BBC's Tess of the D'Urbervilles
My desire to put this tear-jerker by Thomas Hardy onscreen properly made me consider pursuing film at one point in my life. I've often asked myself who I'd cast as Tess: Keira Knightley? Perhaps Scarlett Johansson a la Girl With a Pearl Earring?
Neither could match Gemma Arterton's sweet innocence as Tess Durbeyfield, a virtuous and hardworking young girl whose happiness is continually thwarted by cruelty and circumstance. Hans Matheson is almost too charming as the artfully seductive villain Alec Stokes-D'Urberville, and even though Eddie Redmayne is a bit less serious and substantial than I imagined Hardy's conflicted romantic hero Angel Clare to be, he manages to be captivating in the role nonetheless.
I've only seen the first of two episodes airing on Masterpiece Theater (you can stream them for a limited time here
, and you should), but based on what I've seen, I'll die satisfied. The production captures the scenes and language of the book nearly verbatim. I feel like I'm re-reading the story in Surround Sound, rather than watching a movie.
Forewarned is forearmed: Hardy's story will leave you with a pervasive sense of sadness that isn't easily shaken off. The power in the story is that justice isn't done, and the failed heroes of the story realize their weakness and hypocrisy too late. Stock up on Kleenex, and keep some in your pocket for later. View recorded theater productions for free at the New York Library for the Performing Arts
If your favorite show is no longer playing on Broadway, or you missed your chance to see a classic, all is not lost: NYPL's Theater on Film and Tape collection at the Library for the Performing Arts keeps a wealth of televised performances that are available for by-appointment viewing once the show has ended its run. Visit the Library Web site
for more information, or call the TOFT Archive at (212)870-1642 to schedule an appointment.
A few caveats: your viewing must tied to a specific research project, and you need to sign a form certifying that you'll only see a given production once. I viewed the delightful French Revolution musical The Scarlet Pimpernel
yesterday for pleasure, and also for a book/theater comparison I plan to write. What an incredible resource!Reading Lolita in Tehran author Azar Nafisi at Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble
Truly, this has been a week of dreams for me. A lovely new TV production of one favorite book, and a chance to meet the author of another. I fell in love with Iranian author Azar Nafisi's gentle writing style and conviction in her "memoir in books," Reading Lolita in Tehran
this summer, and Wednesday heard her speak at a book signing for a new, more personal memoir, Things I've Been Silent About.
In the book, Ms. Nafisi recounts how she and her father used stories to temper the hardships of family life and the realities of the times. In her talk, she said, "through safeguarding memories, we safeguard life itself...(memory is) conclusive evidence that we have lived." How, she asked, should we confront "that absolute of all silences, which is death?" Stories, she said, continue the unfinished conversation.
Ms. Nafisi quoted Primo Levi's powerful words, "I write in order to rejoin the community of mankind." Well-timed thoughts for me. Though I can't really afford it, I bought Things I've Been Silent About
so I could get Ms. Nafisi's autograph on the inside. Now, if only B&N would host Fyodor Dostoevsky, I'd be truly happy!
For more exceptional author events at Barnes & Noble in the city, shuffle through here
. This month alone, two more locations will host book readings by former president Jimmy Carter (We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work
) and economic activist Lisa Sharon Harper (Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican...or Democrat
). Look me up and we can go together.