Monday, September 19, 2011
The Past is a Foreign Country
[It was hard to find a short clip from this film - I think you can watch the whole movie if you've a mind to on You Tube]
There are ways and ways of making historical dramas. I watched the beautiful Elizabeth last night, the wonderfully put-together bio pic about Elizabeth the First. Elizabeth is powerfully played by Cate Blanchett, with a great performance from Geoffrey Rush too as the evil but effective (don't you hate that) Walsingham. The film is an absolute pleasure to watch - the story compellingly told (though I'm sure historians of the period could perhaps see holes in its accuracy), the characters mesmerisingly involving and the sets just lovely - I wanted to switch off all the electricity and switch to candlelight immediately (though I would have missed the end of the film if I'd done that!). I had seen it before, but it held me from beginning to end.
I ended up watching Elizabeth, you see, because I had decided against another week of blood letting on Underbelly. Overseas readers will not have heard of this show (sorry) but it is something of a televisual phenomenon here - this is the third installment of dramatised local 'true crime' stories. I had had hesitations about it from the beginning, wondering that surely there were more worthy and indeed interesting people to make tv shows about than criminals. But, as usual on matters of popular taste, I was (and am) in the minority. People love true crime and, if you throw in as much sex and violence as you possibly can, they love it even more. I thought I would give Underbelly: Razor a go this time around because it is set in 1920s Sydney (about the time and place my thesis is set) and at first I was in love with the costumes, if nothing else. Lots of beads and silky drop-waisted dresses. But the gratuitous gore and sex scenes clearly just there for the sake of them! It actually got beyond offensive to just downright boring.
Take a leaf from films like Elizabeth!