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Wide Sargasso Sea > Film Adaptations

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message 1: by Satia (new)

Satia I was surprised to learn there are two film adaptations of Wide Sargasso Sea.

One is a 1998 movie starring Karina Lombard, Nathaniel Parker, Rachel Ward, and Michael York.

The other is a BBC production made for television starring Rafe Spall, Rebecca Hall and Nina Sosanya.


message 2: by Satia (new)

Satia I chose to watch this version of film-to-text because I frankly didn't enjoy the novel enough to sit with it for more than necessary. (If anyone has watched the other, the BBC production, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.)

The dvd comes with two options: to watch is as an R rated movie or as an NC-17. The decision was easy to make. It is, after all, Antoinette’s sexuality that disrupts her husband’s equilibrium and precipitates the tragic events of the novel. Far from being gratuitous, the sex is essential to fully express the truth of the text. After watching it, however, I don’t know that the R rated version would have been much more graphic, with maybe a bit less nudity or perhaps one less hand shoved between fully clothed legs. All in all, the movie is pretty close to the text, incorporating the symbols in non-obtrusive ways. Visually, of course, it is pretty but I feel that in the hands of a different director (Ang Lee comes to mind), there would have been a more haunting and dreamlike quality evoked. This is missing although there are a few moments that are gothic in tone, as they should be. Some changes are made, with Antoinette discovering her mother’s horse with its neck slit open (not poisoned as in the novel) and the story of her childhood somewhat truncated as well as her brother’s presence diminished to the point of being nearly dismissed. The actors are lovely but the only passion that seems to be expressed is lust and there should be much more, a layering of emotions. But where the movie fails, and it fails so utterly, is in the final scene of the novel where Antoinette’s destiny is not fulfilled, not fully. The brutality of Rhys’s conclusion, the moment of clarity, of awakening, or realization, is never manifest on the screen and I was curious to see how the director and actor would manifest this. Someone made the decision to remove this altogether and, like Rhys’s decision not to explore Antoinette’s story more slowly on the page, an opportunity is missed that would have made for something far more powerful and provocative.


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