misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Andrew Davies's 1984 Diana: melancholy romance, spy anti-war thriller (out of Delderfield) (2 of 3)

Dear friends and readers,

Yesterday I wrote a blog describing the first six parts of Andrew Davies's 1984 10 part mini-series, Diana.  I write on the Parts 7 through 9 today. As I said yesterday I decided to study this film because it's one of Davies's neglected early romances and has had no scholarly talk about it anywhere, and not only sheds light on Davies's attitudes and adaptation processes, but is a wonderfully well done richly varied film in content and art types (including film noir sequences, wild war and in Part 10, a Bridge on the River Kwai one of blowing up a train, complete with an allusion in the form of someone whistling the movie tune).

Closing sequence of Diana:  2 buzzards seen as part of credits/paratext here photographed as Jan and Diana take one last look: she is dying, partly paralysed:

Jan (Kevin McNally) and Diana (Jenny Seagrove)

Parts 7 & 8

Adaptation from The Unjust Skies, part 2 of book now printed as last third of Diana:

Much of Part 7 wholly invented, especially all the matter not having to do with Diana (the marriage time with Alison, the training school, Alison's death), Raoul de Roydon (Ives Beneyton) built up to be an individualized character and connecting linchpin to spy-killer thriller war parts. Part with least of Diana, she appears first at Alison's funeral (she is pregnant), they walk through cemetery; again at the close when he enters the French house where he has agreed to kill someone as saboteur, she is there theatrically to greet him.  He is persuaded to join in by 3 meetings, Ackerley  (Jeffry Wickam) and Raoul after death of Alison; Diana in pub after funeral; and then with Raoul where he is already half-disguised.

Diana as revenant; a little later they wander together amid the graves (Pt 7)

Notes on Part 7:  Opens with marriage ceremony: Alison's in-laws stayed away, feeling their dead son betrayed; again these goodbyes by windows -- very common with Davies. Jan now treasures boredom and futility of his posting, warm, dry, no one trying to kill him, staying alive had become important again -- over-voice.  Friendship with Lt Starkey (Adam Norton).  Jan & Starkey forced out from idyll to train under Ackerley (Jeffry Wickham), Ackerley one of Alison's gremlins.   The bullying, taunting, teaching to kill.

Starkey needled, humiliated

She comes to London on his first leave, and is killed by bomb.

Finding Alison

Sequence includes real footage of bombing of St Paul's.  Grief, guilt of Jan. Call by Ackerley to meet Raoul de Roydon who wants to recruit him (as advised by Diana) to kill someone for him and Madame de Roydon (reconciled with her husband says Raoul sardonically). John recognizes as a Diana idea; refuses. The funeral:

"it was a quiet funeral I wanted to keep everyone away to hug my bitterness and sorrow; no thrupenny wreaths, he didn't want to share her death with anyone. I wanted to avenge it in some way and didn't want to share that either I wanted to be in every sense alone. (all original with Davies) Diana's voice calls him back: Jan!. 

Two walking side-by-side; they pass a graveyard or walk though one in high grass. In bar: I just knew Raoul would get it all wrong with you."  Tactless:  "When you've got over your wife's death? He: "In a day or two do you mean?" "Was she anything like me at all."  He: "Do you think that I feel like discussing her now with you? .. "She wasn't like you no not in any way"  Diana: "And you loved her ... He: "Yes I loved her ..." She is glad.  He: "you're pregnant aren't you."  She: I hoped you wouldn't notice ... "  He: "Why don't you forget all this nonsense you're mixed up in you've got out of France, you're here stay here ... stay with Yvonne.  She: "I wish I could ... He "It might be important for you to play your games, it always was wasn't it ..." He tells her she's playing heroine with bullets this time ...  and she does admit to enjoying it.  She also hates Rance (we are slowly to gather but it never feels all that strong):   Rance to run whole [Nazi] operation  Swiss French ... yes I think he is wicked  ... I've had to see rather a lot of him socially ... he's a swine ..." "Yes I see." She: "No you don't I don't think uyou could even imagine .." Rance is her lover  -acted out in next part.

The dark kitchen scene with Miss Rogers; this is a repeated motive where they assess where Jan is at now.

His adieu to his child (Rachel Farley); he is taking it on, and we see him confabulating in disguise with Raoul; told the real man he is masquerading as had "unusual tastes" (was gay, again brought in), see him arrive in France, walk by bridge, into house and there is Diana in morning lingerie waiting for him.


Jan murders Pierre Rance point-blank (Pt 8): in this part McNally takes on features of strong spy ruthless hero figure

Part 8 is heavily dependent on Unjust Skies; complicated action-adventure sequence punctuated by love-making and talk between Diana and Jan,

advice and counseling sessions with ironic wry Raoul, e.g.,

He does say that it's one of her games to get him there for her own amusement This is a harsh assessment and if true, she's radically unserious, frivolous. She is utterly unlike Alison we are told. In line with his outbursts of calling her a bitch. 

Then a whole day spent just getting to know each other again; she tells that she was pregnant last time ... no inquest ... don't be angry with me please ..(abject for the first time, a cloying note) they walk over, kiss, next scene upstairs naked in bed

She: "You still love me don't you?"
He:  "I never stopped you know that:

The love-making open them up to one another: "she can start to tell something things: the child she was carrying was Pierre Rance's; he runs Ives .. He:  "and you were his mistress"  She:  "I still am ... Got as close to Pierre as she could and find out as much as she could about what they were making there .. not in love but fascinated by him but I hated him now ... she did what she had to do to not bear his child ... [Rance] was angry, had thought it amusing fathering a child on his employer's wife ... I'll be free of him in every way when you kill him.  "I'll be free of him in every way when you kill him ...  In this one Davies heads into different territories of sexuality not at all broached in To Serve Them All My Days. It's made alluring by keeping it at a distance; in more recent films it is graphically displayed and feels awful (as anal intercourse in 2006 The Chatterley Affair).

Rance is coming tonight. Jane has been made up to look like he is Rance for later encounter with Ives de Roydon.

Now they have another meeting with Raou,l downstairs:  "After you kill him you impersonate him; then he infiltrates the factory,  The gun is suitable for what we have in mind. One clean shot from up there with this. I the head, naturally, no bother, no mess... "   This is followed by Diana bringing the gun.  After Raoul leaves, Jan up to the attic and long sequence of Jan watching sadistic-masochistic sex sequence between Pierre Rance (Jean Boissery) and Diana with Jan as voyeur.

Brilliant because framed, because we can see only part, hear only some of the words, more suggestive than more modern frank sequences of anal intercourse.

A little bit of film noir right here. Movie includes film noir sequences beginning as early as bits in Parts 4, 5 and 6, much more in 8 and 9 (nightmare presentation of events that we do not see directly that occur between 8 and 9). 

So, what is film noir?  the male version of psychological melodrama: In film noir a male protagonist caught between desire for femme fatale and "good woman" (so Davies has added Mary, Alison, fleshed out role of Miss Rogers, is more sympathetic early on to Madeleine).  The films are pessimistic, devoted to abjection; psychological melodrama, the psychic life of the female at the center provide plot-design (often using flashbacks). Flashback part of promise of restoration. Neither confirms positive values for real as both focus on psyche as agent of evil, causing destruction of self and others.  This is Davies's really brililant way of blending a WW2 caper with WW2 footage and psychological sexual dramatizations of material often kept away from us. Now some of this vital to Davies's Anglo-Saxon Attitudes too)
From Jeanine Basinger's American Cinema and Turim's Flashbacks in Films.


Just 2 shots of what Jan sees and some dialogue Jan hears:

"Va changez ... " Rance puts these photos of naked and semi-naked women in the table. He:  "Tu les aime?"  She: "Actually I think that sort of thing is childish" Rance:  "What a prim little person You speak like an English nanny ..." Honky tonk horn heard -- like Louisiana soul He says: "Marche .. marche pour moi."  He has a stick, and she walks about in lingerie (hidden in walking of Elizabeth and Miss Bingley in P&P)  The POV is Jan up in the attic looking through peep hole - voyeuristic -- we could imagine Rance has that stick up her behind. "It's very strange; you speak like an English nanny and you move like a Marseilles whore.  Jan begins to mutter.  Rance:   "Come here Didi, lay down ... "I think I might stay here for a day or two they do not expect me till Friday" He laughs when she says something in his ear

Jan shoots down:

and then fight erupts between them. Man trying to grab her, Jan jumps down, he fights with his whip. shoots him through chest; then steady through head. 

She walks over slowly, says his name, is nauseous Jan stands there unsteady, walks over to cover body with the purple silky material Diana had used for a cape

Afterwards redressed, he in shirt and suspenders drink over a table

He looks hard at her but says :"Better"
She: "I'm sorry Jan"
"No it's my fault I made a mess of it"
"No I mean not clearing up afterwards ... it was his ... I didn't know it was going to be like that ... I'm not very much use ... "

"Not very nice. I managed to clean up .. the blood .. about the ... stuff ... damage i can't do very much about that .. they'll have to get a builder in  ...I bundled [Raoul] behind the sofa I leave the rest to Raoul and his men"

"I'm sorry too I should have shot him the moment he walked in
No you had to see you had to see what he was like
I saw a helluva lot more than I wanted to
Poor old Jan
So that's ... that's what it was like between you and Rance
More or less. I wanted you to see ... in a way
You enjoyed it?
Sometimes he wasn't always like that
Ah Diana I don't understand it I don't want to understand it
He's dead now Jan he's gone
So we just forget all about him (rising hysteria in his voice)
Yes that's what we try to do we do what we're told (she gets up) and what we do now is we lock all the doors and go to bed there's no going back Jan come on
He drinks down the drink, she holds his hand firmly; he puts united hands to his eyes.

Light flute as they make way down corridor, further and further silhouettes going up stairs to room. Long sequence of them retiring slowly slowly down corridor, silhouette, darkness and smaller and smaller; then sequence of him troubled in the night.

Raoul the next day; they made a bad job of it.  Men with cigarettes in mouth remove the body.  The drive through France. She:  " I want to go on and on traveling and never getting there I know."   Many car shots, a kind of tracking of car as it weaves in and out crossing from road to road:

One stopover:

She: "Yes all right I'll come with you"
For good?
Yes for good
He:  you don't really think we're going to make it
She:  I didn't say that
You don't, do you
She:  I don't know

Ends on car sequences where and Jan take up an abode (meeting with Raoul) after she goes off to be Ives's wife. Raoul has little respect for Diana as a woman, though very affectionate about her.

Jan enters the ornate garden, house, compound (so back to lower class male in a way), Diana joins him, and they threaten the husband, Ives, who insults her mightlly. This is where the story most caper like.  They stuff him into car, barge into factory for information; get him down stairs, he betrays them and she runs over Ives de Roydon, her husband (Ives Aubert) in car.  She has car near place he has to get into; you go on he says; he is wounded, come back for me in the morning. She says they must make connection by 11:30. So she drives on and goes to talk to soldier as a decoy while he must force himself to run to where he needs to be.

Poignant music as his bloody exhausted strained face watches her chat up the soldier.  She is working to help him get past Nazi guard so he can escape back to UK so saving his life.  Grey black light; he passes her as she has drawn soldier in, hanging on gate; film slowly goes black as he goes unconscious.

Part 9: 

The action-adventure spy-kinky-erotic material and disquiet too (film noir in feel) made very tight in experience as opening of Part 9 in the UK with Jan in hospital, is series of epitomizing flashbacks that retell left-out details and rest of their adventure getting home, making an action-adventure sequence into subjective experience of trauma.  The point is to turn action adventure spy stuff into psychological inward experience and analysis of the chief character's hangups and intense disturbance, like Jan's killing of Rance at close range; hard loud banging of guns.

Starkey's conventional happy romance with the nurse (Victoria Burton) a sort of subplot here. This is entirely added by Davies. The juxtaposition is salutary.

Anti war conversation also all Davies:  Starky's visit to Jan:  "Is it something to do with this mysterious French resistance lady she's been telling me about ... you amaze me you always amaze me ... what a dark horse you are ..." "One flask of whiskey, poems of Catullus, men only, get well soon ..." 

The positiveness of life is re-asserted.  Wholly invented scene and built up character of Starkey as he says (Adam Norton) "Jan:   ... and it's [what I'm saying is] serious." Starkey:  "Well I needn't ask. Everything is serious with you, isn't it? "I envy you ... I'm actually alive that's not to be sneezed at, is it?  Harvey's dead you know ..." And Appleby ... it was terrifying. .."

Not in Delderfield at all.  All Davies:  Starkey:  "You now they try to tell you what it's going to be like and then it's all quite different ... Like how exhausting it is to be afraid all the time ... still that unarmed combat stuff ... I never really believed it in the gym and then suddenly I had to do it ... (moving monologue as he remembers) .. broke his back, John heard it go .. the human body really is extraordinarily fragile isn't it? [Starkey's mind goes back to Harvey] ... Harvey ... it bloody well works I've just killed myself with my bare hands ... but Harvey was dead ... it made me terribly angry that for some reason it must've been Harvey's fluent French  .. He had such a wonderful bloody accent and he worked so bloody hard on his [something] vocabulary ... then he never got a chance to speak a bloody word of it ... I'm supposed to be cheering you up sorry ..."  Jan: "you really are in a funny sort of way"  Starkey:  "You see I thought I was the only one who thought like that ..."  Starkey:  "We're going over again, that was just a rehearsal. .. you'll get a desk job now ... boredome for you ..." Terror for Harvey... "Just remember your rat like instinct for self-preservation"

Jan wandering about hospital grounds, over-voice.  Then Jan and Diana first return to Sennacharib half-way through and talk of future in pub near water:

The return to village after hospital, near sea, talk of future, promises in pub

and then ensues their re-entry into group, how she is rightly distrusted, how she orders Drip about without thinking, her giving child horse-back riding lessons (too hard on child), the visit to Diana's mother (very wry apt social jokes), the sequence of watching Diana naked in worship:

Jan watching

and now (as contrast to Alison talk) Diana's talk of nature worship when they come back to house:

 "it's only there I can do it you see. It's only there it feels real. I felt like that since I was 14 ...the kind of religion they tried to teach me in church was beastly, so prim and snobbish and it made me feel so wretched ... and then all the money we had ... I mean they talked about the poor inheriting the kingdom of God but no one seemed to believe it except me ... and I thought if that's it then I am doomed ... but I did want to worship God somehow ... then one day I went down to the beach all on my own just as you saw me today and it happened I realized that that's it that's what it is that's where God is if he's anywhere and it's all part of nature and everything that's part of nature is right ..."

Then wedding, early euphoria cut off by call to return to France by Ackerley.

Part 10 and last thoughts in a third blog.

Tags: 20th century, adaptations, andrew davies, costume drama, female archetypes, film adaptation, historical novels, politics

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