Monday, September 07, 2009

In Defeat: Defiance.

Jose here with a bit of history and the movies. The title of this post appears in Winston Churchill's WWII memoir The Gathering Storm, but might as well describe Sarah Miles; Julianne Moore's character in The End of the Affair.

The 1999 film, based on Graham Greene's semi-autobiographical novel takes place in WWII London where Sarah, who is married, has an affair with writer Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) until the Blitz provokes the film's title.

You see, it was 69 years ago today that the German Air Force began bombing England for almost a whole year. Once it began, London was bombed continuously for 57 days. One one of those days Sarah faces her greatest fear.



During one of their illicit rendezvous, she sees Maurice leave the room as the bomb alarms fill the city. A sudden blast (and a chance for cinematographer Roger Pratt to shine) makes Maurice disappear into a cloud of smoke and broken glass.


This leads Sarah to unexpected behavior that consequently gives Moore a chance to own the film in the subtle way only she knows how. Her portrayal of quiet dignity, unbridled passion and otherworldly faith earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

As a piece of Blitz trivia, the movie featured in The End of the Affair is 21 Days, starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier (who were also engaged in an extramarital affair). The film is about a man who kills his lover's husband and then has only three weeks to be with her before surrendering to the authorities. When Fiennes' character watches the movie he must've wanted to be the leading man. That the film condenses the themes of guilt, forbidden passion and limited time frames to love, speaks to Jordan's cinematic knowledge and his spoiler-ish slyness.

9 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

How weird. Mere minutes ago I posted how this was a favourite of mine in 1999. Fiennes and Moore were really good in this...but this film is much maligned by audiences. Definitely not a feel good film though...the romantic name is so misleading.

Wayne B. said...

Okay now I have to see this movie.

NATHANIEL R said...

andrew well "the end..." isn't so romantic, you know? I love this movie, too. Moore is so good in it. She really was on fire back then. Crossing my fingers that this festival triple she's got (A Single Man, Pippa Lee and imblankingonthename) renew some of that screen magic

Victor S said...

Good God, I love this movie.
How Sandy Powell didn't get an Oscar nomination for the costumes??? She makes Julianne even more beautiful (further evidence: Far From Heaven - and another Oscar snub).

Victor S said...

imblankingonthename = Chloe

mrriple said...

i always though t moore fans felt this was her worst performance in a quality peice.

Stephen said...

As a Moore fan, I consider hers a quality (even film-elevating) performance in a mediocre piece. ;)

cinephile said...

@Nathaniel R: Wasn't there some of that screen magic already last year, again?
She was a finalist for the film bitch awards as best actress for Savage Grace and Blindness (one of her best performances, actually; so subtle, so compelling- a terrific and criminally underrated /overlooked turn).

And wow, what a year she had in 1999. Wonderful, versatile performances - Magnolia, End of the Affair, An Ideal Husband, Cookie's Fortune, A Map of the World...

bacca said...

For me the best thing about the 1999 movie is its music... It is so powerful that the movie is more or less carried by it, I believe.
If one compares the performances of the actors with the 1955 version of the film, I must admit I like the original one with Deborah Kerr better (even though Julianne Moore's acting was very very fine). It's just that the 1999 version makes everything feel a little 'acted'...