Friday, August 20, 2010

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

I bought the DVD of this movie because I was intrigued by the reason why Violet wanted her niece to have lobotomy. Her niece, Catherine, is confined to a lunatic asylum because something she saw last summer. When the DVD arrived, I read the short synopsis on the back of the sleeve. It was a wrong step because whoever wrote the description, he/she had ruined the movie for me.

Montgomery Clift plays Dr. Cukrowicz, the best doctor available concerning lobotomy. He is summoned by Violet (played very well by Katharine Hepburn), the richest widow in the area, to perform lobotomy on her crazy niece; and as a thank gift, she will contribute lots of money to the hospital. The young doctor goes to see Catherine, the niece (played by Elizabeth Taylor), and after talking with her, he thinks that she is not a hopeless case - and that she only forgets what happened last summer, when she was found in hysterical state. The doctor tries to make Catherine remembers what happened to Sebastian, Violet's only son, who died last summer when Catherine was with him.

The writing on the DVD back sleeve really ruined everything for me. I watched the movie with the answer on my head, so the conclusion was banal. The movie was based on Tennessee Williams play, so throughout the movie, words are flowing rapidly. Catherine's mother is very annoying, but perhaps her character is written that way.

Looks like Violet herself doesn't know what really happened to Sebastian. She thinks Catherine killed him last summer. I wonder why the doctors and nurses don't see that Catherine is not insane at all. The first scene when she appears, I can see that she is all right, especially when compared to other patients. Lobotomy is a scary word. I have seen a movie where such operation can be clearly seen; I think it's El hombre que supo amar - or is it From Hell - I can't remember. However, the most terrifying result I have seen is in Un amour à taire. Why Violet wants to do such a horrible thing to her beautiful niece? Is she really that jealous because Sebastian chose to spend his summer, which turned to be his last, with Catherine, than with her - like always?

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