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Conversation over "Beguiled" at New Yorker Facebook Movie Club




NJ

About the Beguiled: Sofia Coppola makes amendments to the original script that are so equivalent to sexual cleansing as to render her whole retelling of the Don Siegel original indefensible. And between 1971 and 2017 what have we lost? Everything. Style over substance. 

I should never have done that to Sofia, whose every single other films I loved, even and above all its least popular, Somewhere: I should never have watched Don Siegel’s jaw-dropping, menacingly mesmerising fi
lm, 1971 The Beguiled, the day before I went to see her remake of it.

I could go on and on about all that’s missing, all the things she decided to cut out of the original, like (SPOILER) Miss Martha cuts out the leg and symbolic masculinity of the Caporal - from the onset, it was shocking to see Coppola deleted that kiss between Eastwood and the 12 year old Amy, which takes you by surprise and by the throat right from the start of the original - one of many WTF moments of the whole 1971 affair. Then you realise she deleted the slave - because, you know, whatever, it’s 2017. We dont show these things anymore. 

No, the one thing that I believe captures her whole sexual cleansing operation is summed up in a line that she subtly changed, when Miss Martha offers Brandy to the Caporal to relieve his suffering, and he says “with pleasure”, and in the original Martha says “it is not for your pleasure, it is for your pain”, to which he replies something along the lines of “Well you’d be surprised to know how they sometimes both go hand in hand”. Sofia obviously thought BDSM was so last season, and you know, Eros and Thanatos, that sort of things, who cares, so passé, so she changed “pain” to “comfort”. “It is not for your pleasure, but for your comfort”. To which obviously the Caporal has nothing to reply.

And everything is oh so comfortable in this film, she films beautifully, as usual, young girls and gardens and taffetas, and it smells of lavender, and I guess she got the Prix de la mise en scène for… her use of natural light? the problem is that Siegel’s version was just as beautiful, and filmed in natural light too, but in it form followed function and there was substance behind every frame.

It is a shame because this year, 120 battements par minutes was a movie about Eros and Thanatos, just like the original Beguiled, a movie which understands how cinema moves and moves your heart.
Anybody else here saw this film and found it disturbingly clean?
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LJK I remember the original as being gritty and hard to watch and wonderful. Wasnt sure i wanted to see it this time around cuz of upsetting content....now I Am upset reading how these vital aspects of the film have been removed. Thanks for the sharp review!

MSI have yet to see the original beguiled, so my opinion is based solely on the Sofia Coppola movie. I couldn't keep up with the girls: they feared him, they hated him, they loved him, they hated him again. Especially the Kirsten Dunst character. And, the different shots of the tree between scenes. I assumed it must have been symbolic of something, but what it was I could not determine.

Patrick McEvoy-Halston A lot gets told in quiet mannerisms. I don't know if there was much clean in Dunst's clear desire to scrub the place, the young girl's interest in beguiling him, Fanning's interest in seducing/mastering him, and Kidman's desire to keep along until he might prove a man her equal. And when he lets loose, he's savage. There is a quietness which helps give elevation to playful efforts to try new things.

NJ Can mannerism be quiet though? The mood might be, but sofias tricks are pretty heavy handed, like the firsr three frames - oooh the little girl is literally breaking away from the straight alleyway and into the woods. In the original there was no alleyway, the woods were wild and messy, like desire, from the start. But mostly that quiet mannerism doeant answer the question: why the cleansing? Why the deleting of everything that made the original so gritty and deeply mesmerizing and ambiguous?

Patrick McEvoy-Halston I'll have to see the original. I surely will get a better sense as to what you feel was missing. Probably have to rewatch Coppola's film while at it. I wonder if she and Wes Anderson are simply more dilettantish?

Patrick McEvoy-Halston As in, they might shut down if things got too loud. Bringing slavery into the movie, might be one of those kinds of elements... and we'd lose what the movie did provide. Just thinking.

NJ Patrick McEvoy-Halston but slavery plays beautifully in the original film. It is a movie set in the civil war, so kind of hard to pretend it was not there.

Patrick McEvoy-Halston  You certainly have sparked my interest in the original. Thanks Nicolas. But for some reason, I don't mind that it wasn't there. Perhaps because, I know this is thoroughly objectionable, slaves or no slaves, I feel the North and South were due to blow one another up during that period. The primary "issue" is that they wanted to kill one another. They were two different types of people at that point, with no more overlay. If eliminating slavery was the primary thing for the North, they could have waited the South's war rage out and snatched it away from them when they were more placid. Way less ravage, and just as effective.

And so for me, the house is just a weird intersection, where the mice might even play.

LJK Patrick McEvoy-Halston Exactly right...to remake it and improve may have been to add more poc and women were well represented in the first one imo. It wasnt Clint Eastwood's film either. It was a strong ensemble piece. I grew up remembering the women in the movie. Their sexual oppressive passive aggressive manner. Imo.

NJ Patrick McEvoy-Halston yes I have heard that point made about the civil war... I am not sure how much of it is an actual retelling of the story after the facts or wishful thinking, but I am not a historian (nor an American, for that matter) so I cant really say. What I am is a film lover and ex-film critique and a writer, and all I can tell you is the character of the slave in the original was incredibly bold and powerful and she had both desire and pride and the her interplay with Eastwood was quite fascinating. Especially for 1971, and still today.

LJK  NJfyi was talking about the 70s beguiled again w lisa on her post about the movie youve got mail. In over my head w you guys maybe but i feel what i feel.😊
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