Monday, May 28, 2012
Flowers In The Attic
It seems that I talk about a lot of films based on books doesn't it? Besides being a fan of cinema, I am also a fan of the written word and I have a collection of books that rivals my DVD collection. Now today's movie I saw before I even read the book it was based on and when I finally read the novel Flowers In The Attic, I became a V.C. Andrews fan on the spot. If you don't know by now, V.C. Andrews died shortly before the movie of her very first novel was released and every book from 1986 onwards has been written by a ghost writer because the estate of Virginia Cleo Andrews is a veritable gold mine. Now the plot of Flowers In The Attic the movie differs greatly from the original novel (and how!) but right now let's discuss the basic plot.
What Is The Plot?
The Dollanganger Family are a blue-eyed, blonde, healthy All-American family with teenage son Christopher named after his father, teenage Cathy who wants to be a ballerina, and twins Cory and Carrie who are adorable and they all love their father and mother, Corrine, unconditionally. Tragedy strikes when their father is suddenly killed in a car accident and the family finds themselves penniless so Corrine reaches out to her long estranged parents who are very wealthy and her mother agrees to let the five of them come to Foxworth Hall in Virginia on the condition that the children are never to be seen by her husband Malcolm who is dying.
The children are shown to a room beneath the attic by their very cold and overly religious grandmother Olivia who states that she will never show the children kindness or love but will provide them food and shelter and access to the attic to entertain themselves while their mother must try to win back the love and respect of her father. What could their mother have done that was so horrible for her children to be treated this way? Now Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie are going to pay for the sins their mother committed: shut in from the outside world and forced to suffer under their physically and emotionally abusive grandmother as their mother tries to be written back into her dying father's will. Will the children be able to survive their desperate and tragic circumstances or will their innocence wither away like flowers in the attic?
Now for those of you who have seen the film and/or read the novel of Flowers In The Attic, I know there is a lot I have left out of the plot but for those who have never seen or read Flowers In The Attic, I would be spoiling so much of it for you! One major difference in plot is the fact that Flowers In The Attic as a novel is just the first in a series of five books so the story continues in written form over quite a long span and the movie has no such open ending. There are rumors that a script for the second novel in the series Petals On The Wind was written but never became green-lit and I have feeling that because of the ending the film had might have prevented that.
Another thing about the plot is if you have ever read a V.C. Andrews novel she has the theme of consensual incest in almost all of her books and since the element of a brother and sister committing this might have given the film a different rating and of course moral guardians of the 80s probably frowned on this being even more heinous than many of the slashers of the era I have talked about. Today a film based around Flowers In The Attic that contains the theme of brother-sister incest and goes by the book (pun intended) to leave it open for the many sequel novels would probably fare better but only time will tell.
Back to the film, the acting in the film at times can seem over the top but taken that the film is a very dramatic take on Gothic horror, it seems fitting in a way. I love Louise Fletcher as the Grandmother she gives a very good interpretation of the character bringing about that cold and heartless exterior on the screen. Victoria Tennant plays Corrine the mother and I never knew that she was a British actress! I could never detect the accent but her portrayal of Corrine to me is absolutely perfect! She has the features of a gorgeous woman who can appear cold when needed and when she smiles and laughs it's hard to resist her charm and she does have some slight resemblance to on-screen daughter Kristy Swanson.
Of course you know that I love Kristy Swanson as I already praised her in my Deadly Friend post (quick fact: Wes Craven who directed Deadly Friend wrote a script for Flowers In The Attic that was rejected by producers for being too gory and violent.) Kristy Swanson gets to do some serious acting here as Cathy and she does very well handling her character. Cathy is much younger in the novel as Swanson was about seventeen maybe eighteen at the time of filming and I think the choice in her being older works and not just because the element of incest might have been present in an earlier script but if a younger actress had been cast I think the maturity of some of Cathy's statements might have been lost if the perfect actress had not been found.
Jeb Stuart Adams who plays Chris does a good job at acting as well. He was in his late 20's when he appeared in this film so he was much older than Chris in the novel but again because of an earlier script an age-up of his character might have been necessary but again maturity makes the role what it is. Of course the age of the twins is perfect and Lindsay Parker and Ben Ganger who play Carrie and Cory respectively are great in a role that requires so much drama for such young actors to handle and they are adorable before the plot of the film takes it very dark turn but even after that they still provide a small glimmer of hope for the viewer in their innocence.
Flowers In The Attic the film may not be as successful as its namesake novel but it has a charm all its own and is full of drama and suspense. Hard as it may be to choose a form but in the end I'd recommend reading the novel just so you can read its sequel novels which extend the story far better than the film. If you happen to be a person who isn't much into reading then the film is just as good to enjoy. If you enjoy both reading and watching movies then I would read the novel after viewing the film because the movie will be a good starting point to introduce you to the novel which will make you a diehard V.C. Andrews fan if you aren't one already. Speaking of which, any book written before 1986 would be a great starting point for you to discover just how great an author she truly was. If Gothic horror and mysteries full of hidden secrets are something you enjoy you won't be disappointed in the least.
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