Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Getting of Wisdom

In the tradition of Picnic at Hanging Rock and My Brilliant Career this 1978 film by Bruce Beresford based in a 1910 novel by Henry Handel Richardson (the pseudonym of Ethel Lindesay Richardson) is not a masterpiece but it is interesting to see this lightly-disguised Richardson’s autobiography that when the novel was published, the author’s name was stricken from the records of the real life school she went just 13 years before.

The film tells about a country girl, Laura Tweedle Ramsbotham, arriving to a strict and exclusive Melbourne ladies’ college. The school becomes a microcosm of Australia in the Victorian era and Laura has to endure her background and social class difference while doing whatever she can to try to belong, including creating fantasies that soon are discovered that generate even more rejection from her peers, except from an older girl, Evelyn that takes Laura under her wing, with Laura falling madly in love with her.

But most interesting was discovering the real life of Ethel Lindesay Richardson that had a similar experience this movie tells and that she wrote in her own autobiography called Myself When Young. So, actually you can say that the movie screenplay is based on both books and perhaps the most interesting to read is the real autobiography were the author admits to a major attraction to another girl

The movie went to win the Best Screenplay adaptation at the 1978 Australian Film Institute. This drama is suited to adult audiences and especially to women that had ugly duckling experiences while being at school, only to become successful woman afterwards. The movie has evident lesbian overtones and well, I’ll give it the label as the movie is entertaining.


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