Monday, March 27, 2006

Nuts to Robin Meade. Give me Lara Logan.

And I wonder how many American officials can appreciate the irony in that, having supposedly gone to Iraq to remove a cold-blooded military regime, Iraqi officials are now asking us to leave because of our own cold-blooded military personnel.

The buggery goes to all corners of reality. You oughta see this 60 Minutes piece on how the Bush administration censored warnings about global warming if you haven't already.

Ever do I watch the fucked up little piece of gore called the human heart.

Last night, I watched the 1944 version of Gaslight. This being the version starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Apparently there's a 1940 version starring Anton Walbrook. I liked Walbrook very much in The Red Shoes, and as the film has an otherwise entirely British cast, I'm very interested in seeing it.

Because, you see, though the story takes place in London, the 1944 version does not contain a single British actor in a lead role, or a foreign actor using a British accent. I can forgive Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman (hell, I can forgive Ingrid Bergman anything). It's not impossible that their characters are foreigners settled in London. But Joseph Cotten as a member of Scotland Yard? Please, can't we try a little harder than that?

The movie was directed by George Cukor, and he doesn't do a bad job. Hitchcock, Welles, or Huston may've been better for the material, but Cukor was a good director, even out of his element. And he certainly made sure we saw how absolutely gorgeous Ingrid Bergman was.

The story is of Paula (Bergman), married to Gregory (Boyer), who's trying to drive her insane. We're tipped off rather early to the fact that Gregory killed Paula's aunt in an attempt to steal some extremely valuable jewels. There's no real mystery here, as this information is made very obvious to us. But Bergman, whose POV we mostly follow, doesn't seem to catch on.

I think a lot of viewers might be annoyed by how gullible Bergman's character is in the film. But I think it's important to view the story in the context of the Victorian world in which it takes place; Paula is meant to be an exemplification of the virtuous Victorian woman, whose faith in her husband is so absolute that she's willing to doubt her sanity entirely at his behest.

While my heart goes out to poor Bergman as she struggles with her nightmarish little cage--and Bergman, apparently, spent some time in an asylum as research for the performance--I'm inclined to think this was meant as a criticism of how women were expected to behave in Victorian England. It leads to a rather satisfying reversal at the end of the movie, but that reversal may come too late for some viewers.

Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion is, to me, a far more sinister story in a similar vein. It successfully brings us along with the woman's perspective as we can see why she fell in love with the guy, we agree with her, and our suspicions are at all times about the same as hers. It's a far more insidious statement on the nature of human affections.

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