Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

January 2, 2006

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More on Tenant of Wildfell Hall

When I first saw the VHS cover, posted previously this week, I thought of how very like a character from Angria Hellen looked.

After pondering this for some time, I recalled that I have a picture of a character named 'Rosa', drawn by Charlotte Bronte. I have made these images to compare the two, and it seems striking to me how similar they are. Even down to the angle of their faces. I am sure that this only shows their attention to the fashions of the day.

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January 1, 2006

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1968)

I stumbled across this film adaptation while trying to find more information on the 1970 production of Villette. It turned out haply that Bryan Marshall, the actor who played Dr. Graham Bretton in Villette, also played Gilbert Markham in this 1968 production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! He is also well known as Captain Wentworth from the earliest available BBC production of Persuasion by Jane Austen- and he was in Vanity Fair.

Director: Peter Sasdy

Writer: Christopher Fry

Producer: David Conroy

Janet Munro…. Helen Graham

Jeremy Burring…. Arthur

Nicola Davies…. Esther Hargreaves

William Gaunt…. Lawrence

Bryan Marshall…. Gilbert Markham

Corin Redgrave…. Huntingdon

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Drink with the Brontes, and a Review of Tenant (1996).

Here's a cute little gift idea. Penguin Books has a line of mugs designed after the covers of their original 1935 series of classics. Two of these titles are Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. They also have lawn chairs and other things if mugs don't appeal.

I have also found a very long review of the 1996 film of Tenant of Wildfell Hall, so soon to be released on DVD. From the looks of things, we are all in for a treat. The full review can be found here, but here are some excerpts for your convenience:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall stands apart from the other adaptations of Bronte novels to film. Why? Because it remains true to Anne's original novel. The words uttered by the cast are very close to those of her book and this is an admirable thing because only one other film version of a Bronte novel has been this accurate and particular in following their works and this was a BBC version of Jane Eyre produced in 1983. But despite great performances that film had weak production and an unimpressive lighting and set design. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is by far the most atmospheric attempt made by any filmmaker who has tried to capture the essence of what the Bronte's conveyed in their brilliant novels. It is the one film adaptation that isn't afraid to be as gritty and harsh as the rocky moors that the novel was conceived among.

The performance by Tara Fitzgerald as Helen is absolutely brilliant and I'm sure Anne Bronte would have approved of her work in the film. Fitzgerald refused to wear any makeup whatsoever because she wanted it to look as authentic as possible and it does. There are no people with luminous skin and elaborate hairstyles. (This is definately not a frilly, go find a husband, Jane Austen type production.) This film is far more beleivable considering the time and area for which it takes place. Tara Fitzgerald plays her Helen as one who is stoic and stubborn, all the while knowing that goodness, faith and truth will be her guide and her savior through the dimmest days. Fitzgerald never wavers for a second. She IS Helen from the first frame to the last and her determination in staying true to what was written is very admirable. The other two leads in the film are equally as awesome, that of her farmer and 'good guy' friend Gilbert Markham played by Toby Stephens and the tormented and brutal Arthur Huntington played by the 'great at being morose' Rupert Graves. His name says it all and he is completely believable as the husband who has succumbed to adultery and alcohol. Graves plays Arthur with a tense, always thinking, always full of unrest, state of mind. The kind which Anne Bronte was trying to evoke. He pulls this off to perfection every second his face on the screen. No one could have been better in this role. Even Arthur Jr. played by Jackson Leach is brilliant as the impressionable but otherwise happy child who is trying to make sense of all that has transpired around him. Leach never hams it up or gets overtly emotional for the 'big scenes'. He is just completely natural with his portrayal and registers very well as the child. The Direction by Mike Barker is remarkable. He is equipped with great camera methods that serve to enhance the film's aura. In moments of fear his camera spins round like a top out of control. When there are moments of isolation, Barker's camera is far and distant as though he wants us to see Helen's seclusion in all it's wide open sadness. When there are moments of great anger the camera pans back and hovers behind solitary objects, just watching in silence. There is a difficult task for this film when it has to follow the novel's flashbacks to when Helen was first married and trials she underwent. These scenes are painstakingly placed within the present day storyline. Just like the book, they are a bit shakey to follow at times but in the end it all succeeds.

December 22, 2005

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Tenant of Wildfell Hall to be Released on DVD

Many thanks to Sarah Barrett for the news! Anne Brontë's Tenant of Wildfell Hall will soon be out on DVD at last! Details on the region 2 DVD can be found here. This is indeed the 1996 version with Tara Fitzgerald as Helen Graham.

List Price: £15.99 Our Price: £11.99 You Save: £4.00 (25%)
Release date: March 13, 2006.
Not yet available: you may still order this title. We will dispatch it to you when it is released by the studio.
Edition Details: • Region 2 encoding (Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East including Egypt). Read more about DVD formats.• PAL•
ASIN: B000CIWXG4 •
Catalogue Number: BBCDVD1922

ETA: Here is the DVD's synopsis:

Synopsis: Based on a little known 1848 novel by Anne Bronte, Tara Fitzgerald stars as an enigmatic young woman who moves to 19th Century Yorkshire with a young son. Distancing herself from everyone in the village and their prying questions, she remains totally aloof until a charming neighbor farmer gets her to reveal her past through his persistence. Only then does she reveal she is hiding away from a womanizing, belittling husband. – This three-part BBC adaptation of author Anne Brontë's novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall features Tara Fitzgerald as Helen Graham, a pensive woman seeking a way out of her miserable marriage to Arthur Huntingdon (Rupert Graves), a rakish alcoholic who tricked Helen into marrying him before his bad behavior became outwardly evident. Meanwhile, farmer Gilbert Markham (Toby Stephens) becomes increasingly attracted to Helen, whom he is led to believe is a widow.

December 1, 2005

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Tenant of Wildfell Hall Month!

I am sure I have fallen behind the times, and become neglectful of announcing the LERO Brontë book reading months. I believe Wuthering Heights month has just passed us by- but I am in time to spread the word for Tenant of Wildfell Hall! If you haven't read the novel yet, there is no time like the present. I was introducted to the novel when I enrolled in the Victorian seminar at my university- which happily that year was explusively on the Brontës. We read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Shirley in that order. By the end of the course, Tenant had been declared the best of them all by the majority of the class, and a request was made for the instructor to include Agnes Grey as well, and to replace Jane Eyre with Villette the next time the course is taught. I read it with some unfortunate expectations. I was curious to know why Anne is so often treated slightly by academics and critics. She is certainly not the less loved than her sisters are by the readers! It would have been best not to have these ideas at the back of my mind, but I could not help it.

I was baffled. There was nothing lacking, in my opinion, in Tenant. There's a peculiar power which is evidenced in the work of all three sisters. I forget that I am reading sometimes. I intend to read it again as soon as I can find the time (not this month at least. As you have no doubt noticed, I have been quite busy lately). It seems to me that it begins strong, and remains a very engrossing book until near the end. There is something not quite solid about it on first glance. This might not necessarily be a criticism. Often when I stumble over something it more often than not points the way to something deeper happening beneath the surface of the narrative somewhere. A second reading might clear this up. Does anyone else have similar issues with the ending?

Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the only work by Anne Brontë to be adapted for film. In 1996 it was made into a three hour television movie. I believe it is currently out of print, which is a real shame. I have a first edition of 'Charlotte Bronte and her Circle'. The chapter on Anne is really unbelievable in the way it completely discredits her as a writer. I do not have it on hand, but the editor claims, in the introduction (it may even be the first sentence…) that it is a certainly that if it wasn't for her sisters, she and her works would be forgotten. In my humble opinion, an easy test of this claim is to imagine what we truly would have thought of her works if she had not had her sisters' works to compete with. Would they really be so uninteresting, so skilless?

Here is an interesting, although far too brief, article on the Critics of Wildfell Hall by Glen Downey.

November 18, 2005

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'Cottage Poems' by Patrick Brontë

At last! The Cottage Poems have been published by Project Gutenburg! Click here to read the full texts. They were released on november 16th. Could 'Maid of Killarney' be far behind? How very exciting! Other Bronte texts available through the Project include:

A, C, and E Brontë: Poems by Currer, Ellis and, Acton Bell
Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey, Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre, Villette, The Professor.

Il y a Jane Eyre ou Les mémoires d'une institutrice>>, le roman en Francais aussi. Je ne sais pas qu'est le traducteur de cet roman. C'est tres intéressante. Je pense qu'il est comme lire la roman encore- pour le premier fois. Il a un peu plus …de melodrame. Ou plus de poésie, peut-etre. D'accord. Chacun langue chante son poésie. And, no, there is no text for Shirley! Shame, shame! (Nothing for Branwell either).

Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights.

Also: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell: The Life of Charlotte Brontë volume one and two.

A friend of mine is responsible for Really Slow productions of Shakespeare. People volunteer to record their lines, and then this is all pasted together with the magic of the internet into… a really slow production of Shakespeare. Some of my other friends and I were then inspired to try a really slow production of Jane Eyre the Musical. The trouble here was that all of my friends are ladies (the ones who sing, at any rate). And so, we had a soprano Rochester and myself who plays St.John Rivers (also a soprano, although I can sing alto as well). I forget how Brocklehurst came out… Our Jane was a certain classicist from Nova Scotia. Alas, before we ever even took our little horrendous productioni seriously, she ran away to a religious order.

And now, she's back! And she's not a nun. She found true love… in the religious order. I am astounded and amazed, and it is beautiful. She is no longer my soon-to be nun friend who despaired of leaving behind her copy of Villette. I now have a deliriously happy non-nun friend who can have as many books as she likes- and the true love thing is rather nice too.

ps. Don't worry, Martha- I got your email! I think this deserves a post of its own 🙂

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