domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2015

Crimson Peak: personal impressions.

After my first watch of Crimson Peak at the theatre last month, I wanted to write a review.
De Toro has been one of my favourite fantasy directors for years now, and when I left the cinema that day my mind was full of interesting thought I wished to share. Nonetheless, I was planning a trip to Spain by then, and I wasn´t sure about inmediately posting my impressions on a movie that people might or might not had watched at the time. I decided to wait a bit, and even found the chance to go for a second time with my sister and friends during my stay in Galicia. At this point, I had even more thought running on this, so I started putting this post together and just waited some more time to let most of my readers to find the opportunity to watch it by themselves. I´m sure most of you have done it already.
If not, I beg to stop reading here, as I´ll be exposing plot details and that would spoil the fun for you.
To the ones who can keep with it, here you go:

My personal thoughts and impressions about Crimson Peak.

As I mentioned, my first glimpse of the film was last month, during the week after the release. By then I had no specific expectations or ideas concerning to the whole thing, other than my previous fondness on the director. I knew he was attempting to recreate the classic gothic novel atmosphere too, but that was it. Actually, I got this idea confirmed during the opening:
"Ghosts are real, that much I know", is the perfect choice as a first sentence, which sent my mind direct to the iconic context of major pieces of the genre. This first person narrator brought other beginnings to my memory, that are well-know and evoque the same feeling: "You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings". (Frankenstein).
After Edith´s breaking sentence, the public is shown a book called Crimson Peak, so the director´s intentions are settled on the first thristy seconds on the screen: he´s going to present not only a formal gothic story, but a staged novel of his own.
At this point I must confess I was very excited.

The story starts with the introduction of the classic naive heroine (who I inmediately predicted to be a bit of "the angel of the house" and a bit of "the lady in distress" and who, to my relief, was free from at least the latter of the roles as the story developed). Anyway, Edith is presented as any innocent young woman of her age, although she looks more energic and full of personal goal projects. Of course, this aspect of her personality maked Edith look slightly different from other ladies, as it is suggested when she declares herself to rather be like Mary Shelley than Jane Austen. This moment caught my attention as she defines her attitude, but it is also symbolic as an anticipatory moment, concerning to her future widow condition. We witness an echo of this moment later, when Dr. Alan admits to be an admirer of Conan Doyle´s works.

Characterization is truly careful in this film, both in relation to dialogue and costumes design. The young lady is always presented on a variety of vaporous light-coloured fabrics, and these dresses are usually adorned by floral details, as well as giant puffy sleeves resembling wings. When the Sharpes are introduced in the story, we´re able to understand Edith´s nature as that of the butterfly, meanwhile they are presented as black moths (carnivorous moths, indeed). Once again the ellaborate dialogue in the park scene is as symbolic as the whole costume art, presenting these human moths always in black or a cold toned palette. Also, while Edith wears "Gibson" style clothes maybe symbolizing that she is a modern and practical American, Lord and Lady Sharpe wear proper nineteenth century attires, implying they are stuck in the glorious past of their dynasty, as well as in its decadence.  

In relation to the story line, at this point I realized there were many similarities between this and some classics I could remember. I read The Europeans by H. James years ago, and could not stop noticing the plot looked like an obscure version of it. However, this wasn´t the only resemblance. I felt Del Toro´s major influences lied on works such The Fall of the House of Usher, Jane Eyre, The Castle of Otranto and Rebeca, and some popular tales like Blue BeardAccordingly, most of the characters in Crimson Peak seemed to be based in the ones present in other stories (Lord Sharpe made me think of Roderick Usher, Edith Cushing of Jane Eyre, while Lady Lucille was an interesting mixture of those features beloging to Madeline Usher and Mrs. Danvers), but this is not the only borrow in the movie.
Allerdale Hall (wich could perfectly be Manderley, the Otranto Castle or any other) shows the putrescence of the Sharpe family, as it sinks into the clay. Also, its main hall roof is broken so dead leaves and snow penetrate into the house. This presence of nature phenomenons affecting and being affected by human emotions is what the Romantics called the Pathetic Phallacy, and it is present in any Goth story written during the Goth literature boom.

But coming back to my own subjective impressions, I started feeling bored about Edith´s angelic nature and her helplesness. I was honestly sick of her when Dr. Alan predictably appeared to save her, and I was asking myself why Del Toro was interested on portraying another lady in distress when, suddenly, Lady Sharpe stabbed him and Edith was left to take care of her own again. And surprisingly she did!
She somehow manages to free herself from the villain after a glorious little scene in which we understand Lucille is a real serial killer who even collects victim´s trophies (good one!), and flees to safeguard Alan (yay!) just before the final fight against her nemesis begins.

I will save you the ending, because we all know it and it is the only part that made me go "meh" (although I enjoyed the final round structure, as well as Lady Sharpe turning into a ghost to haunt her own house forever). Nevertheless, and to sum up, I liked the film quite a lot, specially all those little scenography and characterization details I mentioned, as well as many others I decided not to write about because... well, because this post has been long enough for you own good.

So tell darlings, have you watched the film? What do you think of it?


11 comentarios:

  1. I found it quite disappointing. The visuals were great, though.

    1. Oh, that´s a pity! I suppose it all depends on personal tastes, of course :)
      Did you enjoy the rest of Del Toro filmography?

    2. I love Guillermo del Toro. I had high expectations for Crimson Peak. Weak story; lost track of the its numerous clichés.

    3. I see your point. Clichés are definitely there in this film. Indeed, I think he decided to play with the whole Gothic Romance imagery and give it a dimension of its own, but I totally understand it can be a bit too much if it´s not your cup of tea. Usually, I tend to appreciate clichés from a humorous perspective too, but once again, that´s not for everybody, obviously :)

      I love discussing on films and books, so thank you very much for your comments here! ♥

    4. You are welcome. Gothic Romance is indeed my cup of tea. Crimson Peak, with all its banalities, is still better than the average modern gothic tale. I would recommend it to someone who is new to the genre.

      I meant to say "lost track of its numerous clichés", in the previous comment. Tsk, tsk, tsk! %)

  2. Can't wait to see this. Thinking a really cold an stormy winter's night real soon :)

    1. That´s definitely the perfect weather to watch it, Ms. Misanthropia!
      I am sure you will enjoy it :)

  3. I've watched this movie nearly a month ago and I was really looking forward to it. I had loved Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth", after all, and this movie looked somewhat similar. I deeply enjoyed the aesthetic of the movie; the visuals were great. Backgrounds, costumes, monsters, the direction... everything was perfect. But the plot was kind of boring, to be honest. It was very simple and also predictable. I think it was very far from the originality that marked "Pan's Labyrinth". Anyway, a pleasant movie in the end, even if I was hoping for something more.

    Your review is really interesting, especially because you've linked this movie to other works and you've placed it into a cultural background. Thank you!

    1. I understand what you mean, aocchan. The whole story plot is driven almost in slow motion, and actually it is quite of a predictable development. And yes, I do agree Pan´s Labyrinth is a hundred times better. They are completely different stories, and as I am Spanish and Pan´s portraits one of our saddest history moments, I keep that film in a special place of my heart. Nonetheless, they are very different movies and I think it is the reason why they are hardly comparable. While Pan´s is a historical drama coloured with fantasy features, Crimson Peak is a representation of the Goth novel. They have different backgrounds, and of course a different treatment.
      As I mentioned before, Crimson captures the essence of Gothic histories, and those are picturesque, but truly slow. When I think of Frankenstein, The Otranto Castle, Vathek or any other, they are all utterly slow. I suposse Del Toro also wanted to respect that. If you are a fan you know that´s not the normal thing on his work :)

      Anyway, it is nice to have people around to give me their impressions. I really, really appreciate that.
      Thank you SO MUCH! And I hope I read more of you here.

  4. Hi Violette!

    Sorry because it has nothing to do with the movie (which I adore by the way) but, where did you get this jacket?! It's just amazing!!
    Greetings from France,


    1. Hi Annatar!

      No problem at all. The jacket is last Fall season model from Axes Femme (I got it in Paris, at the little boutique in Les Marais back in September). Maybe you can find it on Ebay?

      Cheers and thanks for visiting my blog!