Stupid Girls

Monday, April 19, 2010

MOVIE: "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"

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How have I gone though over twenty years of adulthood without ever seeing, or really even knowing about, this movie? Is it because I live in the puritanical USA, so devoted to religious zeal for a mythologized and romanticized propoganda of democracy? Probably.

It's odd, though, that I, a born again feminist, never knew how important was this film.

I wish I could embrace her as a sister. In part, I can. She's right about the stifling, restricting, formulaic factory of educational systems. She's right to encourage "her girls" to think for themselves, to respect the arts, to examine and apply philosophies and to place beauty and truth above the mundane expectations of women in the 1940s. She's right to defy stifling authority. She's right not to respect the rigid restrictions on "her girls." She's right to wear bright colors in a school of drab grays; even the girls' uniforms are shades of gray. She stands out; she stands for something. This poster doesn't do justice to that suit, which was in vivid colors.

She's also a fascist sympathizer. I have to fear and distrust her for that and her self righteousness about it.

And I don't know how to reconcile her devotion to individualism, to liberated sexuality, her strong self assertions with her fascism. It must mean she is more a fascist than an instructor, and that is terrifying.

She is out of control. She rebels for the sake of rebellion, seeing herself superior to the unenlightened around her. And they are unenlightened, small, petty, sour, dry, timid. They gossip; they bully in the most passive aggressive ways. They are inferior, by those standards.

But her behaviors and assertions are too much reactionary. She merely reacts against her surroundings. She does nothing of substance to improve them. And "her girls" leave her class with "old heads on young shoulders." We see the impact of her influence on two students, in particular and know she is equally destructive to others who are bright enough, sensitive enough or just needy enough to absorb her every word as gospel.

This is a Lolicon movie: an adult, married man takes a student as his lover. He is, of course, a pig and can be easily dismissed as hateful. The girl is hideously warped into cynicism and self righteousness that, while reaction to Brodie's, is equal in ferocity to it. Both she and the man are with each other in reaction to Brodie.

She is not just a monster; she is a monster maker. And she appears so dignified, so elevated, so passionate that we can't see how monstrous she is until the damage is done.

It's completely smart, this film. I will forgive that the soundtrack is by that mewling Rod McKuen. I can't stand him.

Otherwise, sets, costumes, locations in Edinbourough, Scotland are excellent and well thought out. They perfectly compliment the story without being obtrusive.

I have an issue with an actress, playing an underage girl, appearing in the nude. To me, it doesn't matter if she is an adult, playing a child. Children need not to be seen as sexual objects. It pertains to the plot, of course, but I do not condone it. Clever script writing could have referred to the child, modeling for her artist lover, without actually showing us a nude body.

I hate the movie and I loved it. I wish more people would write unconventional scripts these days, but, I suppose, the stock holders wouldn't abide the risk. So, we're stuck with formula writing. It took risks, for sure, some of which I can't condone and some of which were "it's about time someone did this!" Some were just complete surprises.

In spite of its major flaw of child nudity, I have to recommend this movie. I think it's very important.

And I've always adored Maggie Smith!