180 The Chalk Garden

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MichaelB
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180 The Chalk Garden

#1 Post by MichaelB » Thu Jan 14, 2021 5:40 am

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THE CHALK GARDEN
(Ronald Neame, 1964)
Release date: 19 April 2021
Limited Edition Blu-ray (UK premiere)


Ronald Neame (The Odessa File) directs this stately adaptation of Enid Bagnold’s play which tells of a haughty matriarch (Edith Evans, The Whisperers) who employs a governess (Deborah Kerr, The Innocents) with a shadowy past to take care of her troubled teenage granddaughter (Hayley Mills, Take a Girl Like You, Endless Night), and her neglected garden. John Mills (Town on Trial, The Wrong Box) plays the butler who develops a soft spot for the governess, and navigates the fraught interpersonal relationships of the house. A hit with audiences upon its original release, The Chalk Garden benefits from a nuanced screenplay by the great John Michael Hayes (Rear Window) and tasteful photography by Arthur Ibbetson (Where Eagles Dare, Fanatic).

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES

• High Definition remaster
• Original mono soundtrack
• Audio commentary with film historians Jo Botting and Lucy Bolton (2021)
The BEHP Interview with Ronald Neame (1991): an archival audio recording, made as part of the British Entertainment History Project, featuring the acclaimed director in conversation with Roy Fowler
• An appreciation of Malcolm Arnold’s score by author and musician David Huckvale (2021)
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Melanie Williams, extracts from interviews and autobiographies, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited edition of 3,000 copies
• All extras subject to change

#PHILTD180
BBFC cert: PG
REGION B
EAN: 5060697920536

alacal2
not waving but frowning
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:18 pm

Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#2 Post by alacal2 » Sun Jan 17, 2021 6:11 am

Good to see you're continuing to contract David Huckvale for his score commentaries. These were always a highlight for me on the Hammer sets.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#3 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:12 pm

I can't say I enjoyed this very much but it did provoke an interesting view on reform that pretends like it's progressive when it's really retroactive, whereby observing action only in hindsight does a person earn forgiveness from conservative seasoned characters. The action of hiding while proving value is what's subtly championed here. The alternative mindset comes from the young and malleable, as the granddaughter is intrigued by mystery isolated by itself, but this becomes a personal passionate drive as soon as respect is established, which is done through active behavior. Character gives way to acceptance devoid of history, treated as such even with proof of deceit and hiding shameful secrets, and that this comes from the character who should be the most naive and immature is a statement in itself about how Christian principles of unconditional affection and willingness to entertain forgiveness from ground zero become worn as people age and become more introverted and numb to empathy. The film itself is a bit dry and never really comes together in an interesting way, but I found myself reflecting upon its subliminal implications well after finishing.

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MichaelB
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Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#4 Post by MichaelB » Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:02 am

Final specs, with a fair bit added to the original announcement:

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JSC
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Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#5 Post by JSC » Sat Feb 27, 2021 1:44 pm

The film itself is a bit dry and never really comes together in an interesting way, but I found myself reflecting upon its
subliminal implications well after finishing.
I think the film is a good example of tonal dissonance. On the one hand you have a somewhat dark story with pointed and even
acidic dialogue. On the other hand the film has mostly sunny exteriors and overlit interiors (with a very lush color palette) and
an invasive music score (which I understand director Ronald Neame loathed). I think the film would've benefited more from being
more like other contemporaneous films such as Seance on a Wet Afternoon or The Pumpkin Eater.

That being said, the performances are excellent. Deborah Kerr and John Mills in particular.

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MichaelB
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Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#6 Post by MichaelB » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:44 pm


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schellenbergk
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Re: 180 The Chalk Garden

#7 Post by schellenbergk » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:09 am

I'm both tempted to buy this title - and simultaneously I want to avoid it.

I've never seen the film, but I'm VERY familiar with the play. Back in the early 80s, our local community theater had chosen this play as part of the season. The planned director had to drop out just before the scheduled tryouts, and I was asked to substitute literally on the day of auditions. Even though I was completely unfamiliar with the play, I accepted. I managed to skim through the play just once before the first day of auditions (needed desperately to know what the heck the play was about before casting it!). In the next few days I read the text repeatedly to try to get up to speed and figure what we needed in terms of the set and the cast and how generally to present the text.

The text is a difficult one, because it lurches wildly between two styles: fairly realistic mid-century theatrical prose veers off into monologues with purple prose about plants. As a director, I had to decide (quickly! very quickly!) how to be true to both the realism of the play / the humanity of characters and at the same time be faithful to the "poetic" purple prose of the florid monologues. I came up with an idea - a triangular set with an audience seated on two sides of the triangle and a set of the home on the third side. I would have the actors move towards the tips of the triangle for the more realistic scenes (bring the actors extremely close to the audience - who would see each other in the background while looking at the actors). For the monologues, the actors would move "upstage" towards the set, so the audience would see they as in a "normal" play. So I was trying to visually represent the two styles of acting.

Two other major decisions happened while working with the actors (some of whom were cribbing mannerisms either from the film version or other films). They tried to be too expressive in the monologues - I worked with them to literally lower the volume during the florid purple prose bits (make the audience work to hear it!!) and I also had them flatten the emotions. When they flipped back to the realistic parts, it was almost as if the character was waking from a napping where they had been talking in their sleep.

The other decision involved the teenage girl. In the third act, there's a confrontation with the governess. After the confrontation, the actress playing the girl went all smiley and nice, as if the one confrontation had cured her of being a brat. I'm not sure how the film plays this - but the actress I worked with seemed like she was channeling another performance. I encouraged her to rethink whether the girl would really change after such a confrontation - we tried playing it where the only change is that the girl now hates the governess. She's still a brat - but all her hate is directed at one person (this is grounded in the text - in fact the girl never again speaks to the governess). It made - as Eve Harrington would say - "much better theater" and we worked backwards from that to build more depth to the governess' character. We were able to do all this while remaining 100% faithful to the original text - and I think it brought out a few things in the text.

So I'm both curious to see how someone else directed this (awkward) material and at the same time hesitant to see it. Neame is a good director (dare I see it comparing myself to him?) but I'm not sure how he handled these textual difficulties (and whether he simply sidestepped the monologues by cutting them, an option that a theater contractually does not have).

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