So do you all remember the film Big? Tom Hanks is a preteen that wishes to be “big” and becomes a 30-year old man?
He tries to find a Zoltar machine to change him back, but meanwhile works for a toy company to make money. Because of his childlike understanding, he moves straight to the top of the company.
Now his idea for a new toy is a computer game/book that you read but get to make choices as to what will happen next. Well Choices is that.
So a while back they had a preview for an Austenlike game Desire & Decorum
You know me and anything Austenlike or Austen related:
So as soon as it was avliable I decided to play:
You have the choice of being male or female and name. You can also customize your avatar and purchase extras if you want.
So the story is set in 1816 in the country village of Grovershire, England. You have enjoyed your life there but your mother is very ill, and on her deathbed reveals a secret. You have never known your father, but your mother reveals that he is the Earl of Edgewater, a very wealthy and powerful man. The two were in love, but his family drove them apart-and she went to Grovershire. How do you feel? You make the choice.
With the death of your mother you head to Edgewater and to meet your father and his family. Now this is an interesting concept to go with, being born out of wedlock in 1816-not the best way to be treated.
So you are taken to Edgewater and meet your paternal grandmother the Dowager Countess who is quite spunky. Is she an ally? Or will she try and remove you like your mother was removed?
You also meet Mr. Ernest Sinclaire, master of the nearby Ledford Park. He’s handsome, rich, and also the rude man that almost ran you down on his horse a couple days ago. Yes, you have met him before.
I wonder which Austen hero he will be like? Romantic and wise like Colonel Brandon? Idealistic and does the right thing like Edward Ferrars? Broody and serious Darcy? Playful and stern like Mr. Knightley? Serious like Edmund Bertram? Playful like Mr. Tilney? Passionate like Captain Wentworth?
Or will he be a rogue? Sacrifices love for money like Mr. Willoughby? Selfish and narcissistic like Mr. Wickham? An annoying brown-noser like Mr. Collins? A cruel social climber like Mr. Elton? Only thinks of himself like Frank Churchill? Manipulative like John Thorpe or Captain Tilney? Plotting and cunning like Mr. Elliot?
But more importantly, what about your father. Will he accept you or reject you?
So I already did a post on the opening line of Sense and Sensibility, you should go here if you want to check that out. So Sense and Sensibility is far different from Pride & Prejudice. In Pride & Prejudice we have a basic introduction to the family-5 daughters, and their mother’s need to marry them off.
Sense and Sensibility is a little different.
We get a big family entanglement of who’s who in the family and who’s inheriting. It can be a bit much.
And in this case it’s the same. But the one in question here is Norland Park, belonging to Mr. Dashwood.
Now Mr. Dashwood was a confirmed bachleor, and shared his house with his sister who managed everything for him. Both of them grew older, and Miss Dashwood died. Mr. Dashwood found himself alone and didn’t enjoy it. So he decided to invite his nephew, Mr. Henry Dashwood.
Now Henry is where things become a bit more complicated. Henry has two families.
Now I don’t mean that he was married to two women at the same time, this isn’t Sister Wives. And he wasn’t a conman either. He was a widower who remarried. This might not sound too complicated right now (I mean with how high the divorce rates are today, things are far more complicated,) but it does cause some legal issues I’ll get into later.)
So we have Mr. Dashwood’s first family. This includes his son John, horrible daughter-in-law Fanny,
and awful grandson.
I hate these people. Absolutely HATE THEM.
But more on that later.
And his second family consists of the new Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.
So here we are.
John being older and married was the one that didn’t move into the family homestead. But he and his family visited all the time. The three girls however, joined Old Mr. Dashwood. They take good care of him and greatly amuse him in his old age.
Only one problem.
One thing my drama director always told us:
“Never work with kids or animals. They’ll steal the show.”
It’s true. Kids and animals are too cute, and they don’t even try. They’ll do something that will cause all others to be overlooked.
And here it’s no different.
Yes, the little spoiled brat steals away all the love of his grandfather.
“…this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained the affections of his uncle. by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old, an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters.”
Yep, just another case of those who slaved and cared being pushed aside for something “cuter”.
So the old Mr. Dashwood dies. And leaves things unpleasant. He entails all his money and estate to his grandnephew.
Replace Rothbart with entailment
Entailment was something that was done a lot in the 18th-20th centuries. All the money, property, the whole shebang was entailed to the next male heir. So this is good and bad. It means that Henry will have everything, but only for as long as he is alive. When he dies it will be passed on to John, and then to the kid. This means that the female Dashwoods will receive nothing. The old Mr. Dashwood gave them £1000, but that won’t be near enough for them to marry well.
So I’m sure you are wondering about Mr. Henry Dashwood. I mean he doesn’t have to entail his personal money. Or Mrs. Dashwood’s money. Right?
Well you’re half-right. He wouldn’t have to ifhe had any. Yep, you see Mr. Dashwood has no money.
He had status and married wealthy. His first wife had a fortune!
Unfortunately, she died.
And left all her money to her only child, John.
When he remarries it’s for love and his second wife is poor. They have only £7000. (I’m not sure if that’s a year or what, but it’s not enough for taking care of his family long-term).
And then he hopes to get the inheritance, but winds up with basically nothing.
To rub salt further in the wound, John doesn’t even need the money. You see John not only has all that dough from his mom, but when he married he increased his net worth tenfold.
Yep, he’s rolling in dough.
So the Dashwoods got the shaft.
But then Henry decides maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. He is not an old man, he’s still has plenty of years left in him and he could start setting money aside to take care of his family. After all it’s not like he is going to die any day.
There is no sin in killing a beast, only in killing a man. But where does one begin and the other end?
So this year I decided to do something very, very different. Now the in the past, all Horrorfests have ended on a film that takes place on Halloween. This wasn’t a credence that I set out to make, it just kind of happened along the way. With Horrorfest I had always planned on ending on Halloween (1978). I knew it was the best way to end the first year with a big bang. Besides, that year I had done the other slasher films that spanned numerous sequels and remakes (Friday the 13th& Nightmare on Elm Street). Horrorfest II I was trying to also end on a really great film that would produce the same kind of bang, and decided on Children of the Corn as that film was creepy. It also happened to take place on Halloween.
This year I was trying to decide what would be the best opener and closer. I was originally going to open with Metropolis as I had done a post in July referencing it. But after I wrote that post, it just didn’t speak to me as an opener. I started going through my drafts and that’s when I spotted The Wolf Man (1941). The Wolf Man has to be my favorite of the classic horror film monsters (along with The Phantom of the Opera). I hadn’t had a chance to review it yet, and since it was the last of the classics I decided it should be the opener.
Once I wrote that post, I was so excited. You see, I felt I really couldn’t to a post on any werewolf films until I had covered the first one. I thought it was only right to start with the original. With that done, I could move onto any other werewolf film I desired. The possibilities were endless.
With the beginning finished, I then set my sights on the end. What could I do that would really pop? As I started thinking and looking, I saw my draft for The Wolfman (2010). And that’s when it hit me.
I could end Horrorfest III with The Wolfman (2010). It could be like bookends!!!! In the beginning the original that started it all and the end the newest rendition. !!! Yes!! It could work and it will. So here we are The Wolfman (2010).
So a little backstory before we begin the review. As you would have read in an older post, I love The Wolf Man (1941). It is one of my all-time favorite horror films. One day in my photography class, we were watching trailers of different films as we were looking at the cinematography and technique. My teacher was on a Mac which has Front Row, and shows you trailers of the past, present, and future films. One trailer I remember looking at was Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). I wasn’t planning on seeing it, as I hadn’t seen the original. But as we reached the end, I saw The Wolfman.
I screamed ay my teacher, stop!! I want to see that. So we watched the trailer.
AWESOME!!! RIGHT!!! So I knew there were going to be changes, I knew it was going to be nowhere near as good as the original, but I was soooo pumped!! So I watched the trailer in February 2009, and saw the film was slated for that October. I couldn’t wait!!!
I ticked off the months, but then in October I discovered it wasn’t out in theaters.
Yep, there had been some production problems, so they pushed it back to February. FEBRUARY!!! V-Day weekend. I was upset, but what could I do? I just had to wait it out.
But then February came and I decided that it would be my V-day present to myself. You see I have never had a boyfriend or date for V-day, so I always just buy myself whatever I want. It’s actually pretty nice as you don’t have to fight with anyone over where to go or what to see; and you are never, ever, ever, disappointed.
I asked a couple of friends who were also single and we bought tickets for opening night. I knew that I wouldn’t be 100% pleased, but I was looking forward to those improved transformation scenes.
So moving on to the review.
So let’s go back in time. The year is 1891 and we are in England. Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) is the second son of Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). He and his dad had a lot of issues and problems so he left as soon as he could. Since then he has been a renowned Shakespearean actor, famous throughout all England for his Hamlet and Macbeth.
He recieves a letter from a Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt). She was engaged to his older brother Ben, but he has been murdered. Not only was he murdered, but horribly mangled by something. When Lawrence gets the news, he immediately returns home for the funeral.
When he gets there he sees his father and the two have a harsh welcome. Unlike The Wolf Man (1941), where father and son were trying to work on repairing their relationship, Sir John doesn’t care. He still has huge issues with his son not being what he wants him to be. The way that Sir John treats him, causes Lawrence to want to leave, and go far away…but he can’t. He has to properly say good-bye to his brother.
Lawerence does try to get away from his father as he knows staying near him will just cause more fights. He also really wants to see his brother. So he heads down to the local slaughterhouse where the body is kept before burial.
I know but you have to remember this is a small village in 19th century England. They didn’t have a mortuary to hold the body until burial. They also didn’t understand how diseases spread and that it is not a good idea to have a dead body near your food.
There at the slaughterhouse, the butcher gives Laurence his brother’s items, that is everything found on him at the time of his death.
Later that night he heads over to the local pub for a drink and overhears the gossip on the murder. Most of the villagers blame a band of gypsies. Not long after they moved into the area, Ben was murdered. In fact, someone remembers a case occuring years earlier of gypsies moving into the area and dead bodies surfacing. As they discuss this, Laurence remembers that Ben had had a gypsy medallion on him.
This is the first time that Laurence has ever met his brother’s fiance Gwen. Now for you Wolf Man fans, you should recognize that it is the same name given to Laurence’s love interest in the original film. Except in that film she was to marry the hunter/groundsman of the Talbot estates. Anyways, Laurence meets her and can instantly see why his brother fell for her, as he himself is attracted to her.
Of course Lawrence is the most amazing, gentleman/good guy that he would never ever think of putting the moves on her. He does thank her for trying to be there for his father and for everything. He also let’s her know that if she ever needs him, he’ll be there for him.
Gwen is also attracted to him, and you really can’t blame her. If Benecio is in his early 40s, that means her husband to-be was hecka old. Also Benecio/Lawrence has this adorable hurt puppy dog look that makes you just want to show him he is special, and that you care for him. He looks so sad that it makes you just want to take him, and take care of him. Making sure is life is bright and never unhappy again. That look is killer on any girl as it flies through their best defenses. Major chink in the armor.
Sorry, digressing….So with Lawrence back, and the funeral over, Gwen decides to return to London. Laurence would like to leave too, but wth his brother’s death, he now is sole heir to the estate and the first son. When his father dies he will become Sir Lawrence and be expected to uphold all those duties (House of Lords most likely). This isn’t the life that Laurence wants, but at this moment he is too loaded with grief and confusion over his brother’s death that he doesn’t question or try to rebel.
So with Gwen gone, and his father an emotionless robot who only cares about himself; Lawrence takes it upon himself to try and figure out what happened to his loving brother. Now Lawrence is putting on the black cowl and trying to become a vigilante or anything, he just wants some closure about his brother’s death. He heads down to the gypsy camp to try to get some answers.
Where were you the night in question?
That night is a full moon
Which as you’ve guessed it means trouble is going to be roaming about. Lawrence meets up with the gypsy woman Maleva, who tells him that something truly evil has attacked his brother.
But before he can get anything more, the townspeople attack the village. They try to drive the gypsies from the area, and kill a dancing bear they believe to be the beast that killed Ben Talbot.
Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!
As they are attacking, a superhuman, wolfish creature descends upon the area and starts slaughtering people.
And I’m not talking about just a few people, this is like a Scream sequel. The body count by the end of this film is in the double digits.
Hey, my generation is the Millennials. They aren’t as classy, they need lots more blood and guts.
Anyways, the werewolf is attacking everyone, and Lawrence spots a young boy running into the woods. At the same time the werewolf spots the boy, causing Lawrence to put himself in the way in order to protect the child. As he does so, the wolf attacks him.
And he gets bitten.
Malvea find him and cares for him, despite the community telling her that it is better for all if they let him die. But Malvea can’t, she says he still is a man and deserves to be treated as such. She also states that only a loved one can kill him.
Malvea honey, I don’t think so. Anyone can kill a werewolf as long as they have some kind of silver object. Nowhere is that in the original film, as if you read my post you would know that film revolutionized werewolf mythology. Click here to check it out now.
And besides that, is there nothing you can do for him? You are a cinematic gypsy in a horror film! You’re supposed to have a potion or herb or special thing that can protect you from turning. Now if you have read my Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, or Scream 2 posts, you know I make fun of the films when the guy is given a special charm to protect him but then stupidly turns it over to the girl he loves, EVEN THOUGH IT WILL NOT WORK FOR HER.
But I really enjoy that part of the film, as it humanizes the character and makes you adore them. I mean its sweet how much they love the girl in their life that if there is anything that can do to ward of the monster, they prefer them to have it. Even though by doing so they make things worse, hey it’s the thought that counts.
I also hate how gypsies have been giving “B” standing in modern horror films. I mean without their supreme wisdom and knowledge in the supernatural, they are just nomadic people. In real life they are still awesome, in a horror film? That’s just boring.
But I guess that’s just they way it is these days.
So where was I? Oh yeah, Lawrence has been bitten by the werewolf. He is moved back to Talbot Manor, and Gwen returns from London to nurse him back to health. While recovering he has really strange dreams. Lots of blood, murder, and even his mother appears. You see his mother died when he was very, very young and her death severely traumatized her as he discovered her dead body. But why would that death be haunting him now? Is it because of Ben? The slaughtered people seen in the gypsy camp? Or is it something else?
Lawrence actually heals pretty quickly, which he finds kind of odd. And that’s not the only thing that’s odd in the Talbot homestead. One day his father’s manservant, Singh (Art Malik), shows him a case of silver bullets and hints that something monstrous is walking through the woods.
He’s not the only one concerned. Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) comes to town. Yes, yes I’m going to admit it. Any film with Hugo Weaving gets an 10x increase in awesome. I mean this guy is truly one of the most talented actors alive. When he ecomes a role you totally forget that he is Hugo Weaving and just think of him as that character. For me I’m always going, Hugo Weaving was in that film? Oh that’s who was that amazing character. I totally forgot that character was being played by an actor. I mean he is that good. You have Agent Smith in The Matrix, Elrond in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, V in V for Vendetta, the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, and that’s just to name a few.
Anyways, Inspector Abberline comes to town to investigate. He already believes he knows who the killer is…Lawrence.
Seriously? Lawrence? A Murderer? Come on, this guy wouldn’t hurt a fly. I mean look at him, really look at him. There isn’t a murderous bone in his body! Besides, he just arrived in town so there is no way he could have murdered his brother. Dude, you’re dumb.
But it isn’t completely ungrounded. You see, Lawrence has a history of “mental problems.” You see, I didn’t want to give you the full story so early, but Lawrence’s mother’s death really did a number on him. Now today, we would really try to help the child as we understand such events as those are highly traumatic and can cause serious issues. Then not so much. Lawrence discovered the body and was very upset. He was afraid and kept mentioning a monster had hurt her. Instead of trying to help his kid, Sir John sent him to an insane asylum, where he was tortured. And I mean torture. Many methods to improve these patients were electrotherapy, iron cuffs/collars, bloodletting, dipping the patient in hot or ice-cold water, and a gyrating chair “to shake up the blood and tissues of the body to restore equilibrium”. By the 1900s, many hospitals had added lobotomies to their lists of “cures”.
Yeah not fun. So Aberline thinks he is the perfect suspect. Laurence though, is having none of that.
Lawrence Talbot: I get your implication, and resent it. You’re clearly aware of my personal history, as I believe I’m aware of yours. Weren’t you in charge of the ripper case a couple of years back?
Det. Aberline: You’re a direct man. So I’ll be equally direct with you. I am not your enemy, Mr. Talbot. You’ve been seen as Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, all with that same face. A prudent man would ask who else might be living inside that head of yours?
Laurence doesn’t quite know what is going on and asks Gwen to leave as he’s worried something might happen to her. That night he follows his father, and watches him go down to the family crypt, to the area where his dead mother resides. There he finds a chair with restranints. His father locks the door and stays in the crypt, leaving a confused Laurence.
As Laurence turns to go inside, he becomes…The Wolfman!
Now this was worth the price of admission. These transformation scenes are awesome!!!
So now that he is a wolfman, he does what they all do. Ravage the countryside.
The next day the Inspector comes for him and has him arrested to be sent back to the “mental hospital”
How horrible is that. I mean this has to be Laurence’s biggest fear, to be sent back to that horrible place. Poor guy. And I was doing some research last night, not only were insane asylums awful, but the one he has to go to, Bedlam, was one of the worst.
Dr. Hoennegar, the leading physician, takes Laurence under his wing and subjects him to ice treatments, that is to be consistently dunked into ice water and left there for long periods of time.
Can you imagine?
And oh joy, he also gets electroshock therapy.
While he is incarcerated, Sir John comes to visit and tells him a story. You see Sir John is the cause of all this.
Back in the day when he was younger and hunting in India, he heard this rumor about an unusual predator. He travels to the remote cave that the predator calls his home and while there was bit by a feral boy and became a victim of lycanthropy.
Except, it was more than “imagining” he actually became a werewolf and began attacking things.
That’s when Laurence realizes everything about his mother’s death makes total sense. He did see a beast kill her, but it was his father! His father killed his mother and then sent him to a mental institution!!! What a truly, truly evil man to allow his son to be tortured. And now for a second time!!!
Now this was my biggest issue with the film. Every other part of the movie was actually pretty great. It was an amazing homage to the orginal film. Benecio del Toro was actually a huge fan of the original and tried to bring a lot of Lon Chaney Jr. into his acting. But the thing I absolutely hate was the changed relationship with his father.
It just didn’t work in my opinion. I mean that is what truly made the original fantastic, was that everything in his life was going great, he was a great man; and this tragedy strikes that ruins everything. He and his father were finally, finally becoming close and working out all their issues. He had met a nice girl, even though she was engaged, and had hope for that relationship. He loved England and was getting back into the groove of it. But then this horrible thing happens and he has to say good-bye to it all. He knows he is going to die, but what does he do? He goes to his dad and makes sure that he has something to protect him. Because even though he has spent years hating and being angry at his father, he truly loves him. It’s just so wonderful and sad all at the same time
But having the dad the evil guy, I don’t know…it just makes the film feel as if it is missing a huge part of it. It doesn’t hit in the heart like the orginal.
But moving on, so his father murdered his mother and then sent the only witness to a torture chamber (mental hospital) to ensure that those memoris would never come to light as they are only crazy “child fantasies”.
Since then, Sir John has had his manservant Singh has been locking him up so he doesn’t wreck havoc anymore. However, Ben was planning to leave with Gwen once they were married and this enraged Sir John. He wasn’t locked up that night and killed him to keep him from going away. He became so incensed with the power that he ran wild later, killing all in the gypsies camp and biting Laurence purposely.
Omg what a–
He did it on purpose because he wanted a fall guy. He wants to roam free as a werewolf and he allows his son to be caught and tortured. Argh!!! Urhg! this man! I;m so angry I can’t spell right. He needs a good sock in the face.
After he finishes his story he leaves, intent on never returning.
He deserves another punch.
That night Laurence is taken to the observation room, where the good doctor presents him as a curio to his collegues. Unbeknowest to him, moonlight is coming through the window and landing on Laurence. This causes him to turn into….the Wolfman!
This is one of the coolest scenes, but unfortunately I could only find it in Italian. Sorry! But you don’t really need to understand what they are saying to enjoy the effects/makeup.
Dr. Hoenneger: Ah, Mr. Talbot. We are here tonight to illustrate conclusively that Mr. Talbot’s fears are quite irrational. So, we will remain in this room together, and once Mr. Talbot has witnessed that the full moon holds no sway over him, that he remains a perfectly ordinary human being, he will have taken his first small step down the long road to mental recovery. We are all aware that Mr. Talbot has suffered quite traumatic personal experiences. He witnessed his mother’s self mutilations. His young mind, unable to accept it, created a fantastical truth, that his father is to blame. That is father is literally a monster. But, your father is not a werewolf. You were not bitten by a werewolf. You will not become a werewolf, any more than I will sprout wings and fly out of that window.
Totally fangirl over that.
Laurence runs away, being chased by the Inspector, and also wreaking havoc. There are some truly amazing shots of him by the bridge, on statues. Just plain awesome!
The next day he visits Gwen in her antique shop. They realize they have fallen in love, but Laurence knows nothing can come of it. He has to kill his father and himself in order to protect others.
Inspector Abberline comes to see if Lawrence is there, but he is too late. Lawrence has already left for Talbot estate.
Gwen refuses to believe that they can’t be together. She starts studying lycanthropy and tracks down Maleva the gypsy for more advice. Maleva cannot help her, as there is no cure for werewolf.
Meanwhile, the Inspector has also headed back to the village and this time armed with silver bullets. That show in the Observation room must have finally convinced him that werewolves are real. Gwen also heads toward Talbot Hall.
Lawrence is the first to arrive and discovers a murdered Singh. He takes his gun loaded with the silver bullets and starts hunting his father.
Sir John Talbot: You have me at a disadvantage. It makes me happy.
Lawrence Talbot: What does?
Sir John Talbot: Well, seeing you here like this. My son returned. It is glorious, isn’t it?
Lawrence Talbot: No, it’s hell.
Sir John is a freak. He needs help. Serious help.
Anyways, it turns out there are no bullets in Singh’s gun, but blanks. Sir John did that on purpose as he will not be destroyed. Sir John attacks his son and the two begin fighting. The full moon comes up and transfroms them into werewolves. And yes, yes we have a werewolf fight. I personally thought it was a little cheesy (and dumb) but this is the millenal generation. And it is something the people want.
So after Laurence burns and decapiitates his father, Gwen walks into the house.
The wolfman, Lawrence, attacks her. Luckily, the inspector had also just arrived on the scene. He tries to use his gun, but misses allowing him to be bit by the werewolf. Gwen steals the gun and takes off, being pursued by the wolfman.
He chases her to a waterfall. With nowhere left to go, Gwen starts begging and pleading with the wolfman, hoping to get to Lawrence. Lawrence reason faintly returns to the beast, who hesitates. He then hears the sound of a posse coming to attack him.
Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!
While he is concentrated on them, Gwen shoots him through the heart.
Laurence changes back to his human form, and before he dies thanks Gwen for saving him.
Lawrence Talbot: [his eyes open after being shot by a silver bullet and transforming back into a human] Gwen?
Gwen Conliffe: [crying] I’m sorry…
Lawrence Talbot: It had to be this way.
Gwen Conliffe: I’m sorry.
Lawrence Talbot: [he holds her hand] Thank you. [Dies]
The posse and an injured inspector arrive just as Laurence dies.
So that is The Wolfman. Now do I think it is as good as the original? HECK NO! But that does not mean it isn’t an awesome film. Besides that one thing that majorly irks me, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a pretty awesome film. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting incredible, and those transformation scenes? Freakin’ awesome! And I did like how they moved the story to show how harshly “mental disabled” people were treated. And you know what? Most of the people who were in those didn’tr even have serious problems. They would throw in the homeless, those with learning disabilities, women of large fortune who had husands that wanted the money but not the girl, etc. It was horrible. Horrible.
But back to the film, I think it is a worthwile view. It may not be exactly how I imagined it, but you do have some great werewolves in this, and no Jacob ones. Real werewolves.
And so ends another Horrorfest. I am so pleased with this years as I was able to redeem myself from last year’s only half the month’s posts. 31 days of terror and woe once again. I hope you all enjoyed it. I wish you all a very happy, and safe, Halloween. May it be everything you wish it to be.
Now this is an Alfred Hitchcock film that is not as well known or talked about, for various reasons. A lot of people think the story is too melodramatic, and others don’t like it because certain elements resemble Rebecca and Gaslight.However, the reason why most people at the time hated it was it came out right after the news of Ingrid Bergman’s affair with Roberto Rossellini, the impeding divorce of her husband Dr. Petter Aron Lindström, and the birth of her twins by Rossellini. (To read more on that go here.) I on the other hand really liked this movie as I love:
Really now, how can you ever think this was horrible?
The title “Under Capricorn” references the Tropic of Capricorn, which bisects Australia. As you can tell now that I’ve explained the title, the film is set in Sydney, Australia during the 19th century.
So before we get into the film, we need to touch on the background history. In the 18th-19th century, England tried to discover a better way to deal with the mass amount of criminal activity and overcrowding jail cells. One thing that England did was hanging. However, people began to get upset about that. Some of the crimes were not really all that bad, but yet people were being given the death penalty. In order to have a harsh punishment, less-crowded jails, and less death-transportation became the way to go. Originally convicts were sent America, but with our revolution in 1776, that option was no longer possible. In the 1780s they started sending people to New South Wales, but with the Napoleonic wars, more labor was needed and they stopped the transportation.
After the war, problems arose again and they turned their attention to Australia. Between 1788-1868, they estimate about 165,000 people were sent Australia from a sentence that was usually 3 years to life (average was 7-14 years). Most people who were sent over were guilty of poaching, arson, robbery, and murder.
They were usually sent to extremely remote areas to prevent escape and discourage any attempt at returning. While it was allowed for people to return after they served their sentence, most people wouldn’t. More often than not they would create a better life in Australia. Typically, criminals would change their names, get land, farm, and create a brand new life for themselves.
This ended in the 1860s, although it had started to drop off by the 1830s. Most of the areas that were for “convicts”, began to become real towns and attracted better emigrants. (Most of this info came from the Victorian Crime and Punishment website, if you would like to check it out)
Now back to the story.
So it is 1831 in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is still a frontier with most of the population being ex-convicts. The new Governor, Sir Richard arrives, bringing along his foppish, indolent, “rich boy” nephew, Charles Adare (Michael Wilding).
It’s one of those guys!
So Charles is hoping that he will make a fortune out here in Australia. While there he meets the gruff Samson Flusky. Samson is a convict that had been transported from Ireland out to Australia to serve his time, for murder.
But now he is a successful buisnessman. He owns a lot of land and makes a lot of dough. He is highly respected in the community.
Anyways, so Samson has now reached the legal limit of land he can purchase and needs to look to new ways in order to expand his business. He wants Charles to purchase the land and sell it to Samson, guaranteeing a good profit.
Charles is intrigued by the prospect and agree to the invitation of dining at Samson’s house. While there, he has a pleasant surprise. He knows Samson’s wife, Lady Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman).
She was friends with Charles’ sister but now has encountered a lot of problems. She is an alcoholic and shunned by society as she is seen to be crazy.
Sam decides to invite Charles to visit as much as he wants, hoping it will help bring his wife out of her current depression.
Now Charles has always had a crush on Henrietta and is confused at her crazed behavior and decline. He asks his uncle about what happened to her. Lady Henrietta was the daughter of one of the fine Irish gentry. To the surprise of everyone, she ran off with one of the handsome stable boys, Samson, to elope in England. Lady Henrietta’s brother went after them and was killed by Samson. Instead of the noose, Samson decided to go to Australia.
Lady Henrietta followed him to Australia and waited seven years for the term to end. After Samson served his years, he was different. He wanted to be rich and to buy everything, but that was never enough. Henrietta was extremely unhappy and began drinking.
Now unbeknownst to all, Samson’s housekeeper Milly has a crush on him.
She has been running the house and secretly feeding Lady Henrietta alcohol. She is hoping that Henrietta will kill herself, leaving Samson all to Milly.
Charles decides to help try and restore Henrietta’s confidence. At Sam’s urging, he moves into their home. But that’s not all he’s interested in. He has always found Henrietta to be attractive, and now she is vulnerable and needy. He begins to pursue her.
Charles’ work has been going great. In fact, Henrietta gains enough courage to try and take the power back from Milly and put her in her proper place as housekeeper, not wife. Milly turns things around and Henrietta runs up to her room and locks herself in. Charles goes in to talk to her and Milly sees them. She tries to use it to her advantage, telling Sam all kinds of lies about their behavior. This angers Sam, who kicks her right out of the house. (Sam you rock! I always had a soft spot for Sam. I don’t know if it was because he was played by Joseph Cotten or because he just seems like a great guy who has been mistreated.)
Henrietta is doing much better, and improving more and more each day. In fact she is doing so well, that when she receives an invitation to the Governor’s Ball, she is eager to go. They all get ready, but Sam decides to not go after all. He had purchased a ruby necklace for her, but after overhearing how Henrietta and Charles don’t consider ruby to be the right accessory, he decides not to give it to her. You see Sam has enjoyed having Charles there as he has helped his wife, but at the same time it has been upsetting. With the two together, it makes him realize just how different he and Henrietta are. He thought it could be different in Australia, but sees that moving to a new place hasn’t really changed societal rules. Sam thinks the rest of the ball will be the same, and that he’ll be too out of his element or that he’ll embarrass himself. He decides to stay home.
Sad and lonely
At the ball, Henrietta stuns everyone as they all adore her. And more importantly, Henrietta has a great time.
Back at the house, Milly has returned.
Milly asks for forgiveness and her job back but also starts talking smack about Henrietta. She tells Samson exaggerated stories of what has been going on between Henrietta and Charles. The two had shared only one kiss, and everything had been instigated by Charles. Milly, on the other hand, insists that Henrietta is the one that has been carrying on and that it has gone much, much further. To further push the issue and him, she tells him that Henrietta is of a different class than her and Samson, and those people do things non-aristocrats could never get away with.
I mean seriously this girl is a major jerk.
You just need to understand that he loves his wife and back the heck away from him. You- you-
At first Samson shrugs it off. Charles is younger than Henrietta and more concerned about clothing than anything else. But that evil woman Milly keeps pushing him, and when she mentions the differation in classes, that’s where he snaps.
Sam goes to the ball, makes a scene, and humiliates Henrietta in front of everyone
She returns home, weeping and half-crazed.
Sad and lonely
Charles runs after her and tries to help her. He tells her to leave Sam, but Henrietta can’t. She tells Charles that she deeply loves her husband and is bound to him. You see, Sam didn’t shoot her brother, she did.
Yep, that’s right. Sam has never killed anyone. Henrietta fell in love with Sam as he was kind and handsome. Can you blame her? He’s one attractive man.
The two wanted to marry, but it was impossible as Samson was a much lower class than Henrietta. So the ran off to England, but her brother followed them. Her brother tried to kill Samson, but missed and the two struggled. Henrietta took the gun and shot her brother so he wouldn’t kill Samson. Samson took the blame as he didn’t want her to suffer in jail.
Unfortunately, that didm’t actually help. Henrietta couldn’t stay at home, and couldn’t leave Samson by himself so she followed him to Australia. Not only has she been dealing with the guilt of killing her brother, but the guilt of allowing Samson to rot in prison for her deeds. To further this, when Samson came out of prison he was a changed person. This lead to even greater guilt and drove Henrietta to the bottle. No wonder she’s been going crazy.
Now even though Henrietta admits this to him, Charles doesn’t really believe her. He thinks it is just her way of trying to protect the man she loves.
When Samson sees Charles in his house with Henrietta, he becomes incensed for the betrayal and kicks Charles out.
Charles steals Sam’s horse and takes off. While riding, the horse breaks its leg, causing Charles to have s a really bad fall. He reluctantly returns to the house and relays the news. Samson goes for his gun to “shoot the horse”, but Charles believes he is going to kill him, as he has “killed” before. The two struggle over the gun and during the conflict, Charles is shot.
With Samson’s past, he is immediately thrown into prison, to either rot for good or be hanged. Henrietta tries to save him and tells the Attorney General the truth. That Samson has never killed anyone, she did it. This presents a serious problem for Samson. The only way he can get out of his predicament is if he corroborates Henrietta’s story, but then she will be sent back to Ireland to stand trial and imprisonment. If he says his wife is lying, then he will be killed. The Governor is really pushing a conviction as he wants someone to be punished for trying to harm his nephew. The AG gives Samson twenty-four hours to decide.
A no win situation
Back at the house the evil Milly sees the perfect oppurtunity to get Sam. She tries to poison Henrietta and plants a shrunken head on her bed to further scare her. Fortunately, she is discovered and ousted.
Meanwhile Charles has recovered from his wound and vouches for Samson, telling everyone that it was an accident.
Charles is put on a ship back to Ireland, and Samson and Henrietta are now happy. Henrietta has been freed from the poisonous Milly and finally from the guilt of what she did to her brother and Samson. Samson is better as he finally knows that Henrietta truly loves him and that he didn’t destroy her life.
All in all, this film really teaches you one thing:
If only it was the picture who was to grow old, and I remain young. There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t give for that. Yes, I would give even my soul for it.
Sky roommate has been reading The Picture of Dorian Gray and I decided that it was the perfect time to include a post on this film version of the book.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite classics novels, and this movie did a pretty good job of keeping things similar making only a few changes.
Dorian Gray is a handsome, wealthy, young man living in 19th century England. While he is an intelligent and educated young man he is very naive and easily manipulated. Because he is young and wants to belong, he is a people pleaser, and easily changes his opinions and views to suit what others think.
He is having his portrait done by the accomplished artist Basil Hallward. One day, Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wotton stops by right before a painting appointment. Basil tries to get rid of his friend as he knows that Lord Henry’s cynicism will only destroy Dorian’s innocence and good humor. In fact Basil has been trying to keep them apart for a long time now. However, it doesn’t work as Dorian shows up for his appointment while Lord Henry is still there.
Dorian is quickly taken with Lord Henry’s “wisdom” and “philosophy”. Lord Henry tells Dorian that the only life worth living is one dedicated entirely to pleasure. Lord Henry convinces Dorian that youth and beauty will bring him everything he desires, and that once its over his life is too.
Dorian becomes depressed at hearing this and nothing Basil says will help him. While Dorian is being painted he wishes that his portrait could age instead of him. He makes this statement in the presence of a certain Egyptian statue, which supposedly has the power to grant wishes. (In the book, there is no mention of an Egyptian statue, in fact in the book they never explain how he stays young forever.)
Dorian’s wish is granted and his soul is transferred to the painting. Now the painting ages instead of him.
Now that Dorian is only after beauty and pleasure he goes and visits a tavern and falls in love with Sybil Vane, a singer/entertainer. (In the book she was an actress who performed wonderfully and Dorian fell in love with her acting). Dorian hasn’t told Sybil what his name is yet, so she refers to him as Sir Tristan her knight. Sybil is played by the wonderful Angela Lansbery. Donna Reed really wanted this part, but was given another instead.
Unfortunately, when Lord Henry finds out about Dorian and Sybil and their plans to marry; he is none too pleased. He gives Sybil a “virtue test” which she fails. (In the book Sybil couldn’t pretend to suffer or be in love with her fellow actors as all her love and emotion for Dorian eclipsed them).
The next morning, Lord Henry informs Dorian that Sibyl killed herself. Dorian is freaked out and feels guilty but copies his mentor Lord Henry and acts indifferent. He goes to the opera right after and lives it up. That night, Dorian sees a change in the portrait. It now has a cruel look to the face and Dorian hides it away, afraid that others will see it. He continues his sinful and heartless life.
Time passes by and Dorian is now entering into his 40th birthday, but even at 40 he looks as young and beautiful as ever. The painting has now become a truly terrible thing to gaze upon and is locked away from everyone. Dorian even let go of all his old servants who might see it.
Ivan Le Lorraine Albright’s famous painting of the decayed Dorian Gray – which took approximately one year to complete – is now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has been on display for many years.
I can’t reveal the rest of the film as if you haven’t read the book it will give away the ending. You should definitely read the book and check out this film.
Another thing that is different from the book is that they add an additional relationship. In the movie Basil has a niece, Gladys (played by Donna Reed), that has always had a crush on Dorian and now that he remains young and she has gotten older they are able to connect and fall in love.
Another interesting thing they did with this film is that the movie is all in black and white except for four times when Dorian Gray’s picture is shown in color. This really allows you to view the full horror of the changing image.
Sorry to end so abruptly but I’m telling you, you really should read and watch it yourself. I would hate myself for ruining it for anyone out there.
Here’s a cover page I made for my facebook this year for my countdown to Halloween.