“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” especially when the students never learned about the past in the first place.
Speaking of history repeating (alas, no, not the fabulous Shirley Bassey/Propellerheads number … but listen to that ditty here), Lifetime has decided to dig the goofy Flowers in the Attic out of mothballs and stage its second cinematic adaptation. (By the way, is Lifetime still “television for women” or is it “not for women”? I have no idea but that has always been a reductively embarrassing tagline, if you ask me.)
Yes, Flowers in the Attic now has, not one, but two film adaptations. Some novels barely even get one – The Sound and the Fury anyone? (No, the 1959 Yul Brynner version doesn’t count, though James Franco is working on a new one.) … But Flowers in the Attic gets TWO in only twenty-plus years time.
The first film version – with Academy Award-winner Louise Fletcher as the grandma-from-hell and dippy Victoria Tennant as her dippy daughter – was released in theatres in 1987. And, now, another Oscar-winner (why?!?!) Ellen Burstyn steps into Fletcher’s orthopedic shoes, accompanied by google-eyed, flat-affect Heather Graham as her daughter.
The plot? Oh, brother, the plot. I have to say that the WTF?! schadenfreude part of my soul was transfixed by all the crazy. I felt like Kathy Griffin on Benzedrine watching this tale that seemed written by a 12-year-old girl high on Pop Rocks and Tab.
In short? Graham’s character is a Stepford-50s haus-frau with an idyllic mid-century homestead, four beautiful toe-headed Village of the Damned kids, and a husband who travels a lot with one of those indeterminate 1950s “account executive” kind of jobs. Dad dies in some unidentified calamity, mom struggles for about one commercial break, and then reveals to her kids that she is secretly part of an uber-wealthy family who disowned her when she skipped town to marry the brood’s now-deceased papa.
The clan ventures to a spooky mansion right out of a Bronte novel, meet their mean religious-fanatic bully of a grandma, and are spirited into a spare bedroom with a conveniently adjoining attic because their dying grandfather will never put their mother (Graham) back in the will if he learns of their existence. Whew!
As if that wasn’t insane enough, the kids spend five years (?!?) or so in this bedroom/attic set up, are periodically whipped by their grandmother for their heathen ways, are fed arsenic-laced doughnuts, and then learn the birds and the bees in a very unfortunate turn of incestuous events, including finding out that their dad was actually their mother’s “half-uncle” (which was the first time I’ve ever even heard that familial term). One of the baby twins dies (from the arsenic doughnuts, natch) and the older brother and sister (the latter played by Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka, taking on the role originated by first Buffy the Vampire Slayer Kristy Swanson) fall in love (!) with each other (!!) and run away with the surviving baby twin sibling. Good lord.
(And, yet again, Hollywood has saddled a young actress – Shipka – with a series of unfortunate wigs. Seriously, is effective tonsorial styling beyond impossible in today’s film community? I may have to start a whole new blog just talking about that.)
Yes, I have layered on the holier-than-thou snark, but, damn, this train wreck is entertainingly atrocious. I’m wondering if this work of “literature” is where all my small-town contemporaries learned their great love of “family values.” (Oh, I’m gonna get zapped but good for that comment.)
There’s just not much more to say, other than my heart cries for Burstyn who carries a pained look on her marcel-waved noggin throughout, seeming to telegraph this singular thought: “Where is my agent? I’m gonna kill him.”
I don’t know why Lifetime remade this (or even why we watched it!). Bully for them, though, as it has done boffo, sequel-generating ratings in this current climate where everyone is obsessed with “young adult” serial lit that carries a head-scratching brew of religious, sexual, and authoritarian overtones. And in that climate, who needs “world history” textbooks when we have Flowers in the Attic?
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what does your german word mean? and wasn’t there a broadway play back in my day named TOYS IN THE ATTIC? or some such thing…I may have a copy? I guess I can google…I never heard of this one…was Victoria Tennant the dame pretending to be married as in ONE MAN ONE WOMAN to Steve Martin for two minutes after he pretended to throw over Bernadette? you are right. people are damned screwy no matter what FRONT they attempt to project! and what do you know about Ethan Hawke and a Victoria Tennant type filming four romantic films in a series? tavis smiley interviewed the lady last night. and letterman interviewed spyke jones…not very impressive. I loved your review…but I ain’t gonna watch this one!
yeah, save yourself and DO NOT WATCH. it’s ridiculous. and, yup, that’s the same victoria tennant (the steve martin dame), and ethan hawke and julie delpy did a bunch of romantic movies that people like though I haven’t wanted to watch: before sunrise, before sunset, and before midnight.
and as for the german word: Schadenfreude Listeni/ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ (German: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏdə]) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This word is a loanword from German. The literal English translation is ‘Harm-Joy’. It is the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune. It is also borrowed by some other languages.
as for toys in the attic – this is what I found: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057598/ – not a musical, I don’t think?
so that is what that nasty all too human trait is called? wow…been on the receiving end of that german word way too many times…with “be praying for ya” heaped insincerely on top like a damned gleeful cherry! wow, never too old to learn! now, how about TOYS IN THE ATTIC?
yup, you got that right – spot on! and sounds like we both figured out the toys in the attic thing – I found the movie version and you found the original play. well done!
hey, you got reblogged? impressive.
yeah, first time THAT has ever happened! yay!
thanks! so, that movie link is to the film adaptation of this then? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057598/ – interesting!
so Dean Martin assumed the role that Jason Robards originated? how intriguing…never saw it…do have the original play though…in a “theatre arts” magazine…life is goofy! by Lillian Hellman!
amen to that! and, yeah, i had no idea the history of this one so fun to read!
i never read this, even though every other girl in my school did. i always get freaked out my child and animal abuse stories and tend to stay away from them when i know that’s the basis of a book or movie. i love your second paragraph about being condemned to repeat history….so funny. with all that being said, i really had no desire to watch the movie, and happy i didn’t after reading this )
I admit I had a morbid curiosity which prompted us to DVR this and watch earlier this week. But I agree with you about those kinds of movies, and my own uncertainty why Hollywood even makes them to begin with. But it did make for fun writing – I enjoyed putting this one together. Thanks for the compliments!