Ted and Sylvia discussion: September 02 - January03Dear Kate, I think you really need to learn how to express your opinions more forcefully:)! Seriously, I don't think any of us is particularly happy to see a film about Plath and Hughes without the poetry. And a lot of us have reservations about a film at all, frankly. But there is going to be a film and it looks like it will be a film that does not have the blessings of the Plath or Hughes estates. So, what is there to do? Well, not a whole lot, other than speculate, make some jokes and hope it doesn't turnout to be a disrespectful travesty. I don't think it will, but who knows. And yes, since we are all interested in Plath, whether we like the idea or not, we are most likely all going to see this film. I'm trying not to pass judgment because I like film as a medium and I think it is an art form, and I hope - and am hopeful - that this particular film will turn out to be better than the run of the mill Hollywood productions so in evidence these days. I'm sure the film-makers are disappointed that they are not allowed to quote from Plath's or Hughes' work, but it was to be expected that that would be the case for anyone making a film about Plath and/or Hughes. There has been too much negative attention paid to their personal lives, and I completely understand why their children are not interested in giving permission to use their work and why they would not want to be involved in this project at all - and I don't blame them. If Plath and Hughes were my parents I would probably do the same.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Are you all mad? What is all this, "I think Gwyneth will be a really good Plath" rubbish? The film's going to be a complete travesty. The idea that you can make a half-decent film about Plath and Hughes without using any of their poetry is laughable. Granted, 'Iris', as the closest film I can think of to the proposed 'Ted and Sylvia' was very touching,but the makers had John Bayley's blessing to rake over the past. (and that's another thing: surely three books about Iris's long, slow, sad demise was pushing it a bit?) The circumstances of the Plath/Hughes story make it wholly inappropriate to film without the consent of Frieda and Nicholas.
Anyone who's curious can read the poetry, read the biographies. Why do we need some sentimentalised, poetry-free version of the tragedy that we all know so well? God, I wish Hughes was still alive, is Olwyn still with us, does anyone know? I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't have something to say about the whole debacle. And the worst thing is, I'm going to have to go and watch the film, even though I know it'll make me cross, just to see what a mess-up it is. I mean, 'Ted and Sylvia', the proposed title makes it sound like a bad American sitcom. Ugh!
Still, at least Russell Crowe isn't playing Hughes, as was first suggested. I might explode with fury if that happened...
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
In answer to Lauren's question: No, the film is not based on Tennant's shameless book called "Sylvia and Ted". The film was written by British writer John Brownlow who did his own research on Plath, Hughes and their relationship and used that as a basis for his screenplay. Infact, "Ted and Sylvia" is likely just a working title. It's also been called "Bitter Fame" and "The Beekeeper's Daughter". Mostly though, I've read it referred to as "Ted and Sylvia" but who knows.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
I found a few new "Ted and Sylvia" tidbits. Here is a link to a page with two new pictures of Paltrow/Craig as Plath/Hughes:
Also included on that page are two articles...unfortunately only the link to the first article works, however, I managed to find the second article and text for that is below:
By Rebecca Fox
After working a 14-hour day as an extra on the set of the film Ted and Sylvia on Friday, Dunedin teacher Cecylia Klobukowska has plenty of sympathy for professional actors.
A commerce teacher at Columba College, Mrs Klobukowska's experience playing a Harvard academic in the film about American poet Sylvia Plath was a world away from her day job.
"I'm not a professional actor - I'm a teacher. Helping make a movie is hard work. I was exhausted, but very happy to have the chance to do it. It was my big adventure," Mrs Klobukowska (48), a New Zealand resident born and raised in Poland, said.
After a call from Vanity Walk, where she had taken a course five years ago, she auditioned in October to be an extra in Dunedin.
"Then, in December, I got a call to say I had been chosen to take part and had to go to a costume fitting. It was so wonderful. My costume was a pink Jackie Kennedy-type suit with stiletto heels."
The stiletto heels proved just how tough extras had to be, especially after a 4.15am start, she said.
"From 3pm to 6.30pm, we filmed a Harvard University reception. We were standing talking while Sylvia Plath [played by Gwyneth Paltrow] talked to Ted Hughes. We were all wearing stiletto heels, so it was `action', shoes on. Then when they stopped, shoes off. It was then when I realised to be an extra is a hard job."
Attention to detail was paramount even with extras, she said. In the 1950s, women rarely wore nail polish, had their ears pierced or streaked their hair, so extras had to remove the polish, wear clip-on earrings and have colour put through their hair to hide the streaks.
Earlier in the day, she was filmed in a scene at the University of Otago's Marama Hall where Hughes was reading poetry. It took from 9am to 2pm.
"I was sitting observing the cameras and director Christine Jeffs, who moved like an orchestra conductor."
Coming away exhausted but very happy from her movie experience, Mrs Klobukowska had high praise for the workers behind the cameras, and was not bothered by not getting the opportunity to talk to Paltrow.
"It's not glamour. It's hard work and everyone was extremely professional and very dedicated."
Also, Blythe Danner, GP's mother, *is* playing Aurelia Plath in the film. A picture of Blythe in character standing beside GP can be seen here
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Here is an interesting article about a Dean who ended up filling in for the actor who was supposed to play the Anglican Priest who officiated at Hughes and Plath's wedding (or Paltrow and Craig's reenactment of..):
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Although I am new to the Plath forum, I am not new to the whole Plath craze. Unfortunately Hollywood has taken note of something of an underworld following of Plath (meaning Frost, Dickenson, Ginsberg = mainstream) and has cast Gwyneth Paltrow in role of Sylvia in upcoming film called "Ted and Sylvia". Is it based off of smutty, eponymous novel by Emma Tennant? I hope not. I'm not sure much of Plath's life is worth putting in a film and I wonder what the point of such an undertaking will be. Seeking to villify Hughes and viewing Plath as the tragic victim of spousal neglect? A general, romanticized biopic about her early days in Cambridge/passionate first years with Hughes and first manifestations of depression, surrounded by frenzied bursts of activity? To tell you dear Plath scholars the truth, I am not entirely happy with the prospect. I can understand why the Hughes family has wanted to withold such a project. There are Plath's children to think of, not to mention her brother, Warren.
In current issue of People Magazine (one with Catherine Zeta-Jones on cover), there is a picture of Gwyneth as Sylvia in pink fifties garb with shoulder length blonde hair. For more info on film go here
Madison, WI, USA
Monday, January 20, 2003
Frieda Hughes actually refused any involvement in the film. I remember a quote somewhere from Frieda saying that the BBC has "informed" her of the project but that she had no involvment in the production etc. what-so-ever. FH hasn't even read all of her parents writings and won't read biographies that have been written about them either (not that anyone can blame her) so I don't think she would have read the script to the film. If TH were still alive this film wouldn't be being made at all. I think FH and family decided not to prevent the film from being made because one would eventually be made anyway when those who would protest it died etc.
Blue Matia is the only Daniel Craig fansite online as far as I know. He seems to be largely ignored by the press concerning "Ted and Sylvia". There have only been a few pictures of him as TH available (the rex feature's set where he and Paltrow are punting) which is too bad because I'm interested in seeing some more of him in character. "Road to Perdition" comes out in February which is his first "american" movie with Tom Hanks.
I think the most "convincing" pictures of Paltrow as Plath have been beekeeping photos...where her hair is dark and in Plath's famous "matronly" style braid and bun although the ones of her that appear on this board are quite well done too (originally from Yahoo). She'll never look exactly like Plath (hard to achieve anyway considering the fact that Plath had the amazing ability to look different in almost every picture...so what did she *really* look like? :) ) but you can tell that the film makers are making an effort to make her look as close to Plath as possible. The only thing I don't like is the pink they seem to have her in....it just seems too "cutesy" for lack of a better word.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Courier Mail newspaper has a small piece about "Ted and Sylvia," announcing that an Australian release date for the film has been set: January 22nd, 2004. The piece is accompanied by a picture of Paltrow on the set, all pink cardigan and platinum hair, and not resembling Sylvia in the slightest (even when she did have her lightened.)
Also, for those curious about Daniel Craig, there is a website about him here.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003 3
"What criteria do you have to fulfill in order to be considered a "plath-ite" or "plathian". To be honest, I think both terms are a little off the wall. They almost imply some sort of Plath fanaticism which only covers a small percentage of those who read Plath's works and have an interest in her life. "
By Plath-ite, I meant Plath enthusiast, someone interested in her work and how her life experiences influenced it.
I wonder why Frieda is protesting the use of Plath's and Hughes's poetry in the film? I hope not because she's read the script and thinks it's dreadful...
St. Louis, USA
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
I think it would be interesting to find out how many people who feel there is something drastic about a Plath/Hughes being made actually felt that there was something wrong with other biopics being made like Iris or A Beautiful Mind or any film that has every been made based on someone's life (even T.V movies like the lastest one on JFK jr.). Do those people read biographies about Plath/Hughes or anyone else famous? Do they watch The Biography Channel?. The point I'm trying to make is that a film or tv movie (if one were ever to be made) being made about Plath/Hughes is no different then a biopic being made about anyone else. We all hope they do it well and portray both sides fairly and all that but honestly, sooner or later this was bound to happen. We should at least be content knowing that the BBC has control over this and not a typical Hollywood studio with an entire cast of the typical Hollywood actors. Yeah, so, Gwyneth is considered "Hollywood" and granted, I've never been a gigantic Paltrow fan, but that doesn't mean she can't and won't pull off a good performance. I'm more interested to see what Daniel Craig is going to do with Hughes (why aren't there more pictures of him available?) and also what will happen with Aurelia and Assia and how they will be portrayed. I guess I'm thinking of this in terms of it being just another movie going experience. Either the film will be good or it will be bad. Some people who are Plath/Hughes enthusiasts will either like it or hate it for preconceived reasons or just simply because they think the movie is terrible. It may get rave reviews and it might not. I dont know.... I guess as the saying goes "the proof is in the pudding" and we'll find out how bad or good it is when it's released (it'll be interesting to see what conversations come out of it anyway :).
Monday, January 13, 2003
Jim: I wish I were able to suspend my skepticism, but alas, no. I suppose we shall all have to wait and see when the film is released. It is not only Paltrow about whom I have reservations, but the making of a film in the first place. Still, I will curb myself here, because otherwise I may well bore anybody who stumbles upon these words to death! ;)
Sunday, January 12, 2003
I was excited but a little skeptical when I heard about the movie. I think Gwenyth Paltrow is a great actress who probably will do a good job portraying Sylvia. I was in a used bookstore the other day, and I randomly found "Sylvia and Ted." I started reading it and I had to stop,because I don't like how it was written. The author doesn't really know much about Sylvia, but more about Ted. Maybe I will give it another try. I just hope the movie is better. I'm reading Johnny Panic, however, and I'm enjoying it.
New Hampshire USA
Friday, January 10, 2003
Here is a link to Paltrow filming "Ted and Sylvia: in Dunedin in New Zealand (there is a picture of her in Plath costume too). Enjoy
Here's another link to an article about the little girl who is going to be playing Frieda as a baby in "Ted and Sylvia". Apparently, her and her twin sister (who is appearing in another movie) were born prematurely and obviously have had a rough start. Anyway, it's kind of a unique article because it does mention the film and because the baby, Ruby, will be playing Frieda
Oh by the way, why on earth do they keep putting Paltrow in red and pink together...doesn't that clash? You would think the costume people (the professionals that they are..) would know that :).I've wondered how they are planning on handling the poetry element as well (obviously the most important element). You never know though...perhaps there have been some covert negotiations since Frieda's initial refusal and some quoting will be allowed. Frieda has been involved in some difficulties herself....a lot of people don't feel she deserved that lottery she won for "writing" her life story through poetry and pictures (she, in a sense, she will be making money off her parents story...and we all know how much she hates people making money off that) and also this most recent issue with her stepmother who is supposedly holding back money from TH's estate (as if they don't have enough money already!). Anyway, on to providing my usual tidbits of information.... here is a link to some more pictures of Paltrow as Plath:
Thursday, January 9, 2003
No doubt without either Ted or Sylvia's poetry, the film clearly will be drastically different (i.e. seriously diminished) from what most of us would love to see. I can imagine the film opening with Ted looking at the epitaph on her headstone ("Even Amidst Fierce Flames, the Golden Lotus Can be Planted"), then a flashback to their first meeting at St. Botolph's, Sylvia yelling lines of Ted's poetry to him at the loud party, before the famous bite on the cheek. Her poems targeting Assia after learning of the affair, and such poems as "Lady Lazarus" (flashback to her youth and first suicide attempt pre-Ted) and "Daddy" - it's such a damn shame they won't be included. And I can't help but think of he missed opportunity to introduce new readers to both Plath's and Hughes' real works. Er, how exactly are they going to handle the rather critical element of poetry? Hire a hack poet to write poems in their style or something? Ugh. I'm afraid it's going to turn out to be a watered-down love story ala the Lifetime Channel. Hope I'm wrong.
Thursday, January 9, 2003
Pictures of Assia Wevill can be seen in Elaine Feinstein's biography on Ted Hughes, "The Life of a Poet..". There are also some photos of Wevill in Ronald Hayman's "The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath".
British actor Daniel Craig is portraying Hughes in the film. Originally, Colin Firth (yum) was the first choice to play Hughes but because he refused to audition for the part (he thought the BBC should know the quality of his work) the role went to Craig who was supposed to have given an amazing screen test. Craig is also in "Road to Perdition" with Tom Hanks which I haven't seen yet so therefore can't give an opinion on his acting (although I've heard he's a very good actor). I think it would be hard to find anyone that could really and truly look like Hughes. I think he was an extremely handsome and an obviously physically imposing man. I've always liked men that were tall and imposing so I guess I'm alittle biased as far as Hughes' physical appearance is concerned (I've always been surrounded by very tall men *lol*).
Anyway....you can actually learn more about Daniel Craig (who is pretty darn good looking himself) by going to www.bluematia.com.
Thursday, January 9, 2003
Tracy, there are 3 pictures of Assia (one with their daughter Shura) in Elaine Feinstein's book "Ted Hughes: the life of a poet". She was a very attractive woman, more worldly/sophisticated and well-traveled than Sylvia. She had apparently gone through several relationships quite rapidly before she met Ted. I found this book quite a fascinating read, although there are a couple of factual errors in it.
Thursday, January 9, 2003
I have just heard about the movie in progress through this forum. Great pics of Paltrow. She is a sophisticated, experienced actress with an Oscar under her belt I do believe. Skilled in the acting craft as she is, I have no doubt that she will portray Plath with sensitivity and accuracy. That is, as much accuracy as the script allows her. I do hope that those involved with the film will renegotiate with Frieda Hughes concerning the use of their poetry. The Sylvia and Ted story should show the evolution of their poetry, which accompanied them throughout the complexities of their relationship. Poetry brought them together, and I wonder if the strain of creation and searching one's soul for material did not help pull them apart. The intensity of their creative lives certainly must have shaken the foundations as much as it intensified their passion for one another. To leave poetry out seems to leave half of the story out.
About the casting of this film, no one has given their opinion on the choice of the male lead set to play Ted Hughes, who was an extremely handsome and physically impressive man. I would think that it would be just as important to get the physical representation right here. Does he resemble Ted? How is his coiffure?
Speaking of Assia Weville, has anyone come across a picture of her? Maybe this movie will shed more light on who she was.
Tuesday, January 7, 2003
I thought it was kind of strange that "Doreen" was listed as a character before the more obvious "characters" who play a part in the Hughes/Plath story (actually, I thought it was kind strange that "Doreen" would be in this movie at all...especially if it's the character from the Bell Jar....let's not forget that the film begins while Plath is in Cambridge and therefore completely bypasses the "Bell Jar years"). Maybe they will show flashbacks from Plath's earlier days to show how they relate to her later life (still, "Doreen" was a fictional character in the "Bell Jar" based on some people Plath new during that time). It will probably be released in September/October of 2003. They are currently filming (or will be..) in New Zealand and filming must end shortly because Paltrow is to do a movie with Jude Law that begins filming in early 2003 (Spring I think). I don't know....in press releases it was always made out like they were going to make a fair, true version of the Hughes/Plath relationship...but seeing this "Doreen" character emerge before any of the more important real people like Assia Wevill or Aurelia Plath...I kind of have some doubts about the authenticity of the film. I don't know! When I find out something interesting I'll be sure to post. :)
Monday, January 6, 2003
Stephanie, I couldn't agree more! So, keep giving us the insider dirt when you get it! The problem is that the IMDB has no other cast members listed, besides the roles of SP, TH and Doreen. I haven't found another site that lists more. The lack of cast info then leads one into thinking Doreen is more important in the film than she probably is. We'll have to wait and see when more details are announced. I don't think the movie is set for release until October 2003, and it might be released later, so we'll have to be patient. If the Jerry Springer show can be made into an opera in London, then nothing in this world is impossible.Kim
Sunday, January 5, 2003
"Doreen" is *not* Assia Wevill with a name change to avoid offending anyone! Someone I know that knows an insider for the film has said that "Doreen" is merely a bit part and is not significant to the film (I think I said this before in a prior post). If they were going to change Assia's name...they would at least find a name that makes sense to her cultural background...which "Doreen" certainly does not. :) A Plath/Hughes Opera? that would make a good comedy sketch I think! :)
Saturday, January 4, 2003
After a little research, I can report that Lucy Davenpot - the actress playing Doreen - is an English blond, with large blue eyes - who is affliated with RADA. She also has a part in Gangs of New York. Based on the physical description and her picture, I would conclude that she might be playing the Doreen of the Bell Jar, rather than Assia - Although Assia had rather pale blue eyes, if I am not deceived. Given what goes on with hair, makeup, etc., in films these days, I suppose she could play Assia, but I would bet against it at this point. The IMDB lists no other actors besides Paltrow, Craig and Davenport - so I guess we shall have to wait and see who else might turn up. The alternate name of the film appears to be Beekeeper's Daughter. Many films seem to undergo a last minute change of title, so it remains to be seen if it is Ted and Sylvia or BD or another title that finally wins out.
Friday, January 3, 2003
Aw, you guys are just no fun...you don't think a singing, dancing musical spectacular is called for here? Maybe an opera instead? Amy, grinning, ducking and running
Eden Prairie, USA
Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Stephanie, take heart, I'm pretty sure Amy is just funnin' -- I hope? ;>}
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Plath and Hughes Musical - if we can't be silly once in a while - and on the Film Commentary page to boot - then I guess it's time to throw the towel in, keep to ourselves and write in our journals - hoping they are not published someday:) Kim
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Silliness Alert!: Hi Amy! "I'm still Sivvy from the block"? The J-Lo-erization of America has only just begun! Musical interludes - Sylvia's song response to Dido Merwin over Dido's shock! Shock I tell you! that SP wanted to purchase a new cooker and bed when moving to London - Madonna's 'Material Girl'? An anachronistic soundtrack I'd love would be all songs by Aimee Mann, a la Magnolia - but I am biased as I think Aimee Mann is a great writer, period. Seriously, it might be nice if the film utilized Beethoven's late quartets, as Plath apparently took quite a liking to these pieces towards the end of her life. Actually I've wondered what kind of 'popular' music that Plath liked - there doesn't seem to be much information in her journals or letters regarding music - and I think you can tell a lot about someone if you know what kind of music they like. I know she played some '40's and 50's pop standards on the piano when she was so inclined, but that's about all I know. I also agree that The Bell Jar could be a good film if done properly - but after the fiasco of the first Bell Jar movie and the lawsuit it provoked, I doubt it would get made - besides, it is not in the public domain, unlike people's actual lives (ironically), and I doubt the estate would want to risk another such travesty. Hi Jim - Doreen as Assia - I hadn't thought of that, but it seems like a strange choice if it proves true. The name Doreen perfectly conjures the character that Sylvia wrote about in the Bell Jar, but would be totally wrong for an Assia character. By the way, I share your feeling (unpopular as it may be) that Assia has been reviled quite wrongly. Relationships are complex at best, and Assia does not strike me as as horrible as she has been made out to be. You might like to know that Eilat Negev, the Israeili journalist who interviewed Ted Hughes several times (her articles can be found at the Guardian UK site) is writing a book about Assia with a fellow Israeli journalist whose name escapes me at the moment - due out in 2004. Both journalists gave an interesting talk about their research at the SP Symposium at IU in November. It appears to be a well rounded and fair appraisal of Assia's life. Assia's translations of Amichai's poems are truly beautiful and speak volumes about her relationship with Ted Hughes.Kim
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
A Plath/Hughes musical? Um....yeah...sure...great idea ;). Can we degrade them any further? :)
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Kim, Love the musical idea! You go, girl! What we could do! Let's get Baz Luhrmann, now that he's got Moulin Rouge and La Boheme under his belt. Obviously the man knows music and tragedy. So, ummm, what's the best popular music we could use to illustrate this story? I'm thinking Madonna. Or Pink. Or, heck, J. Lo and Shakira...
Eden Prairie, USA
Saturday, December 28, 2002
Recently, I read the Bell Jar for the second time . It is afterall, my favorite book. And I was thinking to myself how wonderful it would be to make a movie out of this book. Then I wondered if I had all the money and theconnections to make that happen, who would I cast to to play Sylvia? The first person to come to my mind was Gwenyth Paltrow. She really seemed to remind me of her in the movie "The Royal Tennenbaums" I thought what perfect a fit she would be and vowed that someday i would make it happen if I had the chance. Then this morning, the most bizzare thing happened to me. I was discussing Sylvia Plath with my sister and she mentioned that Gwenyth Paltrow was portraying Plath in a movie about her life. I was beside myself. What are the odds. Maybe it wasn't my own brilliant little plan anymore, but it was a small incentive to think I unknowingly would have made the same choice as a seasoned professional. Plus it confirmed my deep felt connection with Plat
Los Alamitos , Ca., USA
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Alison, in view of the fact that Ted, Sylvia and Doreen are the only characters mentioned on the movie database entry, and since the other major player in the situation was Assia Weevil, I suspect that, for any number of reasons, the filmmakers were not allowed to use Assia's real name in the film and that they are going to call her Doreen. While this seems like an unfortunate choice, since there was a girl named Doreen in "The Bell Jar" who was depicted as a kind of wild and slutty character, perhaps for this very reason the choice of names was intentional. I hope this is not the case, though. Assia's behavior vis a vis Ted may not have been admirable, but Assia was a bright and intelligent, even elegant, personality (who did wonderful, very personal translations of the Hebrew poetry of Yehuda Amichai) and I think deserves some respect and sympathy from us, especially given the unfortunate way their relationship worked out...or not. If they're calling her Doreen, it's going to make it very difficult to think of her in the same way I think of Assia.
Friday, December 20, 2002
Thanks Alison for the info re: 'Doreen' in the upcoming Plath/Hughes bio pic - perhaps there will be some kind of dramatization of pieces of Plath's work - Bell Jar, poetry - etc., since the filmmakers can apparently not quote the actual works. Visual images rather than text/dialogue. Or there is a bizarre dream sequence. Or a musical number. Or they are going to do flashbacks to Plath's NYC stint, and are using the name Doreen rather than the real name of the woman Doreen was based on (Carol someone to avoid libel. Personally I like the idea of a all singing, all dancing Plath and Hughes revue with scenery designed by the late Leonard Baskin......but something tells me this won't happen:)Kim
Friday, December 20, 2002
We've been discussing the matter of "Doreen" on the Sylvia Plath group on Yahoogroups and according to someone who knows an inside source "Doreen" is a really minor character and therefore won't have a huge baring on the film. It could be that "Doreen" will represent someone living who doesn't want their real name to be used in the film for fear of embarassment or unwanted attention. Lucy Davenport is a relatively unknown young British actress who has mostly done stage work, although she will appear in a movie with Jennifer Love Hewitt (blah) in 2003. This "Doreen" could simply represent an acquantaince of Plath's from Cambridge or something like that.
What I found interesting was that the role of "Doreen" (a minor character) has been listed yet no one has been named for Aurelia (although, apparently, it's Blythe Danner) and no one has been named for the "role" of Assia...which, obviously, is incredibly important to the so-called "story". The film will, however, be released in September or October of 2003 and the cast and set of "Ted and Sylvia" will be moving to New Zealand in January after finishing filming at Shepperton Studios on the 21st of this month.
Also, Jim kindly brought it to my attention that the link I posted to the article about the film being shot in Cornwall is no longer working. For the benefit of those who tried to access the article and couldn't I'm posting the article below:
*GWYNETH PALTROW IN CORNWALL*
09:00 - 28 November 2002
Cornwall has had stars in its eyes in the past few days as filming begins on a new movie about the tortured love between brilliant minds Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, who play the star-crossed couple, are the stars of the cast who have come to the Westcountry to film The Beekeeper's Daughter.
Yesterday morning, the film crew braved torrential downpours and rough winds in the scenic North Cornwall hamlet of Port Gaverne, near Port Isaac.
"They were here all morning. Don't know how they did it," said a Port Gaverne resident who preferred not to be named. "The weather was filthy but they were determined. It was quite exciting, really."
The wilds of Bodmin Moor were another of the sites chosen by scouts this week as the crew films some of the outdoor scenes about the couple, who loved the Westcountry.
The stars also met Elizabeth Sigmund, who knew Ted and Sylvia when they were neighbours in North Devon.
"It was just fantastic to meet them and we had a lovely day," said Elizabeth, 74. She has been in close contact with the film company for more than two years.
One thing she shared with Gwyneth Paltrow were letters - mostly from Sylvia Plath's mother that were written after her death. "They said they were enormously helpful to understand the characters," said Mrs Sigmund.
North Tawton writer Ted Hughes and American poet Sylvia Plath moved to Devon from London in 1961.
Hughes, who went on to become Poet Laureate, also ended his days in the Westcountry after Plath committed suicide when he left her for another woman.
Other filming locations include Primrose Hill, north London, where Hughes and Plath lived, and Cambridge, where they met and married in 1956.
The 7 million film is being made by Ruby Films, and is being co-funded by BBC Films and the British-based Capitol Films.
The film will be directed by the New Zealand film-maker, Christine Jeffs, and produced by Alison Owen, who also produced the film Elizabeth.
The Beekeeper's Daughter is described as a tragic love story telling the tale of "a passionate love affair between two great minds".
In 1963, aged only 30, Plath committed suicide by gassing herself when her husband left her and their two children for another woman.
Also, here is a link to an article written by an extra from the set of "Ted and Sylvia" while it was filming in Cambridge:
Friday, December 20, 2002
The Internet movie database lists the cast of Ted and Sylvia as including Lucy Davenport as "Doreen." I seem to remember a Doreen in the Bell Jar but am wondering who this will turn out to represent.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Heidi, Thanks for the new pictures of Paltrow/Plath harvesting honey. Actually, it's quite a good impersonation of Plath...I'm impressed. I'm beginning to revise my earlier scepticism about Paltrow portraying Plath (forgive the alliteration...it's early in the morning here and my verbal control has not quite asserted itself. I'm looking forward to the film with high hopes and my fingers crossed.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
I am not an admirer of Gwyneth Paltrow myself, and the notion of a film seems a little dubious, but while at my parents' house, I happened upon these images in a magazine my mother had. I have scanned them and they can be viewed here, if others are curious.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
I have been waiting for about 3 years for a film about Sylvia and Ted to get made. I am so glad that others agree and felt their story needed to be told. I am overall very excited, and am eager to hear a release date for the film. Gwyneth will do a fine job in the role. She is very smart and intentional in some of her films. Let's see if she can capture the Scorpionic nature of our Sivvy. I wonder if she'll do the heavy New England accent? I love biographical films which follow and mirror the art in which the individual dabbles in. I heard rumors that Freida will not allow Sivvy's poetry to be a part of the film. If that is the case, I hope they will compensate for this lack. What's a film about poets with no poetry? I hope they focus somewhat on Sivvy's influences. I know she enjoyed mythologhy, and that she was especially fond of Isis. I wonder if the film will have a lot of bee symbolism? I have this emotional setting I fall into when I spend time with Sylvia's ! poetry. We all do. I'm always interested in seeing how that will fall into place on the screen. So much! Her early days at Smith, Mademoiselle, her first encounter meeting Ted (biting him or something), marriage, Spain, back to the USA...etc. Her family life? What will be covered? I'm so looking forward to this! Three cheers for whomever got this film rolling.
Charlottesville, VA, USA
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Here is a link to a new article about Paltrow filming the Plath movie in Cornwall, England.
There are also some new pictures from Paltrow in Cornwall on www.rexfeatures.com.
Monday, December 2, 2002
What criteria do you have to fulfill in order to be considered a "plath-ite" or "plathian". To be honest, I think both terms are a little off the wall. They almost imply some sort of Plath fanaticism which only covers a small percentage of those who read Plath's works and have an interest in her life.
As far as Gwyneth is concerned.....what actress isn't slightly typecast? Her role in Emma was completely different from her role in Shakespeare in Love. The only similarity there was the british accent, which she does remarkably well. What about her role in The Royal Tenenbaums? She was amazing playing in that role which certainly was completely different from anything she's done before. Her role in Seven was way different from her role in Bounce which was even more different from her role in Shallow Hal. I'm not saying that all these examples are great movies...I'm merely showing that Paltrow isn't as typecast as people seem to think.
I favored Cate Blanchett for the role of Plath but, obviously, she didnt get the part. Really....who cares? As long as the film makers and actors involved endeavour to ensure that Plath and Hughes are portrayed fairly and as accurately as possible...what does it matter who plays whom?
Friday, November 29, 2002
I agree that Gwyneth is boring and basic because she plays every role the same. Flesh and Bone was probably one of her better performances before she became well known. There was a fresh rawness to her dissolute character. But her roles in Emma, Shakespeare in Love, the dreadful Possession--a wonderful novel horribly Hollywood-ized for the big screen--find her similarly wide-eyed and bland as flour. But Gwyneth aside, I think that with any big-personality actress, it would be difficult to separate what we know of the actress from what we know of Plath. I wonder if a lesser known actress would make the movie more believable for Plath-ites?
St. Louis, USA
Friday, November 29, 2002
Pardon me for saying, but the "boring, basic" Gwyneth Paltrow has been in a slew of excellent movies and has portrayed most of her character painstakingly well. It is extremely unfair of you to call her boring and basic when simply, she is not.
Especially after such movies such as Emma, Great Expectations, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Possession, Sliding Doors, and The Royal Tenenbaums. And well, I don't think that oscar for Shakespeare in Love was for nothing, now don't you think?
I think it is extremely unfair to peg a highly acclaimed and intelligent actress as Gwyneth Paltrow as flat and boring. Hell, it's unfair of any of us to pass any judgment whatsoever into a film that has just now gone into production. If there are any complaints that we'd like to make about this movie, why don't we save it for after the film comes out? As much as we'd each like our personal favorite actresses to portray Sylvia Plath, wishing isn't going to change anything. We can just hope that the film will be well-made. However, remember that many high expectations are followed by disappointments. I think it's admirable for them to even consider making a film about these two poets, especially since this is the first attempt.
Hanover, NH, USA
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
So wonderful that there is a wealth of pictures and information on the production. I am informing my self as much as possible for I so want this important story to be well done and with as much passion as the fans have for the writers work and as the writers them selves had for their own work.
Good ole Gwen is a very basic, boring gal. I am fairly upset at the idea of her playing Plath. What of non american actors with amazing talent such as Emily Watson or Kate Winslet?? Both divine complex creatures who have created such amazingly tortured and powerful performances in such films as Heavenly Creatures and Breaking the Waves.
I hope the film is good. I hope it is more than a Bio-Pic. The director is fresh with not a lot of films behind her. I hope for the best. I perhaps hope for more than the best!
Does anyone know who is to play the lover of Ted, Asia? Does it touch on their life in Boston? Where her children advisors on the making of the film??? Have they been spoted on the set, I wonder?
The West, USA
Monday, November 25, 2002
I agree with Georgie. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for Paltrow to fill in such shoes, especially with the extremely high expectations Plathians have. I've read interviews with her about this film, and she seemed extremely intelligent when answering such trite questions as "So who was responsible for the end of the relationship? Ted or Sylvia?" or "Will you be portraying Plath as a victim or wolf?" (or something along those lines) Her responses indicated that she has a firm grasp on Plath's overall identity, and wished to portray her as she was, and not by popular belief.
And Juliette Lewis? I don't think so. As talented as she is, this is definitely not her type of role.
Why don't we just wait to see how the movie turns out, instead of judging how the performance will be by the color of her wig? And why does no-one seem concerned for Daniel Craig's portrayal of Hughes?
Overall, my only main concern is the fact that there will be no form of either poet's poetry represented in the film ...
SydneyI was suprised at the narrow minded views represented in this discussion forum. Gwyneth Paltrow is a fine actress and it is insulting to her to suggest that she cannot potray Plath but Juliette Lewis could. I believe that despite the too blonde locks that I've seen Paltow wearing (although it would be the correct colour if you think of Plath's 'Platinum summer'). She will do a marvellous job portraying Plath, and if you are reading this Gwyneth I think that you'll do very well and I hope the critics aren't too harsh.
Hanover, NH, USA
Thursday, November 21, 2002
Friday, November 15, 2002
A few new pics from the filming of "Ted and Sylvia" on Rex Features. Go to www.rexfeatures.com and typing in "Gwyneth Paltrow" in the search box and then click "newest". Gwyn is obviously supposed to be portraying Plath during the winter of her suicide.
Thursday, November 14, 2002
The film isn't going to be able to quote any of Plath or Hughes' poetry? Oh dear. This is a worrying sign. I do hope it isn't going to discourage the screenwriters and director from showing Hughes and Plath as writers and encourage them to emphasize the melodramatic elements of the biographies.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Sydney, I think the complaint about the hairstyle was based on the pictures at rexfeatures.com that shows 'Plath' lying in the punt. The hair seems just a little too long and a little too curly for Sylvia. The two shots on this page are a little more accurate in that respect. But I have to admit the hair does enhance the resemblance quite a lot (and its certainly more attractive than Paltrow's own limp locks--in fact, the shot of Plath leaning back in the punt and smiling is about as pretty as I've ever seen Gwyneth Paltrow look). I hope she and Daniel Craig can project the kind of dynamic personalities that attracted Ted and Sylvia to each other.
BTW, at the rexfeatures.com site, if you skip through to the other shots of Gwyneth Paltrow, there are 3 or 4 pictures taken just after she'd heard that her father passed away in September. She's sitting on the front steps of a building in New York smoking a cigarette, very natural-looking, and obviously very upset. I hope she can muster some of those honest emotions in her performance.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Wow, what can I say? The pictures look pretty great. I don't understand why everyone is complaining about the hairstyle they have on Paltrow - it's very accurate. She even has the little sideswept bang on the right side of her face which appears in almost every photo I've seen of Plath.
The only thing I'm worried about is the fact that Frieda Hughes didn't let the director include any poetry from either poet in the film ... to make a successful film about two of the greatest poets of this century without their words seems a bit ... difficult.
I'm mainly worried about the writing and acting - and also the portrayals of both poets. I don't like the idea of cashing in on a torrid romance with passion, adultery, and other stuff made of potboilers. It ought to be an intelligent film about the difficulties surrounding these two people. I'd much rather have a movie focusing on Plath's life as a writer ... not just the relationship these two had.
Hanover, NH, USA
Thursday, November 7, 2002
I agree, Carol :). I'm also looking forward to the film's release and until seeing the production photographs I was doubtful that the film would even come to fruition at all. It seems that the filmakers are making a concerted effort to portray the Plath/Hughes story fairly and without favouritism to one side or the other. I was definitely intrigued by the pictures from the filming thus far and if I come across any more I'll be sure to post the links :). I did find some more info relating to crew members though. Apparently, Sandy Powell is the costume designer....she's done costumes for films like Rob Roy, Shakespeare in Love, the upcoming Gangs of New York.
Tariq Anwar is the film's editor and he was Oscar nominated for doing American Beauty. There is Maria Djurkovic as the production designer. She was responsible for Billy Eliott, Wilde, Sliding Doors and The Hours. Plus, as we all know, there is Alison Owen as producer (Elizabeth) and Christine Jeffs as director (Rain). From what I've read, the film should be released some time next year.Stephanie
Wednesday, November 6, 2002
Thanks everyone for your comments about the pictures. It's true that the most important things will be the script and the acting - not the hairdressing. That said, poor casting can ruin a film even if the other elements are good. I hope that the new film will not following in the footsteps of the movie of the Bell Jar which played for sensationalism and was putid.
Wednesday, November 6, 2002
Does it really matter who plays Plath in the film? Paltrow has been cast, and so it is. Part of the magic of film is "the suspension of disbelief."
Do we really believe that Anthony Hopkins is Hannibal Lecter? Do we really believe that Gwyneth Paltrow is Sylvia Plath?
No - to both questions.
But someone must portray both characters, in order to draw audiences, and in order to exhibit their craft as actors. (And I do not, in any way, mean to connect Hannibal Lecter with Plath -- it is just an illustration!!)
So, we must suspend our disbelief in order to view, enjoy, critique and voice opinions about a film, . . . ANY film.
Let's dispense with the rights and wrongs of Paltrow as Plath. She's been cast. The film is in production. And neither you nor I have any say about what is right or wrong about the producers' and directors' decision.
Personally, I can't wait to see the film. The photos are fascinating. And for those of us who know and love Plath, we can only hope that Paltrow does our Plath any justice. I'm sure she will. . . based on her previous film work.
Southfield, MI, USA
Monday, November 4, 2002
Thanks to those who posted links to the on-location photos of Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Sylvia. I was doubtful about the selection, but now, after a look-see, am somewhat reassured. Ms. Paltrow may make a very convincing Plath, depending on the script, of course. One minor sticking point: the costume colors they've selected. Comparing the two different location shots, on the river, and with the bike, the costumer seems to have chosen a pale-rose palette which is certainly flattering to Paltrow's own coloring, but seems biographically inaccurate. Sylvia, in several places, made a great deal of her favorite 'red headband' -- in fact, didn't Ted steal it right off her head during the famous kitchen encounter the night they met? I know nothing about the actor, Daniel Craig, chosen to portray Ted, but his physical appearance seems convincing. I'm not unduly put off by the curly wig. The hairstyle seems accurate, based on photos of Plath shortly after she arrived in Cambridge.
Monday, November 4, 2002
Stephanie- Thanks for posting the links to the pictures. I agree that Paltrow looks pretty convincing as Plath. Although I prefered the movie name as The Beekeeper's Daughter.
Sunday, November 3, 2002
Well, Gwyneth isn't Sylvia Plath so, naturally, she isn't going to look exactly like her. I would say that would be more a transformation for Barbie rather then Sylvia ;). I, personally, place more importance on how they present Plath and Hughes as people rather then how convincing Craig or Paltrow's looks are.
Saturday, November 2, 2002
I wonder who will play Assia Wevill.
E. Lansing, USA
Saturday, November 2, 20
Thanks everyone for posting the links to more pictures from the set of the Plath film. Daniel Craig looks kind of convincing....but as for the rest of the shots, I can only say two words: Barbie Sylvia.
Saturday, November 2, 2002
A blond curly wig? That doesnt sound very "Plath" to me! Sounds more Marilyn Monroe. Hopefully, they'll try and be somewhat correct when portraying Plath's looks in the latter part of her life....dark hair, bun..etc.
For those interested.....here are two links to pictures of Paltrow as Plath. Now that I've seen the pictures (and have that image of a super curly..perm-like wig out of my mind) I think Paltrow looks pretty convincing..actually.
To Kim....great response to Colm Heany's post!
On Rex Features there are two pages of pictures from the set of "Ted and Sylvia" showing Gwyneth alone as Plath and with Daniel Craig as Ted Hughes. To get to the pictures go to: www.rexfeatures.com. Then go to "Search"...type in Gwyneth Paltrow and click the button that says "newest" and you'll get to the pictures. I would post the direct link but it doesnt seem to want to work that way. :)Stephanie
Friday, November 1, 2002
My husband brought home the Sun yesterday and while I was leafing through it I found a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of "the BBC film 'Ted and Sylvia' - charting the romance of poet laureate Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath". Paltrow wears a dark blonde curly wig, tweed skirt and plum jacket, and poses in a punt. It's hard to tell what the film is going to be like from two pictures but Paltrow doesn't look very convincing. I hope that the film has a good script -- does anyone know who has written it?
Thursday, October 31, 2002
From the Hindustan Times: Gwyneth plays poetess Sylvia Plath
Thursday, October 31, 2002
I've read three seperate titles for the Plath film. The two you mentioned.."Bitter Fame" and "The Beekeeper's Daughter" and I've also heard the film called "Ted and Sylvia". Hopefully, they'll pick a title that doesnt sound too hokey. I think they should keep the title simple so it's not something people feel stupid saying. Out of the above 3 I personally like "The Beekeeper's Daughter" (although it might sound a bit too much like "The Coalminer's Daugher" which had Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lyn :).
Monday, September 16, 2002
I just found an article that says British Actor Daniel Craig ("Road to Perdition","Our Friends in the North") is set to play Ted Hughes opposite GP in the upcoming Plath film. Here is the link to the article
Friday, September 13, 2002
He seems to have acquired many rave reviews for his role as Paul Newman's son in "Road to Perdition"...so that's a good sign! :)
For those interested in the Plath film - my good friend Lena in Toronto mentioned that Colin Firth lost the role of Ted Hughes in Bitter Fame the Plath movie starring Paltrow. Apparently, Mr. Firth did not wish to audition. His 'replacement' is British actor Daniel Craig. Craig has appeared in Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, Sam Mendes' latest film The Road to Perdition, and Elizabeth with Cate Blanchette. There is a fan site devoted to him, if you are interested in learning more. Having a less well known actor play Hughes will probably turn out to be beneficial.Note also the possible title change - from Beekeeper's Daughter (last I heard) to Bitter Fame ..........perhaps they could combine the two "The Beekeeper's Daughter's Bitter Fame" or the "Bitter Fame of the Beekeeper's Daughter". Kim
Thursday, September 12, 2002
I am exceedingly disappointed that Gwyneth Paltrow be chosen to play Sylvia Plath. I am very very sure that there are other actresses out there who would be able to project the complexities of Plath far better than Paltrow can. Juliette Lewis would definitely be a better choice.
Wednesday, September 11
Jennifer Jason Leigh did Dorothy Parker and actually, would have portrayed Plath better then any other actress that has been named thus far. I fancied Cate Blanchett for Plath as well as Leigh but that's because I adore any Blanchett movie regardless of how good it is (like Charlotte Grey which wasnt all that fantastic IMHO). I've adapted to the idea of Paltrow though. The fact is, she's the one that's been cast to play the role and I'm not going to knock the entire movie because of it. The film is being made partially by the excellent BBC. It seems that they have a good script writer (John Brownlow), a good producer (Alison Owen, Elizabeth) and a fresh, younger director (Jeffs). Besides that, Paltrow isnt a bad actress at all. Watch her in The Royal Tanenbaums where she does a wonderful job. I'm not saying I love her and we all have our own personal preferences but I'm looking forward to seeing how this talent group of people portray Plath and Hughes. Strangely enough, the role of Hughes hasnt even been cast yet! :) The film is being made primarily by the British/Australians and that Paltrow is, so far, the only American or Hollywood bit involved.
Monday, September 9, 2002
I am sure there must have been other more suitable actresses interested in playing Sylvia Plath, she was such an intelligent and very complicated and complex woman. Gwynth is not the right actress. Angelina Jolie (with a hair colour change) or Juliette Lewis would have made incredible Sylvia's. I feel that it is a dishonour to Sylvia. Hollywood once again should be ashamed. What's next casting Meg Ryan as Dorothy Parker.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, September 7, 2002
Here is a link to a mini interview with Plath film director Christine Jeffs where she discusses details of the movie:
Friday, September 6, 2002
Here is an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow that talks about, among other things, the Sylvia Plath film:
Eden Prairie, USA
Wednesday, September 4, 2002
I feel like expressing my disappointment aloud. I wonder if Juliette Lewis was ever considered for the role. It seems to me that she would be the natural choice for portraying Ms. Plath.
Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Pawel Pawlikowski dropped out as director of the Plath film earlier last month. Since then, Christine Jeffs has signed on to direct the film. Here is a quote from a recent interview with Paltrow on the subject:
"DE: You're doing another book from British culture with the movie based on Sylvia Plath. Is she going to be a victim or a monster? [Paltrow is to star in a BBC Films co-production about the tragic love affair between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes]
GP: Not at all. I'm not interested in vilifying people. I don't think there is anything interesting or informative to be derived from that. It takes two people to compose a relationship. I wanted it to feel like a documentary. I wanted his side completely represented as well. I think he loved her always, and it was one of those relationships that was so full of passion. They both informed each other's work. I want it to be about them, but also what was between them. I don't subscribe to the view that he was a misogynist and he was responsible for her demise. I think life is far more complicated than that.
We just hired another director Christine Jeffs, director of Rain. I think she's amazing. Rain was such a beautiful film. I was really happy with the idea of a woman doing the film."
And the link to the full interview (although the rest of it is about "Possession") is here
Monday, September 2, 2002
Marcus, with regard to the quote you posted. A recurrent theme in Plath's writing was her frustration at having only one voice, one 'life' and, therefore, only one set of subjective experiences about which to write. Personally I would take your quote as an expression of such frustration, in much the same mould as these paragraphs from The Bell Jar:
I saw my life branching out before me like the giant fig tree...From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and off-beat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose...
Sunday, September 1, 2002
I don't know about the rest of you, but I am trying to wrap my brain around the thought of a Ken Russell bio pic of Sylvia Plath. Loved The Devils, mind you, and Gothic was a wacky literary-themed funfest (great last scene - the baby submerged in water, looking like Frankenstein's monster). But to me Russell would really be over the top and hysterical, and we don't need more of that. Have you seen The Bell Jar with Marilyn Hassett? Of course this director topic sets me off on all kinds of entertaining visions - Plath as seen by Scorcese, Kubrick, Minghella, Campion, Herzog, Hitchcock, Bergman, Lean, Cocteau, Spielberg, Kieslowski, Lee, Tarantino, Streisand, and Lurman (imagine the possibilities). And, of course, Pawlikowski (?!) In any event, I pulled this off the internet: In its first acquisition, Universal Pictures' new specialty film division Focus, headed by James Schamus and David Linde, is striking a literary note, picking up U.S and Canadian distribution rights to an untitled biopic starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the late American poet Sylvia Plath. The project, written by John Brownlow, will be directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (The Last Resort) and will center on the turbulent relationship between Plath, who committed suicide in 1963, and her husband, Ted Hughes, the British writer and Poet Laureate who died in 1998. Focus will be joining BBC Films, the Film Council's Premiere Fund and Capitol Films in financing the feature.
I don't know about Christine Jeffs, Stephanie. Anyone else? And Pawlikowski?Kim
Sunday, September 1, 2002
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