It's been such a long time since I did a Film Friday that I thought today's the day. Watching all the programmes on telly last night about the late, great maestro Pavarotti got me thinking about opera - Obviously Nessun Dorma is absolutely hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck amazing, as is Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman's version of Time to Say Goodbye. But my favourite has to be O Mio Babbino Caro, an aria from Puccini's Gianni Schicci. I first heard it as a child watching A Room with a View, one of my favourite films and the subject of this post. The film is littered with Puccini, from the scenes in Florence to the stilted repression of Edwardian England, and it's simply glorious to listen to.
For those of you not aware of the film, a brief synopsis: Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) is on holiday in Florence, Italy, with her spinster aunt, Charlotte (played by wonderful Dame Maggie Smith). Whilst there, Lucy gets involved in a love affair with the slightly odd but interesting George Emerson (Julian Sands); Well, just a passionate snog in a poppy field really, but in Edwardian society that is a very big deal. She returns to her home life of playing piano and tight corsets, and becomes engaged to scholarly [read:dull] Cecil Vyse (an incredible performance by D. Day-Lewis). Then George happens to move into the neighbourhood and she has to decide if her future lies in passion and poetry, or sermons and stuffy boredom.
It really is a great film and the performances equally so. Julian Sands is rather wooden, but it sort of suits the awkwardness and fussy ways of Edwardian society. Dan Day-Lewis proves his worth with what should have been an Oscar-winning role, and which stands out amongst an all-star cast that includes Simon Callow, Dame Judi Dench and Denholm Elliott.
It also features a scene where three men (including the vicar) go "for a bathe" in a lake, only to be happened upon by some unsuspecting and shocked ladies. Let's just say that for a 7 year old girl, it's not a scene you forget easily...
On a separate note, am very excited about tonight. Have booked tickets to see Atonement which I am just finishing re-reading for the 2nd time. I've looked forward to the film for so long & have heard reviews have been raving, although I refuse to read any until after I've seen it myself. First read the book in 2003 and thought it was very good, but reading it a second time has firmly established it as one of my favourite novels. The way Ian McEwan writes is so enjoyable, lots of descriptive prose which never gets dull or tedious. I'm also very happy that my favourite man, James McAvoy, is playing the role of Robbie, although what were they thinking about when they cast Keira Knightley as Cecilia??? I've heard she's meant to be good (well they style her very well as this stunning couture gown shows), but I'm a fan of neither her acting nor her ridiculous pout which she pulls each time a photographer is near. She's even said in an interview that she plays it differently to the book - not happy. Romola Garai plays a small part who I think is a fantastic actress & who would have been a much better Cecilia. But before I run away with myself and my ravings, I had better watch the film. I like the director, Joe Wright, who made Pride & Prejudice (albeit with half the story), but as for KK playing the part of Eliza Bennett....Well, I'll save that rant for another post.
I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who hasn't read it. If you find a lot of prose quite difficult, please persevere and you will not be disappointed. Many have said that it starts slowly, but it builds the story and the tension just grows and grows until you cannot put it down. I have 20 pages left which I will devour in my lunch break - then the difficulty of finding the next good book to read. It'll never match that.