My Account
Preview
Preview

A Thousand Acres as Movie is Melodramatic and Bogus Essay example

No Works Cited
Length: 1013 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



A Thousand Acres as Movie is Melodramatic and Bogus

 

Perhaps Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Thousand Acres" was a bit over-rated. For one thing, the book's "dark secret" seemed utterly implausible. I just didn't believe that the book's protagonist and narrator, a 37-year-old Iowa farm wife named Ginny, could have completely repressed the fact that her father had sex with her when she was 15 years old, night after night, for a year. For True Believers in "Repressed Memory Syndrome," this might sound like gospel: I found it melodramatic and bogus. Furthermore, the sensitive-unto-death narrative voice was dissonant and grating: Ginny came across as too intelligent and self-aware to be as clueless and numb as she was supposed to be.

 

Despite these major flaws, however, Smiley's au courant revisiting of "King Lear" had its virtues: keen insights into family dynamics, a stately, beautifully controlled pace and a weirdly chipper, let's-do-the-dishes-everybody quality that only heightened the ominous sound of fatal machinery grinding away beneath the banal surface of Happy, Happy American life. Unfortunately, these literary achievements -- created by tone and nuance as well as the sheer hypnotic effect of time spent turning the pages -- are not easily captured by film. The movie fails to convey any of the book's strengths -- and it magnifies its shortcomings into bathetic clichés.

 

"A Thousand Acres" may simply be one of those books that can't be made into anything but a plot-driven movie-of-the-week. Although the first half hour is really dreadful, with its hokey plot-establishing voice-over and choppy, melodramatic action, it's not easy to imagine how director Jocelyn Moorhouse an...


... middle of paper ...


... or the face-off between her way of living in the world and Rose's.

 

Smiley's novel is filled with an unnecessary amount of family horror -- she could have achieved the same artistic effects without sprinkling on the Gothic MSG. But the interiority of the novel form allows us to look away from the lurid plot, to follow the subtler movement of Ginny's mind. Moorhouse halfheartedly tries to tell the story from Ginny's point of view, but she keeps going back to the external, epic vision. Instead of feeling like an epic, however, "A Thousand Acres" feels like a soap opera -- an impression not lessened by the soupy this-is-a-sad-scene music and the treacly voice-over that keeps telling us what just happened -- "going to court had divided us from each other." If Shakespeare spun a few times when Smiley's novel came out, he must be rotating like an eggbeater now.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper








This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - A Thousand Acres is the story of King Lear updated for a modern audience hungry for an understanding of the malady that ripped apart Lear's family. Unlike King Lear, A Thousand Acres has one of the "bad" daughters as its narrator, which provides insight into the bitter conflict that undoes the family in the end. Those familiar with Shakespeare's play may be bothered by the idea that such stately patriarch could unknowingly produce such selfish schemers as Regan and Goneril, and Smiley's novel gives us the back story....   [tags: A Thousand Acres Essays] 1503 words
(4.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Incest in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - Incest in A Thousand Acres Incest in A Thousand Acres invades all the other items: it is there, and is crucial for everything that happens, but it is hidden beneath the surface of appearances. Tim Keppel has pointed out not only that "Smiley's major departure [...] is her decision to tell the story from the viewpoint of Ginny and explore the inner lives of the so-called 'evil' sisters" (Keppel, p.105), but that "Smiley makes her most dramatic re-vision of Shakespeare" (Keppel, p.109) in the storm scene....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 524 words
(1.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Body and Nature as Metaphor in A Thousand Acres Essay - Body and Nature as Metaphor in A Thousand Acres Most issues on a farm return to the issue of keeping up appearances. (Smiley p.199) [T]he female body is a reservoir, a virgin patch of still, pooled water where the fetus comes to term. (Paglia p.27) [A] fetus is a benign tumor, a vampire who steals in order to live. (Paglia p.11) The epigraph to this novel is from "The Ancient People and the Newly Come": The body repeats the landscape. They are the source of each other and create each other....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 826 words
(2.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Caroline in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - Caroline in A Thousand Acres It is really striking that a novel in which bodies of people and bodies of land (and, intertextually, bodies of text) are so central, creates a character that is so distinctly "unbodied": Caroline Cook. Nevertheless, it is in keeping with traditional and patriarchal interpretations of Cordelia's character in King Lear: a paragon of purity and transcendence. While her sisters' bodies are thoroughly described and, not least, imbued with meaning, Caroline is always described in terms of her business-like " 'take-me-seriously-or-I'll-sue-you' demeanor" (13), her expensive clothes and assertive actions....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 479 words
(1.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Corrupt Patriarchal Society of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - The Corrupt Patriarchal Society of A Thousand Acres      Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres tells a dark tale of a corrupt patriarchal society which operates through concealment.  It is a story in which the characters attempt to manipulate one another through the secrets they possess and the subsequent revelation of those secrets.  In her novel, Smiley gives us a very simple moral regarding this patriarchal society: women who remain financially and emotionally dependent on men decay; those able to break the economic and emotional chains develop as women and as humans....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
767 words
(2.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Body and Nature as Signifying System in A Thousand Acres Essay - Body and Nature as Signifying System in A Thousand Acres The female body, in literature as in other texts, functions as a kind of signifying system; a site of continuous signification. Traditionally, this has been understood in terms of transposing patriarchal or even misogynist cultural values onto the construction of the female body. In A Thousand Acres, however, Smiley turns this around. Just as this novel tries to gain control of the discourse of King Lear, and of metaphors of women therein, it also foregrounds the body as a textual matrix through which the subject can understand herself and the world....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 610 words
(1.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Body and Visibility in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - Body and Visibility in A Thousand Acres The west insists on the discrete identity of objects. To name is to know; to know is to control. (Paglia, p.5) [Woman's beauty] gives the eye the comforting illusion of intellectual control over nature. (Paglia, p.17) If the male gaze is a tool to conceptualize reality, then -like an axe- it can also be used as a weapon. The Paglia quotes above refer not only to matters of epistemology or even ontology ("This is what we see; therefore, this is what exists"), it is equally fitting to describe concrete powerrelations in a social system constructed on the basis of Apollonian control....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 656 words
(1.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Overt Control in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - [N]ature is a festering hornet's nest of aggression and overkill. (Paglia p.28) In a patriarchal and capitalist society grounded in the rape of the land, it is crucial that men should be able to tame both the female body and nature. This most often takes the forms of covert control, naturalizing the imperatives of the patriarchy into the whole of social interaction on one level, and the exploitation and gradual poisoning of the earth on another. But there are examples of overt control, too, in the power games of Larry Cook and in Pete's physical abuse of Rose, climaxing in the breaking of her arm....   [tags: A Thousand Acres Essays] 601 words
(1.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Women Finding Their Voices in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - Women Finding Their Voices in A Thousand Acres "Women, just like nature or the land, have been seen as something to be used,' says Smiley.'Feminists insist that women have intrinsic value, just as environmentalists believe that nature has its own worth, independent of its use to man'" (Duffy 92). Larry Cook, the senile, old power holder and father in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, is a prime example of a man who believes that women and land are nothing more than objects that exist on this earth only so that he can control them....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 767 words
(2.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Covert Control in Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres Essay - Covert Control in A Thousand Acres Though there are instances of overt control and destruction performed by the patriarchy upon both women and nature, the most pervasive forms the Apollonian controlling impulse takes, are covert. What Ginny says about Larry, also goes for the system of which he is the ultimate signifier: "I feel like there's treacherous undercurrents all the time. I think I'm standing on solid ground, but then I discover that there's something moving underneath it, shifting from place to place."(104)....   [tags: Smiley Thousand Acres Essays] 746 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]