Madame Bovary: Fakeness as a Literary Account in Film Doesn’t Work

Mia Waskikowska plays Emma in Sophie Barthes’ version of Madame Bovary; like many works, it fails to capture the nuance of Faubert’s story.

The filmmakers tried to capture it Madame Bovary on the screen since movies learned to talk. But even as film technology has improved, it has become increasingly difficult to provide a good account of Flaubert’s story.

You can see some of the problems in every minute of the new version of Sophie Barthes, which premiered at TIFF on Wednesday. Emma Bovary is revolted by her usual places and her boring life in the Normandy province, but the camera always tries to seduce us with pictures. His charming village will be our film studio.

Better yet, Emma becomes an easily lovable heroine. Flaubert tells us in the book that his ideas of love are influenced by low literary romanticism, but Barthes shows him as a romantic hero who only chooses the wrong men. We cannot blame her for deceiving her husband, and taking his side, as Flaubert would not allow us to do.

By the time Madame Bovary published in 1857, it was admired and criticized as a crude satire of modern life and modernity. Henry James called it a great work, although he said that his subject was “everything that life despises and is vulgar and empty.”

But when the story becomes a movie, with all the investment it requires, most of the satire and sterility fall away. The lure of romance is too strong, and the book’s true meaning is not very satisfying.

Barthes shows Emma (played by Mia Wasikowska) enjoying her works as a real experience of real life. But Flaubert tells us that, after his first meeting with a landowner, “he remembered the heroines of the books he had read, and this song of prostitutes began sing her memory with the sisterly voices that enchanted her.” Her erotic content is naturally influenced and driven by literary considerations. How would you appear on film? Claude Chabrol’s 1991 adaptation could not and could not be done.

When Emma finds out, in the book, that the local secretary loves her, she thinks with loneliness that he loves her, although “in his face, her feelings are less, left just a big surprise ended in sadness.” She loves the idea of ​​love, not the man himself, but the handsome Léon (Ezra Miller) of the movie, and Emma really falls for him.

Barthes always felt the need to improve Flaubert, adding and releasing scenes and creating social metaphors – mostly spider webs and corsets. His lack of faith in what is seen disturbs the cast, not speaking normally but in the context of period film theory, where contractions are forbidden.

Even Paul Giamatti, who is the best in Barthes’s genius scene Cold spirits, it is as treacherous and unpleasant as Homais medicine.

Another way to do it Madame Bovary the rewriting is complete. British author and illustrator Posy Simmonds did this in her 1999 graphic novel, Gemma Bowerywhich turned up at TIFF in a film in French directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel).

Gemmy Bowery it is set in recent times, and its heroine is an English woman who separates from her husband Charlie for what she thinks is a richer and more interesting life in the Normandy countryside. The main goal of Simmonds is the classic English novel about finding a house in France, where all the food is delicious and all the scenery is beautiful.

Gemma soon realizes that the truth is not interesting, and starts doing things like Emma’s. He was discovered by Joubert, a historian in his village, who saw Flaubertian parallels, worked as a historian and recorded his diaries after his death.

Simmonds’ graphic novel is lighter than its model, and seems a natural fit for cinema. But the picture quickly disappeared, because Fontaine shifted his focus to Joubert’s great desires for his English neighbor. Gemma becomes an addition to the comedy of the aging wannabe Lothario.

Fontaine also creates a clumsy erotic drama for the two, including a scene where Gemma is stung by a bee and told by Joubert that the poison must be drawn.Sucez king!”

Joubert (played by Fabrice Luchini) is a voyeur who dazzles the screen with his voracious appetite and does not show Gemma that he is less concerned than kind.

His hypocrisy makes him plausibly Flaubertian, even at the cost of alienating the title character. Gemma Arterton looks fresh and cool in her long dresses and floppy hats, but she can’t quite sum up how uncomfortable Simmonds’s Gemma is.

Her fate was not the same as Emma Bovary’s, and it came after she wrote in her diary that she was “looking forward to my new life.” That was a long way from “the depths” Emma saw opening beneath her as she ran to drown herself.

The best film translation of Flaubert’s novel is the Chabrol version, because it is the smallest and understands the sound effects that can only express the beauty of the book’s language. . But in the end it does very little for the story presented, and it’s not as satisfying as the movie itself.

The hard fact that Flaubert is a serious wordsmith doesn’t really change his image in any way. Its main theme is the hypocrisy of everything, and it’s hard to stay true to the period-movie aesthetics and style of the movie.

However, we can hope for more film versions. Flaubert’s investigation of the violation of the public right still gives his novel a reputation at a time when most literature is about plagiarism. When the English translation by Lydia Davis came out in 2010, Playboy magazine published a piece with a cover that called it “the most disgusting story of all time.”

Vincente Minnelli did the same in his 1949 film, which incorporated scenes from the trial into Emma’s story. That’s the wrong reason to make a movie out of a book, but there may be good reasons.

Madame Bovary plays at the Winter Garden Theater on Thursday at 4:30 pm and at the TIFF Bell Box at 11:15 on Friday.


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