Death and Rebirth in the Hours

1360 Words6 Pages
Death and re-birth in The Hours

Adapted from Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Director Stephen Daldry and playwright David Hare, The Hours was inspired by Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway. It is no coincidence that The Hours was the working title Woolf had given Mrs. Dalloway as she was writing it. The emotional trauma that this film guides its viewers through becomes evident in the opening prologue. The scene begins with Virginia Woolf composing what would be her suicide notes to her husband Leonard and her sister Vanessa, the two most important people in her life (Curtis, 57.) She begins: "I feel certain that I am going mad again: I feel we can't go through another of these terrible times... You have given me the greatest possible happiness.. ." The portrayal of this process quickly demonstrates the turmoil Woolf is feeling, both from her oncoming episode of "madness" and the difficulty she is having finding the correct words to say "farewell" (Lee, Hermoine). The prologue comes to its climax as Kidman portrays Woolf's suicide. It is a gut-wrenching display of one's "matter-of-fact" acceptance of one's own coming death. Very dramatically, Woolf fills the pockets of her coat with large stones and stoically walks into a swollen river. Her head slowly disappears beneath the muddy water as all hope of her reconsidering her suicide is swept away with the current.

The Hours then introduces us to three women from three different decades, and their relationships with others, tied together by a common thread--Mrs. Dalloway. Mrs. Dalloway is about one day in the life of its namesake, Clarissa Dalloway, as she prepares for a dinner party. "She is a woman who, on the outside, is a perfect...

... middle of paper ...

...m the responsibility for his death by saying a line similar to one in Woolf's letter to her husband--"I don't think two people could have been happier than we've been."

Though there are cinematic clues that they are the same person (similar pajamas, and Richard looking at a old photo of a woman with pills spilled on its surface)--It is only after Richard's suicide we learn that he is actually Laura Brown's grown up son Richie. Up until his suicide we are led to believe that Brown had committed suicide. In fact, in Richard's hard-to-read novel, he has his mother as committing suicide. The reality as we learn from her, is that she abandoned Richard and the rest of her family shortly after her second child was born. Much like the loss Woolf experienced when her mother died while Woolf was thirteen, the loss of his mother affected Richard deeply (Curtis).
Open Document