(A film discussion
on Spring in June-July 1998)
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(Karen) Do you think Colin and SST were aware of the symbolism?
Of course, CF goes into these roles with great enthusiasm and does all kinds of in-depth studies.
Now we know why CF plays the role passionless. That's the way it was meant to be and not through negligence on his part.
I actually found that reading the novel made me appreciate the film more. The Everyman edition has a very good introduction, a detailed chronology of events and a map! All very helpful!
Nostromo isn't P&P, but I think it's a worthy effort to translate Conrad to the screen and has rarely been successful. It's not crass, vulgar or violent, just rather plodding. But there are several scenes that I really like, mainly with CF, SST and Albert Finney.. They had to film under very difficult circumstances. I remember reading that the director collapsed from exhaustion and had to direct the final scenes from hospital. The producer said that all the cast complained bitterly of the heat and humidity except CF and Finney, who were very stoical!
Now we know why CF plays the role passionless. That's the way it was meant
to be and not through negligence on his part.
"Mrs. Gould heroically concealed her dismay at the appearance of men and events so remote from her racial conventions, dismay too deep to be uttered in words even to her husband. She understood his voiceless reserve better now. Their confidential intercourse fell, not in moments of privacy, but precisely in public, when the quick meeting of their glances would comment upon some fresh turn of events. She had gone to his school of uncompromising silence, the only one possible, since so much that seemed shocking, weird and grotesque in the working out of their purposes, had to be accepted as normal in this country."
Charles and Emilia understand each other and she is the only one he trusts absolutely.
Some of my favourite scenes are:
(1) When Charles and Emilia visit their house for the first time. I love the garden, the music, the way they look at each other, the way he looks as he opens the shutters. I like the exchange of words "You were a solemn little boy. That was England," and the way he says "I was born in this room."
(2) The scene between Dr Monygham and Emilia when he tries to persuade her that she and Charles should leave.
(3) The mine scene from standing at the grave onwards. Enough said! I actually also like the dialogue in this scene.
(4) Getting ready for dinner with the President, Emilia helps Charles with his cuffs.
(5) The rainy night when Emilia asks if they can go home and says she wants children. They embrace and Charles tries to console her.
(6) At the harbour watching the troops depart when he says "God willing, never without you and kisses her hand." (I'm a sentimentalist at heart!)
(7) The closing scenes from the death of Nostromo onwards. The music is very powerful and moving. I am not sure how we are supposed to interpret the look on Charles' face. Is he elated? Or is he realising that his achievements are at the cost of his integrity?
There are several more which are worth revisiting. Perhaps I need a strictly edited down version!
Ditto your favorite scenes, Bethan. I might add to the scene where Charles is showing the house to Emilia the first time, the line, "Here we entertain the town, Mrs. Gould."
I also like the scene when Charles comes up behind Monygham who has fallen asleep holding the rifle in his arms trying to defend against the coming invaders. Monygham is startled and then embarrassed when he realizes he's been caught unaware by the man he hates. Charles is so cool and detached as he smokes his cigarette while the doctor baits him. I liked him a little dirty and disheveled and loved his boots.
(Evelyn) he was shagging the mine and not Emilia.
(Karen) Emilia is handed the first chuck of refined ore. That's supposed
to be her giving birth.
Poor Emilia. All the men loved her except the man she loved— or did she love Charles at the end?
At the end, when Nostromo is trying to confess his sin and she doesn't want to hear it, this becomes her moment of vision, her renouncement of the materialism that she supported with her husband.
Best Looking/Fav Scene: Colin has got to look his absolute best near the end when they're having a dinner party after winning. He's wearing a red vest and an open-necked shirt and looks so confidant and yummy, maybe because he thinks all his troubles are over.
Nostromo shows up and Charles tries to offer him a reward for notifying Barrios. Nostromo tells him that he can't do anything for him and Emilia goes after N. I love how Charles sees what is happening and understands what she is doing and how right it is for Nostromo. As he approaches them in the garden and addresses Nostromo as Señor Fidanza, his eyes look to the side, to Emilia, as if to show he fully supports whatever she has just said.
Here are a few quotes from about the time Nostromo came out in the UK:
Producer (Italian): "I owe so much to the stoicism of the British actors. While the Italians and Spaniards would storm off the set complaining they couldn't work in the heat, Colin Firth and Albert Finney would just sit there sweating it out. Thank goodness for the stiff upper lip."
CF on Gould: "He isn't very expressive but there are lots of complex emotions bubbling under the surface, I enjoy twisted characters. Playing heroes isn't my strong point!"
The same article says that filming Nostromo was very difficult because of the sweltering heat. CF had an assistant to supply him with water so he didn't become dehydrated, sets were washed away by rainstorms, the director collapsed from exhaustion, SST was ill after being bitten by bugs, there were some murders near the film set, and local corruption was a problem. CF comments on the children begging for food. Not exactly a fun location!
Favorite Look: He looks the best in black tie. Also in the baggy, beige linen suit with the plantation hat! Worth the six hours.
"In the BBC's production of Nostromo, he plays the decidedly unheroic part of an Englishman who inherits a defunct silver mine in a fictional South American country called Costaguana. He determines to revive the mine because of "his belief in the power of industry to civilise the world, but as he succeeds he sacrifices his wife—and everyone else emotionally.""He's a tricky character," Firth continues, as if all his characters weren't. "I don't think I understood him or his obsession."
(Heide) I don't think Charles really cares that much about Costaguana's
(Bethan) Fav scenes: The rainy night when Emilia asks if they can
go home and says she wants children
(Heide) Could it have stayed true to Conrad if we had one less Montero
That reminds me of another great scene—the one between Pedro and Charles after Charles is picked up the first time. The two are sizing each other up. Pedro tries to intimidate Charles, but Don Carlos es muy macho aquí. Charles just stares Pedro down. He is totally fearless and refuses Pedro's offer of safe passage out of the country for him and his wife.
PM: Then I will have your shot.
PM puts his arms around CG and it's like PM has just determined that Charles has the good-sized cojones. Then he says, OK, now that we understand each other we could work together.
This is a great scene. Colin is cool as a cucumber and even gives a slight smirk when PM says that he was "educated" and lived in Europe.
(2) The meaning of names always gets me. Fidanza is easy, but the significance of Gian Battista. To me it sounds like John the Baptist, but I can't figure out how that relates to Nostromo. Can anyone shed some light on this?
To go back to appeal for the women, I must admit to also being rather transfixed by the scene where he strides in breeches and boots after Dr Monygham to ask him to work in the mine. "Doctor, doctor."
(Evelyn) intense physical attraction between Nostromo and Emilia
On Nostromo's side, I'd say it was still a Madonna-like attraction. Emilia is an idealized character throughout. On Emilia's side, I'd say she was carried away by Nostromo's heroics and romanticized them, romance being sorely lacking in her life by then. Upon discovering Ramirez's love for the younger Viola daughter, she wistfully says, "How wonderful to be loved in that way."
(Karen) Emilia goes after N. I love how Charle sees what is happening
and understands what she is doing and how right it is for Nostromo.
Two excellent points you bring up, Karen. Nostromo was a sailor. He could have gone by sea as well to bring Barrios back. And where was Barrios hiding his boat in those mountains? :-) Shades of Fitzcarraldo? And Gian Battista/John the Baptist. Excellent association.
(Bethan) And I think it was assumed that women would be looking for
another Darcy from Colin
Okay, down to the basics. Does he fight effectively with Montero? Heck, he misses him with the gun. How do we compare his fighting technique with, say, A Thousand Acres or others?
In the celebration scene at Casa Gould, after Charles is saved and Montero escaped, I think Charles is a bit drunk. Personally, I think Colin does drunk scenes very well. Though this one is subtle, anyone care to rate her favorite drunk scenes? Valmont? Femme Fatale? Tumbledown? Pride & Prejudice? (gotcha!)
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