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Dear Friends,

This story is worth reading and commenting upon here. For the past six or seven years actress after actress who stars in roles has become a bag of bones. In Babel Cate Blanchett looked scary she was so thin; Sally Hawkins in Persuasion and her more recent film for Mike Leigh was frigteningly frail.  They are usually photographed to hide how thin  they really are, at the same time starvation is forced on them so they shall have matchstick arms and very bony shoulders.  There was a strike protest by a group of actresses in Brazil but it didn't last very long. Directors hire actresses (Thompson says in another place) on the basis of whether they want to go to bed with them. And getting a job is so central to people's career and life.

They want women they feel they can dominate easily.



Thompson as Elinor Dashwood, actually a rare close up in the film at first as Ang Lee couldn't accept that he had an actress who was not under under 25.

Actresses have little power the way women in life do. They are just not given it, and they feel this.

There is a real question, whose film the 95 S&S is. Really it's just as much Thompson's as Lee's and the struggle over how much food to have on screen and how often captures this. He really does like to have food scenes and lots of them; he spent 6 years as a househusband cooking. She felt the lavish amounts of food were wrong: they wouldn't have had them at the time.  WE can see she lost again and again.

One excellent article on the 95 S&S (one of the best short articles I've read on it) by Graham Fuller argued the movie was a psychodrama of Thompson's life, a projection of her inner world and self-image. Her father died when she was young; at the end of the commentary she does mention this and connect it to the Dashwood father death; he (her father) is thanked at the end of the credits.  She also mentions the loss of Branagh (that hurt, the way he had affairs, had one with Bonham-Carter) as part of the background for the film.

But he too values fathers. His first three films have been labelled "father knows best."  The last one has the father marrying a very young woman and so defying the demands on him as a patriarch all the while he acts them out. And his father died too (I'm not sure if it was before the film).

In the commentary to the movie on the DVD, she keeps saying she never expected to play Elinor, she thought it would be Natasha Richardson (very beautiful), but I wonder. She puts it that it was a free decision of Lee's.  I think he saw she had written the part for herself and somehow knew the movie would soar were she on it as writer and center. This went against the grain as he couldn't stand an icon at the center of his film he didn't want to go to bed with. He repeatedly says things not only like "don't look so old" to her, but to James Schamus, "how smart she was," and there's a kind of resentment/edge to them. He didn't like her being on the set and getting to call what was said. He says most of the time the scriptwriter is not allowed near the set. WEll, not Andrews Davies and not in TV. And he may know this (hard to say).

The rivalry made a great movie as both spirits are in there strongly.

Back to jobs and dieting for actresses, it's my experience that the person who gets to do the hiring is all powerful. Women are still rarely directors and not often producers, and when they are, the people in the studio can overrule them.  The people ar the studio overruled some decisions by Lee and Thompson apparently. We are not told what these were. Unions are no stronger than the strength of the company or boss and all he need do is fire someone and they are without any basis. In the US the laws protecting union people are so feeble nowadays this is a common tactic in right to work states.

Ellen

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC)
Emma Thompson and desserts; why women are required to be so thin?
From a member of WWTTA:

"This thread made me think of another film with which Emma Thompson was also associated. It also involved food. Soon after Emma Thompson was married to Kenneth Branagh, she had a large role in a wonderful film, Impromptu, which was about George Sand, Frederic Chopin, Franz Listz and more(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102103/). James Lapine was the director, and constantly complained to Emma Thompson that she looked overweight. Naturally,
Thompson got tired of hearing this and decided to do something about it.

When the cast was eating a meal together, and Emma saw the director approaching from a distance, she asked the cast to push their desserts toward her. When the director reached the table, he saw Emma eating her desert with gusto, surrounded by plenty more.

I don't understand why it is that women are required to look so thin. Kate Winslet received flack as well since she has a fuller figure and not that of a stick bug. Male actors are allowed to have whatever figure they desire, even to the point of letting themselves go. Are woman's main function to be decorative
in film? Disturbing..."
misssylviadrake
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
Why?
Thank you for the reference to Impromptu. It looks like such an enjoyable film -- with a wonderful cast, including Bernadette Peters as Marie D'Agoult. I shall try to obtain a copy to see it.

The director wants a woman he think he might want to go to bed with and thinks other men will want to go to bed with. This coheres by the way with a common reality: the first film of some of these actresses who go on to do costume drama of a high quality sort is they are 19 for the first film. Kate Winslet, Helena Bonham Carter are only two such young women. Keira Knightley was 17.


But I've an explanation for beyond that: women are incessantly drilled in the necessity of being thin -- psychological studies suggest the ultimate reason for this is controlling them and getting them to control and repress themselves. Well, it pleases women who have been so trained to see thin women there they can pretend are versions of themselves. That's why they are photographed to look slightly heavier than they are after they have been driven to starve themselves.

Anorexia is an emotionally painful and actually dangerous mental illness. It afflicts women and we are talking about one of its central causes.

Ellen

Edited at 2009-08-05 04:41 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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