgrim’s Progress where Jeannette’s sister-in-law worked (did I dream that, or is it true?  I always meant to ask more questions about that cool fact.)  Instead, we settled on watching the 2008 movie version of “Pilgrim’s Progess.” Upon careful investigation we came to the possibly erroneous conclusion that this version was produced by a group of Baptist churches in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Now, I hate to poke fun at these obviously devout Christians trying to put a classic piece of literature into a medium accessible to today’s audience, but . . . well . . . um . . . it was bad.  Cheesy with a side of American.  We came up with several interesting movie-watching games, like “Spot the Youth Pastor,” and “Who Can Count the Most Props Provided by Hobby Lobby” and “How Many Different Computer Animation Tricks Does the DCE Know” and “Guess Who’s Smokin’ Hot Wife Got to Play Mrs. Wanton.”

Then there was the competition for Worst Costume.  Did it belong to the man from the Mariachi Band, or the girl in her old teal prom dress who tied a matching piece of fabric around her head, or the man in the bowler hat, mustache and cane?  Wait, Mr. Help’s orange work vest and yellow hard hat were pretty laughable, and the bulk order on khakis and colored oxfords was also to be noted.

Okay, fine, I will say something nice about the movie.  The scenery was gorgeous.  If that’s what it looks like in Lynchburg, Virginia then sign me up for the next vacation give-away (because I’m pretty sure the Valley of the Shadow of Death scene wasn’t filmed there.)  And the actors seemed like they were probably really, really nice people.  See, I can say kind things, too.

Here’s the trailer.  Hope you enjoy.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress

 

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The New DQ

At one point I had intended to write an entire post about modern day Don Quixotes.  It was never fully developed, but Christine’s last post got me thinking about it again because one of my New DQ’s was Coach from Survivor.  If you haven’t watched him words can not explain it, and if you have seen his antics than an explanation is completely unnecessary.

As part of this same post brainstorm I wondered if Don Quixote didn’t lend itself to the genre of TV sit-com.  There is certainly enough material there for a season, or two, or five.  And when it comes to comedy without the need for plot then I belive Seinfeld is the show that most resembles our cast of characters.  Maybe Jerry is Cervantes, himself.  Without a doubt Kramer is the Knight of the Sorry Face.  And I don’t think anyone quite sells the base greed and quirkiness of Sancho Panza like Jason Alexander and his character George Costanza.

My list didn’t go much beyond this except for Jeannette’s brilliant addition of Wile E. Coyote.  And if my life is any testimony, than every boy under the age of ten seems to be following in our Knight Errant’s footsteps as well.

But then this morning while daydreaming about watching the New DQ Reality Show I decided to do a quick google search to see if anyone had ever made DQ into a movie.  I figured somewhere along the line someone would have given this a go, but I had no idea such big names would be involved.

John Lithgow was Don Quixote!  John Lithgow!  I love that man!  I am less familiar with the actor Bob Hoskins, who played everyone’s favorite sidekick.  But get this:  Isabella Rossellini and Vanessa Williams were also in the flick!  Williams was our fair Dulcinea and Rossellini played the role of the Dutchess (a character I don’t think I have yet encountered.)

If I were more technologically savvy I would embed the video of the trailer right here.  But instead you’ll have to go watch it here.  I’d say we should see if we could borrow the DVD from the library and have ourselves a little DQ watching party, but apparently the made-for-TV movie never got beyond VHS in the States.  And despite the fact that we still own *cough, and use, cough* a VCR the new copies start at $149.95 on Amazon.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Don Quixote

 

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