David Richter

  • Milly and Kate meet and Shaw’s book shop in Bloomsbury. (I’ve been there, it’s near the British Museum.)  And they scandalize the (male) customers by going over to the “Foreign Language” section and opening a […]

    • Blog 1:

      While watching the movie adaptation of Emma better known as Clueless, I couldn’t help but think about the importance of updating class works of literature into art that is accessible to all. What I mean when I use the term accessible is engaging, and easily comprehendible. Throughout my educational career I have found that classes are grounded on the principles of classic works of literature like Emma, but unfortunately students are unengaged with the text and find them boring and out of date. The great thing about Clueless is that it features the story of Emma in the era of the 90s- arguably known as one of the best times in history, as well as characters who both perpetuate and deny their stereotypical roles in society. One example of this can be seen in the main character of the movie-Cher who is a portrayal of Emma. Cher is a woman of immense wealth and privilege. This can be seen in her countless shopping sprees and ability to use her charm on her father to get what she pleases. Although Cher is a character whose dominant conflict deals with financial and social security she shows signs of being caring, gentle and lovable. She breaks her stereotype by trying to help her friends throughout the movie as well as when she expresses concern over one of her father’s court cases and health. In this adaptation, individuals of all ages are able to understand the basic plot and characteristics of the characters within the original work. I believe it is important to study the canons of literature, but I also believe that literature should adapt as society changes in order to continue the great stories trapped between the pages of old books. It can also be used as a tool in the classroom to examine how the society in which we live directly affects the literature we produce.
      Blog 2
      The 1997 film The Wings of the Dove was one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. From the costumes to the recording, beautiful scenery and acting, this film scored major points in my book. For this blog I would like to focus on the character relationships and chemistry between the characters. I felt that this film was a success due to the intricacies of the acting within it. The relationship between Kate, Merton, and Millie is one of immense interest to me and really showcases the difficulties of love. Although the audience is aware that these characters are played by actors the chemistry displayed in each scene gives an illusion of reality that viewers desperately want. For instance, the scene where Kate is on the stairs with Merton, she holds a flirtatious essence that comes off as dominant as she is trying to figure out if Merton likes Millie. Merton understands what Kate is trying to drag out of him and using his body language and humor to escape her sneaky ways. Each character knows exactly what to do in order to make each other feel comfortable. Whether it’s Kate touching Merton softly to get him to disengage from his wavering emotions of its Millie with her soft eyes staring at him and then glancing away. The raining scenes add another layer of dimension to this work. Although we spoke about how they weren’t authentic in class it adds to the romantic nature of the film by expressing the lovers standing and passionately kissing.
      Blog 3
      Bride and Prejudice is a film that takes the story of Pride and Prejudice and spins it into a Bollywood showcase which centers on a marriage and Indian culture. I found that this spin was really captivating due to the colors, costumes and music. In this blog I would like to focus on the colors featured within the film. I believe that the colorful scenery, costumes and lighting added to the appeal of the film. I’m sure that many people might have been turned off to the fact that this director transformed Pride and Prejudice into a Bollywood adaptation so the director and the cast new that their approach had to be spectacular which it was. There is one scene in particular which showcases a beautiful array of colors. This scene happens right after the main character sings a song about her friend leaving them after she is married; they are all in town with people everywhere. The cameras change focus and zooms out to showcase the people of the town and the colors they are all wearing. As the camera zooms out we see an organized rainbow and the individuals dancing and jumping in celebration. The bright vibrant colors act as a welcoming to all cultures watching the film. They make you feel happy and like you are a part of the Indian culture within the film. I also found a new appreciation for this culture by watching it and the colors displayed showcased how beautiful and truly unique this culture is. This film showcases that if properly planned we can transform literature across cultures

  • I go along with your sense of the colors here.

    I should add as well that Softley was also into gratings: the grating of the elevator at the opening of the film behind which Kate and Merton kiss, the grating in Venice where they have sex, and the bars of the brass bed in his bedroom of that last screenshot I put up. The grating suggest the cage…[Read more]

  • But Kate doesn’t say that exactly: she says she will marry him without the money *if* he can swear on his word of honor that he is not in love with her memory. Which he can’t. Which is why she concludes “We shall never be again as we were.” (In the book, that is. The film suggests that he takes the money without Kate.)

  • People didn’t agree with your assessment of Helena Bonham Carter’s performance: it was nominated for an oscar and for a screen actor’s guild prize. Her face is not emotionless at all: she is clearly holding back from expressing the emotions we know she is feeling.

    The screenplay presents Kate as the worldly wise adult who is always balancing…[Read more]

  • The way in which money (or what money can buy) influences almost every character in the novel is clear. What you might want to address as well is the way *secrecy* shapes the ways in which their relationships form and change. In the film Milly is candid and Kate has secrets–particularly with respect to her relationship with Merton. In the…[Read more]

  • In the 1997 Iain Softley adaptation of Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove. Hossein Amini’s screenplay telescopes two scenes in the novel: One is the chance meeting of Milly Theale with Kate Croy and Merton Den […]

    • I go along with your sense of the colors here.

      I should add as well that Softley was also into gratings: the grating of the elevator at the opening of the film behind which Kate and Merton kiss, the grating in Venice where they have sex, and the bars of the brass bed in his bedroom of that last screenshot I put up. The grating suggest the cage Kate is in, which she tries but fails to get out of.

  • I think you’re not only right on here, but you may be dealing with a social theme of the story that we usually ignore. One of the articles I think I put on BlackBoard (it’s by Schrero) argues that you can’t understand The Turn of the Screw unless you understand what the Victorian Brits of the upper class thought about the role of the governess…[Read more]

  • I think we need to allow The Uncle’s lines to represent HIS character rather than Miss Giddens’s. He is the one who is being “seductive” in using the language that normally would belong to a marriage proposal in making Miss G a job offer. Both he and Peter Quint are referenced when Mrs. Grose says “He always liked them young and pretty” after…[Read more]

  • You’re certainly right that Clayton has got a really symbolic color scheme going in The Innocents. The white roses (symbolizing an innocent asexual love) are all over the place, and one of them features in the double dissolve at 27.59 that I pointed out during boot camp. (The double dissolve operates as though to tap you on the shoulder and say…[Read more]

  • I’m very aware of the steep angle shots on the stairs of the town house, but not of the mirror shots. I even wrote to one of the authors of a paper on mirrors in The Heiress and other films that I posted to BlackBoard, because what he called the “iconic” shot of Olivia De Havilland carrying a lamp along with her image in the hallway mirror was…[Read more]

  • One of the weirder suggestions that I’ve seen in the literature on Jack Clayton’s The Innocents is that Truman Capote, one of the screenwriters, jazzed up the symbolism of the film by adding images taken from a s […]

  • There are three basic ways to splice two pieces of film: an abrupt cut, a fade to black, and a dissolve (where we see two scenes simultaneously with the first bleeding into the second).

    When there is a shift in […]

  • I wasn’t familiar with Kaszmarek’s reputation till you wrote this. He’s apparently a very well-regarded film composer, who won the Oscar for his score for *Finding Neverland* (2004 film about the relationship between dramatist/novelist James M. Barrie and the Llewellyn-Davies family who inspired Peter Pan).

  • The haunting duet that Morris and Catherine sing in Holland’s Washington Square is not a famous number by Verdi or anything. The music was written by the composer who did the rest of the score, Jan K […]

    • This elaborate display of music is a very essential component for Holland’s “Washington Square” as it helps emphasize the emotional part of the drama unfolding. First off, the musical score in this movie is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so elegant and takes a shape all on its own as a language, as it expresses so many scenes which takes the character’s depth even further. For instance, certain musical scenes are connected to one another in such unexpected ways. Such as, Catherine’s solo performance and the haunting piano duet with Catherine and Morris. They’re connected because it reflects Catherine’s growth of character. While she couldn’t do it well on her own, she was able to create beautiful music with Morris. Even in front of her condescending and intimidating father, whose expecting her to fail, she conducted a marvelous performance as she believed in Morris’s encouraging words, how “together, they have sanctuary.” Catherine genuinely enjoyed herself (she couldn’t stop smiling as she shared glances with Morris) while her father seemed intrigued (and somewhat displeased) by this strange occurrence. What’s even more interesting is how this piano duet reflects Morris and Catherine’s relationship perfectly: it goes from something delicate to mysterious, haunting, romantic, and finally, tragic. There’s this underlying sense of yearning between both of them and the music shows that amazingly well.
      Another thing to appreciate about the musical soundtrack is how it repeats itself, but has small variations for the characters and the scenarios. For instance, the music playing in the background when Morris appeared on screen made him more romantic. Especially when a smooth violin was playing in a low tone, just like his whispers, making the actions between Morris and Catherine seem so secretive, yet bold. And that scene where Morris first kisses Catherine echoes back to the music being played at the beginning. It brings this sense of dread that something dangerous is starting to roll along. The violin definitely dominates most of the movie as it sets the tone. Especially at the beginning where we see Catherine’s birth and the death of her mother; we see Dr. Sloper weeping next to the corpse of his wife, and quickly cut back to baby Catherine where the violins begin to play again. It indicates her long, dreadful journey ahead in her life with her father. However, the movie ends at Catherine at the piano where it sounds melancholic as she reminisces about the past (as the piano is a symbol of her time with Morris and her confidence) but it did have some lingering hope attached from her youth as something to hold on to. It was a bittersweet ending. The execution of music in Holland’s film was an extraordinary performance all on its own.

    • I wasn’t familiar with Kaszmarek’s reputation till you wrote this. He’s apparently a very well-regarded film composer, who won the Oscar for his score for *Finding Neverland* (2004 film about the relationship between dramatist/novelist James M. Barrie and the Llewellyn-Davies family who inspired Peter Pan).

  • I agree with Tonia: you summed it all up admirably. The difficulty I have with the story is on the level of affect. Are we to see the story as effectively tragic? or are we simply to understand what happened as simply the result of an unfortunate clash of cultures? Because we are in the grip of Winterbourne’s consciousness, my own sense of…[Read more]

  • How about reckless AND innocent? Why should we have to pick only one? James’s story is, in a way, about culture clash. We’re told that, when in Rome, act as the Romans do, but that’s not Daisy’s way: she acts in Vevey and in Rome exactly as she is in the habit of doing in Schenectady and New York. And she pays a high price for it: shunned by…[Read more]

  • The “woman in white” whom we see in the Pincio Gardens during the Punch and Judy Show is almost certainly a high class Roman prostitute (or courtesan, if you prefer).  The speculation in class that she is […]

  • The Bogdanovich Daisy Miller includes two tenor arias: One is sung lightheartedly by Mr. Giovanelli at Mrs. Walker’s party,

    The other is sung with deadpan expression and great seriousness by an operatic t […]

  • The consequences and benefits of following the norms of society:

     

    Daisy Miller was a victim of society. Her potential at love was snubbed by the high ideals of the European society around her. Bogdanovich […]

    • I agree with Tonia: you summed it all up admirably. The difficulty I have with the story is on the level of affect. Are we to see the story as effectively tragic? or are we simply to understand what happened as simply the result of an unfortunate clash of cultures? Because we are in the grip of Winterbourne’s consciousness, my own sense of Daisy is muted by his inability to express anything like passion for her. It’s like looking at a traffic accident but through the wrong end of the telescope, it seems to be happening a long distance away….

  • Daisy’s mother is a mixture of Miss Bates (in the way she prattles on) and Mr. Woodhouse (for her hypochondria about her dyspepsia–we’d call it upset stomach). The key thing about her is her absence as a brake on Daisy. Randolph is sort of what Huckleberry Finn would be if he were from Schenectady rather than Hannibal Missouri.

    Ashley has…[Read more]

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