Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Room with a View out of my television

After reading A Room with a View I watched both the 1985 film and the 2007 tv adaptation. Neither was perfect.

The 2007 version was pretty good right up until the end when you realize that they changed the ending. Not only did they change it, they made it sad. The book was written in 1908, well before World War I, but for some utterly bizarre reason they decided to set the movie in 1912 and then kill off Lucy's husband in the war. The book ends happily! They go back to Italy and are happy! But no, they decided that they were going to let Lucy have a little bit of happiness and then take it away! Can you tell I was horrified? This is the version I saw some of ages ago. I probably absorbed the idea that it ended sadly and that was why I didn't want to read it. Why on earth would they want to ruin a lovely happy ending, and turn people off the book? Apart from that, I thought the casting was very good. I like Elaine Cassidy as Lucy better than I like Helena Bonham Carter.

Mind, I did like Helena Bonham Carter in the 1985 version. I'd never seen her in anything from when she was so young, and she did naiveté well. But she wasn't quite... magical enough, I guess. There was something missing. Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett also didn't quite strike me as right. Maggie Smith doesn't really do fluttery, and I always saw Charlotte as fluttery. Sophie Thompson nailed that as Charlotte in 2007--she played Ms. Bates to Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma, we know she can do fluttery. All the other casting was great, however. I particularly liked Daniel Day Lewis as Cecil Vyse, and a very young Rupert Graves as Freddy Honeychurch.

Both of these were fairly good adaptations (apart from 2007's ridiculousness with the ending), but somehow neither of them fit my image of the book. There's a certain lightness about the book. In my head it was always the very bright sunlight filtered through leaves--very green and cool, but bright. Not a heavy lightness. Both the movies went for heavier, gold tones, which to be honest is probably what Italy in the summer looks like, but which still felt wrong. Visually it might have been logical, but I felt it didn't reflect the tone of the book.

Oh, the perils of film adaptation.


Thomas at My Porch said...

Oh dear. Time for some friendly, healthy disagreement. Maybe it was seeing the 1985 version on the big screen when it first came out, but I think that that version is perfection. Even if you subtract the bad, made-up ending from the 2007 version, I think the '85 version is much more in tune with the novel. And I think Maggie Smith was so wonderful as Charlotte. In the opening couple of scences from the 2007 version I was thinking "Hmm, this is kind of interesting to see the parts played differently." But as the film wore on I liked it less and less.

Sigh. I guess different points of view make the world go round.

Anna said...

Oh, I agree the 1985 version is better all around, even with my minor casting quibbles. I had casting quibbles with other characters about the 2007 version, and it was kind of generally lacking in something. But I think this might be one of the few books were I have such a specific vision that I'm never going to be satisfied with a movie.


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