WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD
DIRECTOR: CHARLES STURRIDGE
COUNTRY: ENGLAND 1992
CINEMATOGRAPHY: MICHAEL COULTER
MUSIC: RACHEL PORTMAN
CAST: HELENA BONHAM CARTER, JUDY DAVIS, HELEN MIRREN, RUPERT DAVIES, BARBARA JEFFORD, GIOVANNI GUIDELLI.
SUPER FEATURES: THE CAST
BASED ON E. M. FORSTER's NOVEL.
The English literary tradition will never die in peace.
And if the movies are an indication, the tradition is going to live for quite a few years. Of what basically is considered not a major work by E. M. Forster comes a good film. And all of a sudden here is one wanting to go back and re-read the novel.... did I miss something, or was in just not there.
It is there. Forster is Forster regardless of which work one is reading. And the attacks are still on the stubborn English crust (upper middle class) who think themselves superior to others by way of breeding and slanted rational thinking. WHERE THE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD, is just another such story.
An older daughter of a well to do family, decides to go on vacation to Italy. Lo and behold, she meets someone there and marries him. He is half her age, but he satisfies where the English do not. The English lack the honesty, and the passion, so says one of the characters. This causes scandal because the family has to part with some of the money for the daughter. In time she becomes pregnant after a series of arguments with her husband.
Unfortunately the birth of the young one is the death of the daughter. And the trouble starts here. The matriarch wants to steal the child, rather than continue with what they see as a thief in the family. And eventually they succeed, but only to find that the road back to England, is not only muddy, it is dangerous and tragic. The carriage turns over in an accident, and the baby dies.
In the resolution of the film, which Forster had intended to make clear as not the fault of the individual parties, but the sick parents, the family returns to England, empty handed, but also distraught, and on top of it, the younger sister has fallen in love with the same italian man, but will not consume, or respond, because he is too grieved to think, and she is not honest enough to talk to him. She does see her mistake in the end, but also commits another... he didn't ask, she says about the italian, but she loved him heart, and soul and would gladly have given her body for it.
The film is quite Forster, and one could not ask for more. And at the same time, the actors move along, with an acute sense of purpose (very English anyway) and a well rehearsed piece of work. If there are weak moments, it is that the film has to evolve before it gets a chance to hook us into the outcome. From the marriage to the theft of the child, it moves along quite well, and sensibly directed, if not lovingly.
Outstanding in their work is Judy Davis as the heir to the seat of matriarch, a failed woman in many ways, except in those of agreeing and following mother's duties and assignments. Helena Bonham Carter and Rupert Davis as the younger ones who get caught up in the process, but get to keep most of their wits. They end up seeing Italy as a new world, and learn much from it. And above all, they share it. And Helen Mirren as the daughter who went astray, and in the eyes of the matriarch caused all the problems, since it meant that much of the money and
inheritance would be split further apart.
QUITE A GOOD FILM.
FOR ACTING, AND LITERATURE LOVERS.
FOR ENGLISH... ANYTHING LOVERS.
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