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Edith Wharton’s THE BUCCANEERS

Captain's Log, Supplemental

I just watched the BBC period drama miniseries, The Buccaneers, based on Edith Wharton’s last unfinished novel.

The miniseries was very well done, I thought. Costumes were sumptuous and acting was good.

However, this is the second Wharton novel made into a film that I’ve seen, and both stories have a lack of morality that disturbs me. Adultery is seen as “true love.” Sure, the women had sucky marriages, but did the author/scriptwriter have to glorify adultery?

I’m not a prude, but I’m a pragmatist. If a young girl agrees to marry a duke, she has to understand there are certain obligations that come with being a duke, just as if she had married a President of the United States. She can’t whine about her duties or her social position—she should have thought of that before she married him.

The way the stories were presented made it seem that Nan, with her free spirited innocence, was in the right to run off with her lover, when in reality, all her problems started because her lover had refused to marry her when she was single and had first fallen in love with him. (I don’t know what part of the story was from the scriptwriter and what was Wharton’s notes, because I do know that Edith Wharton only finished about 3/5 of the book before she died and she left some notes about how she wanted the story to continue.)

I don’t know how closely the miniseries follows the book, but I was disappointed with the storyline. I don’t like reading or watching adultery, just like I don’t like movies that glorify murder and deception where the villain gets away with it and it’s portrayed as a good thing.

I guess I feel betrayed because I thought it would be a romantic miniseries in the tradition of Pride and Prejudice, when in actuality, very few of the characters in The Buccaneers have happy endings or show strength of character.

I mean, don’t you feel betrayed if you read a romance book where the hero and heroine don’t get together??? That’s kind of how I feel now, after watching this miniseries.

Comments

  1. Camy,
    I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head with your analysis of The Buccaneers. I watched it about a year ago...and I can't remember but I probably posted a vague, generally positive review. I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning because I didn't want to turn the series off -- I was hooked and HAD to see how it turned out.
    However, as the story has "settled" into my consciousness over time, I was bothered by the same issues you raise...especially the glorification of adultery. It's really...well, SAD. Those characters who end up "happily" did so because they abandoned their commitments / marriages, etc. And everyone, whether they ended up happy or not, showed a general lack of character / principles.
    Sorry for the long comment but your post really convicted me (in a good way!) and reminded me of how easy it can be to get sucked into a story / film and forget to really look at how the characters act / behave, etc. and what worldview is promoted.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hate it when a movie/book/anything promotes immorality in any form. Sure, most movies have some kind of immoral subject (even if it's lying) but they don't glorify it. It's a big let-down after looking forward to watching it, then have something like that happen.

    Speaking of feeling betrayed while reading a novel...I LOVE a certain author's novels, always have, so I decided to go back and read some of her "older" (they're not old at all) stuff. I came across one of her books that I absolutely loved and then at the end, the two characters were unable to get together because of a tragedy. I felt so disappointed and, like you said, betrayed. This may sound strange but reading one of that particular author's novels now isn't quite the same.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi, it's Snoskred here. I've recently become a blogging chick and have set myself a challenge to comment on as many Blogging Chick blogs as I can. So that's why I'm here. ;)

    I have not seen The Buccaneers but I am a major Pride and Prejudice mini-series fan - not the movie, because that was just plain poor compared to the series. Though I did watch it so I would be able to say it's poor. ;) If you haven't seen it, the one with err, what's her name, the stick thin British one in the pirate movies as well, Keira Knightley. I'd say don't bother, it's not worth it.

    I'll keep an eye out for The Buccaneers, but based on what you've said the costumes and the acting are about all I will like. I can appreciate excellent acting even if I'm not a fan of the storyline. :)

    I am a huge fan of Jane Austen, I have a book with all of her works in it, and it is the one book always by my bedside.

    What a pretty blog you have here, love the title bar graphic, it's gorgeous!

    Snoskred
    http://snoskred.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. CAMY Nice cover!!!!!!!
    I love it. :)
    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  5. wharton is not exactly known for her happy endings, and the buccaneers is actually one of the happiest. and while edith wharton does share biting social criticism with austen, even more than austen, wharton exposes the structures of the social order for hypocrisy and as the real immorality. and also unlike austen, wharton does not write romances for whom marriage, even an ideal one, rarely provides a solution (and quite frankly, much more like austen's often cynical letters, there is hardly such a thing as a good marriage -- after all, how likely is one to find someone who is both filthy rich and loveable and decent). in short, the point in wharton is that the whole world is disordered, not the behavior of these girls in particular. and if a young woman stuck to principle she would likely end up dead (e.g., house of mirth).

    best wishes,
    LoA.

    ReplyDelete

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