Six Rapscallions gathered again at La Guarida last night to dissect The Constant Gardener. A seventh left before the movie, not wanting to “ruin it” for the rest of us by talking through it. As if! Some of us struggled with the British brogue and the low/muffled sound of much of the dialogue. After the first rewind and debriefing (in which it was determined only 30% of us “caught it” the first time around) we turned on the captioning. Oh my.
There were too many examples (talk about an object for analysis!), but “She adored Tessa” becoming “the goat test” is near the top of the list. Not to mention him being “large of house” instead of “large of heart”. I was reminded of the old Deaf School communal activity of watching movies before there was any captioning at all. I’d have loved to have seen some of the reenactments! The kids in the dorm would watch an entire film and then invent the storyline, plot, and dialogue. Apparently, the stories they came up with were always better than the “actual” movie. 🙂
Anyway, I personally thought “Gardener” was well done on all the other counts. I’m surprised at the range of like/dislike in the reviews. I was thoroughly corraled (!) when I wanted to explore the blatant racism that is the structural feature which enables taking the movie as “just a movie” – distracted as audiences often are by classic depictions of romance and heroism. “Let’s watch a happy movie next time!” I don’t mean it as a barb – clearly we all knew and reacted to the grim parts of pharmaceutical company/government collusion. The power of the movie is, I think, how insidiously it both depicts a continuing political economy of profiting through racism and insulates us from it with familiar tropes.
I don’t know how “happy” North Country is, we determined that it will be released in time for the next gathering. Meanwhile, can you guess which of our hosts shaved his head? Which one wants to have short curly hair? Which guest displayed handstand talents and almost created a new breakfast nook? Who thinks soap is inadequate to wash dirt off spoons? Who’s been banned from eating cake? PS – the alpha male’s room was inadvertently on display. And wouldn’t you know, there was the exact same Picasso print of Don Quixote that Sam had forever and ever and ever. 🙂