misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

The 1995 Dear/Michell Persuasion: poetry, music, pace

Dear friends and readers,

Late yesterday afternoon I finished my slow watching of this masterpiece, and would like to add a few more comments to the blog I wrote last week or so.

First that this movie means to show us Anne's mind and heart, and many of the scenes (dialogue, shot angle, music), the way Anne is in most of them and we look out at the world from her makes it into a subjective or internal movie.  We are taking an inward journey with Anne.  A good deal of we see outward is show to reflect her inward understanding of it

Second   how quiet, soft, slow-moving the scenes, the dialogue, the deepest moments of the film are. That's central to its point:  the intangible that counts, moves moutains is a glance, a dropped conversation, a gesture.  In the move also nothing is overdone, 

What Mary and we see from the window (just two from a number of stills

Some informational points: I have blogged on how Scott's Lady of the Lake and Byron's Fare Thee Well are worked into the sequence at Lyme. 

The diegetic (it's really sung as part of the story) and non-diegetic music in the background comes from Chopin and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro: the countess's second aria is one of the songs the soprano sings at the musical evening Anne, the Elliot family and Wentworth come to:  it's the second, later in the opera (at the opening of Act 2): "Porgi amor, qualche ristoro/Al mio duolo, a' miei sospir!/O me rendi il mio tesoro,/O mi lasica almen morir." It may be Englished as "Is there no consolation, O God of Love, in return for my sorrows and my sighs?  Either restore my dearest one's affection to me, or let me find peace in death."  This is the beat of Anne's heart and also Wentworth's, hidden, kept under, but what fuels their longing and the film's connection to a deep melancholy desire for peace, and rest. 

She begging him to stay for this song, does he see nothing to stay for here; he is too hurt

It's the reprise at the close as Anne and Wentworth stand on the ship and again as we see it at night. It makes the meaning not a false cheer.

When they left the circus behind

Porgi d'amore: "Let me share this sorrow"

Alone aboard ship, nothing to fear when together (as Mrs Crofts says), at last

Much of the non-diegetic music throughout is Chopin, Prelude in B, Nocturne in B and JS Bach's Sarabande in D (French suite) -- which reinforces or makes for this beautiful sadness. More later this afternoon on this -- I'll cite the compositions.

I, for one, wonder what will happen to Mrs Clay. As I wrote earlier, repeatedly her body postures reprise those of Anne, and Anne's hers: both seen from the back, bent over, in a sort of humble posture

Anne bent over in distress about way Wentworths discussed

Mrs Clay is typically embarrassed here, moving away; this is a typical posture of Anne's in the first half of the movie

Caught together, both bent over in uncomfortable Bath space

-- one Anne discards at least for the nonce in the last evening party and up on deck where she is not abject and not dependent in posture.  But we have reason to think from Mr Elliot's sharp face that will not be the case with Mrs Clay.  She is the movie's quiet loser -- the analogy would be with the still absent Eliza Brandon from all the S&S movies.

The movie's pace. This is a matter of demonstration if you time it and watch not impressionistically but literally. In most scenes little is happening overtly; in most of them everyone speaks ever so softly and slowly (Elizabeth and Sir Walter Elliot are exceptions, with Lady Russell being just that tad extra incisive, pressuring, edging into but never going over to tastelessness). The meaning of this movie lies in this pace and quietude.

The way in which one set of images replaces another is slow and gentle and not much happens in each. The biggest moments are intangible: two characters looking at one another and reading one another's faces, slowly hearing one another's words, indirectly telling one another of how they feel, until the final getting together prompted by Harville, and then downstairs in the streets. It's a hard film to capture as the depths of this book is hard to fathom. 

Making real contact

Seeing the shared love

I've also understood Sir Walter's gross comment (What do you want with Anne?) in that penultimate card-playing dinner party.  It reflects his hope that Wentworth may marry Elizabeth as it's become clear to all, falsely, that Mr Elliot will take Anne. This scene fits the accurate reading of the cross-plot (never finished) in the book of the near thwarting of Wentworth and Anne's getting together again because of misunderstandings. It also by pantomime ends what we see of the implied liaison of Mrs Clary and Mr Elliot.

I'm struck by how easy it was for Austen to truncate her book. She does not seem suddenly to crowd incidents together in the way of say Charlotte Smith.  When Smith runs out of time, suddenly she has so many incidents to huddle together, and this is so common in novel hastily finished or truncated. Not Persuasion because Austen's technique is to have few incidents and draw them out and this gets ever more prominent in the last published Emma, and this one of the two unpublished, unlike NA a revision of an earlier book.

Tags: jane austen criticism, jane austen films, jane austen novels, women's art, women's films

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