I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (16) - All This And Heaven Too

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesomely epic adaptation
Title: All This And Heaven Too
Adapted from All This And Heaven Too by Rachel Field

I wavered on my choice for an epic adaptation because when I think of 'epic' I think sweeping vistas, high stakes, high causes, but I think this film can fit the 'epic' bill quite well if I think lavish, big budget, high drama.  The novel was a bestseller in the thirties, and featured an account of the real-life murder suicide scandal in Paris in 1847 that centered around the author's aunt, Henriette Deluzy, mild mannered governess.  The film makes the more friendly relationship between the married Duc de Praslin and his children's governess of the book into a hand-wringing, emotional, soul-connecting romance.  They never kiss, never say those three little words to each other, but by look and pregnant pauses Charles Boyer and Bette Davis get their character's feelings across.  And however much they deny the depth of their attachement to the Duchess de Praslin and the other characters, there is no fooling the audience.  ... Actually there really is no fooling the characters in the film either.

I also think of this as an epic adaptation because it was Warner Brothers studios answer to the juggernaut to come - Gone With the Wind, where the studio tried to create a film that would match the emotional historical drama amidst social upheaval.  While All This And Heaven Too didn't quite deliver when faced with Gone With the Wind at the box office, I personally love this movie and rank it as one of my top three favorite films.  The romantic tension between the leads, the spiteful jealousy of the Duchess, and the innocent redeeming love of children (the Duc's children as well as the children Henriette tells the story to in the beginning) makes this an absolutely captivating melodrama.  And the final scene with the Duc just rips your heart out. What the Duc does is terrible, but you feel that he really had no choice.  A perfectly acted and perfectly pitched drama, I can usually put this movie on to completely forget about my life and immerse myself in a heartrendingly doomed romance.

By the way, this post on the real-life story behind this book makes for interesting reading.

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  1. Now I feel I HAVE to see this, it sounds awesome!

    1. Oh for some reason I thought you had already seen it! But yes, do watch it! Make sure you have some tissues nearby. :)