Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Film: Dorian Gray


The link above is one to the first part of the film Dorian Gray. I will admit that I was quite disappointed in it as a film, as there is a whole wealth of information given by Wilde in the novel that adds layers of meaning and really adds to the story. 

One of my major critisms is the large amount of sex scenes that seem to have been thrown in (most of the entirely fictional even to Wilde) which completely ruins one of the charms of the book, which is that the idea of sex is merely hinted at rather than used in the way it was in the film. There were so many different ways corruption was shown in the novel, as well as the implication of sex and homosexuality (seen as wrong in both Dorian Gray, and Oscar Wilde's societies - wrongly in my opinion). For example Dorian drinks, smokes, murders, gambles, blackmails and is guilty of many sins, the foremost of which would be selfishness really. 

The film even used sex in the relationship between Dorian and Sibyl Vane, which was not the point of that relationship, the point of their relationship is that it is both of their first loves and so is entirely innocent in every way, meaining no sex. 

And the introduction of Emily when so many more necessary characters were cut was absolutely ridicolous. I suppose she was supposed to replace the place of Hetty in the novel, though again that relationship was entirely innocent in a mirror of Sybil. 

All in all, watch the film but DON'T expect the book...far from it.

Til Next Time, 
L x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Book: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send an Idiot Abroad. The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

I am the first person to admit that travel diaries aren't really the kind of book that interests me. However this book was finished in 2 days, and I was working both of them so that takes some doing. 

I saw some of the Sky 1 series and when I saw that he had produced a book by the same name I decided I HAD to read it. After all Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington make a brilliant and hilarious team.

And I admit that I was not disappointed, this book was a great light hearted approach to travelling, and Pilkington writes some pretty hilarious stuff. I think this would convince even the travel phobic to go on a trip to see the wonders (though not to do some of the things that he did). 

Though he is often branded as an idiot I think that Karl Pilkington is a genius, he comes up with the most outrageous ideas and talks in a way that is engaging and really draws the readers into his travels, something not that easily achieved. I will definately look forward to the new series of an Idiot Abroad, and I just hope that they release another travel diary to go with it.

Read this book! That is an order! At many points I was just sat there laughing my head off at the things that were written on the page, definately kept me reading! 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

So I finally actually read the Picture of Dorian  Gray by Oscar Wilde, I finished it a couple of days ago but haven't had internet access so haven't been able to post, which of course is now going to cause a surge in posting as I update you on everything that has happened...it seems to be ages since I posted. 

Anyway. I liked the novel, I thought that it was a good book however there seemed to be a major bit of plot missing. As in there didn't seem to be much of it. The plot that there seemed to be was to do with Sybil Vane and her brothers revenge. But after her death there is a major part of the book that deals with nothing to do with this. Instead it lists the things that Dorian Gray did. 

It also seems a bit strange that though he is nearly 40 at the end of the novel no one seriously questions how he still looks 20, just a small observation. In fact his friend Harry is the only person to ever mention the fact that he still looks youthful, as in people that had known him for a long time, and even then he only says that he should tell him of his secrets, as if its perfectly normal for people to stay youthful. 

A vast part of the book seems to be about how, even though Dorian says he'll try and stay good (to keep his portrait looking good) he doesn't and instead becomes more and more corrupted, and the influence that that has on a lot of people. 

I would recommend this book, but it is a book particularly about the idea of art, and personally a book on morals. After all if you could see every sin that you commited on a photo of yourself then would you still do it. I honestly think that the Picture of Dorian Gray answers this question, and its not that pleasant an answer. 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Book: The Confession of Katherine Howard by Suzannah Dunn

I have read a book by Suzannah Dunn before (The Queen of Subtleties) but I will admit that I was unimpressed. I understand that the use of shortened names and slang makes the story more accessable, but I didn't like that fact that Dunn used those devices, it made the story seem less real. Though this is just to me and probably not to any other readers! 

On the other hand I quite liked The Confession of Katherine Howard, though a couple of the names were shortened I thought that they were much more plausible and it seemed to fit with the story, and setting of a group of young girls, though I do think that Katherine should have been referred to as Katherine during the time narrated while she was Queen, but that is just me personally. 

I did really like the way that the book ended, it was when Cat and Katherine (I am going to insist on referring to her as Katherine rather than Kate while talking about the bit of the book where she was Queen) parted ways. There was none of Cat showing regret or lament over the fate of her lover which I thought was a good twist. In a way I think that this ends the story in an almost positive way, which is an achievement for someone who's fate every 7 year old learns to be beheaded (pretty grim to teach 7 year olds the fate of Henry VIII's wives really!) 

All in all, I would say read the book just don't expect to be blown away by it, it arised less emtion in me than some other Tudor period fiction has.

Though I did get a cheap thrill from Fountains Abbey was mentioned, I grew up near it and so have visited it many a time. 

Til Next Time, 
L x

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Book: Dracula by Bram Stocker

I know I haven't been reading many new books lately but I thought I'd write a bit about the one's that I am rereading, and this morning I finished Dracula again. I just love this book, its the way that it's written, in the diary, letter and newspaper cuttings format that makes it different, and to me enjoyable (in contrast to Sherlock Holmes written around the same time, which I am not such a big fan of). This book is seriously better than all of the more modern Vampire books in excistance, particularly Twilight I'm afraid! 

One of the major issues found in the book (in my opinion) is that of women and their place. When reading the book there are actually very few female characters, and only two of the central characters (Lucy and Mina) are female. Though there are other minor female characters, such as Mrs Westerna and the Nun who looks after Jonathan, both who play minor roles. And then there is Dracula's Brides (though they are not referred to as that in the novel) who are seen about 3 times throughout. However the female characters aren't always used in a good way, both Mina and Lucy are 'seduced' by Dracula, with Lucy dying and becoming Un-Dead herself, while Mina comes very close, which seems as though Stoker wants to portray women as easily seduced and corrupted, shown particularly by the scar Mina gets when Van Helsing touches her with the Holy Wafer. And this can also be shown through the female Vampires themselves. 

The three women who live at Castle Dracula are said to be volumptious and hypnotic, and simular words are used to describe Lucy when she is a vampire, along with seductive. This is quite in contrast with the words used to describe both Mina and Lucy's appearances while they are both human, which is mostly use of the word pretty. This seems to show that the devil has corrupted the women and made them desirable and so that men want them. Ultimately the use of more female vampires than male vampires shows that Stoker thinks that women are more suseptable to evil. In a way this is also shown by the fact that the female vampires in Dracula seem to drink the blood of children, as seen by Jonathan by the child in the sack and then by Lucy as the bloofer lady. In contrast Dracula himself is only mentioned drinking the blood of adults, with Lucy, Mina and the mother of the child he brought for his brides, and with the death of the ships crew. This almost suggests that Dracula has more concience than the female vampires, though it could also simply be a twist on the caring and nutureing qualities that women at the time would have been expected to have. 

One thing that is suprising after seeing the above points, is the role that Mina herself actually plays. When told the facts about something she comes up with suggestions and ideas that non of the male characters have, and in most cases her hunches are correct and her ideas come in useful. Mina is a character that knows her mind and once she has made a decision she sticks to it, and sometimes even reaches the same conclusions as the male characters. An example being when Van Helsing and Dr Seward decide that they can't let Mina into their confidence in case Dracula reads her mind, Mina herself has come to that conclusion and sends word that she won't be coming to the conferences through her husband Jonathan Harker. Though there is often much talk of her being protected she is given a weapon for herself while in Translyvania and does seem to aid the male characters in any way possible, after all it is down to her that they had all the information together and in order after Lucy's death. 

Mina is described as someone 'with a man's brain and a woman's heart' and Van Helsing does say that God must have made her for a person. In this way Mina is just as strong as many of the male characters and yet different as well, she is certainly a key character in the novel. 

I'm SORRY I got a little English ified! I did English Literature at A2 level and one of my coursework pieces was on feminism, though I did that on Little Women, when I was reading Dracula again though I did wish that I'd done it on that its so interesting! I would write what else I like about the book but I really don't have time! Literally I am so sorry about the fact that I just went off like that, it is an important issue with the book. 

This is definately a book worth reading!

Til Next Time, 
L x