The Cherry Orchard was written by Anton Chekhov in 1904. It was a play much loved
by the Russian government because it was believed to be what the government, at the time, was preaching, the lower class replacing the ailing upper class. By ailing it is meant that the wealthy upper class was slowly losing out to the increasing lower class. This is seen here when Madame returns penniless to Russia to sell off the last thing she has to her name, the cherry orchard.
However there is more to this play than what the government wanted the populace to take away. Chekhov meant for this to be a comedy and surely it could have been but the humor seems to be lost in translation. Upon reading The Cherry Orchard one may get the impression that it is a tragedy. Truly it is if it is looked at from the point of the rich. Madame has a series of tragedies that befall her in her poor choices in men. But where is the comedy as we know it? Could the comedy be in some of the characters like Trofimov, Epihodov, or Yasha? Perhaps in Charlotta, the governess? Sometimes comedy is obvious like the slapstick of Larry, Moe, and Curly or the Keystone Kops. Sometimes comedy is less obvious like the dark humor of Ophelia's psychological breakdown which is indirectly caused by Hamlet. Can we compare Chekhov's humor to that of Shakespeare? We can compare the humor to any humor we want to. Flannery O'Connor comes to mind in the category of dark humor.
A lot can be said for “lost in translation” and this is not referring to the movie. The
Cherry Orchard was originally written in Russian.
GAEV: The train was two hours late. What do you think of that? Is that the way to do
CHARLOTTA: [To PISHTCHIK.] My dog eats nuts, too.
PISHTCHIK: [Wonderingly.] Fancy that! (2094)
The lines uttered by Charlotta to Pishtchik as they arrive home to the estate seem nonsensical but maybe Chekhov meant for them to be comic relief in a tense situation. Without consulting another translation one cannot be certain if the translation by Constance Garnett is off. However, Ms. Garnett is one of the best translators of Chekhov's work. Perhaps the humor can be translated back into the play by seeing it rather than reading it.
The comedy may also be interpreted by the reader. Each person has their own sense of
humor. Finding no humor in this play even after discussion with other individuals and revealing Chekhov's intent with the dialogue, it still lacks the outright humor most audiences are used to. We need to see this comedy or this play remains a tragedy no matter how we examine the lines.
Madame Ranevsky is a tragic character, if a little melodramatic. She comes into the
nursery in tears. She gives money to a poor man and carries on after in guilt for her household starving yet she gives away money. But is she funny? Perhaps we can find humor in her over large motions and the unawareness of her situation. But wait, could the comedy be in Lopahin and his purchase of the cherry orchard? He does buy the one place that symbolizes repression and poverty to him. However, there could be a bit of humor here:
LOPAHIN: Then you’re going to Moscow now?
TROFIMOV: Yes. I shall see them as far as the town, and to-morrow I shall go on to
LOPAHIN: Yes, I daresay, the professors aren’t giving any lectures, they’re waiting for
TROFIMOV: That’s none of your business. (2122.)
But, it seems more of a snide exchange than humor.
The humor that Chekhov may have intended is that of Madame Ranevsky upon learning
of the identity of the purchaser. She sinks “into a chair and is weeping bitterly” (2120.) No, this still isn’t the humor that the masses look for.
Most read this play as a tragedy because of the lack of obvious comedy. Chekhov is, in
popular opinion, one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. He was good at dark characters and odd and quarky behaviors. He may have had humor somewhere but in The Cherry Orchard, his brand of humor is lost.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 132-150, An Inside-Out Paper
Because another sound, a new sound, suddenly drew near,
which might signal the king to sample his supper,
for barely had the horns finished blowing their breath
and with starters just spooned to the seated guests,
a fearful form appeared, framed in the door:
a mountain of a man, immeasurably high,
a hulk of human from head to hips,
so long and thick in his loins and his limbs
I should genuinely judge him to be a half giant,
or a most massive man, the mightiest of mortals.
But handsome, too, like any horseman worth his horse,
for despite the bulk and brawn of his body
his stomach and waist were slender and sleek.
In fact in all features he was finely formed
Amazement seized their minds,
no soul had ever seen
a knight of such a kind-
entirely emerald green.
There was a new sound approaching, usually it would have been the start of the meal, the buglers having just finished their call, with the appetizers just being served. In the door appeared a frightening man. He seemed as tall as a mountain, a hulk from his head to his hips and his limbs were long and thick, I thought he surely must be half giant or the most massive of men and mightiest of all mortals but handsome, too, like any horseman worth his horse. Despite the bulk of his upper body, his stomach and waist were slender and sleek. In fact, he was nicely formed it seemed. Shock was evident as none had seen a knight of this kind, he was emerald green!
The first appearance of the Green Knight! Woohoo! I feel like I should be watching for the "batarang", or some other delivery device, to come whipping the challenge in, gently nicking Arthur's ear as it "thawacks" into the back of the chair he's sitting in. The Green Knight's description is more of a super villain from Marvel or DC but perhaps this is where we get the modern idea of super villains. His bulky upper body and his thin waist conjure that image of Bane or the Hulk, not necessarily a villain but the comic book body image of the Green Knight, green from head to toe. His narrow waist suggesting that of a body builder, a la Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is a suggestion of power, more power than Arthur's knights seemed to hold.
There seems to be a symbolism here with the Green Knight. His color suggests a link to nature as well as his build suggesting power. It could be that the description alone is meant to instill a sense of awe, even fear, at the power of nature and to scoff at the power is to scoff at nature herself. We have to take in the whole story to decide if the line "...or a most massive man, the mightiest of mortals..." (141) speaks truth. We clearly see that the man is not typical in appearance, he is emerald green and more closely resembles Bruce Banner's gamma irradiated alter ego, the Hulk, than a mortal medieval man.
In this passage we don't see his equipment but it is all green as well as his horse. This pushes me to believe that there is a connection to the Green Knight and nature. Arthur's time was a time of turbulence in the transition from the old ways of worshipping the earth and nature to Christianity. The Druids and the Celts were losing ground at an amazing rate. I feel that the Green Knight is representative of the old ways coming back. No mortal man is all green so he must be supernatural.
Supernatural. How else do we explain the bulky shoulders and the tapered waist as mentioned in the poem? He was also “a mountain of a man, immeasurably high…" (137). Back when this was written anyone over 5'8" would likely have been considered "immeasurably high" since poor nutrition stunts growth. But to be considered a “mountain of a man”? Supernatural!
The fact that this text calls the Green Knight a "fearful form" insinuates that the reader should be somewhat afraid of the Green Knight. If he were a mere mortal then why would the reader need to be afraid? “I should genuinely judge him to be a half giant.” (140) The author even says that the Green Knight is half giant, another mythical, supernatural being.
The Green Knight, is he a mere mortal or is he a supernatural being? It is my belief that he was in fact a mortal man imbued with mythical height and strength by the Old Ways. He is the mortal embodiment of the Green Man. There is no real description of the Green Man but I imagine him to be a huge hulking man much like the Green Knight, perhaps with more tree bark and leaves. The idea that the author considers the Green Knight fearful lends support to this belief. Why would he consider the Green Knight in any fashion a threat? He’s all green just like the Hulk. I’ll concede that the Hulk is a genetic mutation but the author had no concept genetics, radiation or mutations. So, what do we classify things we don’t understand? Supernatural!
Directed by Tomas Alfredson, written by John Ajvide Lindqvist (the film is based on his novel); starring Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar, Lina Leandersson as Eli, Per Ragnar as Håkan, Henrik Dahl as Erik, Peter Carlberg as Lacke, Mikael Rahm as Jocke, and Ika Nord as Virginia.
In the 2008 vampire tale Let the Right One In, we are introduced to a twist in classic vampire lore. We discover a man and his young child. Yet that isn’t really the case. The man is in love with the child and seems that he has been for a long time. How can that be right? She’s twelve and he’s in his 40’s or 50’s. Well, that is the case. He has been caring for this lovely girl for many years. He grows older and she stays the same. She is our vampire. Yet she doesn’t go out and do the killing. That’s what the older man does for her. He kills people, drains them and brings back their blood for her to drink. This causes them to move around a lot. Eli (Lina Leandersson) and her keeper move to a new apartment complex. Here she befriends Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), an awkward young man that gets tormented at school and dreams of revenge. Shortly after moving in, Eli’s keeper gets caught attempting to collect for her. This makes Oskar so much more important. Her keeper was not just someone that took care of her but he kept her company too.
In Let the Right One In we are treated to some classic elements of Vampire Lore (or mythology.) We see Eli only at night, she can’t come out in the daylight. She doesn’t eat and she has a protector, Håkan. Eli has the characteristic pale skin of traditional vampires and thankfully, she doesn’t sparkle! One thing that has been left out of a great deal of vampire films since Dracula (1931) and I am glad was reintroduced, a vampire must be invited into the home. In this film one of the elements that we see that generally shows up in other horror films is the need for revenge. Oskar is in need of revenge when the film opens. Whether it is revenge on camp counselors for a drowning death (Friday the 13th films), or revenge on the parents that got justice on a serial child killer (Nightmare on Elm Street films) by burning him where he lived.
Let the Right One In doesn’t follow the convention of other films in the genre. In my opinion vampire films should have their own genre all together. It doesn’t focus specifically on Eli as a vampire. It focuses on Oskar, his life, Eli and his relationship with her. Eli is almost like a supporting character. It also introduces the idea of a child vampire. We have seen children before (Interview with the Vampire (1994)) but they have been portrayed as impulsive, unpredictable and whiny. Eli is anything but. She is childlike at times and is calculating. The way she manipulates Håkan into doing her dirty work is anything but impulsive or unpredictable. This film revisits the classical only in the inclusion of Eli requiring the invitation into Oskar’s home. We do, however, see the consequences when Oskar refuses to invite her in.
According to Tudor, this movie is considered Supernatural/Autonomous. Our vampire is external. However, if we bring in the character of Oskar, I believe his torment gives Eli the perfect opportunity to move in and be his “savior”. The cultural impact of this film is a renewal in the mystery of vampire, the renewal of the first vampire lore. I don’t think that there is any other real impact. Perhaps though it scares the pants off you when we discover that Eli is in fact capable of murder.
(This was my final paper for my film director's class. Kathryn Bigelow is a powerhouse female director that I greatly admire.)
Kathryn Bigelow started life as an only child on 27 November 1951 in San Carlos, California. Her mother was a librarian and her father a paint factory manager. Her father had aspirations of being a cartoonist but never made it in the business. Ms. Bigelow’s father encouraged her when she began to draw as an outlet for the awkwardness she felt in her own skin while in school. She stands an intimidating five foot eleven, tall even be supermodel standards. As a teenager she became interested in the works of the old European masters of painting, especially Raphael. On canvas she would paint certain details of their works and magnify them, possibly a subconscious response to her own size. She spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute, until a professor sent a sample of her work to the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in New York City. The program gave Ms. Bigelow a scholarship to come and study with them for nine months, the length of the program. She moved and spent the next 12 years in New York City.
The year is 1973, just one year after the move from California to New York, and Scorsese’s Mean Streets is released. Why is this an important film in the life of Kathryn Bigelow? She was attending Columbia University’s Graduate Film School on scholarship and saw this film as part of a double feature, with Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, when she realized that these films awakened something in her own film consciousness. The films used violence as a language not simply violence for the sake of violence. This realization still forms how she makes films today. Her first short film was shot while she was in attendance at Columbia, The Set Up (1978). In 1979 she graduated Columbia, having earned a masters degree in film criticism and theory.
Ms. Bigelow co-wrote and co-directed The Loveless in 1982 with Monty Montgomery. Willem Dafoe, first screen role, starred. It had mixed reviews. What happened next? Kathryn Bigelow began taking a stand to the usual gender role of female directors and turned down high school comedy scripts. At the time these types of films were considered the only movies women could direct and direct well. She turned to teaching at the California Institute of the Arts to make ends meet and she appeared as a newspaper editor in the Lizzie Borden film Born in Flames. The year was 1983.
After four years of searching for someone to let her direct another feature, which she also co-wrote, Near Dark is a cult vampire classic. Not something anyone in Hollywood would have expected from a girl. But Ms. Bigelow likes to take convention and tell it where to go. It is very difficult to tell what kind of style Ms. Bigelow is developing. She is a strong figure in the action world with Blue Steel, Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and last but certainly not least, her newest collaboration with journalist turned screenwriter Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty. The last two are gritty tales that hold some ounce of truth where, Blue Steel and Point Break, are really good thrillers.
How do you classify a theme when you can take a sci-fi thriller like Strange Days and add it to a growing body of work? It’s another thriller, which Ms. Bigelow excels at creating. In the 2000 film The Weight of Water she tackles her family heritage. She’s Norwegian on her mother’s side, so she takes on The Weight of Water and explores what it meant to be an immigrant in the 1870’s. Another example of the lack of true theme, or perhaps this is a strong example of the beginning of her love for real events, K-19: The Widowmaker.
This is also another shining example that action filled military flicks aren’t just boy toys! She begins the documentary-style feel of both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty right here in K19. Ms. Bigelow brings to the style table an attention to detailed research. Extensive research went into making K19, including trips to Russia meeting the family and crew members of the submarine. Along with Mark Boal, they researched the hunt for Osama bin Laden to ensure that everything was right. Why? Because, it was a story to be told not one to be created by Hollywood. The same detail went into the creation of the environment of Camp Victory and the recreation of the streets of Iraq in Jordan for the filming of The Hurt Locker. She captures the attitudes of military men and women like few others can. In that, she is in good company with Steven Spielberg.
Ms. Bigelow has also shared her immense talent on the big screen with the little screen by directing episodes of Homicide: Life on the Streets, Karen Sisco and The Inside. The Inside was developed, with assistance from Ms. Bigelow, from an article written by Mark Boal and this was the beginning of a fruitful collaborative relationship.
Through all of this, she has leaned on and competed with her ex-spouse, James Cameron. She beat him out for two Oscars in 2010, Best Director and Best Picture, The Hurt Locker. She was married to Cameron from 1989 – 1991 and they had no children. Other than her father, and the occasional creative consultation with Cameron, there seem to be no other influences in the life of Kathryn Bigelow. She continues to show the big boys in Hollywood that girls can be action directors too. She paves the way for all women that want to play in the testosterone fueled sandbox that is the action genre!
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College graduate, Army vet, single mom, Husky mom, Movie lover, writer