Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy End?

Stories for kids are mean. Why? you ask. Because their aim for your soft spots is so true. Well, maybe “true” is a cheeky choice of words on my part.
This was supposed to be an entry about watching the movie of A Little Princess with Madge and Coco this morning, but I think I must begin with a digression.
In order to properly talk about our movie-watching experience, I must warn that I’ll be giving away crucial information about the movie’s ending. Or, as other blogs seem to put it: SPOILER ALERT (the caps, apparently, are needed, in order to catch skimmers – those who are most likely to “spoil” books for themselves anyway – but I’ll write about my favorite skimmer some other time)!
I’ve been inadvertently caught by a SPOILER before, because I wasn’t alerted properly. We were reading Anne of Green Gables aloud (get out your hankies); in the midst of this I was doing some internet research, reading about kids’-book editors. In an interview, one of these editors talked about how she still cries when BLANK dies in Anne of Green Gables, only she said BLANK’s name! I’m getting choked up right now. This news struck, as they say, like a lightning bolt. I was so mad I called Julie at work. This was almost like the time when we read Charlotte’s Web aloud (it was my first time – I didn’t grow up here) and E.B. White was describing the autumn and I realized that death was in the air for a certain character and I refused to read the book any further. (Well, after a few days I did manage to move on.) The Anne of Green Gables thing was worse, though, because it wasn’t the book’s foreshadowing that did it, it was some uncouth editor in an interview. (I tried finding the interview again and giving the lady a piece of my mind, but I couldn't find it. I think I'm going crazy. I couldn't have imagined it, could I? My foreshadowing nose isn't that good. I would have guessed someone else dies.)
So, back to the movie SPOILER. We were watching the movie. Coco had tuned out long ago. It’s a little advanced and plotty (read: non-cartoony and slow) for him. Madge had read the book a few days before (223 pages the first day – she kills me) and was up to speed, enjoying putting faces to the names. Cute. Asking me, as the people appeared, was this so-and-so? I didn’t know. I hadn’t read the book. I still haven't, but she's urging me to do so. Soon.
Apparently the movie changes the plot. The father doesn’t die (told you there was a big SPOILER) but it only taken for dead while suffering from some kind of amnesia and blindness, gets mistaken for another soldier (the actual corpse) and sent to the dead soldier’s father’s house, which happens to be next to Sara’s (his daughter’s) boarding school, in which Sara has borne her suffering as only a heroine in a kid’s story can. The details escape me because I was busy with Coco and the internet and the dishes and breakfast and …
Anyway, there’s a big climax at the end, with Sara escaping from the mean Miss (I think she’s a Miss, she has to be in a world like that because she can’t form attachments) Minchin in a thunderstorm, across a rickety board, from one building to another. She’s hiding there, dodging from room to room trying to escape Minchin and the police, who are about to arrest her because her friends stole back her locket from Minchin and Minchin thinks Sara did it. Hooo. During this escape, Sara’s Dad regains his sight, but not his memory, and she slips into the room where he is. She sees him and cries out Daddy, but he doesn’t recognize her.
The cops come and try to pry her away as she is shouting for her Dad and
I’m rolling my eyes because it’s A MOVIE and there’s no way it’s going to end badly (badly in the sense of good people not getting rewarded and bad people not getting punished, not badly in the sense of what I was witnessing) and I’m thinking, jeez, what other emotional screw are they going to turn
When I hear a howl and sniffly-slurf from Madge and I’m brought back to a seven-year-old’s reality and realize that having your Daddy not recognize you as you’re being dragged off by the police (she stressed the police part when talking about it) must be horrific
And now I’m crying, too, trying to soothe Madge while keeping Coco quiet between us.
Oh, it was a mess.

Like I said, Stories for kids are mean.

Madge’s verdict of the movie, by the way, was that it’s not as good as the book and that the ending is too scary.

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