March 03, 2003
Half Hearted

I've meant to write for some time to write about the cinematic version of "The Hours" and why it fell short for me. Turns out a lot of other people have been doing a better job than I would, including this article, written by Adam Nicholson, grandson of Vita Sackville-West:

[Woolf's] entire enterprise was to look for meaning in the here and the now and the actual, in what she describes in one letter as "the question of things happening", not the big romantic "other". This oversimplifying of a complex reality has a name: sentimentality.

It was the sentimental quality I felt uncomfortable with: on one level, with Hollywood-ization that turns a novel primarily about states of mind into a three-hankie weeper. But also specifically with the Virginia Woolf characterization that, while it took great pains to have the appearance of authenticity, seemed to miss the bigger picture of its subject.

During the big emotional scene at the railway station, for instance, there's tears and yelling--with accents, of course. I looked in VW's published diaries for this event and the closest I could come was this:

(October 15, 1923): ...I felt it was intolerable to sit about, & must do the final thing, which was to go to London. Off I rode, without much time, against such a wind...saw men & women walking together; thought, you're safe and happy & I'm an outcast; took my ticket; had 3 minutes to spare, & then, turning the corner of the station stairs, saw Leonard, coming along, bending rather, like a person walking very quick in his mackintosh. He was rather cold & angry (as, perhaps was natural). And then, not to show my feelings, I went outside and did something to my bicycle."

She gets her money back for the ticket and they go home; "all the time I was feeling My God, thats over. I'm out of that."

It's hard to make compelling cinema out of events that are primarily internal, but the film goes a little too far the other way, bringing our contemporary obsession with "feelings" into play in a way I suspected VW herself might not approve of.

On the other hand, perhaps I nitpick too much. It'll be a long time, I expect, before Hollywood again sees fit to depict the life of any author I actually read, much less one I admire. Feel free to remind me about all this kvetching this summer when I'm standing in line for "Fatal Velocity IV: Raw Turnips."

Because it wouldn't be B&W without me rabbiting on about awards shows, here's a very funny article handicapping the Oscars:

Aww, the ladies having problems with their lives. Academy loves that. Even Fake Nose canít save the day.

Posted at March 03, 2003 08:48 PM

well and good.

but: will Nic get an Oscar?

Posted by: mike on March 3, 2003 09:33 PM

TMN says fake nose gets it every time.

Posted by: Anne on March 3, 2003 09:35 PM

more or less the thought i had, but sight unseen, and doubtful of the topic, I wnet with that musical, as you know.

Posted by: mike on March 4, 2003 01:31 PM
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