Wednesday, September 28, 2005

'Now, Voyager'


A thoroughly good time was had at the Purple Coat meeting last night, lubricated by a generous donation of wine. 'Now, Voyager' was both touching and hilarious -- and afforded a real insight into the 1940s and what passed as female empowerment. The story draws on a rich tradition of 'transformation': in this case, neurotic 'ugly duckling', Charlotte, is sent on a cruise by her psychiatrist in an effort to overcome the negative influence of a domineering mother. There she meets and falls in love with a married man. Naturally, things must remain chaste so ritualistic cigarette smoking acts as a substitute for sex ('The film must have been sponsored by Marlborough', said AJ). The plot is satisfyingly twisty and wonderfully melodramatic. We all agreed the acting was splendid, especially Bette Davis as Charlotte and Gladys Cooper as the matriarch. One can see why this film is such a treat for film theorists. Although all the female characters are strong and powerful, the measures of success are still deeply paternalistic: beauty, wealth, social accomplishment and the love of a man. These are my views, informed by the lively post-film discussion. Please do chip in with more commentary...

5 comments:

aj said...

Indeed it was a fun evening. Our generation (1982 batch) doesn't have enough exposure to these sorts of films and so watching them is a real treat. Bette Davis was brilliant and glamorous, the black-and-white lending a heightened sense of style and sophistication to the film.

Any similar film recommendations welcomed...

Anna said...

Really loved this film; very romantic, every bit as good as our present day cinema.

Taz said...

A great film whose themes still hold strong in our present day. It is refreshing to see a cinematic piece without any special effects and one in which the quality of acting is so fundamental to the telling of the story.

Giskin said...

Good point, Taz. It is easy to imagine a cinematic spectacular 'remake' of this film, but I warrant it wouldn't be nearly as engaging to watch.

Siv said...

If you liked this, you'll enjoy Dark Victory: about a woman (Bette Davis) with a terminal neurological illness, and her relationship with her doctor.