Thursday, December 27, 2007

BBC Ballet Shoes: Exactly Like The Pictures

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to watch the BBC Ballet Shoes movie in its entirety, only one day after the Brits did. (Which is good, because how could I position myself as the #1 Resource for BBC Ballet Shoes Information otherwise?)

The YouTube version was a little fuzzy, and some lines were difficult to distinguish, despite the par-excellent RP.

So I want to watch it again.

But my initial response is that's one of the more faithful adaptations of a book I've ever seen.

There were a few things that were a little off. The Mr. Simpson/Sylvia romance, as mentioned earlier (and though the Kuala Lumpur thing was barely mentioned, it was, as predicted, a "strange native disease" which killed off the other Simpsons).

The choice to make Winifred an even bigger snob than Pauline. This one came out of nowhere. Winifred exists, as a character, to remind us (and the three sisters) that there are people even worse off than the Fossil family. She is supposed to be poorer, shabbier, hungrier, and uglier than Pauline -- not to mention a better dancer and actor, though she is never noticed by producers. I'm not sure why the character was given such a different role in the story, since the change made her just another ambitious child star and no longer set her as a foil for the three sisters.

The absence of the scene where Pauline apologizes to Mr. French (after behaving like an unendurable spoiled child and getting sacked) and is given back the part of Alice. The way the film plays it, there's no apology and we never know what happens after the row in the theatre. Are we supposed to believe that Pauline never plays Alice again?

But aside from these hiccups in the story, it was extremely straightforward, true to the book, and charming. The visuals almost looked as if they had been lifted from the Diane Goode illustrations: Pauline and Petrova rehearsing the flying sequence in Midsummer, Petrova wrapped in a blanket with her hair braided down her back, the sisters sitting on the staircase waiting to hear about their futures.

(Interestingly, the representation of the two doctors seemed to have been inspired by Ruth Jervais' drawings -- yes, I have a labyrinth of information in my head about the various illustrators who have drawn Ballet Shoes and the different styles they used.)

Oh, and Marc Warren is so gorgeous. That fact alone will make me want to watch the film again.

Other thoughts?

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