Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016 2:49 pm by M.   No comments
Lots of articles about tonight's broadcast of To Walk Invisible on BBC1:

The Independent visited the set in Howarth(!) (sic):
Does, I ask Sally Wainwright, veteran actor Pryce bring a suitable dourness to Patrick?
“Why do you say that?” she says sharply, and I realise that by dint of his position as clergyman and the age in which he lived, I have made a lot of assumptions about the Brontë patriarch – which Wainwright is about to put me right on.
“Patrick has had a very bad press,” she says. “He was a Tory but he was extremely enlightened for the period. He set in motion a couple of pioneering programmes for Haworth, one to improve the sanitation and another to establish a school in the village.”
I speak to Pryce much later on in the year, when he’s already on his next job, filming in Scotland with Glenn Close on The Wife. But his role as Patrick has made a lasting impression on him. “I knew about the sisters, of course, but I didn’t know a great deal at all about Patrick before I read the script,” he says. “I was incredibly impressed by him, to be honest. He encouraged his three daughters to read and expand their horizons from when they were very young, which was quite progressive. But then they became published writers without his knowledge, and that came as a huge surprise to him, but instead of being angry or forbidding them he encouraged them in that as well. He was very forward-thinking for his time.” (...)
“It’s a very powerful portrayal of Branwell,” says Pryce. “It was extremely difficult for Patrick to watch his son crumble before his eyes. It must have been horrible for him to watch, the loss of his son to alcohol.”
Wainwright adds that it was hard on the sisters, too, having to cope with Branwell’s decline while trying to forge their own careers. “It was very difficult for all of them,” she says. “Anne had to leave her job because of him. Charlotte was coping with depression and living with a brother who was never going to help support the family.” (...)
Before she calls “action!” again, I ask Sally Wainwright if the Brontës are still relevant today. “I think they’re increasingly relevant,” she says. “Charlotte was one of the first people to write about how women actually felt. I hope after people have watched this they will want to go away and know more about the Brontës, read their novels and read Emily’s poetry, and see just how relevant it is to our lives today.” (David Barnett)
The Telegraph focuses on Branwell Brontë's portrayal and the actor who plays it, Adam Nagaitis:
 For Adam Nagaitis, who plays the ill-fated Branwell, his is the untold story that reveals so much about the toxic context in which the Brontë sisters managed to create some of the most beautiful fiction ever written. And one which only Wainwright would be brave enough to portray in a cosy Christmas costume drama slot.
“I think Sally loves the Brontës so much and has so much respect for them that she wouldn’t ever have put some presentational, period Brontë thing on the screen,” says Nagaitis, who viewers will recognise from his roles in Wainwright’s Bafta-winning Happy Valley and Jimmy McGovern’s Banished. “But what they went through, with their brother and their health and just the world as it was - it was just misery.” (...)
Branwell’s pain springs, Nagaitis believes, from his relationship with his father, who desperately wanted his only son to go out into the world and make something of himself - never realising that his three daughters were quietly working on literary masterpieces that would see the Brontë name endure for centuries to come.
“I focused all his turmoil on the relationship with his father because that was the key to it in my mind. His sisters he didn’t even notice. It was all about his father,” says Nagaitis. “You don’t see a lot of love between them, what you see is him dealing with the lack of it and all the expectations on him.
“Horrid to think that you were a son that was not good enough. The only thing your dad wanted you to do and you didn’t quite do it. That’ll pack you in, that’s the end.” (Eleanor Steafel)
Sally Wainwright’s biopic (this is cinematic in every way) of the Brontë sisters is a remarkable piece of drama. It is little wonder the BBC wanted a full series. There are tremendous performances across the board, from Finn Atkins as the dowdy and bookish (yet extremely ambitious) Charlotte, and an astonishing turn from Chloe Pirrie as Emily, an awkward, severe and brooding presence. With their father’s health and eyesight failing, and brother Branwell (Adam Nagaitis) an alcoholic, drug-addled, self-centred wreck, the sisters realise that they need a plan to keep them from poverty, so they focus on their God-given talent — writing. Initially dismissive of Charlotte’s “grubby little publishing plan”, the intensely private Emily is won round by Anne (Charlie Murphy), the sweeter-natured of the sisters. “This is what we’ve done all our lives,” says Anne. “Write — we’ve lived in our heads.” The plan is to try to get published under male pseudonyms because, as Emily says, “When a man writes something it’s what he’s written that is judged. When a woman writes something it’s her that is judged.” There’s a pointedness in the delivery, as if Wainwright is saying, through Emily, that nothing has changed. Charlotte is diminutive but determined, while the spiky Emily towers over her, a force of nature who would go on to write Wuthering Heights. Her turbulent relationship with Branwell as he descends into his addictions is powerfully played. Throughout, Wainwright’s script sings — it is never mawkish or melodramatic, which is quite an achievement considering the subject matter. And letting the Brontës speak in their Yorkshire dialects (previous adaptations have them posh and stiff) adds serious grit. Hearing Emily’s poetry recited against shots of the wild Yorkshire moors will set the pulse racing and awaken you from any post-Christmas reverie. (Joe Clay in The Times)
It has garnered rave previews from the critics, and it could turn out to be one of the big TV hits of Christmas 2016. (Chris Elliott iCambridge News)
 Haworth residents have waited with bated breath since the summer, when Main Street was returned to its rundown 1800s look for location filming.
Stars of the drama, who include renowned Wolf Hall actor Jonathan Pryce, mingled with villagers serving as extras in period costume.
The BBC built a life-size replica of the Haworth Parsonage and neighbouring graveyard on Penistone Hill for further location filming.
Indoor filming was carried out in Manchester, on a set painstakingly created with advice on historical accuracy from Brontë Parsonage Museum staff. (David Knights in Keighley News)
Between rain, alcoholism, consumption and death, Sally Wainwright’s feature-length portrayal of the Brontës asks a lot of viewers. The payoff is that Wainwright’s power as a writer lies in dramatising family dynamics, and here she has a genuinely extraordinary literary clan to show us: sharply ambitious Charlotte, galumphing Emily – who saves her elegance for the page – peacekeeper Anne and self-indulgent man-child brother Branwell. Terrific. (Jonathan Wright in The Guardian)
To Walk Invisible: Full of life and drama, whether it’s the sisters overcoming society’s sexism and snobbery or facing their own personal battles
Telling the story of how the Brontë sisters Emily (Chloe Pirrie), Charlotte (Finn Atkins) and Anne (Charlie Murphy) harnessed their talents to produce classic works including Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, it’s nowhere near as dull as you might fear.
Instead, it’s full of life and drama, whether it’s in the sisters overcoming society’s sexism and snobbery, managing their own personal and professional rivalries or coping with their difficult, tormented brother Branwell as he slides into alcoholism.
It also ​​looks​​ spectacular, and the blend of triumph and tragedy is beautifully judged. (The Sun)
I first learned about the Brontë sisters at a Hogmanay party when I was eight. A tipsy auntie told a joke about the well-read dinosaur called “Brontesaurus”, then promised me a copy of Jane Eyre. A novel written by a dinosaur, I thought? No thanks.
Then I read it, loved it, joined The Brontë Society and journeyed to Haworth to make my pilgrimage.
This drama tells the story of the strange and brilliant Brontë sisters and their pathetic brother, Branwell. Whilst his sisters wrote their way towards scandalous genius, Branwell fell into drink and drug addiction.
Anyone who has ever dismissed the Brontës as frilly lady writers will have that misconception whacked out of them tonight. This drama shows them as spiky, sulky, determined and humorous, especially the enigmatic and intimidating Emily who wrote Wuthering Heights.
Whilst the story focuses on the petulant waster, Branwell, with his destruction taking up the family’s money and attention, it only shows how talented his sisters were to keep writing despite the chaos he brought. (Julie McDowall in The National)
Radio Times does a bit of pedagogy publishing a whole series of articles. Reminding the readers which sister wrote which book,
 Together, the Brontë sisters wrote some of the best known novels in the history of English literature. Their short lives were prolific, but despite penning seven novels between them – several of which have gone on to become literary classics known the world over – the sisters lived a tough life.
As a new drama charts the sisters and their life with their father and alcoholic brother Branwell, here's a look their various works – and a rundown of who wrote what... 
Suggestings fives places each Brontëite should visit,
This Christmas Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright is transporting viewers to Haworth, the Yorkshire town where the Brontë sisters grew up.
Her dramatisation of what life was like for Charlotte, Emily and Anne isn't very festive, but it will make you wonder anew at how they wrote such wonderful books in such depressing circumstances.
The parsonage where they lived and wrote them is now a museum (to film the drama, the BBC rebuilt it). But that's not the only must-see for Brontë devotees.
When we asked the very helpful staff at the Brontë Parsonage Museum what else devotees should see, they recommended visiting the sisters' favourite waterfall and the ruin that may have inspired Wuthering Heights...
tracing profiles of the main actors of the production. Looking into where it was filmed,
“What we found when we started really exploring and looking, looking at the script, and the amount of material in the script, and then looking at how we could achieve that, was actually we needed to build the Parsonage,” Penhale says.
So that’s what they did, building a three-story wooden replica of the Parsonage on Penistone Hill, Penistone Country Park (the only bit of flat land close to the moors that inspired various scenes in the sisters’ novels) near the real town of Haworth that was painted black to simulate the pollution-stained stones of the time period.
The massive construction of timber and MDF took several months to create, and also featured the Parsonage’s side street and neighbouring buildings, including the church and graveyard (though scenes of Haworth's shopping streets were filmed in the real town) – and it wasn’t an easy replication to make.
“There’s only one actual map of the Parsonage that exists that shows you this geography,” production designer Grant Montgomery explains as we trudge through the authentic side streets and unintentionally authentic rain on the set, “and that’s it, that’s really all you get." (Huw Fullerton)
looking in detail at Branwell Brontë's life,
 It has been suggested (including in To Walk Invisible) that Branwell was the inspiration for violent drunken characters in the Brontë sisters’ works, specifically Hindley Earnshaw in Emily’s Wuthering Heights and the red-haired Arthur Huntingdon in Anne’s The tenant of Wildfell Hall.
Some critics have also debated whether Branwell could be the real author of Emily’s Wuthering Heights, though the theory has declined in fashion in more recent years. (Huw Fullerton
or recommeding the best books by or about the Brontës: Juliet Barker's biography, Lucasta Miller's Brontë Myth, Daphne du Maurier's biography on Branwell, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea...

The Daily Express has another article about Branwell Brontë:
A talented writer and painter, but less successful than his sisters, Branwell died an alcohol and drug addict.
Wainwright has said that she chose to focus on this difficult time “to show what living with this illness [alcoholism] does to a family.”
She said: “As a child he was the leader in a lot of their intellectual games and in their writing, but the sisters had the absolute gift of hard work, and I don’t think Branwell did. While there’s doubt, now, that he was an opium addict, Branwell certainly suffered from alcoholism, which, of course, is an illness.” (Reiss Smith)
Deborah Ross in The Times does not see the point of celebrating Branwell's anniversary. Sometimes, the columnists should read something more about what they talk about and not let their personal agendas be so transparent:
Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre, one of the most brilliant and beloved novels. Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights, also one of the most brilliant and beloved novels, plus she was an astounding poet. Anne Brontë wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which perhaps isn’t one of the most brilliant and beloved novels, but still stands up, and God love her for having a go, and she died at 28, and might have been capable of much, much more.
Meanwhile, their brother, Branwell, was a dissolute, drunken painter of average talent who wrote a few poems that weren’t up to much but . . . but . . . next year marks the bicentenary of his birth and big celebrations are planned.
Indeed, in an attempt to “get to know Branwell”, Simon Armitage, the poet and playwright, has been appointed creative partner to the Brontë Parsonage Museum and will help to spend a £97,702 Arts Council grant to celebrate Branwell’s 200th birthday. Admittedly, the money will also be used to celebrate Emily’s birthday the following year, but even so.Here we have three outrageously gifted sisters — sisters who are certainly among the finest writers in English — and we must “get to know” their brother? He’s a footnote, so why a full-blown celebration? I put it to you that if the Brontës were three outrageously gifted brothers — men! Of the male variety! — would we be at all interested in any sister? A sister whose achievements nowhere near matched theirs? Just saying.
Wakefield Express republishes the interview with Grant Montgomery, production designer, published a week ago by the Yorkshire Post. The Wear Valley Advertiser and The Northern Echo also talks about the production like The Telegraph & Argus.

We are surprised that this comment by Sally Wainwright took so long receving the Daily Express treatment:
Period drama fans will be in for treat tonight when Brontë sisters drama To Walking Invisible hits the small screen, but writer and director Sally Wainwright has revealed that she wanted her film to be “a lot filthier”.
However, the Happy Valley creator wasn’t referring to the amount of sexual content or nudity in the programme but rather the unhygienic living standards of 19th Century Yorkshire, saying that her drama was “a bit too sanitised” even for her liking.
Speaking at a recent press conference for the BBC costume drama, she told media including “We had a lot of conversations about the main street, which we refurbished completely and I actually think we made it a bit too sanitised in the end. I thought it should have been quite a lot filthier than that.”
She added that there would have been “s***” and open sewers running along the main street of the village in that era.
Sally went on to reveal that trees were planted in Haworth’s graveyard in the 1860s to “soak up” the overflowing human detritus in the churchyard. During her research for To Walk Invisible, it also emerged that the average lifespan in the area in that era would have been just 19. (Neela Debnath)
The closing of all the public toilets in Haworth is causing concern and anger in the area. Keighley News reports:
The blocks at Haworth Central Park and the Brontë Museum car park are earmarked to shut, saving more than £53,000 a year in running costs. (...)
"We could have no public toilets at all in the biggest tourist area in the district. This will affect tourism, which is something that brings in a lot of money.
"Coach companies won't travel to places where there's no public conveniences for people to use.  (...)
Councillor Gary Swallow, chairman of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, said:
"Our feeling is that it's absurd for Bradford Council to even consider having a major tourist destination like Haworth with no public toilet facilities for visitors.
"Bradford Council is happy to take substantial amounts from Haworth in the form of business rates from shops, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.
"But these businesses can only be sustained if we have tourist facilities, including public toilets. (...)
"In this day and age when you go abroad there are public toilets all over the place. In the name of decency why can't England have them as well?" (Miran Rahman)
Rail Engineer discusses the operative details of running the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway heritage line.

NYC's City Guide reminds us that this is the last week of the Charlotte Brontë exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum. And if you are near NYC this is a helluva exhibition! Forward Magazine agrees:
My top 2016 museum experience meanwhile took place at The Morgan Library and Museum. “Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will” opened September 9, and will run to January 2, 2017. Timed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth, it is the perfect exhibit for a compulsive reader. I left my husband home and saw it with my best female pal after the 2016 election results; she had suggested the exhibit as an anecdote to my endless feeling of gloom. What an inspired suggestion. To be honest, the room was full of women in the same mental condition. It became an echo chamber for women to talk to each other about the betrayal they felt by men and some women as they admired Brontë’s writing desk, original manuscript, and day dress with impossibly tiny 18.5-inch waistline. There were so many unexpected lit-geek goodies to brighten my day, including the original manuscript for “Jane Eyre,” and two portraits of my heroine on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery. About seeing Charlotte Brontë’s portable writing and art desk: can I admit I just cooed? Sexism ran rampant in her generation, just as it does in mine, and I could feel her wisdom hovering over all of her visitors, as if she was reading out loud, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.” With this unclouded moment of connection to one of the most inspiring of feminist predecessors, I left the room determined to sally against 21st century misogyny. (Laurie Gwen Shapiro)
CNN on sexual jealousy:
Metaphors in popular culture and literature abound that bear out our desire to become a single unit with one another: Remember when Tom Cruise's Jerry Maguire tells his devoted assistant Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger), "You complete me"? Or, when singer Stacey Q croons on her '80s hit, "Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one." Or, when Catherine Earnshaw in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" says of her childhood love, Heathcliff: "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." (Stephanie Fairyington)
Bustle has five 'long ass romance novels totally worth it'. Including Jane Eyre:
507 pages of utter quotability:
“All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from your presence forever.” (Joanna Novak)
Aleteia suggests remedies against loneliness:
Besides, if you’re lonely, why not read about great lonely characters? Jane Eyre, Robinson Crusoe and Pip from Great Expectations are waiting to be your friends.  (Annabelle Moseley)
Blogcritics and fan fiction:
Stephanie Gangi, author of The Next, a novel that made its debut this year, blames the Fifty Shades of Grey hysteria for her initial distaste of fan fiction. “I guess I had the stereotypical view: People who get obsessive and over-identified with a story. But when I thought about it, books like The Hours by Michael Cunningham (based on Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf), Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood, are all in a sense, fan fiction. Those writers expanded and deepened stories that intrigued them, and I guess that’s what the more prosaic writers are doing too,” Gangi said. “I truly love beautiful writing, language that leads me into a mood or a dream, characters that push me to see through other eyes. When those elements are there, I’m there too, whatever the genre is called.” (Adriana Delgado)
A family story in newsworks:
Neither Lolly nor I liked to cook but we both loved movies, so I would bring takeout and videos in the evenings to her farm. One night I rented a copy of the original 1939 "Wuthering Heights" with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.
"Isn't it romantic," Lolly kept sighing, leaning in toward me in her book-lined library. (Courtenay Harris-Bond)
La Vanguardia (Spain) reviews Jane, Le Renard et Moi:
Jane, el zorro yo es también una historia sobre la capacidad del arte y de la literatura para convertirse en tabla de salvación. En este caso, la joven protagonista se refugia en la lectura de Jane Eyre, la novela de Charlotte Brontë, que sirve de contrapunto a la historia que está viviendo Hélène. Gráficamente, los pasajes que evocan la novela están representados con unos colores vivos que se alejan del blanco y negro predominante en las otras páginas. (Jordi Canyissà) (Translation)


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