Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the film version of Cats, sharing the contrary opinion that it’s delightful. Heather reviewed The Haberdashers series of adventurous romances set in 19th-century England. Tina didn’t like two books (Black Rabbit Hall and The Irish Cottage) and did a little better with Grace is Gone.
William Shakespeare gave us two of the most romantic deaths in literature, both of young girls star-crossed in love — Juliet and Ophelia. As a young girl, I was aware of a certain goth attraction (before it got that descriptor), but shied away from it myself. Romanticizing teen-age death, especially female death, seemed problematic on several levels when I was young and I know of more levels, now. Unlike Anne, with an ‘e,’ I was never one to pose in pond water with flowers all around me, no matter how pretty it might look.
Plus, we still get the pretty stuff. This movie is gorgeous. Enjoy a fairy tale castle, richly embroidered fabrics, and verdant flora (including many flowers). Ophelia would be fun to watch with the sound turned off and ignoring the story. Even the dark parts are beautiful with carefully arranged skulls, a witch’s cave cluttered with visual wonders, and a bejeweled black bottle filled with poison.
It’s hard to talk about this film without giving away the plot, so I’ll talk about a couple of the actors, instead.
Ophelia is played by Daisy Ridley, best known as Rey from the most recent Star Wars trilogy. She brings a fiery spirit, keen observation skills, and a bit of Shakespearean wit and wordplay to the role.
Hamlet is played by George MacKay who I liked in 1917 and Pride. We witness all of Hamlet’s attractiveness and stupid pride with less of the angst that we get when the story is from his angle.
Ophelia is based on the YA novel by Lisa Klein. I’m not sure that I was aware that existed. Klein also has a book called Lady Macbeth’s Daughter and two American stories — one about Gettysburg and one about the Roanoke Colony. She sounds like an author I would like!
This film took a while to get out to the public. Ophelia premiered at Sundance in early 2018 but wasn’t distributed to theaters until summer 2019. It’s available on DVD, now. Have you seen Ophelia? What did you think?