Monday, December 5, 2011

Mad about the Girl

It's all about equal opportunities here at the Period Drama King blog so following on from the first look a few weeks back at Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell's forthcoming movie adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, one-time Lady Dedlock Gillian Anderson returns to Dickensian territory and dons the wedding dress above in the rival miniseries set to delight BBC One viewers over three consecutive nights this Christmas season starting on the 27th of December. Dickens is not only doing wonders for Miss Anderson's bank balance but also for that of Ralph Fiennes who will not only be seen as Abel Magwitch alongside Bonham Carter on the big screen next year but will also star as the great man himself in a feature film depicting his extra-marital love affair with a young actress twenty seven years his junior named Nelly Ternan that lasted thirteen years until the day of his death.

Felicity Jones, whose breakthrough performance was as Catherine Morland in 2007's Northanger Abbey, will star as Nelly in The Invisible Woman, based on Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin's detailed examination of their secret, passionate relationship for which the novelist left his wife Catherine and risked his considerable reputation. The film, due to shoot in the spring or summer of next year, will also mark Fiennes's second foray behind the camera as director following his highly-acclaimed, soon-to-be-released, modern-day adaptation of Shakepeare's Coriolanus in which he stars alongside Gerard Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox and Vanessa Redgrave. On the subject of controversial attachments between older men and younger women, the BBC have announced The Girl, a dramatization of director Alfred Hitchcock's obsession with model Tippi Hedren whom he plucked form obscurity to star as the heroine Melanie Daniels in his classic 1963 orthonological suspense thriller The Birds. As he sculpted Tippi into the perfect Hitchcock blonde of his imagination, he became preoccupied with the impossible dream of winning the real woman’s love and his failure arguably destroyed both of their careers.

Writer Gwyneth Hughes, who previously put the regret into Jane Austen with Miss Austen Regrets, has conducted extensive interviews with Hedren herself and surviving members of Hitchcock's crew. Directed by another chronicler of the life of Miss Austen, Becoming Jane helmer Julian Jarrold, the single film will feature Toby Jones and Sienna Miller in the main roles with Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton as the other women in Hitchcock's life, his wife Alma and his loyal assistant Peggy Robertson respectively. Both the ballad of Charles and Nelly and the ballad of Alfred and Tippi are quite well-known in popular culture but have been under-represented on screen so I for one am very excited about both projects. It's always nice to see a new story being told rather than the same old ones about humble orphans and crazy old ladies in wedding dresses that take a shine to them. That said, I know where I'll be on December 27th and no mistake!

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