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The Hours

June 18, 2011

1.  Film Analysis

The main themes of this film are suicide and making choices about life and death.  Two out of the three women portrayed in this film contemplate suicide.  However, only one makes the choice to die.  She says that some must die in order for others to live.  The director of this film through cinematography intertwine the lives of these women by showing repetitive motions or objects that cross each of the womens lives. This is done to show how each of these women, though living in different times, still struggle with some of the same issues.  While Woolf struggles with ‘demons” or mental illness, her problem is no more heartbreaking than Laura Brown’s feeling of suffocation in her life.  While Clarissa is not stuck in a marraige she doesn’t love, she still struggles with finding a way to have a perfect world.  Her inability to save the one man she loves, or to make him happy, causes her to fall into a mid-life crisis.  Virginia Woolf’s answer to finding happines comes with choosing to die.  Laura Brown chooses to live but in the process makes death more appealing to her son later in life as he suffers with AIDS.  While Clarissa never contemplates suicide, she struggle with understanding her reason for living.

2. Book Analysis

The two main themes in Michael Cunningham’s book are the constraint of societal roles placed on women and mortality. 

 Laura is living a life that she thinks she’s suppose to live.  Her husband has fought in the war so she is playing the role as homemaker as desired by her husband and as expected by society.  While others from the outside might see her life as perfect, she doesn’t quite fit in this role and feels guilty because of it.  Clarissa, while living with a woman, lives in a stable home with regular routines.  She lives as a society wife and in domestic bliss or so it seems.  While Clarissa has created her home to her liking, from the outside she’s very distant and doesn’t know how she fell into the role she’s living an isn’t sure she likes her choices. 

The  2 main characters,  constantly reflect back on their lives and question the choices they have made.  Clarissa is torn between the life she lives now and compares it with her past life.  She feels like the best days of her life are gone.  Clarissa often feels insignificant when she makes mistakes.  She feels like being insignifican in her role in life is no different than death.  Laura feels trapped in a role as a housewife that she doesn’t want to live in.  She constantly looks for an out and thinks suicide is the answer she is looking for.  She wants quiet in her life and knows that with death she will finally find the peace she longs for.  In the end she doesn’t commit suicide but  stands at the threshold of death.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30TOgCVavV8&feature=fvwrel

This is a youtube video with movie excerpts but also actor/actress interviews.  Each actress gives you a little insight about the characters they play and how each of the characters connected to one another.  The clip takes you through some of the main themes the director is trying to convey with this film and makes the movie a little clearer to the viewer.

http://www.thingsmeanalot.com/2010/07/hours-by-michael-cunningham.html

This site is one that reviews Cunningham’s book.  In addition to reviewing the book however, it includes favorite excerpts from the novel.  It also has a messag board for fans to add their insights to the site.  It also has a section of books fans might enjoy if they enjoyed this particular book.

http://www.ugo.com/channels/filmTv/features/thehours/nicole.asp

This is an interview with Nicole Kidman and her role as Virginia Woolf.  The interview discusses how she prepared for the film.  It discusses how the movie role has left an impact on her life.  And, it even discusses the prostetic nose.  It’s interesting to read interviews with the actors because you wonder what their reactions are about their characters and if their thoughts are reflected when they act out a scene.  Reading interviews give a better insight to films.

4-Critcal Analysis Question

Compare the way Leonard Woolf nurses Virginia to the way Clarissa nurses Richard. How are these situations different, and how do they respectively reflect the times in which they were living?

In the film, Leonard Woolf cares for Virginia by surrounding her by lots of servants but by keeping her locked away.  He believes she is a threat to herself so instead of socializing her, he makes her be alone with her thoughts.  He tells her constantly she should eat according to the doctors recommendations.  However, he rarely sits down to eat with her.  In their lifetime, her “illness” was found to be socially unexeptable and so the solution was to lock her away.  People were not tolerable of mental illness and therefore they didn’t want to see people with it.

In Clarissa’s story, there is a significant difference.  Richard is living with AIDS in a society that is more tolerable.  Clarissa doesn’t want Richard to be locked away, but he chooses to cut himself off from society.  She wants the world to see him in hopes that her love will help him get better.  She wants the world to find the greatness in Richard and to show the world how “normal” he is despite his illness. 

Despite Richard and Virginia living in different eras, with different stereotypes, each one felt like a burden to their care givers.  Each one felt helpless in their quest to get better and chose death over another day of being ill.   While each chose to die in a different fashion, each one was at peace with their decision to die.

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One Comment
  1. Typically your analysis of the film and the book are really good. So too your unique online research links. Your argument paragraph is better than usual, though I still urge you to work on a thesis statement, and then develop it in your argument paragraph. In this case, your thesis statement would in some way compare the two situations in the film, and the point you want to make about it. 9.5/10.

    Joseph Byrne

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