Unhappily after All

         I do not believe writers and film makers should only write about the “nice” and “happy” things in the world. It is not reality, and people like to see real-life stories. People also want to see variety, not the same old boring story constantly. Viewers and readers want a story, a good story, and sometime a good story is not necessarily a happy one.

         Many people watch movies and read books for closure in their own dreadful lives. If something bad has happened to them, they may want to relate. For example, many girls want to watch/read sappy love stories if their boyfriend has recently broken up with them. Several films we have watched this semester portray issues that people could relate to. We have seen movies dealing with domestic violence, alcoholism, rape, love betrayal, and family disapproval. These are seen in the films A Streetcar Named Desire and The Heiress.

         Elia Kazan’s 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams 1947 play, shows domestic violence between Stella (Kim Hunter) and Stanley (Marlon Brando). Stanley has anger issues, in which he is constantly screaming, throwing things, or hitting Stella. Domestic abuse has always been, and still is today, a huge problem throughout the world. Many women could turn to this for closure if they have experienced physical abuse. Films like this also show the truth for those who may still be experiencing the same kind of harm but possible unaware of it. Watching it could help them.

         This film shows the effects of alcoholism and the harm of rape, as well. Many could live vicariously through this movie in order to help another, or one could take this movie as warning in order to prevent something as horrid as rape from happening to them. Or, one could simply just enjoy Marlon Brando’s beautiful eyes and realize that sometimes the cute guys are the ones to stay away from.

         William Wyler’s 1949 The Heiress, based on Henry James’s 1880 Washington Square, is a film that shows love betrayal and family disapproval. Although it is far from a sunny and happy movie, I see it as an essential movie on life for everyone to see, especially those who have been used in relationships or had family disputes. It is the ultimate movie for the shy, submissive girl to teach her that it is ok to stand up for yourself. You do not have to always do what everyone else wants. You should make yourself happy, and some people deserve revenge. Catherine (Olivia de Havilland) shows us this when she leaves her “so-beloved” (Montgomery Clift) outside waiting and shouting for her. Also, by returning her father’s (Ralph Richardson) hateful words and never forgiving him, she stands her ground. People need these realities so they do not feel alone in their own hardships.

         If all movies followed the same happy guidelines, then all movies and books would be the same. We need tragedies like William Shakespeare’s 1597 Romeo and Juliet, Jack Clayton’s 1961 The Innocents, or Emily Brontë’s 1939 Wuthering Heights where someone dies at the end. Although it is sad, it spices things up! We do not expect it, and that is what makes them the great films they are still today.

         Variety and originality are key concepts in creating an amazing story. Happy endings are wonderful, and everyone leaves with a smile on the face. However, it is those with the shocking, and perhaps tragic endings, which we keep dear to our hearts forever.

         The final reason that writers and film makers should steer clear of the typical happy story is that they are boring. Stories that are different are the ones that are interesting. When you cannot predict what will happen next, this is what fun is! An example of this is The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton in 1961, based on Henry James’s 1898 The Turn of the Screw. To me, this is the ultimate scary movie! It is much scarier than today’s gruesome movies. Today’s movies are all the same. Without even watching you know exactly what happens: some irresponsible young adults go somewhere they should not where they are “knocked-off” one by one with body parts flying all around. It is not scary—it is gross. However, The Innocents is terrifying! The viewers have no idea what will follow. They are on the edge of their seats. It builds suspense and shows breathtaking shadows lingering in the dark while a creepy music box plays. The viewer can feel the desperation and fear from the Governess (Deborah Kerr) as she searches for answers. This is a true horror film. If originally, Miles (Martin Stephens) had told the truth and Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) had just left, that would not have been exciting at all. But no one expected Miles to die; and, therefore, it was completely shocking and horrifying. People enjoy surprise endings. They do not want to predict every move before it happens. What is the point in watching the movie, then?

         Another example of an interesting book/film is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, filmed in 1939 by William Wyler. This is an incredible and interesting love story where the two do not end up together. It depicts reality where true love is not always happy love. It is a wonderful story but miserable, too, yet it is one of my all-time favorites.

         Catherine (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) love each other dearly but are extremely nasty to one another. They long to be together, but anger each other constantly when together. The reader is consistently wondering if Catherine will eventually leave Edgar (David Niven) for Heathcliff, yet satisfied when she does not. It is a sad love story but just as wonderful as a “Happily Ever After” tale we learn to love at such an early age.

         In conclusion, films and literatures of an unhappy genre are imperative in today’s world. It is what we want. The best and most classic films still popular today are those with a dreadful end focusing on sensitive matters that many can relate to. It is original. It is interesting. It is true life, and true life means anything can happen, especially the bad

Chelsie Taylor

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