on Spring in July 1998)
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Permission to enter AMITC? Has anyone read the book?
Moon is supposed to be homosexual but that's not clear from the film except from the one line the man says to Tom in a message he wants to be delivered to Moon but I have difficulty making it out. Something about "Bugger his bum." Is there more pertaining to Moon's homosexuality in the book?
The apple symbolism is very strong in the film. Is it conveyed in even more depth in the book?
How is Tom described in the book? Can you picture Colin from the description?
With what emotion are the people on the train looking at Tom? Guilt? Pity? Distaste? It's not immediately obvious that he was in the war. A twitch and stammer do not automatically brand you as a veteran though there were so many "intact" wounded men from the war wandering around, he may not have been an uncommon sight even in Oxgodby.
(Laura) I found the children to be wonderful characters who
help heal a very wounded Tom Birkin.
The old man is carrying a book on architecture that he wrote and, when the flower is pressed, you can see a diagram of different columns. In other words, he presses the flower in a book he has not written yet. I really like the circularity of that image.
I hope some people have thoughts on the questions I'd like to bring up. Some I've decided on the answer, some I have not.
Why does Tom resist Alice? I don't think it's because of Vinny. Does he think she is that unapproachable for someone as damaged as he considers himself to be? Is it his sense of morality? We know she's Eve tempting him. Tempting him from where? He's not exactly in the garden of Eden. She's practically quivering, she wants him so much. What keeps him from kissing her in the belfry?
One of my favorite scenes is when Alice comes to see the mural and she climbs up the scaffolding. He's so eager and happy she's there. My favorite look is when she starts to descend the ladder and for a moment she pauses and they're at eye level. He looks so anxious as if he doesn't want her to leave.
Love the scene in the woods when he says, "Many men would say that you were beautiful, Mrs. Keach." If it was going to happen, I think it would have happened there. Is he humiliated that she saw him so vulnerable after the shot rang out?
More and more scenes I love. In town when Alice sees Tom watching her through the window of the pub. She looks at him, quickly, guiltily looks at her husband, then looks back at Tom. They walk away and he gazes after her.
(Ann) The old man is carrying a book on architecture that
(Heide) Moon is supposed to be homosexual...one
making it out....is there more...in the book?
But really the only other clue to me, and the thing I liked most about Branagh's understatement, was this: (3) Birkin meets the angry officer in town and, in the next scene, Moon offers Birkin milk (for his tea, I assume) by the tent. The way Branagh sits, legs tucked under and hands folded in his lap demurely, was new to us. They discuss Alice and Moon reverses himself, agreeing that maybe it's not so bad that Birkin hasn't seen her very much.
Moon says something about giving "it" up, the two of them, for the easy life. Birkin toasts to the easy life. But Moon doesn't toast back. It makes sense to give up sex to make things simpler, but apparently Moon can't or won't, which is what happened to get him taken off the front. The next scene, I think, in the tavern, Moon says he went around the bend a little six months before the end, losing "chaps he cared for." Moon may try to veil his history while referring to general horrors of war, but given the earlier scenes in this sequence we hear them with a sexual twist: he was willing to risk his reputation for sex/love; or he used sex/love to help him survive and got caught; or he realized that who you care for may be dead this afternoon. How ever it was, he can't toast to giving it up. So, visual cue: the way Moon's sitting; accompanying story development: sequence (of scenes) about Moon's private life, which we've known nothing of till now.
(Heide) didn't think I could bear watching it
at...as an old man...he still finds meaning and takes pleasure in what
(Heide) Why does Tom resist Alice? ...kissing her in the
When I read Heide's question about why he doesn't make his move on Alice in the belfry, I watched it again. In the scene before he confronts the vicar and I think he gains sympathy for him. He also knows what it's like to have a wife be unfaithful and doesn't want to inflict that pain on another. The healing experience has given him back his own moral agency and the desire NOT to hurt or destroy others. I'd love to hear more of everyone's opinions.
The ending I find almost unbearably moving. It is the music, the juxtaposition of the young Birkin and his older ravaged self, the poignancy of the old man reliving his memories, and the heartrending fact that he has obviously never again found love. He carries the book with the pressed flower, which Alice gave to him on the day in the woods when he nearly declared his love for her. TEP didn't move me one jot (except poor sweet Geoffrey!)...this I find difficult to watch.
Does anyone else see Alice as a temptress and not so angelic? Fondling those apples...biting one...lots of smoldering looks...almost assaulting him.
(Cheryl) What can he offer her? She has a husband and home
and he has a wife, war wounds, and not much else.
(Evelyn) Does anyone else see Alice as a temptress and not
And then we have the apple scenes. The way she sniffs it and rubs it with her hands, smells her hands. Yeah, she learned it from her father but it's very suggestive and is making the apple very tempting to poor Tom.
After making Tom aware of the emptiness of her married life she gives him a rose. She is all silky and sweet, and he seems to be hanging on her every word whereas with others he is guarded.
But what is the symbolism of that lone piece of furniture...that in-laws bought at an auction?? Does that represent Rev. Keach...all alone playing his violin in that empty room?
Alice points out the mystery thing, in the course of talking about emptiness and filling. That piece seems to symbolize her desperation with Keach (piece of something else, don't know what it is, no one wanted it, doesn't do anything, but at least it was something). And maybe Birkin, who might be something for her to fill her emptiness with.
(Sofie) she didn't mention that she had seen the painting
she probably didn't go there to see it as much as to see him
One of my favorite themes is when Birkin talks about being a restorer—"too much and some chap disappears, not enough and someone doesn't make it back from 500 years ago." By the time he leaves he's uncovered those who around him are, by not forcing but also by not resisting. Had he pushed, Alice might have changed, and that's not what he does. He serves the Great Painter, cleaning so you can see what's there, but doesn't consider himself an artist to create or effect some change. He's horrified by the idea of touching up something he finds.
Also, Alice is not the only one to underscore the kind of man Keach is—he does himself. In the last monologue when he talks about people not being religious and not being moved by the practices, it's so painful to see him looking for his own spiritual satisfaction through other people's behavior. What a walled-off man.
(Sofie) And she didn't mention that she had seen the
she probably didn't go there to see it as much as to see him.
(Cheryl) By the time he leaves he's uncovered those who
are, by not forcing but also by not resisting. Had he pushed, Alice
have changed, and that's not what he does.
I'm always questioning even my own convictions about the story and that's why I love to read others' views even if I don't always agree with them. At their best, these film discussions give me new insight into the stories and I love to see the collaboration.
But to get to the less lofty images, how about Tommy boy working in the grave? Oomph. He's sweaty, he's dirty, those braces are off, that shirt is hanging out. Love to see him get physical.
Don't mind looking at the shot of him from above when the bells go off on his first Sunday in the belfry. He's lying there (love that undershirt), looking so long, lean and lanky.
(Heide) Is there more about Vinny in the book?
"I told him [Moon] about Vinny and that she'd gone off with another chap. I didn't tell him that she'd almost certainly bedded down with other men whilst I was overseas. Nor that she left me once before." (p.62)
Earlier, he remarks that "Vinny had quality....look where it got me."
When he gets her letter at the end: "Heaven knows how she had learnt where I was, but it was from Vinny: she wanted me home again. There were other things too but that's what it amounted to—she wanted me back. I had no illusions. She would go off again, would come back again. And I should be there." (p.110)
(Heide) How is Tom described in the book
Sgt Milburn: "Last time I saw you [Birkin] they were carting you off...shell-shock wasn't it?...Not many of you chaps came through." (p.90)
Tomorrow: Discussion of hell with Alice. Moon's homosexuality. With Alice in the belfry.
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