Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wings of the Dove

Wings of the Dove (1997)

Director: Iain Softley

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, and Alison Elliot

Description: Kate Croy's mother was born to wealth and privilege, but she threw it all away to marry Kate's father, a penniless opium addict who admits to having stolen from his wife. After her mother's death, Kate is offered an opportunity to return to the life her mother gave up. There is a condition, however: Kate must sever all of her old ties, not only to her father, but also to her lover, the muck-raking journalist Merton Densher, whom she has promised marriage. Kate reluctantly agrees to this, and in the meantime becomes friendly with "the world's richest orphan," Millie Theale, an American making the Grand Tour. Desperate to see Kate, Merton crashes a party that she and Millie are attending, and Millie is attracted to him. When Kate learns that Millie is dying, she comes up with a plan to have her cake and eat it too...but all does not go as planned.

Review: My first exposure to this movie was a small clip on Mystery Science Theater 3000 where they basically made fun of it. I was interested to see what the story was about. It was an interesting tale. There was definite chemistry between Bonham Carter and Roache. The movie started to drag a bit for me while they were in Venice. I could tell that this was indeed a Victorian novel by the depressing ending. Its not that I didn't like the ending, it was just really sad how things eneded up. But a good commentary on what is more important in life - wealth or love.

Score: 3 out of 5

Book Connections: Despite the inevitable dissenters, The Wings of the Dove has achieved one of the strongest critical positions of any of James' works. Ironically, one of the dissenters, at least to some extent, might have been the author himself. In his preface to the New York Edition, James spent much time confessing to supposed faults in the novel: defective structure, characters not as well presented as they could be, and a general failure to realize his initial plan for the book.

By and large, critics have regarded these faults as venial or nonexistent. Instead, they've concentrated on the magnificent central characters and supporting cast, and the superb technique that James uses in their presentation. James' "principal tragedy," as critics have called it, retains its ability to move readers with the classic emotions of pity and fear.

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James (1902)

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