Essay on Madame Bovery

Essay on Madame Bovery

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In 1949, Motion picture director Vincente Minnelli carefully crafted a film adaptation of author Gustave Flaubert’s 1854 novel Madame Bovary. Minnelli was able to portray various literary metaphors from Flaubert’s novel in his film to capture the image of the story. Through Minnelli’s own use of cinematic metaphors, with the help of the camera movement, editing, lighting, and music. Though Minnelli’s creation was brilliant there are times that he fails to fully express Flaubert’s imagery. This paper will be a critical analysis of a scene in the film, (1:50:15-1:51:33) and a passage from the novel, (Part III, chapter eight page 288-289). It will review the ways the film, properly portrayed the novel in its use of dialogue, the adaptation of the literary metaphors into cinematic metaphors. In the scene in discussion, the central character Madame Bovary is on her deathbed. She had eaten a handful of arsenic, and is dying a very painful death. By her side are her husband Charles Bovary, and the town priest Abbe Bournisie, who has come to give the women a blessing sacrament of holy unction before she passes.
The literary structure in Gustave Flaubert dialogue is composed of very descriptive metaphors, and similes that leave his readers to examine the symbolic meaning behind them. The passage in discussion presents several of these literary expressions. For example, in the description of Charles eyes, “Pale as a statue, his eyes red as coals.”(Pg.188) The simile puts emphasis on Charles’ sorrow. Flaubert gives a very vivid depiction of Emma while the priest is reciting the holy unction’s. “First on the eyes, which had so coveted all earthy splendors”(Pg.288). Emma’s eyes are the representation for her constant desire for all pleas...


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...llow, her eyes immediately close, and her face seems completely lifeless. And through the kiss her soul has left her body and entered into the crucifix (1:51:28-1:51:30). Minnelli seems to have been trying to symbolize, not a kiss to God. But one of the romantic kisses, in her romantic novels, she has longed for through out her life. The last sequence of the scene portrays Charles’ reaction to his wife’s kissing of the cross (1:51:32-1:51:33). The take begins after a cut to Charles in a medium shot. The lighting contrast ratio is about 80:20. Minnelli does this to portray Charles realization that his wife will indeed not recover from her illness. This take is juxtaposed to the first take of Charles. In the first shot he had a sense of hope upon his face still (1:50:28 1:50:34). However, now all that his face expresses is lifelessness as a resemblance to his wife.

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