Monday, April 29, 2013

Angie & Laura Go to the Movies

Welcome to "Angie & Laura Go to the Movies," where we compare movie adaptations of classic novels we have read. For the ranking system, Angie and Laura will determine if you should "Go see it at the theater," "Rent it," or "Walk out." Enjoy!
*Angie and Laura read this novel several months ago now, so our account of details of the novel are not very fresh. Most often, we will watch the movie adaptation (if there is one) the same month we read the novel with the CWAtC book club. During months where there is no movie adaptation to a book we are reading (as in the case of Brave New World), we will filter in movie comparisons to books we have read in the past, as we are doing now.
The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton tells the tale of Newland Archer, engaged to May Welland, but in love with her cousin, Ellen Olenska. Unfortunately, Ellen married a Polish gentleman and moved to Europe, but her husband was unfaithful and abusive, so she left him to return to New York. Sadly, New York high society in the 1870’s is unforgiving to any woman who would consider leaving her husband, let alone attempt to get a divorce. And, because Ellen would suggest such a thing, she will never truly fit into this society. Even though Newland Archer loves Ellen, for various reasons, he is unable to break his engagement to May and run away with Ellen.

Angie says: Rent it!

Scorsese's film version of The Age of Innocence follows the book well and has wonderful actors/actresses. Winona Ryder plays May Welland perfectly; Michelle Pfeiffer, while not exactly like I pictured her, played Ellen Olenska amazingly; and Daniel Day Lewis, like every character he ever plays, was fantastic as Newland Archer. There is little to complain about and it is well worth watching, especially if you have read the book and wish to see it in action. Even if you haven’t read the book, the story is engaging, heartbreaking, and frustrating.

That being said, if this movie were out in the theater today, I would not run out to see it for $10. It moves a bit slowly, like the book. And, although I enjoy that quality in a story at times, it is not a quality that I seek out in a movie that I watch. However, I recommend renting the movie for only a couple bucks. It gives a great picture of high society snobbery in NY in the 1870’s. I’m so glad I missed that era!

Laura says: See it at the theater!

What struck me throughout the film was how well done the picture was made and how it stayed true to the novel. The Beaufort house for instance, is as I imagined it with ornate paintings, drapes, and intricate design. Usually the directors make many changes, as if they feel they can convey a better story than the actual classic author did, but this was not the case for The Age of Innocence. For instance, the costumes, which were first rate, only enhanced the feel of the story. May often wears white, representing her apparent naiveté, while Ellen, the more free-spirited and independent woman, is often seen in red with her blonde curls and red lips.  

The acting was fantastic. Winona Ryder captured the character of May Welland seems unsuspecting and does not reveal that she is at all perceptive until later in the film. Daniel Day Lewis portrays Archer as a lawyer, part of traditional old New York, who is conflicted by his passion for Countess Olenska. His advice to Ellen wavers as in the novel. First he supports her right to divorce then convinces her that due to the traditional mindset of New York society, it is in her best interest to remain married. When he waivers once more saying he would have married Ellen if he could, she made him realize it was his own advice that led to the impossibility of their being together. Through her anger and tears, she says "You don't know all the good you've done for me that I never knew....I can't love you unless I give you up." This scene itself was emotional and reminded me of what a fine actress Michelle Pfeiffer is.

For me the movie was the book come to life.  I would say see it at the theater to someone who enjoys stories of unrequited romance or enjoyed the novel.  

So, if you see The Age of Innocence, tell us what you think.  Is it worth paying money to see in the theater, only worth renting, or is it a movie you would walk out on?

No comments:

Post a Comment