Saturday, May 14, 2011

Potential audience

Blogger has been diabolical the last few days -- I haven't found it in working order since my last post four days ago. At least, Blogger hasn't allowed me to post anytime that I have actually been at my desk. Nor, I understand, has it been allowing comments.  And the Blogger team singularly failed to keep their customers informed; not good enough, Google, or should I say, not non-evil enough. I am considering jumping ship.  To happier subjects, namely Mary: the Movie. Who would want to see it?

The film would appeal to audiences in Britain, France, and the United States. Mary's writings formed part of the so-called Pamphlet War, with some British philosophers and politicians welcoming the revolutions in France and America, and others opposing them not only as treason, in the case of the revolt of the colonies, but also as a rejection of the God-given rule of kings.  Mary, following her mentor Dr Richard Price, the Unitarian minister at Newington Green (her friend, mentor, protector, and father-figure), came down firmly on the side of those who wanted to shake up the established order. Her writings about women argued for a radical equality of education and of moral aspiration, but a year before she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, she wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Men, as in "human beings", in the context of the French Revolution.  She is a significant figure in all three countries.

The story could be filmed and marketed as a straight biopic or a costume drama or a historical love story (American boyfriend bad! English boyfriend good!).  It would appeal to women of all ages from teenagers up, who have few enough films about women to watch. It would also appeal to men who like to watch films featuring a lot of attractive young women.  Sex is central to Mary's story, and most of it contravenes her or our norms -- lesbian schoolgirl love, a proposed menage a trois, premarital pregnancy, living with a lover, not living with her husband.  In revolutionary Paris, boundaries existed only to be broken. ("Bliss was it to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.") There are plenty of angles to the story that would draw in viewers who don't usually go to the cinema (the serious historical stuff); there is also plenty of blood & guts in the French Terror -- and, if desired, gothic horror rising from the graveyard as well, to come to life as Frankenstein.  
How much is shown, and how much has a veil drawn over it, all depends on how the production team wishes to imagine the project.

Teenagers have been particularly appreciative of the opportunity to find out about Mary's life. Here's a snippet from a teacher's blog, entitled "In class today":
Me: Mary Wollstonecraft... well, on her backpacking trip through Europe, she got involved in a number of, um, scandalous situations. She uh, well, uh...
Student 1: She was a freak?
Me: uh, yeah.
Student 2: Uh oh, Student 1 going to go home and read now

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