The Wings of The Dove – The Contrast between Light and Dark

Iain Softley’s film, Wings of a Dove, is such a beautiful, melancholic masterpiece. However, I suppose a lot of movies have this sense of melancholy and bittersweetness to them when they’re adaptations to nineteenth century novels. Softley did a great job directing this movie as he entrances his audience with subtle details. Such as, the differences between Kate and Milly. It’s not hard to miss how they’re different. For example, the colors. Kate is always wearing these dark hues like black, blue, grey, dark blue, while Milly wears colors that are more lively like pastel green, white, even this teal blue which gives her this glow that burns brighter than the rest. Having these two side of side, we can easily see how Milly is truly young and fresh while Kate seems more solemn and old, even. With the whole high class society, Milly seems more alive while others are decaying from their sense of greed and obsession with superficiality. Which is really ironic sense Milly is the one with the terminal illness while Kate dresses like she’s always in mourning. Another difference between them is their caretakers: Aunt Maude and Susy. One actually follows the wishes and the well being of her ward, while the other uses her girl as a doll to be crafted into her ideal image. The casting was amazing as Alison Elliott truly did play a convincing portrayal of a sweet, innocent girl whose living life to the fullest. However, Helena Bonham Carter is much too serious to play as Kate. Yes, only she has this dominant grace that no one can miss when she’s in a crowd of people but she just looks too controlled. Even those scenes of intimacy and secrecy seems to leveled and decent within the scenes that are supposed to portray passion and lust. There’s no sense of vigor or determination from Carter’s character to make the audience seriously hate her or sympathize with her. Every decision she makes, even with the consequences there, makes it seem like ‘oh well’ that it was just by an impulsive whim but that’s not really the case with Helena Carter’s emotionless face. What was really well done was the camera angles being used for Carter’s character, Kate, since it shows this sense of control along with her manipulation. How the camera is always even or that it’s on a slight low angle on her when she’s with characters like Merton or Milly. She’s only at a high angle or at a seemingly vulnerable situation to fit her character, to blend in, as these camera angles help manipulate her role of a powerful woman or a submissive one. Such as, at the beginning scene on the train and when she leaves it. Even though it’s supposed to look like that she’s being followed and that she’s being stalked by some predator of the opposite sex, she’s the one pulling the strings as she’s giving those little cues like a glance from her eyes and Merton follows. He’s always being polite as he removes his hat before performing a sexual advancement. Milly and Kate are perfect characters as they are wonderful contrast of each other, and it’s fun to see how it manifests itself on the screen.

Subtleties that shouldn’t be ignored in The Innocents

Jack Clayton’s 1961 film, The Innocents, is eerie and haunting with many little details synchronized so well together, it creates this ominous labyrinth for the audience to explore and continuously wonder about the aftermath and effects of these symbols and the truth behind them. The fact that there is a young and pretty governess at a remote location with two neglected children should guarantee that malevolent forces will be at work to manipulate and take advantage of these vulnerable, unprotected souls. This movie is a psychological thriller masterpiece! While much deserves praise from the music, the dialogue, the acting, the editing, to cinematography, what captured my attention the most was references made throughout the movie which suggested towards Miss Giddeon’s sexual repression and how it manifested into dark terrors which she must confront during the movie.

The first few hints of Miss Giddeon’s sexual repression was at the beginning of the film where she’s being interviewed for a job position. The uncle would say phrases that seem to have a double meaning, such as “give me your hand, give me your promise.” These words seem to resemble the words of marriage, especially with how insistent he was about giving her power of that remote home. Another subtle hint is when Miss Giddeon arrives at the estate and talks to Mrs. Grose about the master. Her behavior signals that of a young woman very innocent as she was caressing the flowers, then looked at her own image, and comments being made about Miss Giddeon being young and pretty. The weren’t able to leave those comments alone when it was mentioned that the master “seems to like them young and pretty.” It was as though these two women were trying to bring up the topic of sexuality but very awkwardly. It’s so repressed that it’s a struggle to get to the point about the topic. Which is the main struggle of the movie: going through those dark truths to expose and release the problem the children are facing.

Another example of sexual repression being used as a tool to create a psychological disturbing scene is mostly with the children, namely Miles. Such as, when the children were playing hide and seek and Miles pounced on Miss Giddeon in the attic room. He has her in a head lock and with a cruel smile, claims that she is his prisoner and refusing to let go. Also Miss Giddeon tosses and moans on her bed, especially after her encounter with Peter Quint. Her description of him had a hint of yearning as she readily pointed out that he was handsome, and peering through the window looking for someone. It almost sounded romantic. The sexual abuse and the sexual violence and trauma, later revealed in the movie, is vivid through the clues of subtleties and those dark places.

A Psychological Tragedy of a Love Story (that never was)

If it wasn’t already obvious from the title, in my eyes, William Wyler’s The Heiress was ultimately a tragedy as nobody wins in the end.The only thing that was gained was the bitterness and perception of a rich woman, at the price of a hopeful girl’s dreams of happiness, by those who tarnished and tormented Catherine Sloper’s desperate yearning to be loved, admired, and accepted. It was an intense movie to watch since all the characters were deeply complex and profound. Wyler did a great job directing this movie as every scene, dialogue, and action was similar to an intricate dance: no movement was wasted as every scene was taken into consideration. The dialogue and subtle gestures were packed with double meanings, foreshadowings, and major hints were delicately woven between each interaction between characters.  The main cast also did a wonderful job depicting their specific character role as everything blended together; every performance was convincing and captivating with the drama unfolding with each passing minute.

It was an intense movie to watch since all the characters were deeply complex and profound. Wyler did a great job directing this movie as every scene, dialogue, and action was similar to an intricate dance: no movement was wasted as everything was taken into consideration. The dialogue and subtle gestures were packed with double meanings, foreshadowings, and major impact as it was all delicately woven between each interaction between characters. For instance, the scene where Morris Townsend plays and sings a song and soon after translates that song was basically foretelling the suffering Catherine will soon know of in the future. However, the prime example of superb dialogue between characters was between Dr. Sloper and Morris Townsend, as they both knew what each other was like but tried to get one another verbally reveal their true intentions and thoughts. Especially when Dr. Sloper brought up the evidence from Morris’s simple actions. The visual symbolism was very good too as they translated parts of the characters personality, such as Morris’s gloves. They not only told the audience and the characters when he was there, at the Sloper’s residence, but, as Dr. Sloper pointed out, it also reflects how he enjoys luxurious things for himself. Even Morris admits this himself, as he told Aunt Lavinia about how he shares similar tastes to Dr. Sloper and that they “seem to like the same thing,” emphasizing how much he values materiality. The visual symbolism was even more effective when it was repeated. For example, when Catherine walked up the stairs. The first time was when she realizes that Morris abandoned her and she carries her bags up to her room, near the floor where her father resides. She looked as if she was in mourning, which she might as well be since she lost her innocent faith, knowing that her father will have the satisfaction of being right at her expense. The second time she climbed up those stairs was when she locked Morris out when he came for her. She carried the candle upstairs, knowing she’ll never have the life of a blissful marriage, becoming exactly what her father wanted her to be: a smart heiress with a lonely and bitter heart. These were only a few examples of how the director utilized everything in a scene to visually and verbally create the story through the characters.

The main cast also did a wonderful job depicting their specific character role as everything blended together; every performance was convincing and captivating with the drama unfolding. Ralph Richardson and Olivia de Havilland were perfect depictions of their characters psychology. Havilland was wonderful since, the moment we first saw her, we immediately understood that all Catherine wanted was to have unconditional love, and how that yearning made her desperate and obsessive with the thought of being loved, especially since Morris was the first person to ignite such a craving within her. Dr. Sloper was also intriguing to watch as he blatantly and openly compared Catherine to her dead mother. He also had the last word with her, just to make her feel insignificant compared to the past. Such as the scene where Catherine shows him her cherry red dress, and he said: “your mother dominated that color.” He even openly admits it to his sister that he’s stuck with his wife’s daughter, not showing any pride or love for the person Catherine is. He was so focused on the expectations he had for her, that Dr. Sloper never appreciated how much Catherine wanted to love him, wanted to take care of him, until he devoided himself of that familial bond.

I really enjoyed this film as it was an emotional rollercoaster which easily captured your attention. Those who are actually paying attention can see how dedicated and focused the director is throughout the whole show.