Apropos of nothing, really: I just got home and am catching the last few minutes of Where Angels Fear To Tread, otherwise known as the E. M. Forster adaptation Merchant Ivory didn’t do (Although with the Italian setting, and the overlapping cast members from A Room With A View—Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter–it could understandably be mistaken for their work). Nevertheless, it was Judy Davis‘s performance in Angels that continually blows my mind. The scene where she sets out into the Italian town, nearly paralyzed with fear of the “natives” and not understanding a word or gesture of Italian, is brilliant. A very small scene, all told, but remarkably played. Of course, she was also great in the other non-MI Forster adaptation, the brilliant-but-long A Passage to India.
Apropos of all that, then: Watching A Room With A View was a formative movie-going experience for me. Having been an indifferent movie consumer before going to college, I inadvertently discovered foreign films on campus my freshman year. (The first one is another story, but that would be a meta-digression.) Still, I had been playing catch-up, seeing only those classics that showed on campus. ARWAV was the first “art film” I saw in a theater. A packed theater in Salt Lake, to be precise; it seemed to have opened in Utah well after building word of mouth around the country. Anyway, I went with fellow BYU rebels Robert and Tuki. I had no idea what to expect, but in the engagement party, when Daniel Day Lewis‘s Cecil said, “I have no profession. I daresay it’s a sign of my decadence.” we all busted out laughing. We were completely alone, though; the rest of the theater was dead silent. It was the first real realization that I was much smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else in the world. No. I was in college; I already knew that. I actually realized that movies could play on multiple levels. Here was something we liked that no one else (in the Utah theater, that is) noticed.