Friday, December 23, 2016

The Yorkshire Post interviews Grant Montgomery, the production designer of To Walk Invisible:
Grant Montgomery remembers the first time he and his production team headed up to the flat cap of Penistone Hill, the windswept hilltop heavily cratered by abandoned quarries overlooking Haworth.
“We went up there to have a look and it rained. We were standing there and we all looked at each other thinking the same thing, ‘we’re going to build it here? OK, but can we get out of the rain,’” he says. (...)
“It was close to Haworth so you’re in the landscape they knew, where they once walked. But more than that it gave us a great vista, so you see the windswept moors... it was perfect,” he says. “There’s descriptions of the sisters writing and the wind’s howling outside the house and when you start building the set you appreciate just how remote it actually was because they were perched at the top of this hill.” They did look at other potential locations but because the parsonage is so instantly recognisable to Brontë fans the only way of replicating it accurately was to build a new one. “In the first paragraph you see the parsonage so we needed to recreate it as it originally was rather than how it is now,” he says. “There were no trees, it had blackened because of the industrial chimneys so I knew we had to build it. There was no way we were going to find a location. It had to be a parsonage high on a hill with no trees, a graveyard, a barn, a school room and a church next to it – there’s not many of those around.” (...)
“We built the hill and we built the barn, which has now gone, and the church lane, and John Brown’s, the church school and some of the houses that have now been demolished and the whole churchyard.” Grant and his team only had a couple of photos to go on as well as an early ground plan of the area. “It took a lot of research with the Parsonage Museum and their team and a couple of local historians, but we were able to piece it all together.” It took 10 weeks to build the exterior set which was put up during winter and stayed in place until July. “We’d be filming there and you would see the snow coming in from across the other side of the valley. It only took a matter of minutes, it was extraordinary. So that bit isn’t fake - you can always rely on the Yorkshire weather.” (...)
“All the manuscripts, the first editions of Jane Eyre were reproduced. We created the piano in Patrick’s room that Emily played, Patrick’s bed and all the paintings and drawings. We got facsimiles from the museum and recreated them. We got the famous gun portrait, only part of which exists, and repainted that, so it was this level of detail.” This even went down to the dogs. “We wanted to get Flossy and Keeper right so we had to have a mastiff and a spaniel. We also took photos of the gravestones and reproduced them. It went down to making sure the chinaware was right.” Grant says without that level of accuracy the story wouldn’t have had the same credibility. “After Anne’s death Charlotte came into money and she made her bedroom and the parlour bigger so that made the hallway narrower as it is now. But in the film it’s wider because that’s what it was like at the time. (Chris Bond)
The BBC Blog coompletes this information with more pictures and sketches:
I recognised Haworth parsonage, the Brontës’ home, right from the opening scenes, having visited there many years ago. But how do you get permission to shoot a film over several weeks in what is now a working museum? Well, you don’t. Instead, the interior of the house was recreated in a studio in Manchester, but the famous exterior and surroundings were built on a car park about half a mile outside Haworth – on a fake hill!
“The parsonage is on a hill, and it had a very particular gradient, so we had to build some of the hill on a huge scaffold rig,” explains production designer Grant Montgomery.
“There’s a shot at the start of the film, where Charlotte Brontë is going up to the house, and she’s going past the graveyard, and all the flagstones are wet – that’s all fake. It’s real flagstones that we put down, but it’s not a real location – it’s an MDF skin over a scaffold rig, with a house on top.” (Read more) (Charley Stone)
The Guardian's Christmas TV selection includes the production, of course:
Punch-ups, opium addiction and sibling rivalry in the parsonage as Sally Wainwright tackles the Brontës. A period journey to Yorkshire this time – but will her take on the literary greats be more Happy Valley or Last Tango in Halifax? (Kate Abbott)
The Irish News interviews Sally Wainwright:
You also direct To Walk Invisible. Have you had the idea for a long time?I was first asked to do it eight years ago, so the idea has been there for quite a while, but I've only just got round to it because I've been lucky and have had lots of other projects on. I was waiting for the perfect time to get on with it. We wanted to coincide with the bicentenary of Charlotte's [Brontë's] birth, so finally I found time to do it.
Why Do We Remain Drawn to the Brontës?(...)What's interesting about the Brontës is it's not just their work that fascinates people, it's them personally. I don't know any other literary figure, even Dickens, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, where people are as fascinated by their lives equally as with their literature as we are with the Brontë sisters. I suspect that's because there is something quite tragic about their story – as soon as they became successful, they had very little time to enjoy it.
The Huffington Post can't resist a comment on the use of the 'f*** bomb' (really? do you need to use asterisks for fuck on the Huffington Post?) in To Walk Invisible:
Actress Chloe Pirrie, who plays Emily, tells HuffPostUK why the bad language is entirely in keeping with the drama:
“These words did exist. Branwell was an unhappy alcoholic, and anybody who’s witnessed such a drunken meltdown knows such a man won’t censor himself.
“Within the context of their history, I think it’s reasonable that he would swear.
“And we also see that his sisters in the scene are properly shocked by his language, but aware they are witnessing another step in his decline.”
Chloe plays Emily, author of ‘Wuthering Heights’, in the drama, and she admits she feels a particular affinity for the most other-worldly of the three sisters:
“She wasn’t afraid of violence, of darkness. She was stubborn and strong-willed, far more than I am.” (...)
What would the Brontës be like today - queens of social media, perhaps?
“Emily would have detested social media,” says Chloe. “She wouldn’t have adapted.
“I think Charlotte would have been a champion tweeter. Although I have a romantic attachment to Emily and her wildness, you have to admire Charlotte Brontë for her pragmatism, her foresight and determination to bring their voices to the world.” (Caroline Frost)
Also in the Huffington Post they talk about Mallory Ortberg's book Texts from Jane Eyre:
If your favourite literary heroine had a mobile phone in her hand, stop for a moment and imagine what on earth she might text. Perhaps she'd be blunt and business-like, or she might be a complete drama queen.
Author Mallory Ortberg has written a book filled with text conversations, Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations With Your Favourite Literary Characters. It's the imagined SMS converations of classic and modern literary figures, from Jane Eyre to Scarlett O'Hara. (Libby-Jane Charleston)
The worst male suitors in cinematic history according to The Guardian:
The mercurial manipulator – Mr Rochester, Jane Eyre
What was it about the Brontë sisters and their thing for brutes and brooders? If Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) was your friend, you’d need to have a talk with her about this guy who keeps his mentally ill wife in the attic and didn’t tell her about it. She’s humiliated on her wedding day when the truth about Bertha Mason – AKA Mrs Rochester – is revealed, forcing Jane to flee and nearly die on a stranger’s doorstep. She’s been through enough. She doesn’t need that shit. But there’s something sympathetic about chronically ill-humored Mr Edward Fairfax Rochester (Michael Fassbender) – he’s a broken man, a self-described “defrauded wretch”, who recognizes his mistakes, albeit a little too late.
Honorable mentions: George Wickham, Pride and Prejudice; Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights. (Priscilla Page)
The Birmingham Post reviews the musical year in the Midlands:
And it is an opera which is, in fact, my highlight of the year. John Joubert, now approaching his 90th birthday, is also approaching the 200th opus number of his compositions, but high among all of these in his heart is his opera Jane Eyre. Composed purely as a labour of love, Jane Eyre had to be pushed on to the back-burner while Joubert dealt with commissioned works, and was only completed a decade or so ago.
At last in October it achieved its professional premiere in concert performance at the awesomely equipped Ruddock Performing Arts Centre at King Edward’s School, Edgbaston.
Kenneth Woods conducted an on-fire English Symphony Orchestra, an array of soloists was headed by the totally committed April Fredrick and David Stout as Jane and Rochester, and the audience response to this gloriously lyrical, excitingly dramatic score was immense.
The highlight for everyone present was seeing John Joubert determinedly rising from his wheelchair to acknowledge applause which went on and on.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime special occasion, and it is good to know that it was captured in an SOMM recording which will be issued in time for John Joubert’s 90th birthday. (Christopher Morley)
Leeds List shares free things to do in Yorkshire including:
The Brontë Way
The Brontes are an intrinsic part of Yorkshire, with their classic novels betrothed to the wild scenery of the county, and the Brontë Way trail is a great way to explore the lives and work of these famed sisters. It takes in the likes of Thursden Valley, the Parsonage, Wycoller Hall, Top Withins, their birthplace, Spen Valley and Oakwell Hall. This is one of those Yorkshire attractions that bookworms will absolutely love. (Joseph Sheerin)
Inverse interviews Anne Rice:
The vampire genre has changed a great deal since you first wrote Interview with the Vampire. How have you seen it evolve during your career? (Lauren Sarner)
The concept of the vampire is rich and powerful, and I have been delighted to see so many authors unpacking that concept in so many different ways. I suspect we’ll continue to see new and distinctive “vampire” novelists. I love seeing it go in the romantic direction, as I have always found vampires to be intensely romantic. Twilight made me think of Brontë’s Jane Eyre in a way — the innocent young girl attracted to the powerful “dark” figure with whom she feels safe even though he is potentially menacing.
The Times publishes the obituary of the poet and literary critic Bernard Bergonzi:
Intriguingly, Bergonzi — the lifelong Roman Catholic — focused on Eagleton’s Catholic background and saw the celebrity critic as a kind of old-fashioned polemicist in the tradition of Belloc and Chesterton. For Bergonzi, Eagleton’s Marxism was a version of the pre-Second Vatican Council faith of his boyhood: full of fiery certainty and intolerance. However, this is not the whole story: he praised Eagleton, for example, for his historicist reading of the Brontë sisters. For Bergonzi, Eagleton was at his best when he performed what he calls “straightforward literary criticism”.
In search of the perfect book in The Hans India:
Says Gyaneshwar Kane, a Mumbai-based seller of Book NX stall, “I may not be much of a reader, but I love selling books.
Most people at my stall are opting for motivational books.
I see it as an opportunity to suggest books that will develop reading habits in them. But, by far our biggest selling books have been classics, mostly Dickens’ and the Brontë’s.”
Vanity Fair (Italy) lists books with solitary children:
Jane Eyre. L’inizio stesso della vita della piccola Jane è terribile: orfana, viene accolta da una famiglia che le infligge ogni sorta di abuso. Sempre sola si farà le ossa al collegio di Lowood, dove risorgerà ella stessa maestra e guida per le giovani ancora smarrite. È il vero capolavoro di Charlotte Brontë. (Michele Capra) (Translation)
Norra Skåne (Sweden) includes Ann Dinsdale's The Brontës at Haworth on its favourite books list:
Systrarna Brontës värld av Ann Dinsdale: För alla som gillar systrarna Brontë är den här boken ett måste. Deras tragiska livsöden levandegörs med hjälp av foton, målningar, teckningar, ägodelar och husinteriörer. Det blir som ett titthål in i en annan tid, och ett dokument över deras korta men för framtida läsare så viktiga liv. (Sophie Lessing) (Translation)
An alert from Bologna (Italy) for today, December 23:
Venerdì 23 dicembre alle 18, in Auditorium Enzo Biagi
Mara Barbuni parlerà con l'editrice Lorenza Ricci del libro Sui passi di Elizabeth Gaskell, primo titolo della collana Christopher Columbus che va alla scoperta delle vite, spesso straordinarie, degli autori che hanno creato indimenticabili romanzi della letteratura.
L'incontro è realizzato in collaborazione con la casa editrice Jo March. (Via La Repubblica)
This story published in Claridad (Puerto Rico) contains a Wuthering Heights reference; Novels and Non Fiction reviews Villette.

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