Reflections

         I have really enjoyed this class because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone and gain new experiences. Before this class, I had never even seen a musical, nor could I appreciate the quality of black-and-white movies. Throughout the semester, I have come to appreciate books because I can use my imagination. I realized that sometimes books are better than movies. I also learned that just because a film has the same title as a book does not make them the same. In fact, they are often very different.

         I feel the film-literature combinations that were the most worthwhile to me were Washington Square/The Heiress, The Turn of the Screw/The Innocents, Pygmalion/My Fair Lady, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

         I really enjoyed Henry James's 1880 novel, Washington Square, and the 1949 film, directed by William Wyler, and the 1948 play The Heiress, written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. I think I benefitted from this combination because this is a time in my life when I am going through the same things as Catherine. College is a time when many people fall in love and get married. This is a very important, lifelong commitment. I learned from this film-literature combination that I should listen to my parents. If Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) would have listened to Dr. Sloper (Ralph Richardson), she never would have had her heart broken. Catherine's judgment is clouded by love, but her father sees that Morris (Montgomery Clift) is only after her money. Sometimes parents do know best. This combination makes me value my parents' opinions more because they are older and perhaps wiser. I also enjoyed this combination because Catherine is so strong and inspirational. I was amazed at how she trudged on despite her broken heart and the way she stands her ground. I especially enjoyed The Heiress because Catherine gives Morris a dose of his own medicine. I though that was awesome.

         I did not enjoy the film-literature combination of Henry James's 1898 novel, The Turn of the Screw, and Jack Clayton's 1961 film version, The Innocents. However, I do feel that if was very worthwhile to me in the class because I learned from cinematographer Freddie Francis' cinematic elements in the film. Though I did not enjoy the plot of the story because I found it weird and confusing, I learned much from this film. The Innocents was the first black-and-white film that I could really appreciate. I am so used to watching movies in color, it was hard for me to adjust to black and white. The fact that The Innocents is black-and-white makes it so much scarier. I think this is very effective because it is a ghost story. The lighting and shadows are so creepy that I actually enjoyed the fact that the film is black-and-white--something I never thought I would. This movie also has wonderful music scored by Georges Auric. This was the only film that I really noticed the music in. The music is also very scary and very appropriate for the story. I think it greatly enriches the film, and it has helped me to become more aware of music in films.

         I also think the film-literature combination of George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion and George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady, based on Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's 1956 musical, is very worthwhile. My Fair Lady was my first experience with a musical. Although I found some of the songs corny, I really enjoyed the musical. My Fair Lady is so upbeat, it really makes me happier than Pygmalion. I learned to appreciate the enhancement that music can bring. Despite the fact that I really enjoy My Fair Lady, I like the ending of Pygmalion better because Eliza does not go back to Higgins. I did not want her to go back because I do not think he treats her well or has learned his lesson. I think Eliza (Audrey Hepburn) deserves better than Higgins (Rex Harrison), and perhaps Freddie can give her the happiness she deserves.

         I found A Streetcar Named Desire worthwhile strictly for the entertainment value. I love both the 1949 play by Tennessee Williams and the 1961 film directed by Elia Kazan. This was the most closely related combination, and I feel the film does a wonderful job portraying the play. I enjoy A Streetcar Named Desire because it is like watching a soap opera. I could not put the book down or lose interest in the film. There is constantly some form of drama or conflict. I also feel that this film moves at a good pace. One thing I find interesting about this combination is the way things are changed because of the time period. For example, Stella (Kim Hunter) is not shown to be pregnant; the film makers do not show Blanche (Vivien Leigh) telling about her first love being gay, and they have Stella "punish" Stanley by running away from him at the end. I find it interesting to see how the time period can change everything.

         The film-literature combinations that I found least worthwhile were Wuthering Heights/Lost Abismos de Pasión and A Doll's House.

         I think I found Wuthering Heights less worthwhile strictly because I hated this combination. I found the novel, written by Emily Brontë, to be very hard to get interested in, and that set me up to also not enjoy the films, directed by William Wyler in 1939 and Luis Buñuel in 1954 respectively. I got confused with the whole story-within-a-story idea and all the generations in Brontë's novel. Things are a little better in the film because they drop the second generation and the outlining story. However, I guess I just never really got into this story line as well as I related to some of the other combinations. I enjoyed Luis Buñuel's Los Abismos de Pasión a little more, but the subtitles made it sort of confusing. I was too busy trying to read the subtitles to be able to fully enjoy the film.

         I also thought Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House was not as worthwhile as the others. I really hated Joseph Losey's 1973 film with Jane Fonda. I think the actors are horrible, and the movie is very slow and seems to drag on. However, the second film, directed by Patrick Garland in 1973, is much better. It does a good job of portraying the relationship between Nora (Claire Bloom) and Torvald (Anthony Hopkins). I liked the play and the second film fine, but I just did not really learn a lesson from it. Some of the story's aspects really irritated me. I hated the way Torvald treats Nora like a little animal. All of his pet names drove me nuts. I also despised the fact that Nora leaves her children. I feel she has an obligation to them and should not be off trying to find herself. I did enjoy this combination; I just found some of the others more worthwhile.

         In conclusion, not only have I learned many things about literature-film combinations, but also I have learned a few things about myself. I liked how the class made me think and react to a variety of different elements of film-literature combinations.

Whitni Steele

Table of Contents