Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Les soeurs Brontë (1979)

This was on TV last night. I was surprised at first that a movie about the
Brontë sisters was made by the French people. The most striking thing of this movie is its visual beauty.

It starts when the Brontë family are adolescent. I didn't even know that they had a brother, Branwell, a painter and poet. However, Charlotte's talent in poetry is more wanted than his. The family are poor, so Anne and Branwell work in the family Robinson as a governess and a tutor. Here Branwell has a passionately love affair with Mrs Robinson and when she breaks it off, he runs to opium and sleeps all day. He is the first to die.

Emily is a tomboy, wear pants when she is walking on the heath. She is very much like Catherine Earnshaw. There is a beautiful scene when she explains to her sister that she dislikes wild rose (=love) and prefers holly (=friendship). Anne is the kindest and most sensitive of them all. She reminds me of Beth from Little Women, or - of course - Helen Huntingdon. Charlotte is the eldest and their leader. She persuades their aunt to send her and Emily to Brussels to study. In this foreign land, she has a unique relationship with her professor.

It's not clear what illness Emily and Anne suffer. Emily passes away first, followed by Anne. It's also not clear what makes the 3 sisters write novels. There is a scene where Charlotte finds Emily's poetry by accident and starts an argument when she wants to publish it - because Emily disagrees.

Female writers are not very common at that time, shown in the scene where Charlotte and Anne come to see their publisher (Emily chooses to stay at home) and receive a cold reception, until they tell him that he has invited them and that they are Currer Bell and Acton Bell, the names they use. Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and Wuthering Heights have become popular in England and America. The movie ends with Charlotte, married now, gets her place in high society. Her simple dress looks out of place among the high society, but Charlotte doesn't want to be another person than she is.

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