Tag Archives: film

Practical Magic

 

Like many people with witchy sympathies, I have seen the film Practical Magic, more than once. I own a copy, even. It’s charming if a bit overblown. I only found out recently and by accident that there is a book. And a prequel. This is not exactly a review.

 

 

I am so glad I saw the film before I read the book, because I’ve enjoyed the film for what it is. Had I read the book first I suspect I’d have hated the film for being so far off the mark. Much of the magic in the book is subtle. There’s more of it in the background than there is deliberately enacted by the characters. The book is a complex, subtle, fascinating thing, and the youngest generation are teenagers and people in their own right and it makes a world of difference. The backstory with the curse and the accused ancestor is a good deal more complicated as well.

 

 

The prequel is called The Rules of Magic, and is lovely, and sad and thoughtful. What author Alice Hoffman does in both these books is to square up to how love and grief and relationship play out across a lifetime. It’s powerful stuff. And of course when you tell the longer story, inevitably, everyone dies. What you love, you lose, because that’s the essence of life. The understanding that the answer to this is to love more, is deeply affecting.

There are two things I particularly loved about these books. Firstly is that magic is ever present; a permeating force that creates possibility. It’s just there, around and between people, and creatures, and places and stories. I’d much rather have more of this kind of magic, and less of the spellworking we see in the film.

Thing number two is technical. The book Practical Magic is pretty much all ‘tell’ and little ‘show’. There’s a bit more ‘show’ in the prequel, but still not as much as is fashionable. This makes me really happy. This is a story told in its own way, on its own terms and as it has a lot of ground to cover, just telling you what happened is much more efficient and effective. We don’t have to play out every key scene with dialogue and let the reader come to their own conclusions. The narrator will tell you what to think. Sometimes the narrator will turn out to be wrong, or misleading and that adds to the charm.

You can’t tell multi-generational stories about love and relationship if you have to show every key scene, and that makes certain kinds of stories impossible. Writing in a way that supports the kinds of stories you want to tell, is essential.

Advertisements

Small films, big ideas

This year, Stroud had its first film festival. I managed to be at the launch, not so very long ago, which included the winning films from the film competition associated with the festival, because Stroud doesn’t do things by halves!

These are all short films with local connections, and they were all played on the night, and for all of their localism, they have things to say that deserve a wider audience. In the order in which they were shown then…

What is Art? Funny, playful and also rather clever. John Bassett does a lot of local theatre, his update of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists last year sent me out to read the original novel.

Ganapati Clayman. Andrew Wood talks about art and Parkinson’s disease. I spent a few weeks last year being Andrew’s studio assistant. He’s a brilliant and fascinating person. I spent a lot of time re-whiting walls and cleaning floors, being a studio assistant not being a terribly glamorous sort of job really.

7 Miles of Pinkness is about the huge Wool Against Weapons protest last summer – 7 miles of pink knitting stretched between 2 nuclear weapons sites as we watch the government trying to claim that spending £100 billion on replacing Trident –  weaponry it would be unthinkable to ever actually use – is a good idea. Much to my surprise, I discovered on the night that I am fleetingly in this film. My abject panic does not come over as clearly as I had feared. My section had just run out of wool, we had no idea where any spare wool was, and I was stood where the wool wasn’t when a nice man pointed a camera at me. I’m very proud to have been a very tiny part of this epic, international project. I’ve also helped turn the scarf into blankets for international aid projects.