Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Take one large dose

When my sister in law and her family were staying with us we watched The Adjustment Bureau. It was a miracle that a realist like me (strictly no aliens, no end of the world, no fantasy) would even contemplate such a film… I quite enjoyed it but I spent quite a lot of time huffing and puffing about Emily Blunt’s dancing and her posture.  (EB’s character is a professional dancer.) Husband and SiL spent quite a lot of time laughing at my huffing and puffing. I know it’s ridiculous to let it spoil the film (when, frankly, a gigantic dose of suspension of disbelief had to be taken to watch the film AT ALL. I mean ‘hats’ enable them to go through the portal? Really?) Anyway the daft notion of the hats didn’t spoil the film but Emily Blunt’s dancing was a low level irritation all the way through. (You can tell a dancer from their posture, the way they move, even stand. It’s a useless piece of knowledge but I know it anyway.)

Eventually I turned to SiL and said ‘if we were watching a film about dressage and the rider was really pants, wouldn’t it irritate you?’ Because the thing is, any little thing that brings you crashing out of the story can act as an irritant and we need that belief.

I was thinking the same thing about reading. I open the book and I say ‘I am willing to believe.’ And you enter this wonderful, symbiotic relationship with the creator: you are prepared to believe and they will entertain you. I don’t think life gets much better than that.  But, if you encounter a gaffe, that tenuous rapport is shattered. For me the breaking of that contract is liked being sucked out of a vacuum.

Crumbs; this writing lark is a bit of a responsibility.

(Incidentally I think Natalie Portman (Black Swan) had considerably more background in dancing than EB and her posture was pretty good. I heard Deborah Bull on Radio 4 say that it takes ten years training to make a dancer’s arms look weightless and the only thing apart from this to let Natalie Portman down was that she didn’t have a dancer’s bottom! Of course, NP also had a dancing double and it was damn difficult, thankfully, to spot where she took over.)


liz fenwick said...

That suspension business is tricky ...everyone has different triggers...it's such a good point though. I didn't notice EB lack of dancers posture but there was something else - can't remember that pulled me out a bit...

All we can do as writers is be aware and have readers we trust who will pull us up on things.


Sue Guiney said...

I find when I read now I'm aware of myself suspending disbelief. It takes some of the fun out of it, but it provides some good lessons. As far as films go...I Hate Hate Hate watching actors pretend to be playing the violin. I've never seen one get it even close to right. It's as if they don't even try to hold their arms in the right place and have their fingers go to the music. Ugh. Drives me nuts.

Jenny Beattie said...

Liz, I think you're absolutely right. You only have to look at Sue's comment below to see how tricky it all is. You can't not (!) show actors doing these things for fear of upsetting those that know about it! The hats were dead silly but we can have the faith to believe in the silliest things...

Sue, I wouldn't know how well or badly they were playing but I ALWAYS think about it when I see actors doing thing like that!