Shades Of Words


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The Wheel Spins

 

In life, one wonders at least once, if one is going insane. Sometimes these doubts may last for a second or sometimes for days. The feeling of losing one’s mind can be a result of stress, anger, nervousness, anticipation and most importantly how others are treating you.

Made famous by the Hitchcock movie, “The Lady Vanishes”, The Wheel Spins is a story of a young girl Iris, who believes she is going crazy, because everyone around her says that she is. Iris is on the way to England in a train. She is all by herself and cannot speak any foreign languages. Just before she boarded the train, she was hit by a sunstroke which has left her disoriented. An English lady, Miss Froy, who is in the same compartment as her, befriends her for tea. Iris dozes off and when she wakes up Miss Froy is no longer there. Iris is convinced that something is wrong but as she tries to ask her fellow passengers they tell her they don’t know what she is talking about  – that there never was Miss Froy.

Up to this point, as a reader your sympathies are with Iris who is clearly being taken for a ride. She enlists the help of an English professor and appeals to his sense of morality and justice to help her locate this missing woman. When other English passengers who had talked to Miss Froy in the dining car deny her existence, you start wondering. Is Iris really delusional and sick as everyone around her claiming to be? What ulterior motives could the fellow passengers possible have for lying about Miss Froy.

White creates a very vivid imagery of the train journey. As Iris rushes back and forth the length of the train – trying to find her Miss Froy, we are able to sense the motion of the train, the claustrophobic corridors, the heat of the steam and the overpowering sense of restless passengers. White continuously refers to the noisy and almost fatal movement of the train into the darkness, which emphasizes the abyss of insanity that Iris appears to be falling into and the complete hopelessness of the situation.

For me the most impressive part about the book was not its writing or characters but the very simple concept – what defines insanity? If everyone around you calls you crazy, and there is no one to disprove that, then is there a any hope ?


 

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The Remains of the Day

Kapil has gone back to reading (yay!) and the very first book that he read was “Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. I haven’t read the novel myself, but was up for the movie version starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. How can one miss that!

The focal point of the story is slightly unusual – a middle aged butler of a British household. Mr. Stevens ( Anthony Hopkins) has served at Darlignton estate almost all his life. However, the war stirs things over and his Lord’s Nazi’s sympathies have him out of his home. Mr. Steven’s new master is an American politicion Mr. Farraday( Christopher Reeves!) . The movie opens with Farraday suggesting that Stevens take a holiday – a road trip. Stevens decides to visit the former housekeeper of Darlington Hall, Miss Keaton, and on his drive he reminices about the times under his old Master, Lord Darlignton (James Cox) before World War II.

“The Remains of the Day” is essentially a character sketch of Stevens. The central theme of the movie is the core quality of “diginity” that Stevens possesses and must possess to become a great butler. This quality is so important that it defines his relationship with his master, his staff, his father, his ability to love – his very existence. His work comes above everything else and at the price of relationships and his own happiness.

Anhtony Hopkins performance as Mr. Stevens is spot on. Without moving a muscle, is face still expresses amazing depths. One can’t help but feel sorry for Stevens by the end of the movie. Emma Thompson is the bright light in this slightly gloomy production. There are two scenes that are to watch out for – one in which they discuss a book ( extremely riveting – watch it out to find out why), and the one where they end their evening conferences. Hugh Grant makes a fleeting appearance as the Darlington’s godson.

Directed by award winning James Ivory, the movie literally takes us into the world of stuffy but luxurious world of noble English households. The movie is mostly shot indoors where the world of the domestic servants exist but there are some beautiful visuals of the English countryside.

Verdict : High quality cinema – must watch.