The Pursuit of Loveliness


Loveliness. There needs to be more of it. This past week we embarked on a movie watching spree of some of the supposedly best movies from 2007. All I can say is, oh my. I am going to sum these movies up in a blink. Here goes: 

No Country for Old Men – Shoot, kill, monster guy, shoot kill some more, dreadful, horrible, greed, blood, shoot, shoot, hopeless awfulness, good guy loses, bad guy ends up with a broken arm, older generation is irrelevant and talks gibberish. The End. Okay, the writing was quite good. A watch -able (like a train wreck) film with a sick premise. Big Sigh.

There Will be Blood – They should have used this title for No Country for Old Men, because there wasn’t much blood, just a lot of dirty fingernails, grimy, sweaty, dirty, mean, horrid, awful, people and grunge. There was blood at the end when the despicable, selfish, most likely stinky due to lack of baths old guy whacks the stereotypical Jimmy Swaggert-like sniveling, ridiculously big crucifix wearing bible banger guy with a bowling pin. Oops. I should have said spoiler alert. Sorry. Plot ends midway through movie and it meanders to a short story ending of drunken, sweaty nothingness.

An aside about the short story ending…I have to say a few words on this topic. If you read a lot of short stories, you will find many just … end… boom. No rhyme. No reason. I myself use this technique occasionally because for some reason, it is seems to be the preferred way to wind up a short story, or not wind it up as the case may be. I personally think it is laziness. Some trendy, popular author (in the case of There Will be Blood, Upton Sinclair) ran out of things to say and said to himself “I think I will submit this to see what happens and like The Emperor’s New Clothes, the hapless, sycophant publisher thinking he must be missing something, but doesn’t want to give away his lack of sophistication publishes it and Voila! A literary technique is born. Oh well.

Back to movies…

Bella – Cliché, stupid, did I say cliché? Oh, and it is also cliché. Plot moves forward cliche-ly as follows- another aborted abortion, angst, angst. Cliché angst. Stupid use of scarf. No one wears scarves like this anymore. Movie is a combo plot: Like Water for Chocolate meets Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a twist of Juno. And this won awards at Sundance? My regard for Sundance plummets. (What is it with Hollywood, and abortion? They are doing mea culpa’s for Roe vs. Wade at an alarming, head spinning rate. Their message is so confusing, no wonder so many young girls are getting pregnant and having the baby and romanticizing the whole thing, I think it is irresponsible.)

Into the Wild – This is actually a good movie. Read the book by Jon Krakauer first, it is really good. He is a wonderful writer then, watch the movie. However, I don’t think Chris McCandless is a hero. I think he must have been troubled and he was foolish. Google Into the Wild and read the many articles, like this one and this one. But so far – it was the best movie.

Live Free Die Hard – Why did I watch this? To make my husband happy. He fell asleep, Emma and I watched it to the bitter end. Why? Why? Oh Why?

And so I write again, loveliness. I am dedicating my blog to the pursuit of loveliness, hence, the picture. Isn’t it lovely?

The Visual Bronte – Yes, I love them too

It may seem odd, but I had never actually read any of the Bronte’s novels before I was thirty one years old. For a Bronte devotee, this is rather late. Up to this point in my life, I felt as if all the movie and small screen adaptations had ruined the books for me. This is not to say I wasn’t in love with the storylines. Quite the contrary, I adored the early Hollywood attempts at Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I watched both of these movies over and over on a program broadcast Sunday afternoons in Chicago, Illinois called “Family Classics.” As a small girl, I fantasized about running through heather and all things English; I was born an American Anglophile.  

When I was an adolescent, sometime in the early 70’s, I saw another version of Wuthering Heights. It was more troubling, wilder and titillating than the 1939 version. If anything, it made my desire to actually read the book even more remote, because by this time I had seen Wuthering Heights at least once a year since I was five years old.

When I saw the 1983 BBC Jane Eyre production, I was enthralled but it seemed so thorough, I was convinced reading the book was completely unnecessary.

I came to my love for the actual novels of the Bronte’s rather late. I discovered them through the back door, so to speak. Being a great reader of biographies, I stumbled upon Rebecca Fraser’s book The Brontes, Charlotte Bronte and Her Family in 1990 and fell into the world of this remarkable family with a layman’s interest that has never abated. It was Rebecca Fraser’s biography which made me want to, no; need to read the books for myself.

Reading Jane Eyre at the ripe old age of 31 was amazing. In many ways, I was grateful none of my English teachers required the Bronte’s for any high school reading assignments. Reading Jane Eyre in the wake of the Fraser biography felt like one must feel when making an archeological discovery. For me, reading Jane Eyre for the first time felt like opening the tomb of King Tut. It seemed remarkable to read this novel and discover writing so present, so alive in spite of it having been published in 1847. I was amazed to hear Charlotte Bronte’s voice in my own head.

I went on a Charlotte Bronte spree, Shirley, Villette and when the Juliet Barker biography The Bronte’s was published, I devoured it even while I continued my self education by reading the novels of Emily and Anne.

When the 1996 film, Jane Eyre, was released, I was first in line at the movie theatre. I loved this version, and forgave its shortcomings. The look of Charlotte Gainsborough enchanted me and having a degree in costume design, I adored the costumes throughout.

This movie kindled a memory I had from Fraser’s biography. It was a picture of Charlotte Bronte’s wedding bonnet. For me, the visual aspect of the Bronte Myth had always played a powerful part in my measured self education of all things Bronte.

Perhaps this is what prompted me to make my very own adaptation of Jane Eyre. After finding some very old lace in an antique store, I felt compelled to create my own idea of Jane based on the bonnet pictured in Fraser’s book. I recreated Jane in doll form and in an attempt to interpret her inner purity, dressed her in white. Whatever the reasons; my Jane doll is an outgrowth of my early visual response to the Bronte mystique. My life long Bronte journey began by watching Hollywood’s visual re-creations of the novels. My Jane Eyre doll brings me full circle.