Stardust by Neil Gaiman Books-to-Movie Intro

Stardust was the brain child of Neil Gaiman and he enlisted artist Charles Vess to do the illustrations for the initial 1997 DC Comic release, which was a four-part mini series.  In 1998 a hardcover and trade paperback were published that included  175 illustrations from the original comic book.  Gaiman retained the rights to the novel and in 1999 a conventional novel was published by Avon without illustrations. To coincide with the release of the movie a 2007 issue was released with an additional 50 illustrations by Charles Vess as well a new cover art.

From Neil Gaiman’s website:

In the tranquil fields and meadows of long-ago England, there is a small hamlet that has stood on a jut of granite for 600 years. Just to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named. Here, in the hamlet of Wall, young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. And here, one crisp October eve, Tristran makes his love a promise — an impetuous vow that will send him through the only breach in the wall, across the pasture… and into the most exhilarating adventure of his life.

We will be watching the 2007 film version starring Claire Danes, Robert DiNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ian McKellan as the narrator.

Some things to think about as you read and watch:

How does the Pirate Captain get his name?

The connection of the witch’s magic to her image?

If you are reading on illustrated version, how does the visual setting in the  movie compare to the book?

A fantasy novel into a fantasy movie, does it work? Why or why not?

So pull up a book, a bucket of popcorn, and let the fun begin!

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The Importance of Being Earnest Books-to-Movie Report

I realize I am a little late in posting this but my life has been a little crazy of late with school.  Now on to the fun stuff! Did you watch the movie? Read the play? What did you think? Now remember we are discussing the 2002 film version of the play. Let’s discuss some of the questions I posted in the intro.

*What is the significance of the difference of the city and the country?

In most Victorian literature (and even earlier than that) there is usually an innocence associated with the country and a certain depravity associated with the city but Wilde doesn’t conform to this traditional thematic element.   The first hint we get of it is by the explanation that Jack comes from the country to the city pretending to be his brother and Algy goes from the city to the country pretending to visit Bunbury when he needs to escape his creditors.  Once the main characters are in the country, they don’t change their way of behaving or the lengths they go to enact faleshoods upon each other.

“When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1

*What do you think about some of the leeway the film took getting across a point without adding dialog (tatoo and knight in shining armor)?

The first time I saw the film, after reading the play, I was amazed and amused at what the director added to the play without changing or adding to the dialog. The daydreams of Cecily, where Algernon wears the suit of armor, fits so perfectly with the fact that she keeps a journal and she had written letters to herself from the fictitious Earnest.  I also loved how they were able to portray Algy being aware of the dream but accepting it in the scene where his head is resting in Cecily’s lap and he looks down and just raises his eyebrows at the fact that he is in a suit of armor. So great without a single word to acknowledge the transformation! I laughed outloud at the end when Cecily is suddenly sitting on a horse in the middle of the house.

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2

*What do you think of the casting?

I have to admit I love everyone in this version of the play. Hands down my favorite is Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell! The warning of Caroline where she explains that her mother has a tendency to unexpectedly enter a room without warning is carried of brilliantly by Judi Dench, especially when she suddenly arrives at the country house.  Although I do love Rupert Everett as Algernon and Colin Firth as Jack, especially when they sing the song to get the girls to come down.  Anna Massey does a great job as the retiring mousy Miss Prism and Reese Witherspoon as Cecily. What do you think, could they have improved a character with a different actor(ess)?

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”-Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2

*Do you have a favorite line?

I love almost every line in this movie and have a hard time narrowing it down to one. I have placed several of my favorites in the above discussions and here are a few more for yours (and mine) enjoyment.

“London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 3

“To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.”

“I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.”- Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 1

What did you think? Did you like reading a play for a change? Let me know what you think! Sean Monahan Authentic Jersey

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde Books-to-Movie Challenge

The Importance of Being Ernest is play that premiered on February 14, 1895 at St. James’  Theater in London, it was the last play written by Oscar Wilde.  “Play in three acts by Oscar Wilde, performed in 1895 and published in 1899. A satire of Victorian social hypocrisy, the witty play is considered Wilde’s greatest dramatic achievement. Jack Worthing is a fashionable young man who lives in the country with his ward Cecily Cardew. He has invented a rakish brother named Ernest whose supposed exploits give Jack an excuse to travel to London periodically. Jack is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the cousin of his friend Algernon Moncrieff. Gwendolen, who thinks Jack’s name is Ernest, returns his love, but her mother, Lady Bracknell, objects to their marriage because Jack is an orphan who was found in a handbag at Victoria Station. Jack discovers that Algernon has been impersonating Ernest in order to woo Cecily, who has always been in love with the imaginary Ernest. Ultimately it is revealed that Jack is really Lady Bracknell’s nephew, that his real name is Ernest, and that Algernon is actually his brother. The play ends with both couples happily united.”-Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature. You can read more about the history of the Play here.

The book is available to be read free thanks to Project Gutenberg, located here.

The Play has been made into three film versions in addition to numerous radio adaptations.  The version we are going to be comparing to the writing is the 2002 film version starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everard, Reese Witherspoon and Judy Dench.  I have to admit this is one of my favorite films of all time and I am using this as a shameless excuse to watch it again.  A couple of things to think about before reading and watching:  the play on the word “Ernest.”  What is the significance of the difference of the city and the country? What do you think about some of the leeway the film took getting across a point without adding dialog (tatoo and knight in shining armor)? Do you have a favorite line? I will share mine when the report is posted.

Pop some popcorn and get watching.

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Jane Eyre Books-To-Movie Report

Okay, did you read the book then watch the movie? What did you think? There are books and movies that I know I love (Pride and Prejudice) and then there are ones that I forget how much I like them until I am reading/watching them again.  Jane Eyre is one of the latter for me; it is only when I am immersed in the story that I remember how much I love it.  The version of the film I am talking about is the 2006 BBC miniseries.

Gothic Elements

We can’t discuss Jane Eyre without talking about the Gothic elements that are spread throughout the entire story.  It starts with the visit of the ghost of Jane’s uncle in the ‘red room’, frightening her to the point that she tears her hands up beating on the door. I have to admit, that act alone made me despise the aunt–even before she turns Jane over to the horrible school–and I struggled to reconcile with Jane for forgiving her aunt in the end and helping her aunt when no one else would (but then, I am not nearly as forgiving as Jane is).

Other Gothic elements include the crazy wife in the tower who comes out to try and kill everyone else and the weather as a sympathetic reflection of the Jane’s emotions.  When Jane and Mr. Rochester meet it is a misty dreary day where everything is obscured and in turmoil.  As the summer progresses and their relationship develops, the summer turns pleasant, and when Jane leaves and is left on the moors, the weather again becomes dreary.  Do you love the Gothic elements or think they are a trifle over done?

Houseparty

Mr. Rochester, after getting to know Jane and obviously being attracted to her, brings a party of guests to the house most of whom don’t treat Jane very well. Why do you think he did that? I have a couple of theories, let me know what you think.

One theory, he could have brought the house party, especially Blanche Ingram, in an attempt to remind himself of the world he resides in. Also, as a way to show Jane in a bad light, she is not a social creature, she doesn’t understand the manipulations that Mr. Rochester plays upon those around him who seek him out for his money, and because Jane isn’t pretty–whereas most of the women in the house party are like butterflies (beautiful without much substance who flutter about)–he brought them to remind himself of the beautiful women available to him.

My second theory is that Mr. Rochester brought them to the house in an attempt to justify spending more time with Jane. If he had the guests at the house he wouldn’t feel so guilty about spending time with her and enjoying her company.  Also, bringing the vain shallow women who were only after his money into the house showed how very different Jane is in temperament and ideals.  What do you think, is one theory better than the other or do you have your own theory?

Wedding

When I first read this book in my teens, I cried when the wedding was interrupted and it was revealed that Mr. Rochester was already married.  My heart broke for both Jane and Mr. Rochester and I was so mad at Richard Mason for interrupting the wedding after Jane and Mr. Rochester worked so hard to save his life after his crazy sister attacked him.  Do you think he should have kept quiet after helping to trick Rochester into marrying his crazy sister in the first place? Or did he do the right thing because Rochester was married?

Money vs. Family & Character

One recurring theme is money vs. character and money vs. family.  From the beginning of the story Jane is forced to do without both, the only relatives she knows force her to attend a horrible school where she is abused and starved. Mr. Rochester repeatedly mentions how handsome he is because of the money he has. Finally, Jane is left an inheritance by an uncle she never met and instead of keeping all of it for herself she shares it equally with her River cousins.  This is one of my favorite themes of the book, the value of family and how most people don’t appreciate it because they have never had to do without those bonds.

Mr. Rochester

Mr. Rochester is one of the most complex males in literary fiction (at least in my opinion). He is charming and charismatic while at the same time being selfish and arrogant.  One minute I want to beat him for the way to treats those around him and in the next hold him and promise to love him forever.  Obviously he is incredibly cynical because of the greedy people who flutter around him and because of the marriage he was tricked into making by his own family members.  As a result of the manipulation he endured, he sees no problem with manipulating those around him. I think he does try to be the bigger man in the beginning of his relationship with Jane, treating her well and finally offering her marriage because he loves her and he wants to be loved in return.  I think his baser nature gets the better of him when he tries to convince Jane to run away with him and pretend to be his sister, as if that relationship would remain the platonic one he described for very long. However, for all his faults I still love him and sigh in happiness when he finally gets his Jane back. I would love to read the story from his point of view, all we get is Jane’s. How does he feel when his Jane leaves him, what does he do and how does he adjust after losing everything?

My last question, do you think that Mr. Rochester had to be humbled with his house burning to the ground, his wife dying with him unable to save her and him being permanently injured to be able to have a happy and long time relationship with Jane or do you think he could have been happy with Jane with everything except the wife intact? Or do you think it was just punishment for him to have to suffer without Jane, lost in the dark by himself, for the pain he caused to Jane?

I love this story and am very glad I got to enjoy it with a critical eye, too many times I tend to just enjoy any story without analyzing it but half the greatness of this story is in analyzing it’s many layers and elements. When the 2011 version is released we will have to do a comparison to see which we like better. Alex Cappa Jersey