Keep The Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell's semi-autobiographical novel was filmed in 1997, starring Richard E. Grant and Helena Bonham Carter. It was shown recently on Sky, and I watched my Sky+ recording of it yesterday evening. The actors are excellent - Grant's acerbity is just right, - and the film particularly highlights the skill of the art director. It's practically an industry recreating the 20s, 30s and 40s - in this case the seamier end of the 1930s. I was born in the early 1940s, and of course most thirties furniture and decor couldn't be replaced until the late 1940s because of the war, so it was all quite familiar - in Grant's character's shabby-genteel bedsit I could smell the dust on the curtains.

The film was retitled for American release: I can understand the feeling that no-one in Detroit would know what an aspidistra was, but why on earth call it A Merry War? I can only suppose that the person who chose the title didn't bother to watch the film, and vaguely connected aspidistras with World War 2 (probably because of Gracie Fields's famous song The Biggest Aspidistra In The World) - but the film is set in the 1930s, there is no war, and there is little merriment (though a good deal of amusing sarcasm).

Posted: Tue - July 25, 2006 at 11:51 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM