misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Elinor drawing water: the 2008 SandS quotes Pasternak's Zhivago; how intertextuality works

 Dear friends and readers,

I can't prove this but I've a strong belief that the lovely scene in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility where Elinor (I had almost said Lara because of the outfit she wears) fetches water from a well accompanied by the most poignant music (interspersed with hanging shells and all seen through a window frame) ultimately comes from Pasternak's Dr Zhivago.  I've been reading the novel as well as some good readings of it, and know that Pasternak's Yuri has a vision of Lara filled with love when he watches her drawing water, that windows figure largely in the novel (people looking through them) and that in the 2002 movie Campiotti (the director who loved the novel and knows it well) had a scene of Mathesen as Yuri watching Keira Knightley as Lara drawing water.

Here is the series from S&S; later tomorrow I'll see if I can snatch the corresponding one from the 2002 Dr Zhivago by Pivecevic/Davies/Campiotti.

It was first placed in a montage sequence as one thing Elinor was doing in Part 3, marking the passage of time, with a POV of Marianne looking out through the window; it was then moved to where it doesn't make sense because we don't know who is looking out the window, but comes directly after Mark Williams as Sir John Middleton suggests to David Morrisey as Colonel Brandon that he think of Elinor as more suitable to him.

I believe Davies would have gotten a big kick out of this. In the audio-commentary John Alexander says this tiny sequence of images is his favorite in the whole film. It makes him love Elinor.  Davies had made Dr Zhivago with Pivcevic in 2002 (as well as a free adaptation of Othello, 2001).  Now this is how intertextuality in the three Doctor Zhivagoes works.

The opening sequence of Lean's film where Yuri (Omar Shariff) gets on a tram behind Lara (Julie Christie) and they both observe a child running by; the images, mood, feeling are repeated with intense poignancy at the close when he, having
been put on a tram by his brother who got him a decent clerical job (Guiness), sees her walking in the streets from his tram and attempts to reach her, only to die of a heart-attack in the streets.

This is alluded to by Davies, Pivcevic and Campiotti in the opening and closing sequences of the 2002 Doctor Zhivago where at the outset Yuri as a child rushes out to see his father's corpse from a train, and at the film's conclusion Yuri as a partly broken older man sees himself as a boy in the streets (though maybe it's a vision), and recognizes his son (or himiself) and then sees Lara walking by the bar where he's writing poetry. Again he rushes out to reach her, this time not even getting out of the bar, he drops dead in the space between the tables.

In the book none of this occurs except the death of Yuri, suddenly, on a tram on the way to a job his brother got him. All we hear of Lara is she was taken away one day to a camp, She was taken away to a camp: "a nameless number on a list that was afterwards mislaid, that was quite common in those days." This is captured in Guiness's lines to the supposed daughter, Tonia (she's in the last part of the book which takes place in 1943): "we were running in a street, the
street was on fire, explosions, houses were falling down, he he he let go of my hand and I was lost"

Yevgraf: Your father would have done that?
Tonia: Oh yes people will do anything

Now when Yuri dies in Pasternak's novel later 1920s), he was onto his third wife or partner, Marina, his once servant's daughter, he despised by these practical people who nonetheless keep him alive physically.

I finished rewatching Lean's film. Like Ang Lee's S&S, it's an artistic masterpiece, each segment controlled. The visions and sections are so clearly done, so orderly that they are memorable in ways Davies', Pivcevic and Ciampotti's 2002 film is not. So they stay in the mind deeply. Spectacle is about far more than spectacle. Lean's is a movie a movie about people never seeing one another again: as when Tonia says goodbye to Yuri, he riding away for "morphine," but really to say goodbye to Lara and then he's pressed; now Lara waving goodbye off from ice palace with child and Komarofksy, Yuri waves, knowing ...

 Here is as shot from the scene in the 2002 Zhivago where Keira Knightley as Lara draws water with Hans Mathesen as Yuri standing on a small hillock above watching her. This does not occur in the book; their reunion is offstage, but Davies, Pivcevic and Ciampotti provide an original re-meeting and a parting remarkably like that of Edward and Elinor's first meeting over beating carpets in S&S and parting in a library. Zhivago and Lara part in a library now turned into a hospital and wash room:

First glad sight


Carrying -- this is essential to sequence


Some more intextualities and what the teach us by comparing:

This drawing of water is found in a similar long-drawn lovely slow series in Miss Austen Regrets where again perhaps through a winow but I'm not sure, but I know it is out of Jane's mind's eye at Godmersham, we see Gretta Scacchi as Cassandra drawing water. 

I just choose one out of several frames; I'll come back later and add a couple tomorrow evening.

Pivcevic was the producer of Miss Austen Regrets and it's included in the double DVD sold in the US (where however one sequence of images is cut from MAR: where Jane wakes up one morning in Persuasion, by the first sign of terrible illness and goes out into a meadow to walk under a tree and we get a voice-over from Persuasion.

The dislocated mirror occurs in another montage where we see Colonel Brandon through a window playing with his dogs with Sir John by his side; again it was originally edited next to Marianne looking out a window, playing cards and the camera returned to show her embarrassed as someone peeping him.  That second sequence was cut as in the wrong mood altogether. I've been reading Pasternak's Dr Zhivago in a good English translation and Angela Livingstone's study of Pasternak and have noticed and it's now confirmed that looking through windows is a dream-motif in this novel; it's also one in the 2008 S&S film.

this level of intertextuality goes unnoticed even among film studies. That's because films are not just taken seriously enough, so that the full sources of film-makers are not studied. Only the obvious eponymous book but much more goes into a film and often another film is more the actual source of the literal events and images you see in a film that "its" book.

So much of the way films are discussed in popular publications is totally inadequate or downright wrong. For a start, what is a film? well, it's a series of audio-visual moving images, and when a man makes a film he cuts and edits these, splices them together. Huge efforts by a large team of people have gone into making each shot's details exquisitely controlled and shaped.  It's not a moving photograph of actors in settings going through a story, no not at all. Nowadays a lot is faked too.

By the way that's what I'm trying to do in my book:  going into the actual as well as "central" source for the films I'm writing about.  Which is why it is hard and takes so much time.

It's particularly hard and frustrating to trace the careers and outlooks of producers who are often as major and active as the directors and screenplay writers.   Only recently too have you begun to see women do this: Pivcevic's movies (as a producer) really differ from those by men (you can see the woman-centered point of view), she edited the script of the 1997 Tom Jones which is proto-feminist and also the Nokes and Barron remarkable 1996 Tenant of Wildfell Hall. But this is not acknowledged in print anywhere.  People inside the BBC know for you find her nowadays consistently put on projects where there's a mild feminist content or female screenplay writer.  She herself would not want to be so categorized openly for it would hurt her career so again a woman's canon is squashed out of sight.

From a series of Olivia Williams as Jane persisting in writing placed  through Miss Austen Regrets. They are all of them revealing.  For example this one:

Here she snatches back time to write as Cassandra readies herself to go to a baptism of one of Anna Austen's babies.  When she gets there, she is told by Mrs Austen (Phyllida Law) before others as she tries to hold the baby, that she is no good at this, and thus no good.  When she gives Anna a copy of her book, her baby, her mother mocks it:  Anna has no time for such nonsense now. 

And then there's the Austen in creative reverie in landscapes shots, from which I now take my avator and take this one:

Here she has realized she is very sick -- some of these she is very sad in and gazes at a river

Early at Godmersham, a quotation of a scene in the 1987 Northanger Abbey where Catherine wanders in gardens with statues of women nearby.

Now the two series, Jane in reverie and Jane writing are connected not by the story but by juxtaposition and visually. For example, Jane in quiet creative reverie, left alone at Godmersham while Edward and Fanny Austen go out to socialize, is writing Emma, from Chapter 2,

We see Cassandra draw too, only here the accent is sad and melancholy:

Pivcevic and Lovering have re-created the famous drawing but placed a unusual mood on it. For the most part, people either (wrongly in my view) complain and just reprint it without changing it (for which we must be grateful) or celebrate it by re-creating it in glorioius landscape terms (with say a famous actress); this was done in the 1995 S&S.

Or they pretty it up -- one Austen sites has a watercolor of it which turns it into a sort of kitsh pastel. I like the pastel and have a copy of it in my files.  Hughes has given the meaning a turn about Austen's sickness. She turns away because she looks bad, is dying, can't face that she's dying, is (understandably) angry to have to die young (something censored out of the extant letters and destroyed in other letters probably).

So, though I can't prove it, I think the squence of shots of Jane and Cassandra walking off from the family together to talk:

Feel that real wind, see the postures of bending, and compare it to this prettying upin the 1995 S&S; the point is Ang Lee's shot not the women nor their communication of inward souls:

This 2008 S&S one is titillating -- as revealed in the audiocommentary to the DVD:

And Menon in his I Have Found It has an ironic reflexive scene of his Manohar-Edward trying to hold down just a bit a dress under a wind machine

Tags: andrew davies, costume drama, female archetypes, film adaptation, jane austen films, women's art

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