Therese and Isabelle (1968) by Radley Metzger

In this post I discuss and link to the movie Therese and Isabelle (also known as Thérèse and Isabelle and Thérèse et Isabelle). It’s a 1968 French-American romantic drama film directed by Radley Metzger, and loosley based on the novel Thérèse et Isabelle by Violette Leduc. Two young girls meet and share affectionate intimacies in a European boarding school for girls. The movie is now available through archive.org.

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Violet Leduc (1907-1972) was French writer from a middle class family. She was born illegitimate and suffered from poor selfesteem as a young girl. Her relatives on the paternal side refused to recognize her. After the war, she went to a boarding school, the Collège de Douai, where she experienced a lesbian affair with her classmate “Isabelle”, which Leduc later adapted into the novel. I read an English translation of it which was a tideous experience. The novel was also censored for a long time.

Radley Metzger’s film adaptation of Thérèse et Isabelle have been generally favorable. IMDB.com presents the plot as following: “An older woman visits the boarding school of her youth after a 20 year absense. While strolling about the deserted grounds and classrooms she remembers her highly emotional experiences there, and well-executed flashbacks occur to her youth. At 17 she is abandoned by her loving mother because of remarriage and left at a European boarding school, disenchanted and lonely. Immediately she meets Isabell, an older, confident, rebellious girl. The two develop a friendship quickly without much conversation or bonding, but have the always temporary chemistry necessary for their friendship to progress into a sexual relationship. (…) Despite their undying love confessions to each other, Theresa wakes up one morning to find Isabelle has left the school, her room and desk replaced with another student. She never see’s Isabel again.” I can’t say I agree to everything in the quoted review. Even if I like the plot in the movie much more than the novel itself, the movie is sometimes too much with an unconvincing dialogue and Metzger’s intrepretation of lesbianism on the whole as a director becomes loathsome, or silly.

Therese and Isabelle (1968)

The movie available through archive.org

Sources

archive.org

imdb.com

wikipedia.org

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Jane Eyre (1934) – The very first movie adaption

Jane Eyre is a 1934 American romantic drama film directed by Christy Cabanne, starring Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive. It is based on the 1847 novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and is the first adaptation to use sound.

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Production began 17 May 1934 at General Service Studios. Adele sings the “Bridal Chorus” from the opera Lohengrin, by Richard Wagner, she also sings “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” which may seem a bit odd. The critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 2 stars (out of four), describing it as a “[t]hin version of the oft-filmed Bronte novel, produced by Monogram, of all studios[…] Still, it’s not uninteresting as a curio.”Produced by Ben Verschleiser and written by Adele Comandini.

Sources

Archive.org

Wikipedia.org

Charles Dickens – “A Christmas Carol” and a movie adaption from 1910

I guess you already know the story. The day before Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee, and then rudely rejects his nephew Fred when he visits Scrooge in his office. When Scrooge returns home, he sees the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him of the punishment he will suffer in the next life if he does not change his ways. That night, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits, who show him his past, present, and future him.

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Through the decades there has been numerous adaptions of Dicken’s famous story. A Christmas Carol was released on December 23, 1910 by the Edison Company. It was likely the first silent adaption of the story with English intertitles. Marc McDermott stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this silent film version of Dickens’ classic ghost story, A Christmas Carol. About 10 minuets long.

Sources

archive.org
wikipedia.org

Moonlight (2016) – The proustian moment

THIS week I went to see Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins at the cinema; so I’m going to write about the movie here and therefore my post will contain spoilers. If you haven’t seen this movie yet which is based on a play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, written by McCraney; you can stop reading now. Moonlight received critical acclaim upon its release and was regarded as one of the best films of 2016. At the 74th Golden Globe Awards it won Best Motion Picture – Drama and was nominated in five other categories. The film received eight Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ali, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jenkins and McCraney.

Moonlight (2016)

The movie depicts the chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. He’s known as Chiron and we watch his struggles since early schoolboy days growing up with a crack-addicted mother and being bullied at school. He’s quiet and has a hard time in his efforts to try communicating.  Words seems to fail him and adults complain he doesn’t speak much. He’s also a big time trying to escape his bullies and after being chased down the local drug dealer Juan finds him in his hiding place. He takes Chiron home and a lifetime friendship develop between them and Juan’s girlfriend Theresa. Although Juan sells drugs to Chiron’s mother Paula the friendship goes on through the years until Juan’s death. Chiron continues to be friend with Theresa. At High School young Chiron is bullied for being gay and doesn’t have any strength or potential friends to protect himself.

The Proustian moment in Moonlight

It was interesting to watch Moonlight because it does contain what is called a proustian moment.1 It’s communicated to us through Chiron’s High School friend Kevin who finally decides he will call Chiron and invite him to dinner where he works. At school they had an one-time sexual encounter at the beach and things could have gone well between them after that, but Kevin is talked into by Chiron’s bullies to hit him. They two men meet at the restaurant and it’s a bit of an awkward moment since they haven’t seen each other since high School. Kevin prepares a “chef’s special,” but Chiron is reluctant to speak or drink with his old friend who once knocked him out at school. Kevin seems taken a back that Chiron once silent and shy is a drug dealer making business in Atlanta. When he enters the restaurant tall and well build Kevin doesn’t recognize him. Chiron finally asks why he’s been summoned and Kevin reveals he thought of him after a customer who resembled Chiron entered the restaurant. He also remembered Chiron at that moment through a song. When he first called Chiron on the phone he promised to play that special song. The way this is communicated to the audience reveals Kevin’s proustian moment. Kevin tells Chiron that, although his life may not have turned out the way he hoped, he is still happy. He has a child and likes to work as a cook. The major similarity is that both men has done time. Chiron admits he has never been intimate with another person since their encounter on the beach. As Kevin comforts him, Chiron thinks back to his time as a child on the beach.

Sources

wikipedia.org

imdb.com

 

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  1. The term is also known as Proustian memory; or involuntary memory. Proust viewed involuntary memory as containing the “essence of the past”, claiming that it was lacking from voluntary memory. In his novel, he describes an incident where he was eating tea soaked cake, and a childhood memory of eating tea soaked cake with his aunt was “revealed” to him.