Saturday, February 1, 2014

Julia (1977)

Julia was based on a chapter in Lillian Hellman's second volume of memoirs, Pentimento: A Book of Portraits, appeared in 1973. Lillian Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was a successful American author of plays and screenplays. She was Jewish.

Jane Fonda played Lillian Hellman. In the beginning of the movie, she was struggling to write a good play in a beach house, accompanied by her lover Dashiell Hammett, a novel writer. She often thought about her friend Julia, a political activist, who now studied medicine in Vienna. There was an attack to the university (I am not clear what event it was, but people burst into the building, attacked the anatomy lab and threw students from upstairs). Lily went to Vienna to visit gravely wounded Julia, who was in a coma. Later Julia's records were removed from the hospital and no one knew about her.

Then Lily wrote a very good play which became a hit. She became famous and was invited to Russia. In her hotel in Paris, she was visited by Julia's friend, who asked her to take a train via Berlin and smuggled money for buying Jewish people's freedom.

The movie was slow. I think it was because Lily's life was not as exciting as Julia. However, this movie used Lily as its main character, and put Julia as a supporting character. Lots of time was used for the train scenes. Because she was a Jewish, we knew how dangerous it was for Lily to come to Berlin. It was almost insane for Julia, who claimed that she was her friend, to ask Lily to travel via Berlin. Julia did provide people throughout the journey to watch over Lily so that she was always safe.

After the released of this movie, psychiatrist Muriel Gardiner from New York claimed that she was the basis of Julia character. Gardiner and Hellman had the same lawyer, who could read Gardiner's memoirs.

Lillian and Julia - past and present

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