Baz Luhrmann directs The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel (musical)

The Scarlet Pimpernel

If I were friends with Baz Luhrmann, I would tell him for his next film, he should direct The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.

This melodramatic and wonderfully romantic novel, which was also written as a play, would be perfect for Baz. The novel is about romance, fashion, adventure and over blown situations and characters.

Don’t you dare cast Leo again Baz! I think Mathew Goode or Rupert Penry-Jones  should be the Scarlet Pimpernel and Marguerite, his wife, should be played by Marion Cotillard. James McAvoy could be Chauvelin. He’d have the perfect level of intensity.

When I was a teenager, The Scarlet Pimpernel was my favourite book – I couldn’t resist the romance. Sir Percy Blakeney, who disguises himself as the Scarlet Pimpernel, is an irresistible character. He seems all powerful like superman, broods like Mr Darcy, dresses as well as James Bond and has this carefree attitude to life that was dangerously charming to a 15 year old reader. I would trust Baz to bring The Scarlet Pimpernel to life in all its theatrical glory.

Baz Lurhmann was not the right person to direct The Great Gatsby. Fitzgeralds novel is subtle and full of ambiguity. Lurhmanns film completely trashes every hint of subtlety. Toby Maguire, as the narrator, explains away every ambiguous line and every symbol in the film. The film leaves nothing up to audience. I felt Lurhmann had taken the advice to heart that an English teacher might tell her students: “Assume the reader knows nothing.” The film assumes we know nothing and it also assumes that without visual and verbal explanations, we are unliky  to understand. Give us some credit.

I actually enjoyed Lurhmanns film – how could you not? It’s beautiful to watch, fun, exciting and vibrant. The acting was fantastic; Joel Edgerton was perfect. However this film just didn’t do justice to the novel. The novel made me think, or ponder, if I can use such a word. The film left me with a ringing headache.

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Are movies too beautiful?

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s  – what’s that film about? My cousin summed if up for me last week by saying it’s about consumerism. Whilst it’s a critique on superficiality, one of the main reasons we celebrate that film is for its fashion and style.

That’s the trouble with films, they tend glamorize the very thing they intended to critique.

Take for example The Devil Wears Prada. I’m just finishing the book and it leaves me in no doubt that the fashion world can be outrageously superficial. It emphasizes  that Miranda Priestly is feared and adored out of all proportion to any merit she might possess.

In contrast, the film bows reverently to fashion. The heroine Andrea, is taught a lesson for not “respecting” the fashion world. She looks foolish and ignorant and for that reason decides she needs a make-over.  In the novel, Andrea slowly decides to make over herself because  of the bullying and snide comments she receives at work.

The fuss around The Great Gatsby movie, similarly shows the power of film to completely gloss over the more serious messages contained within a story. Will we walk away from that film wondering how the rich can be so thoughtless and careless with the lives of others? Will we see the tragedy of Gatsby’s dream?

Or will we be thinking about the fur, the sequins and flapper style fashion we wouldn’t mind incorporating into our wardrobe?

I must apoligise for the negativity of this post! Are there any films out there, that critique superficiality without being a total sell out? I honestly can’t think of any.