Monday, February 20, 2012

'Adam Bede' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. This will be a good one.

    One thing about this type of story is the characters have discussions about things that are far more telling than what one sees in the average fair that is offered on television or the big screen. They brought some of George Eliot's discussion with the reader to the screen, and I really appreciate that, especially when the young squire is speaking with the parson, and though everyone has the greatest hopes for the bright young man, there is a certain caution in the parson's words.

  2. I thought it very interesting that they chose to open the movie at the grimmest point of the story, and I have to admit the reason isn't obvious to me. Certainly, it grabs the audience's attention more than rolling scenery or close-ups of period costumes for the titles. And it establishes immediately the seriousness of the themes involved. But I still wonder of there was some other reason I'm not getting. (It occurs to me, belatedly, that for all I know, that could be the way the novel begins. )

    But! First things first: I really liked Susannah Harker in this. Her old world loveliness was perfect, and she had a light touch with Dinah's sincere piety, and her calm resolution, and let her be serious without being overly somber. (Plus, I am in love with her hair.)

    I particularly liked her scenes with Hetty. The night she visits Hetty, having confirmed with her scripture reading her fears that Hetty is in some kind of danger, she calmly perseveres in making her promise of faithful friendship -- even as Hetty gets irritated with her comments about the future, and impatient with her seriousness.

    Then, the immeasurable value of that friendship for Hetty in prison, and at trial; her unwavering love and support in the face of such ghastly revelations; even her drawing out of Hetty the confession before God she knew Hetty needed to make -- all felt so authentic that it was much later that I realized how easily those exchanges could have been overplayed.

    I thought those were Patsy Kensit's best scenes, as well, with the possible exception of the scene when Adam comes to talk with her when she's picking mulberries. She's giving no secrets away, but she is radiant with young love and forbidden delight, and it makes her kind to Adam, even when he is telling her, in his puzzling, round-about way, that her loves her. Such a sweet, sad, pretty scene.



    It's easy enough to see why Adam is in love with Hetty -- she's outrageously pretty, and he assumes that he knows her, knows what kind of woman she will grow to be. Only his need to be better established financially prevents him from asking her to marry him; his interest in Hetty is an open secret, and Hetty herself is almost grudgingly fond of him.

    What seemed very out-of-the-blue to me was, after losing Hetty to Arthur/prison/Australia, Adam's being in love with Dinah.

    In fact, I hadn't realized Dinah was in love with Adam wen he was in love with Hetty. Was that part of the reason behind her living so far away from relatives who wanted her, focusing on her faith? Or, did her love for Adam develop after Hetty was gone, which is why his mother never spoke of it to Adam before?

    Was Dinah's explanation about God filling her heart so full that there was no room for husband or children or desires of her own, really the call she was answering, or was that partly exaggeration intended to let Seth Bede down gently?

    Oh, dear, I can't even get started on Arthur Donnithorne and the whole series of tragedies he sets in motion...

    More later!

  4. I thought the opening curious as well, except to note as, you say, that it did foreshadow the looming trouble that could not be avoided.

    As to the girls, they were both cousins, and both orphaned at an early age, Hetty being raised by a family near by, and Dinah a bit farther to the north. My take was that they must have all known one another since childhood. Adam was an excellent man, solid, hard working, humble, good natured - and unlike Hetty, Dinah had the ability to see that and appreciate those qualities about him, though she would not allow herself to become overly found of him while he desired to marry Hetty.

    Though the show does not portray it directly, I believe Dinah stayed with the Bedes for some time after Hetty was sent away to Australia. I think she lingered there ostensibly to help Mrs. Bede, but also out of her own fondness for Adam. Anyway she was there long enough for Mrs. Bede to observe in her what few people can hide, except save from innocent men like Adam.

    God bless Mrs. Bede!

  5. Well, this was a good one! Now it's time to start thinking about another movie, and I think I'm up...