Monday, 9 June 2008

Review: Playing Beatie Bow

I have always loved the story Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park, well, ever since I read it. It has the usual Park attributes - a ratty teenager, a world within a world, a few adults who teach her something she didn't know. (Have a read of My Sister Sif.) However, it's a damn good writing - the story of Abigail going back in time to the Rocks, 1873.

It's a pity they totally butchered the movie, then.

I wanted to watch the movie just to see how they'd translate it to film, and I must admit it was one of those experiences where you spent the time thinking "Damn, I could have done better, and I'm not a film director."

However, the movie was not without good points. The best bit would have to be the recreation of a genuine set for the 1873 Rocks area - very realistically portrayed and probably a lot of research and effort put into the design. Top marks.

The Chinese laundrymen were also pretty cool. A bit of comic relief, and their Chinese was actually real, not fake-out stuff that sounds like Chinese but are some actors pretending to sound Chinese for the benefit of non-Chinese people who wouldn't know any better.

Gibbie, Dovey, and Beatie weren't too badly portrayed. Gibbie in particular was pretty vile, just as he's meant to be, and a lot of his annoying pain-in-the-neck lines were kept intact and well delivered ... all the talk about his funeral was enough to want you to lash at him.

However -

The musical score was annoying - and pervasivly so. It added to the whole feel of the movie being, as Mr Coffee called it "Home and Away in 1873". I really couldn't argue with that. The long passionate kiss and roll around in the sand with Judah and Abigail - what the heck was that all about - it did seem too Summer Bay, not Abigail just recognising her mother's emotions and relating, and growing as a person, but Abigail wanting to darn well get it on and turn it into a lovefest for the soap fans out there.

Then, there was the removal of Vincent from the whole story. In fact, the whole back story of how Abby developed before she time travelled was abbreviated, and while I understand why some of this was necessary, I think so much of it was done that it didn't really make the time travel story meaningful. Really it was meant to make her grow up and make a better relationship with her and her mother - and the placement of her, Vincent and Natalie as outsiders was crucial to that.

The melodramatic rescue scene where Abby's saved from the "painted ladies" is over the top in the movie, but it's kind of understandable that the directors wanted to add in more action than was in the original book, just for some fun and visuals.

The real idiocy of the plot though was how the "Gift" was explained. This didn't need to be muddled up at all and it was.

The way they left out Beatie's dream which leads to Abby's conclusion that Beatie becomes famous (and explains why the game "Beatie Bow" developed and explains half the "Gift" - that Beatie is to be barren) - but then add in the conclusion that Gibbie is "the One" - I thought it made Granny seem a little stupidly over the top in the movie rather than wise and gentle and strong - just ruined the story.


It didn't give you the opportunity to feel for Beatie and encourage her to be famous. It didn't add in the suspense of "who will die" and then the feelings that make Abby "wish it's not Judah". It doesn't allow for her mix up over Robert Bow's ancestors later.

Add into all that that Imogen Annesley as Abigail was painful, far too pronounced, and enunciating each word as if she were on stage not on screen, and you have a woeful movie.

Oh, and the change of how time travel worked (by touching Beatie's hands, not by simply "running down the street and finding yourself in the next century") - in my opinion, change for the worse. Much better if you just have to run really fast and suddenly you're i the next century, it's less corny.

Run Abby, run, let's see you hit 88 miles per hour, and you'll be in 1873! Something like that.


nailpolishblues said...

Wow. It was a lot less shit when I was a kid.

Maria said...

Maybe, like Abby found out, when you travel back in time it heals a lot.

Maria said...

Um, just had a look, and Imogen Annesley (playing Abigail) was later on Blue Water High. Also Mouche Phillips played Beatie Bow and WAS on "Home And Away". Actually, she went on to Home and Away after PBB. Um, what did I say about this being a Home and Away in 1873?

Maybe they saw PBB and thought what I did and asked her on to the show!

Tazz said...

No u shut up

Tazz said...

just kiddin! Wow when u explain PBB that way it looks really crap

Anonymous said...

I'm a 42 year old guy and I still read PBB a couple of times every year. It's a story you can get lost in. The movie was pretty disappointing but movies usually are. I wrote to Ruth Park about PBB once and she wrote straight back saying there was always a possibility that she'd write a sequel - but it never happened.
It'll always be one of my favorite stories.