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30 October 2016 @ 12:52 am
A Quiet Passion (2016)  
So someone made a movie about Emily Dickinson? Starring Cynthia Nixon as Dickinson? Here's the trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKJpx8FYp54

I am…I won't say unhappy, exactly, but disquieted, at the least. I don't know why, particularly: I have no indications that the film is not good, and I usually like costume drama. Maybe it's because Dickinson seems such a private person to me that it feels particularly wrong to presume to imagine what was going on in her mind and heart.

(This makes no real sense, because I've read quite a few of Dickinson's letters since I wrote a research paper on women's "romantic friendships" in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Open Me Carefully was a major source for that essay. Also, I have been to the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens [the house next door where Emily's brother Austen and his wife Susan - who was also Emily's dear friend, and the addressee of the letters in the Open Me Carefully collection - lived] more than once. So it's not exactly that I think the filmmakers ought to have left Dickinson her privacy - more that I think she ought to be left to speak for herself, in whatever riddling ways she chose?)

(I never feel this way about, say, Shakespeare. I might disagree with portrayals of him - since "my" Shakespeare is actually the quiet, circumspect Droeshout Shakespeare, the kind of man who could see the word "temperate" as the highest word of praise for a loved one - or I avoid them because I'm not especially interested, but I'm not upset by the fact that they exist. And my problem with Becoming Jane is that it was terrible and offensive, not that it was a biopic about Austen. I rather liked Miss Austen Regrets, after all.)

I assume, though, from the trailer, that Jennifer Ehle has been cast as Susan, and if I'd ever before thought about who ought to play Susan, I would have chosen Ehle in a heartbeat. So there is that.

ETA: Well, now I'm doubly disappointed. According to IMDb, Ehle has been cast as "Vinnie" Dickinson - Emily's sister Lavinia. It turns out that Jodhi May has been cast as Susan - which is the only time I've ever been disappointed that Jodhi May was cast in something! But I also don't remember seeing her in the trailer, which suggests that Susan might not have a big part, and that's too bad, given how important she was to Dickinson. "One sister have I in our house," she once wrote in a poem to Susan, "and one a hedge away." And here's how that poem ends:

I chose this single star
From out the wide night’s numbers -
Sue - forevermore!