“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
― Joseph Campbell
we changed our minds (which a lady – and a gentleman, after a suitable pause for reflection – can do) and decided to write about Stoker.
we saw it last night.
but upon arriving at chez teamgloria late last, decided to show you the photographs of the sunset instead – from standing on the roof of the Arclight (part of the cinematic complex incorporating the historic geodesic 1960s Cinerama Dome, as you probably recall).
but we spent many hours in strange dream-land and when awakening this morning, found we were still Thinking about the film.
which means we need to write about it.
so here goes.
(do you have a cup of coffee and perhaps half a grapefruit? we know many of you are doing this – during what the french call the “reducing season” – of course they say it in french which we believe would be this: réduire saison – we had half a pear from the farmer’s market which is what people eat in Los Angeles in March).
so Stoker had many themes – not least of which were severely Dodgy notions of boundaries and family ties and a stinker of a mother/daughter lack of communication.
and the customary coming-of-age of a young and impressionable teen girl – which we felt was brilliantly handled (if a Trifle unsettlingly, darlings) – and very cinematic in parts – some beautiful shots (mostly of Mr. Goode, with a Very Good American accent).
actually at one point we did a double-take at Mr. Goode’s outfit and thought they’d popped in a Frame (technical insert moment) from Another Film.
[side note: Colin Firth was up for the part in Stoker originally ironically]
so – in major theme – somewhat similar to Beautiful Creatures – which, as you know, we Adored – and similarly located in Southern Gothic land (Stoker was filmed mostly in Tennessee and Nicole Kidman was playing a Tennessee Williams heroine throughout). we’re Not crAZy about violence in movies *shiver*
but it was very clinically and quietly and did-that-really-happen sort of a way.
the main theme which Captured our Imagination was the one of finding your true nature and how Liberating (for oneself, if not for one’s poor family members or household staff) that might be:
India: Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be. Only once you realize this do you become free.
we’re not sure we agree with this (a certain amount of personal responsibility has certainly made our interpersonal relationships a lot smoother in the past decade) but the self-knowledge (we’re not destroying the plot for you – the trailer gives it away) of perhaps a Darker Nature than Most is at least Information to Work With.
and as we all know (remember? hazily? did you keep diaries?) those troublesome teenage years can be Rather Surprising and Tough (on everyone).
as can building a new life in a city one once knew but feels different.
at least we know a little more about our true nature – mutable as that has been/is/was/will be – than India in Stoker – but is even that Useful?
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
talking of E. M. Forster (as one does on a sunday morning), the character of India in Stoker reminded us most interestingly of another young woman around the same age – Lucy – from A Room with a View.
may we share the passage on her playing Beethoven and therein revealing Her true Nature?
She was no dazzling executante; her runs were not at all like strings of pearls, and she struck no more right notes than was suitable for one of her age and situation. Nor was she the passionate young lady, who performs so tragically on a summer’s evening with the window open. Passion was there, but it could not be easily labelled; it slipped between love and hatred and jealousy, and all the furniture of the pictorial style. And she was tragical only in the sense that she was great, for she loved to play on the side of Victory. Victory of what and over what– that is more than the words of daily life can tell us. But that some sonatas of Beethoven are written tragic no one can gainsay; yet they can triumph or despair as the player decides, and Lucy had decided that they should triumph.
A very wet afternoon at the Bertolini permitted her to do the thing she really liked, and after lunch she opened the little draped piano. A few people lingered round and praised her playing, but finding that she made no reply, dispersed to their rooms to write up their diaries or to sleep. She took no notice of Mr. Emerson looking for his son, nor of Miss Bartlett looking for Miss Lavish, nor of Miss Lavish looking for her cigarette-case. Like every true performer, she was intoxicated by the mere feel of the notes: they were fingers caressing her own; and by touch, not by sound alone, did she come to her desire.
Mr. Beebe, sitting unnoticed in the window, pondered this illogical element in Miss Honeychurch, and recalled the occasion at Tunbridge Wells when he had discovered it. It was at one of those entertainments where the upper classes entertain the lower. The seats were filled with a respectful audience, and the ladies and gentlemen of the parish, under the auspices of their vicar, sang, or recited, or imitated the drawing of a champagne cork. Among the promised items was “Miss Honeychurch. Piano. Beethoven,” and Mr. Beebe was wondering whether it would be Adelaida, or the march of The Ruins of Athens, when his composure was disturbed by the opening bars of Opus III. He was in suspense all through the introduction, for not until the pace quickens does one know what the performer intends. With the roar of the opening theme he knew that things were going extraordinarily; in the chords that herald the conclusion he heard the hammer strokes of victory. He was glad that she only played the first movement, for he could have paid no attention to the winding intricacies of the measures of nine-sixteen. The audience clapped, no less respectful. It was Mr. Beebe who started the stamping; it was all that one could do.
“Who is she?” he asked the vicar afterwards.
“Cousin of one of my parishioners. I do not consider her choice of a piece happy. Beethoven is so usually simple and direct in his appeal that it is sheer perversity to choose a thing like that, which, if anything, disturbs.”
“She will be delighted. She and Miss Bartlett are full of the praises of your sermon.”
“My sermon?” cried Mr. Beebe. “Why ever did she listen to it?”
When he was introduced he understood why, for Miss Honeychurch, disjoined from her music stool, was only a young lady with a quantity of dark hair and a very pretty, pale, undeveloped face. She loved going to concerts, she loved stopping with her cousin, she loved iced coffee and meringues. He did not doubt that she loved his sermon also. But before he left Tunbridge Wells he made a remark to the vicar, which he now made to Lucy herself when she closed the little piano and moved dreamily towards him:
“If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting both for us and for her.”
If you do see Stoker (and it is rather frightening psychologically so be careful, if you do go) – there’s a moment with a piano which starts solo and ends with a duet that is Devastating.
and is the Precise moment when India understands who she might be and what she is capable of.
Just Like Lucy Honeychurch.
now aren’t you glad you came to visit?
we looked on the interweb and Not One other reviewer picked up on the India Stoker/Lucy Honeychurch + piano connection.
of course the movie would have been much enhanced if they’d written in a role for Maggie Smith, darlings.
have a delicious sunday, darlings.
and do tell us which movies you’ve seen recently (with or without Maggie or Matthew).