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IMDb page here.

Just a quick write-up of this before I go to bed.

The trailers promised a 'fresh look' at Forster's novel, and to a degree this was true. Mr. Beebe was played as explicitly gay (well, as explicitly gay as anyone can be in Edwardian England), which I don't think is true of his character in the 1985 version with Helena Bonham-Carter. And actually Elaine Carter rather outshone the latter as Lucy Honeychurch. Somehow, when characters around her said how wonderful she was, and how exciting it would be for everybody when she at last began to live, it was actually quite believable in her case. She played her many confusions very convincingly, and her piano more truly passionately, whereas Helena Bonham-Carter sometimes came across as simply petulant. In fact, now I come to think of it, the portrayals of Cecil Vyse, George Emerson and Mr. Emerson were all profoundly human and believable, too - and if Sinéad Cusack annoyed me as Eleanor Lavish, and Sophie Thompson as Charlotte Bartlett, that probably just shows they were doing their jobs well, as those characters are supposed to be annoying.

But something was lacking, and I suspect it was the subtle artifice of Forster's novel. His characters are beautifully delineated, and his plot smooth yet inevitable. You couldn't call either of them unrealistic. But each character stands for something specific, as does each place, and what's being played out isn't entirely a drama between individuals but a drama between attitudes and ideas. And that felt lost in this production - especially given the rather bizarre ending they tagged onto it. Far from the story coming full circle, so that Lucy and George offer their rooms with a view to another young girl on the brink of self-discovery, we see a few brief and steamy sex scenes between the two of them, then him lying dead in a First World War bomb-crater, and finally her returning to Florence to take up with the Italian carriage-driver who had propelled her into the arms of George Emerson in the first place. I'm sure it's a very literal representation of Lucy's emancipation. But it doesn't convey the sense that her story is only representative of a wider, continuous truth that Forster's ending does.

I'm also sorry that, by forswearing the captions used in the 1985 film, my favourite chapter heading from the entire book (which practically tells the whole story in itself) did not appear on screen:
"The Reverend Arthur Beebe, the Reverend Cuthbert Eager, Mr. Emerson, Mr. George Emerson, Miss Eleanor Lavish, Miss Charlotte Bartlett, and Miss Lucy Honeychurch Drive Out in Carriages to See a View; Italians Drive Them."
A worthy use of an evening, but what it's really made me do is want to read the book again. Which just ain't possible right now with so many other things queuing up to be read.

Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
white_hart
Nov. 5th, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
What? They changed they ending? How dare they? Especially when Forster himself wrote 'A View Without a Room', which is a far more believable epilogue than some I could mention and makes it absolutely clear that they had a long and happy marriage.

*Is glad she missed it*
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
'A View Without a Room'

Ah, good point - had forgotten about that. I'm pretty sure I've read it at some point, but can't remember its contents now. Must look it out and see if I have it somewhere at home.

The alternate ending also involved hitting the viewer over the head with the Italian carriage-driver's 'confusion' when Lucy asks to be directed to the uomini boni and he takes her to George, rather than the priests as she'd meant. She meets him again, and calls him on it, and he states explicitly that he knew perfectly well what she meant, but thought she had more need to be taken to George. IN CASE YOU HAD MISSED THAT, YO!

And they missed out another of my favourite lines, when Lucy tries to explain to her mother that Cecil despises ugly things, not people, and her mother asks, "Is it a thing or a person when Freddy plays comic songs on the piano?"

In fact, I think I was altogether too kind to this production when I reviewed it last night!
rentaghost31
Nov. 5th, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)
a lot of it was spelt out quite heavily wasn't it?

Mind you - I suppose it was on ITV :)

Although the really cute guy who played George Emercon was in another play on BBC3 or 4 last week about the lady Chatterley's Lover trial. He's good at the old sex scenes that guy - it has to be said.

I think I might be developing somewhat of a crush on him.
rentaghost31
Nov. 5th, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
aargh.

I am crushing on son of Spall!
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:08 am (UTC)
Tee-hee - I like how you came back and realised the full implications of your comment! ;-)

I love the way they played the parts of a father and son, though. Thought that was really nice.
rentaghost31
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:30 am (UTC)
i only realised the true horror after I followed your imdb link.

although i DO have a history of inappropriate/weird crushes. (See also Keanu Reeves)
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:57 am (UTC)
Oh, I don't know - I think Keanu Reeves is pretty widely crushed over, isn't he?
rentaghost31
Nov. 5th, 2007 12:50 pm (UTC)
yesbut if you are going to have a crush, you at least want it to be on someone relatively worth crushing on.
like john cusack for example
ellroy
Nov. 5th, 2007 09:33 am (UTC)
I missed it (apart from the first 5 mnutes or so). I wonder if it'll be repeated soonish?
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
Hee, I think we can pretty much rely on an infinite stream of repeats of anything these days!
smellingbottle
Nov. 5th, 2007 10:53 am (UTC)
I wasn't surprised that I didn't much like it, as I have a huge affection for the Merchant Ivory film, despite only having seen it in the cinema by mistake. Timothy Spall was lovely, but then he always is - but I continually found myself hankering after Maggie Smith, Rupert Graves and Simon Callow. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Sophie Thompson, an actress I generally like, because playing a part Maggie Smith owned must have been dreadful. I thought it was interesting that the Emersons' lower-middle classness was played up, but Rafe Spall played George as an unappealingly crass youth, I thought, which made the Cecil/George choice a bit grim... I agree that Elaine Cassidy was less petulant and livelier than Helena B-C's version of Lucy. But oh, the loss of the chapter titles!
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Rafe Spall played George as an unappealingly crass youth

Yeah, that was true at times, you're quite right. Sometimes I really liked him, and found him less contrived than Julian Sands in the 1985 version. But sometimes, yes - crass is the word. I guess he is quite a hard character to play convincingly as unconventional and yet also appealing.
rentaghost31
Nov. 5th, 2007 11:31 am (UTC)
ooh no - I thought he was lovely.



arghhh.
richenda
Nov. 5th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
>>>Far from the story coming full circle, so that Lucy and George offer their rooms with a view to another young girl on the brink of self-discovery, we see a few brief and steamy sex scenes between the two of them, then him lying dead in a First World War bomb-crater, and finally her returning to Florence to take up with the Italian carriage-driver who had propelled her into the arms of George Emerson in the first place

This is a sick joke - yes?
Surely the book ended with L and G occupying the R with a view?
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
This is a sick joke - yes?

Afraid not - or at least not on my part. Whether ITV meant it that way or not, I can't say!
richenda
Nov. 5th, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)
>>>>we see a few brief and steamy sex scenes between the two of them, then him lying dead in a First World War bomb-crater, and finally her returning to Florence to take up with the Italian carriage-driver who had propelled her into the arms of George Emerson in the first place

Surely this is sick nonsense!
Surely the book ends with them in the Room With A View oon their honeymoon?
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Well, sort of - except that of course they find out that a young girl and her chaperone staying in the same pensione have been promised rooms with a view, and don't have them, just like Lucy and Charlotte all that time ago. So because they don't need the view any more (as they have each other), they offer to let the young girl and her companion have their room instead... and the story starts all over again.
richenda
Nov. 5th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
>>>except that of course they find out that a young girl and her chaperone staying in the same pensione have been promised rooms with a view, and don't have them, just like Lucy and Charlotte all that time ago.

You are joking?
I haven't got the book - but I'm sure that you are joking and this doesn't happen!
sirlizard
Dec. 25th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
The book does indeed end with George and Lucy in that room with the view. The final chapter has them realizing that Charlotte probably intentionally intervened to get Lucy to have her fateful encounter with Mr. Emerson in Mr. Beebe's parlor, during which she admitted to herself that she did in fact love George.
huskyteer
Nov. 5th, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC)
I thought A Room with a View was a Bond film for an embarrassingly long time.

I love the Noel Coward song of the same name, but I don't know if it's connected with the story in any way?
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
Bless! I can see why, though.

As for Noel Coward, the book was published in 1908, which I think is well before he began his career. So he certainly had it to reference, and I presume he was. I don't know the song, though, so I can't comment on the content.
ingenious76
Nov. 5th, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
I was tempted to watch it, but gave it a miss. I absolutely love this book, as I studied it for A Level, and also enjoyed the mid-80s version. Sometimes, I feel that if things aren't broken, don't try and fix them.
strange_complex
Nov. 5th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
if things aren't broken, don't try and fix them

On balance, I think that was the right call in this case. I was hooked in mainly by the promise of a 'fresh' approach, but I was less than convinced that they'd really managed to create one. I think the 1985 film was so iconic that the story really should have been left alone for something more like another 50 years, not 20. Then it might be time for a fresh look.
ingenious76
Nov. 6th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
Definitely, but as you point out, why add on a new ending that completely twists the story? The whole point of ARWAV is that it is a story that is never ending. By changing the ending, that makes it applicable only to the characters of George and Lucy, and therefore loses the whole point that Forster was trying to convey.
strange_complex
Nov. 6th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, absolutely! And that makes for an incredibly positive ending too - the idea that over and over again, girls like Lucy are finding themselves, and then passing that gift on to others. ITV's alternative ending was in a way positive for her, in that it showed her as strong enough to survive the loss of George and go on to love again. But as you say, it was much too specific - it sacrificed the really important message about the magic of personal development for the sake of one individual's story.
richenda
Nov. 26th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
Returning after checking the book - with very msny thanks for your warnings. I am still tempted to suspect that someone somewhere thought that this was a humorous thing to do.
strange_complex
Nov. 26th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
Heh, no problem. The changes ITV made were certainly pretty nonsensical!
sirlizard
Dec. 25th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
A View Without a Room
At the following URL you can read the entire Forster follow-up to "A Room With a View," which he wrote in 1958, fifty years after the original story: http://www.stormpages.com/afernandes/arwout.html

Also, I wanted to correct one thing that I read on this page. At the end of the 1985 film, George and Lucy don't give up their view for the young Lucy doppelganger. George merely mentions that they (Lucy and George) have a view. As we can see in the final scene, they are back in their room and it is clear that did not give up their own view.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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