Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Brief Review of a TV retelling of The Brontes' Story: To Walk Invisible- Happy Birthday, Anyway Charlotte

To Walk Invisible will air again tonight, 8 pm cst, on many PBS stations. Visually, lots of detail attracted the eye, but I found there was a modern slant put on the sisters' story that took away from their genius.  Hannah was left out, Elisabeth Gaskell mentioned not at all.  The attention to location, interior décor, costume, hairstyle, etc., was impeccable, but little was told of their juvenilia, other than flashbacks where Branwell's soldiers came to life. The original soldiers appear on the official website featuring Haworth. As an aside, I've tried many years to join The Bronte Society; live has prevented me from checking lately, but in the past, one had to pay in pounds sterling, still not easy to do.

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Anne, To Walk Invisible, Public Domain

For many years, I have read, reread, studied, written about, and created art about the Brontes.  I never got the feeling these filmmakers did.

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The Sisters, Public Domain image

The emphasis of this well-acted but depressing production was Branwell's drinking, his love affairs, allegedly with one Mrs. Robinson, an older woman [I know, true life is better than fiction!], and his dissolute behavior.  While he had these issues and more, the letters of Charlotte's I've read, and so many other primary sources and credible biographies, do not imply that the household was rendered completely dysfunctional by the only Bronte brother.   He was brilliant but troubled, yet this show makes him out to be "not that good", hence the cause of many of his issues.

Life isn't that easy.

Despite it all, the letters of the sisters and their papers indicate a happier, even mundane existence, with a lot of writing and creativity going on.   Emily, who was a genius, and amazing in her own right, comes off as a disgruntled bossy, ill tempered witch.  Charlotte, well, she's just weird, and Anne is a shadow.

I liked the idea of the program, but not the program itself.  Read Unquiet Soul by Margot Peters, or Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte.  Read Daphne du Maurier's The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte. These remarkable women were so much more than the abused caretaker of a brother who couldn't allegedly hold his drink. 

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Public Domain Image

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