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Kathleen’s Blog | Categories | Uncategorized

Kathleen’s Blog


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The following is a list of all entries from the Uncategorized category. Noteworthy entries are filed topmost.

Don’t Look Down – Final

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Although not received well by critics at its original release in 1958, Vertigo has since become considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest masterpieces. Vertigo’s plot summary is as follows:
“John “Scottie” Ferguson is a retired San Francisco police detective who suffers from acrophobia and Madeleine is the lady who leads him to high places. A wealthy shipbuilder who is an acquaintance from college days approaches Scottie and asks him to follow his beautiful wife, Madeleine. He fears she is going insane, maybe even contemplating suicide, because she believes she is possessed by a dead ancestor. Scottie is skeptical, but agrees after he sees the beautiful Madeleine.” (Summary found on IMDB.com)

This movie is intriguing, mysterious, and captivating. What makes this so? There have been many movies with murder, love, and deceit. Yet, Vertigo is not like the others.

An aspect of Vertigo that fascinated me and that I would like to look into further is the two main characters and what they represent throughout the movie. James Stewart plays the detective Scottie (Stewart’s character says that although his name is John his acquaintances call him Scottie, so I shall do the same) who falls in love with the beautiful and mysterious Madeleine played by Kim Novak. As much as the movie seems to be about Scottie’s love for Madeleine, I am really not sure it is about love at all. Other than Scottie following Madeleine and the fact that Madeleine is beautiful, there is really no other narrative in the movie that shows the two of them truly building a relationship of love. I believe these characters represent the worst emotions all of us have to learn how to cope with and control. Also, this story deals with the fact that once we make decisions, those are final and unchanging – no matter how we might try to believe things can change or be different.

After the opening credit sequence the audience has already been informed from the music that the movie will be haunting and mysterious.
Watch the opening squence here
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From there we see Scottie for the first time and as he and another police man are chasing a “bad guy” we learn that after Scottie falls and is hanging from the roof he is terrified of heights. scottie-on-roof.jpgHe then watches as the other police man falls off the roof and is killed after trying to save Scottie. Since we do not learn how Scottie ever managed to get out of his roof dangling predicament, Hitchcock is reiterating the fact that this movie is focused on Scottie’s mind and what he has to work through mentally, not physically.

The other main character is Madeleine, the wife of an old friend Scottie is investigating. I would like to look at scene where for the first time the audience and Scottie are shown Madeleine. This scene is very different from Scottie’s introduction – there is no action and she is seems to be hypnotic to Scottie and the viewers alike. Madeleine’s husband, Gavin Elster, informs Scottie to come to the restaurant where he and his wife will be dining so that Scottie can know who his wife is. The scene starts with Scottie sitting at a bar and he cranes his next back to look across the room. The camera follows his gaze to the other side of the restaurant. There is no sound other than noises of people conversing and dining. The restaurant is a very luxurious and there is deep red covering on almost every surface (chairs, walls, floors, curtains…etc). The deep color depicts a feeling of lust (not of love). As we follow Scottie’s gaze we are taken to a shot of nearly the entire dining area. The restaurant is very crowded, there are still just normal noises occurring and then subtly there is a break in between some chairs and we are led to her. She is the only woman in the restaurant who is even noticeable as her emerald green shawl drapers her shoulder. The camera stops very briefly as it overlooks the dining room and as the audience sees the lovely figure the camera begins to zoom in on Madeleine and a soft and almost sad music accompanies this movement. We are then shown Scottie back at the bar; he has obviously noted Madeleine and is watching her. He straightens up and watches her as if he is immediately hypnotized and also confused by her. Madeleine gets up from her table and the music gradually begins to get louder as she walks towards Scottie to exit the restaurant. As soon as Madeleine passes through the doorway that leads to Scottie the lighting behind her dims. She walks a few steps forward and pauses behind Scottie and as we look with Scottie we see Madeleine’s profile and the music and the lights both increase significantly in volume and brightness. madeleine-profile-2.jpgMadeleine then turns her head to look behind her and Scottie turns his face away from her at the same time. Again, as Madeleine turns, the lights dim somewhat. Madeleine leaves the restaurant with Scottie watching her and after she leaves it looks as if Scottie is unsure of what he has just seen. I believe the lighting and music to be very telling in this scene. It displays that Scottie was entranced from Madeleine from the moment he saw her and the surrounding light and music shows how Scottie viewed Madeleine – when she left the room the light left with her and as she pauses and Scottie stares at her profile he sees her illuminated. From the time Scottie saw Madeleine she was a fantasy too him and remained so throughout the movie.

Much happens to Scottie and Madeleine and they find themselves declaring their love for each other. Again, not much has happened that indicates how they really could have fallen in love, but that goes back to the fact that Scottie was always taken by Madeleine as a fantasy. Throughout their short time knowing each other Scottie takes on the role of protector. Madeleine is very troubled and Scottie is willing to do whatever is needed to help her. With no sound reason, Madeleine climbs to the top of a bell tower and jumps. Scottie tried to chase her but due to his vertigo he is unable to reach the top of the stairs in time. Scottie is horrified to see that another person has died due to his vertigo. That’s when it happened…

The focus of intrigue now shifts from the haunted Madeleine to the obsessed and troubled Scottie. Scottie happens to see a woman (Judy judy.jpg who incidentally is also wearing emerald green the first time she is seen) on the street who reminds him of Madeleine. Scottie and Judy begin seeing each other often and Scottie still obsessed with Madeleine. Judy is aware of this and she states she is in love with Scottie and will do whatever he would so that he would lover her back. Scottie transforms Judy to dress and have her hair exactly as Madeleine had done. After all this, Scottie realizes that Judy really was Madeleine and Scottie take Madeleine back to the bell tower that “Madeleine” jumped to her death from. This is the very last scene of the movie and I will now take a look at how the story accumulates during this final scene.
As Scottie and Judy enter the Mission Scottie is retelling what happened the day Madeleine killed herself. They both stop and look at the foot of the stairs going up to the bell tower. This shot is very interesting as it is nighttime and nothing appears lit by anything other than the dim moonlight. As we look, we see that the steps are framed in the middle of the screen. Nothing about this scene is inviting and indicates that no good can or will occur here. . Even the long beam up and the rail of the stairs resembles a gallows used for execution by hanging (there is even a trap door at the top of the stairs). Scottie now is forcefully dragging Judy to go up to the top of the bell tower, he says, “One doesn’t often get a second chance. I want to stop being haunted. You’re my second chance Judy. You’re my second chance”. Against her will, he forces Judy up the stairs. They wind up the dark stairs and the music is the most ominous presence. The stairway remains very dark, and the music gets more dramatic with every step taken. Scottie looks down over the ledge of the stairs and is haunted again by his vertigo.
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Watch the ascent upstairs
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(The technique used to distort the image was first used on this filmed. It is has several names, among them the Hitchcock zoom.)

The shape of the stairs is a daunting spiral which is seen in many forms throughout the movie. I also find it interesting that the camera follows Scottie and Judy up the stairs, as if the audience is forced along with Judy to whatever awaits atop. When they are almost to the top of the stairs the music stops. This is a difference from the intense music that was just accompanying Scottie and Judy. Scottie informs Judy he know she’s Madeleine and the absence of the music assists with the feeling of shock and fear that Judy must be feeling. Judy tries to get away and Scottie forces her back up the stairs. Judy tells Scottie he cannot go up because he is afraid. Scottie repeats his foolish words, “We’ll see. This is my second chance”. Scottie is very angry and forceful at this point. Judy looks very frightened (as would be expected). Once Scottie realizes that he was able to make it to the top, the ominous music loudly begins to play again. Scottie opens the trap door and we see him start to go through. We next see a shot of Judy’s legs and feet motionlessly being dragged up the stairs. It is obvious that she is not willingly going with Scottie, however it is interesting that she is not kicking at fighting. She’s still terribly frightened, but it is as if she is resigned to her fate. In a strange turn, once they are at the top of the bell tower, Judy begins justifying her actions to Scottie and telling him how much she loves him and asks him to keep her safe. This is very interesting considering what has transpired just previous to this. Scottie has forced her to go to the bell tower and she has seemed to fear for her life. I’m not sure how anybody would be so willing to forget those facts so quickly and begin to profess their love. As Scottie replies he seems conflicted, when he tells her, “It’s too late. There’s no bringing her back”. That is quite ironic for somebody who has just been talking about how this is his second chance. Then, just when it seems Scottie and Judy may be able to start over and forgive each other, Judy sees a dark figure emerging from the trap door. It looks eerily like a ghost, or more so like the grim reaper. Frightened, Judy screams and falls to her death – just as Madeleine. The nun that appeared begins to ring the bell, and Scottie (looking over the edge where Judy fell) finally learns that there are no second chances.

Perhaps my favorite aspect of this last scene is the fact that it starts how it began. The first time we see Scottie it is of him falling looking over the edge of a rooftop at the cop who fell to his death. While Scottie doesn’t fall in there very last scene, he is forced to live with the fact that somebody else did suffer a fate that seems so connected to him. scottie-end.jpg

Every scene in this movie is really incredible and I’m sure I could go on forever watching each scene for details and meaning. Hitchcock is brilliant at making each scene have impact on the viewers. Between the music, lighting, and camera placement, hitchcock.jpgHitchcock is able to invoke feelings that are strong as well as subtle to viewers. After watching “Vertigo” it truly seemed to me a story not about love but about human emotions and desires. These human emotions are not always rational and humans believe what they want to believe – often with negative consequences. As I stated earlier, Scottie was so infatuated with the fantasy he saw as Madeleine he never had a real or rational love for her. When he lost her he drove himself out of his mind with grief. But was this a normal grief? I think not, I believe it was a grief of obsession. The mysterious creature was gone, he no longer had someone to care for and protect. Even so, when Scottie thought Madeleine was gone his obsession only increased. The change in Scottie was so vivid during the second half of the movie. Scottie had once been so calm and collected, the voice of reason. Now it was Scottie who needed help. If Scottie’s obsession had not have been so great his situation probably would have turned out much differently.

Although I have not yet specifically analyzed gender in this movie, let me expound what I have already discussed and relate it to gender. Hitchcock really plays with the gender roles in “Vertigo”. On one hand they are exactly what you would expect, on the other, he seems to break all of the rules. It is very easy to see Scottie in the traditional “man in charge” and “protector” role, while Madeline is very much a “damsel in distress”. However, there is something disturbing in the way Scottie falls in love with and wants to protect Madeleine. After all, he thought she was crazy when he was first told of her “wanderings”. Laura Mulvey in her essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” says:

“In Vertigo subjective camera predominates…Scottie’s voyeurism is blatant: he falls in love with a woman he follows and spies on without speaking to…He follows watches and falls in love with a perfect image of female beauty and mystery…Then, in the second part of the film he re-enacts his obsessive involvement with the image he loved to watch secretly. He reconstructs Judy as Madeleine, forces her to conform in every detail to the actual physical appearance of his fetish. Her exhibitionism, her masochism, make her an ideal passive counterpart to Scottie’s active sadistic voyeurism…The Hitchcock here is firmly placed within the symbolic order, in narrative terms. He has all the attributes of the patriarchal super-ego. hence, the spectator, lulled into a false sense of security by the apparent legality of his surrogate, sees through his look and finds himself exposes as complicit, caught in the moral ambiguity of looking.” (FTC 846)

It is interesting that Mulvey notes the audience is lulled into a false sense of security because Scottie has all the attributes of a patriarchal super-ego. Scottie was a lawyer, a police officer, and now a detective. He seems to care about this woman and wants to make sure no harm comes to her. What’s wrong with that? Ah, Hitchcock has used gender norms to confuse us. And (at least for me) he succeeds brilliantly. Scottie gradually seems to be losing control and the audience from the beginning wants to trust him, but it is not until the very end that the audience is able to comprehend Scottie’s madness. In addition, Madeleine/Judy seems to follow the rule for “The erotic woman” as described in Robin Wood’s essay, “Ideology, Genre, Auteur”. The erotic woman is:

“Adventuress, gambling lady…fascinating but dangerous, liable to betray the hero or turn into a black panther” (FTC 719).

These descriptions seem to fit Madeleine/Judy, she certainly is adventuress, and in some sense she did betray Scottie. However, I would not categorize Scottie as a hero. So does that still make Madeleine the erotic woman?

Unfortunately, I decided to write about a movie which we have not watched in class yet. I wish I was able to read and learn the opinions my classmates have on this movie before I had to post this blog. Still, there are several points that I would like to bring in that we have already discussed in class.

I would like to think about Scottie’s sense of reality. Was Madeleine really so amazing? Did he truly love her as he said he did? Amanda talked about reality on her blog titled Reality vs. Perceived Reality . She mentions that people with a mental illness have an altered sense of reality. Just because they may believe something in their mind does not make it a reality. This makes me wonder, does Scottie have a mental illness? He was certainly in a mental hospital. For one thing, I do believe he had an altered sense of reality. His obsession grew so large it consumed all of his thoughts and actions.

First of all, I have to give Charlie a big “thumbs up” for reading different articles/books (mole rats, etc..) and remembering them and relating them to what we talk about in class. Well done. He posted a couple of very interesting blogs along with some cool articles. His post Gender Differences has an excerpt from Norah Vincent who discusses her experiences as she went undercover as a man for 18 months. I have to say that’s very brave of her, I don’t think that sounds like fun at all. Of course since I’m not a man, I cannot relate to her saying that men are taught to have no other emotion than anger. I have a father and two brothers who are really my only long term observations I feel I can comment on. My father is somewhat of a hard headed kind of fellow who doesn’t show emotion a lot. My oldest brother I think is the same in a lot of ways. My other brother (while still stubborn, but then again so am I) breaks the mold somewhat. He is one of those soft teddy bear kind of guys that wants everybody to be happy. While he’s not a blubber head, I’ve seen him cry many times. I couldn’t say the same thing for my oldest brother. My point in bringing this up is; I have two brothers raised by the same mother and father…how can there be such a difference? I suppose in my limited experience I believe that while men aren’t as emotional as women, that does not necessarily make them mean or hard-hearted.

Dan talked about Gender Roles in a recent post and the lack of female-character-driven films. To be honest, I had never really thought about the lack of women driven stories until we talked in class. That proves Dan’s point that we get so accustomed to our mainstream culture we don’t even notice biases. I understand when there are all men casts (such as war films) and that honestly doesn’t bother me. If I’m watching a WWII movie I’m aware of the fact that women weren’t in combat so naturally there will be significantly more male characters. However, there still aren’t (well, perhaps a very few) modern day plots that center on a woman or women. Interesting. I wonder if it’s marketing…if film studios have researched that people would rather spend money on male-character-based movies. I’m not leaning towards that theory though; I think it’s mostly what people are used to. It’s hard to change and even harder to recognize that a change needs to be made in the first place.

Annie gave some very interesting opinions on the book and then the movie version of “Portrait of Jennie” in her blog titled Eben: When Jackasses Fall in Love I was thinking about book to movie adaptations and I can truly say 98% of the time I will say that the book is by far better than the movie. The other 2% (where I actually prefer the movie) is most likely when I’ve watched the movie before reading the book. From reading Annie’s thoughts I assume she watched “Portrait of Jennie” before she read the book. I am somewhat confused myself because I watched the movie some time ago and recently read the book before watching the movie again. I did not like the movie as much as I recall. Perhaps reading the book tainted the movie somewhat for me. But I do agree with Annie that the movie is much more romantic and you feel more emotion for the characters. The book seems to be more about art itself, which explains Eben’s desire for his art more in the book than in the movie.


Drama, Romance, Fantasy – Oh my

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Portrait of Jennie is an interesting and haunting story. I watched the movie years ago and I always remembered liking it. As I watched the movie again for class I was struck at how sad I felt. I just remembered it being a love story, but I was taken by how eerie it was. I do still enjoy the movie, I am just surprised at how time changes perspective. After recently reading the book, I am always interested to see changes that are made in the film. I think one of the most shock changes what that of Miss Spinney. While Spinney is feisty in both book and movie, the movie Spinney has much more influence on the story as a whole. Plus Mr. Matthews and Spinney’s relation is quite different. Sometimes I’m at a loss to know why certain changes are made in adapting a book.

I found it pretty cool when the end of the movie started to produce some color. First the waves were green (again, eerie) and then when the portrait turned to full color. I’m used to things in color everywhere I look and I was still taken off guard and uplifted as the portrait changed to color. Very moving touch.

I found an interesting websiteabout the troubled production of Portrait of Jennie.

The film was already way over budget when Selznick decided that the ending was weak and he re-filmed the entire final sequence using a specially tinted film stock which gave the scene an odd greenish tint. It proved to be yet another overkill tactic to a hopelessly overblown production. The film was released briefly in December of 1948 to scathing reviews and empty theaters. It was re-released nationwide in May of 1949. It was Jennifer’s first film to bomb at the box office.

That’s too bad. It is my understanding that the movie is pretty well liked now. Interesting how a movie may seem better over time.


My Vote – Compromise

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We talked last Thursday about gender roles and our options for dealing with them. I didn’t weigh in on the conversation, I was very interested to sit back, observe and listen. For one, I think it would be imposible to to do away with the basic gender roles and the fact that do note men and women being different. I know the world isn’t perfect, but I really believe that a compromise can and should be made between men and women. Just because we different doesn’t make us unequal. And I do believe biologically we are very different. That isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think it’s possible for everybody to have this mindset all at once (I know there are some people out there they may object to a compromise). However, I will do what I can do and hopefully in the long-run people might view eachother with a little more respect. Again, I think it’s possible for us to be different and equal at the same time. Maybe I’m crazy, stranger things have happened.

As far as the impact of gender roles in the movie, I would be blind and ignorant to pretend they aren’t there. It is very interesting how movies are almost always centered around men. Are people in general (men and women) more interested for watching men? Seems like an odd thing. I think about sports. All the major, professional, money making sports are played by men. I don’t have any problem with this. I’ve tried to watch women play baseball. They aren’t as strong (again different, but not necessarily bad) and since they aren’t as strong they aren’t able to show the same kind of skill strength as men. Therefore, it’s much more entertaining to watch a man who is able to pitch a baseball 100 MPH than a woman pitch at MPH. While I don’t think you can relate the skill of acting to pitching a baseball, I do think society is “trained” if you will to watch men just do more.


I Think, Therefore I Am

Do you have any idea how boring painting doors and door jams can be? Let me tell you, very boring. I just spent the last few hours of my life painting doors. The bad news is I will never get those three hours back. The good news is I have taken in so much information the last few days that I was able to convert three tedious hours into brain “processing time”. I’m still overloaded, but I feel a little better.

Errol Morris…who is this guy and why haven’t I heard of him before this class? Beats me, but thanks to Dr. C I’ve had nothing but strange (yet fascinating) movies on the brain for a week now. I loved “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”. I want to watch it again very much, but to be honest I don’t know that I could handle it right now. Again, I really have too much I’m trying to process at the moment. From the moment the movie started and the music started to play I was entranced. The four men highlighted in this film are such fascinating people. I wonder how Morris has such an eye for finding these interesting people? I imagine Morris would be able to make anybody fascinating. I would like to have Morris come interview me for hours just to learn what he would see in me (if I wasn’t so scared of what a freak I would be. As much as I love him, I don’t want to be like the naked mole rat guy).

Going back somewhat to what we discussed for FTC – even if Kracaur is right and film is obligated to show reality, do we really want that? After watching Morris’s films, I say no. There is something very empowering about the way Morris layers meaning and provides his audience many different perplexities in which they can relate to as they need or see fit. That’s why I’m human and not just “here”. I can think. I don’t need an inanimate object to show me “reality”, I experience my own reality everyday. However, I can value another person’s creative ability to inspire me to think deeper that just was is in front of my face. Thinking about life and meaning, that’s why I’m human. Does an animal really care about if it dies, or does it just survive based on instinct? Even though I know I have a basic survival instinct, I live my life and make choices because I have the will to live. I have passions, family and God to live for. Those are the reasons I’m human. That is precisely why I love Morris and his ability to show images that aren’t just for thrills or for realism. If I had to sum Morris and his films up into one word, I would have to say – “Amazing”.

Here’s a link to a very interesting interview with Errol Morris about “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”. Geez, he really is interesting.

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

After our FTC yesterday I am especially grateful for the blog. I feel perhaps I may now be able to better articulate my thoughts. I make no guarantees.

I feel I must have sounded somewhat like “Debbie Downer” yesterday saying things like “you can’t trust anything”. Let me say, I don’t think that is the case. However, there are so many different opinions in the world, I don’t know that anything replicated ever can be 100% the exact way in which things occurred. I guess I’m saying that I don’t buy Kraucaur’s argument. I was glad when we started talking about CGI and how so many things can be manipulated through film now. I suppose I feel that I need to think for myself and not blindly believe just anything somebody happens to tell me. With that being said, there are many things in this world I do believe. For example, I believe without a doubt that Hitler was not a good man and that the Holocaust did occur and that was a horrendous thing to have occurred in human history. Can I say I know first hand this is true? Absolutely not, I wasn’t there – I wasn’t even born until 40 years after Hitler, However, I have made a judgment based on the evidence that I have seen throughout my life. I have been to the concentration camp Dachau in Germany and walked through the gas chamber. I was young but I still have a sick feeling in my stomach thinking about it. I remember the barracks with the small wooden bunks; I will never in my life forget that experience. I have been to the Holocaust Museum and watched the videos of Jews who were experimented on in Concentration Camps. I have seen pictures of naked starving Jews taken during the Holocaust. These images are very powerful and I will never forget them. What makes me believe these things are true? I would have to say that surrounding information helped me form my opinion. I don’t know that anybody would be able to form an opinion on anything without input from others. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I think it is just part of learning and utilizing another’s knowledge in order to develop a more informed point of view. I do not really think film has an obligation to show 100% reality – for one, I don’t know that is even possible, and for another I feel that I am obligated to research and be educated. After I watched “The Thin Blue Line” I immediately formed the opinion that it was very well done, interesting, and thought provoking. After that movie, I began looking for additional information about Randall Adams, David Harris, and even the death penalty. I don’t think it was Morris’s obligation to show absolute reality, I think it was my duty after watching what was shown to gather further information on my own. Furthermore, I think that was something Morris hoped would happen. Morris stated in an interview he does not agree with the death penalty, yet that was never stated in his movie.

Alright, I don’t know that I have made any sense at all. I was really feeling conflicted during our class yesterday and I hope to better sort out these issues in time. Wish me luck.

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Here’s a picture of the bunks I remeber from Dachau.

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Here is a short video with images of Dachau.

Do either of these mediums affect you differently or in a particular way? Images really are powerful, I will never make an argument to the contrary.


In-Line

I really really enjoyed watching “The Thin Blue Line”. Any doubts I had about Errol Morris after watching “Gates of Heaven” are now gone. I was fascinated from start to finish.

Our society is very determined that justice should always be served. The root of our desire is to ensure that bad acts are followed by bad consequences. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. However, Morris has eloquently shown us how good intentions are severely distorted by the flaws of human nature. We are peppered from every direction (movies, TV, books) and told that there is good vs. evil and good must win at any cost. Again, I believe this is a basic human instinct and it is a good one. The problem occurs when people allow themselves to be overcome with selfish desires. In this case, the investigators were selfish in wanting an arrest and trial as fast as possible (regardless of evidence) or even Mrs. Miller who always wanted to be a detective. Very selfish. What’s the consolation of justice when a man is convicted and you’re not a 100% sure the murderer is that same man? I wonder how anybody could live with themselves knowing they sentenced the wrong man to death? Perhaps they are so past feeling they have nothing to worry about.

I was interested when Morris said in his interview that he does not believe in the death sentence. He did not openly state his point of view in the movie, although I think one can’t help but feel uneasy when the image of the electric chair is shown while Randall is talking about what happens when a man is electrocuted. Whether or not I agree with the politics of Morris, I give him credit for making a movie with so many messages laced throughout. On the surface, a story of a murderer on death row and how he got there. Beneath that surface, a story about people and their need for vengeance (not justice), flaws in the judicial system, prejudices, rationalization, etc…Well done.

I found this article about Capital Punishment (from policyalmanac.org) and I found it interesting. It’s not very long and it has a brief history about the death penalty as well as a couple for and against arguments. Humans are fascinating and I find it interesting the systems we have created for ourselves.

Here’s the last part of the movie where David Harris is talking about his childhood etc…It’s really and interesting part because it starts with the cop talking about Harris and it’s chilling. Then, we’re taken to Harris and he talks about his family and tears up. It’s as if we’re being asked to determine if he really is a cold-hearted murderer or just a person with a troubled past. Very interesting.

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Bubblin’ Over

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m still thinking about “Gates of Heaven” and still trying to figure it out. That movie really was something else. There is something about this movie that troubles me. I think a small part of me feels pity for the Harbert family. I’m curious if they had any idea what they were getting into when they agreed to make this film. I doubt that they did. I suppose what’s bothersome to me is, are they really any creepier or crazier than anybody else? Sure, they own a pet cemetery (which is not the norm) but don’t we all do things other people would find bizarre to some extent? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not.

I suppose to some extent I’ve put myself in the Harbert’s shoes (the shoes where they were put into a documentary and rambled on about their philosophies, not the burying dead pet shoes). If I were asked to be in a documentary about UMW and then after watching the final product saw that people were analyzing how irrational and strange I was would be upsetting.

Alright, I’m done feeling sorry for the Harberts. I will preface my next thoughts by saying that I really do like animals. I truly think dogs and cats are adorable. However, I cannot relate to the attachment people have to their pets. I do not under any circumstances equate humans to animals. As cute as a dog or cat is, they are not as intelligent as humans nor do I think their lives are as important as a human’s. It was really strange and intriguing for me to watch “Gates of Heaven” and see people talk about their lost pets. I mean, it is mind boggling for me to even think about people spending the money to have a pet buried in a cemetery. Wow.

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Last, But Not Least

I’m watching the MLB Allstar game and blogging about film…pretty cool…

First off, I have to say what a breath of fresh air the ’94 version of Little Women was. I have seen it before, but it’s been years. I don’t remember liking as much as I do now. Then again, I’ve had Little Women on the brain for so long nothing seems quite the same as it used to. Anyway, I really enjoyed that movie today. As for Winona Ryder’s portrayal of Jo, I thought she did an acceptable job. As for some people hating her, I must say she did not have that affect on me. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like her. I noticed while reading about this film that Ryder was nominated as Best Actress for and Oscar. Interesting. As for the rest of the cast, they really were in a different league than the actors from the two previous film versions. And by that I mean they were actually good.

I loved the different elements from the novel that this version offered. A few of my favorites:

Amy grows up
Amy burns the manuscript and falls into the icy water
Meg getting “dolled up” and Laurie’s disaproval
Amy’s Limes (and the fact Amy does get a rapping)
The mailbox

I know I have mentioned it before, but I love good movie soundtracks. I really loved this score by Thomas Newman. I was glad to see Dan’s post on music as a narrative. I completely agree and think it is a really effective way for a film maker to communicate to an audience. This music (just like this movie and book) was very warm and inviting. Here’s a YouTube clip that has about 5 minutes of this movie’s soundtrack. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. It really is beautiful.

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Midnight Musings

Long story short, I had to stay in a hotel last night with my two year old nephew. As we were sharing a room we had to go to bed early and I couldn’t exactly fall asleep at 8pm. As I was trying to sleep I found myself pondering over our lively and interesting class discussions yesterday (I had a great time, thanks to all who assisted Sarah and I by joining the discussions). Here are a few of my musings:

I feel really torn when we start discussing gender roles and the negatives (or positives) that go along with those roles. As I’ve said more than once, I don’t claim to be a feminist and I truly feel that I have every opportunity open to me. With that being said, I’m not blind to the fact that there is a way in which men and women are presented in films and people are not only used to those norms they expect them. I think of what Kate said in class when she said that women like to see those types of movies (romantic comedies/men pursuing women). That has to be true. If it weren’t true they wouldn’t make money and studios would stop making them. Last time I checked, there were more than enough romantic comedies being released. And I won’t lie, I like them. I like them a lot. I love getting together with girlfriends or my sisters and watching a good romantic comedy. Also, I tend to find myself agreeing with Charlie on his post Women and Film. This begs the question; If women like to be pursued, how are we oppressed at the same time? I don’t begin to pretend that I have the answer for that. I think there are only two options for the future of women’s roles: either the majority is perfectly fine with the way things are and we change nothing, or those few who are brave enough to be outspoken really know what is best for everybody and they continue their mission to bring understanding to whomever they can. Who knows, they just might succeed.

On a side note, book adaptations are always interesting. I don’t know that there are any book-to-movie adaptations (that I have read/seen) where I actually think the movie is just as good or better than the book. However, there a few books that I loved where I actually thought the movies were decent. Here are a few of my favorites:

Pride and Prejudice (’96 and ’05)
Emma (’96)
Sense and Sensibility (’95)
Much Ado about Nothing
Harry Potter 3and 4
Gone with the Wind
Flags of our Fathers
Count of Monte Cristo

(For the last two, I sincerely believe the books are must reads. “Count of Monte Cristo” is by far the most gripping story I have ever read. “Flags of our Fathers” is simply incredible. Seriously, a must read)

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New Impressions

I know that it was probably blasphemous (especially in a film class) to speak negatively of Katharine Hepburn. I have been watching old movies since I can remember, and I think the first movie I saw her in was one of her movies with Spencer Tracy. From a young age I can remember something about her was off-putting to me. I’m sorry to say it is so (and I make no judgments on her acting ability) I just have a hard time with her mannerisms, that’s all. Okay, I will stop talking about Katharine Hepburn (I’m sure I’ve angered enough people already) and move on.

Ah, Little Women. Before this class I had already seen both the 1933 and 1949 movie versions of this wonderful book. However, when I watched these movies I had not just finished the book and did not watch them back to back as we did for class.

1949 vs. 1933: Having just finished the book and deciding that it’s one of the best I’ve ever read, I had a hard time with both versions. That even surprises me because I don’t recall disliking either version the first time I saw them. I don’t know that there were any actors in either version that I truly liked. Come to think of it, the only actors I disliked were Hepburn, Montgomery (Laurie from ’33) and Taylor (’49) and maybe Beth from ’49. (I know I should like Liz Taylor, sorry I don’t). The rest of the actors (from both versions) I’m pretty ambivalent about. I fear that since I have such strong impressions about each character from the book nobody could live up to my expectations.

As far as the adaptation, it’s no secret that both movies were almost exact. The order of events was the same and even much of the dialogue. One aspect about both movies I really don’t understand; the fabrication that Laurie went to New York and didn’t see Jo, and then Jo couldn’t bear that Laurie didn’t see her. I don’t know what the point of that is. It did not happen that way in the book. I could even understand if Laurie did something in the book that really hurt Jo, but he didn’t. After seeing the movies I really don’t like Amy or Laurie in the end. Throughout the movies Amy is so conceited and selfish she really has no likable qualities. In the book Alcott points out how Amy has grown and she’s likable in the end.

Bottom line (in my opinion) is that both movies are ok, but there is no comparison between the book and the movies.

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