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Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Day of Friction




Friday December 30, 1983

First day of friction in the editing room.

Cathy attacked my cut of the first reel, and I responded badly. She was probably right.

Nevertheless, in order for "The Bostonians" to succeed, it is essential that we get along. Two editors, one of lesser experience (myself) working with a woman of greater experience. Quite the reverse of the film and novel which depicts a man of years and accomplishment courting a young woman. I find it interesting, to watch my reactions take a position within the greater scheme of Henry James' project, which all of us, Jim Ivory, Ismail Merchant the whole team, writer,, camera people crew and editors, are finishing.

James's story is split into two competing roles, an Southern gentleman with old fashioned ideas about a woman's place and his alter ego in the form of Vanessa Redgrave who plays the feminist Bostonian firebrand, Olive Chancellor. Together they compete for the affections of young Verena Tarrant, an impressionable idealist, who in my opinion, was badly cast. Christopher Reve, though just off Superman, is a talented actor - he plays the role marvelously. However nature makes him less convincing in scenes where he is required to fake attraction for Verena Tarrant, played by Madeleine Potter (no relation).

"The Bostonians", as an effort to express James, is beginning to flag in it's attempt to illustrate the workings of the male and female principle, and the deterioration of that attraction has acquired a load of hostility. It may have been what James meant all along, but Cathy and I may have been a little too successful at mirroring the story into our cutting room 'relations', especially where the task of editing reflects the male and female in equal parts, virtually at war with each other.

It is disappointing that warmth and affection, of a fatherly sort, which Chris is supposed to feel for Verena, does not succeed as well as his portrayal of rivalry with Olive Chancellor. Instead the male/female violence bred into the novel feels more a sort of repressed attraction for an older woman on the part of Superman, ala Stendhal or Flaubert. That is the aspect of the film we have stressed the most, men and women at odds, rather than in sympathy. The idea for the film as a tiny seed, which  develops at every stage of its growth, to work, must find female and male principles equally matched through to the final cut.

Cathy and I will have to be equally matched. I must get my cutting up to a level where she envies my work.

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