Once in awhile, I’ll watch a movie that intrigues me enough by what it doesn’t show (or tell) to want to read the book. The movie I am referring to is “Rachel, Rachel” from 1968, starring Joanne Woodward. It is about a 35-year old virgin schoolteacher named Rachel Cameron who has lived in the same, New England town all her life with her mother, whom she allows to run her life. Rachel grew up surrounded by death–her family lived above her father’s funeral parlor. We are not only privy to cryptic flashbacks, but also get to see inside her head–of her imagining things she wants to do, but cannot bring herself to.
This film isn’t without flaws, but it made me think, and is the kind of movie that stays with me for days afterward. It is interesting that it is following the scene in the tabernacle (where Rachel has a breakthrough of some sort–I wouldn’t call it a conversion) that she falls from grace, because whatever was going on in that room, made her want to feel again.
I have always loved stories set in New England, perhaps because I live in an area where we have two seasons–summer and winter (without snow). Though I love covered bridges and the changing of the leaves, I am a beach girl at heart, and would live in flip-flops year round if I could.
“Rachel, Rachel” is the kind of film that needs to be watched more than once, because you won’t catch everything the first time. Much can be learned from is not said or shown. There is more to the story, and I will be reading the book (“A Jest of God” by Margaret Laurence).
I can count on one hand the number of movies that made me want to read the book: “Flowers in the Attic” (great score, but not even a good movie–the premise just intrigued me), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, “The Hunger Games” (for the same reason I want to read Ms. Laurence’s book–I needed more backstory), to name a few. Of course, if I loved the movie, the book cannot compare (as was the case with “Gone with the Wind”).
The same is true if I loved the book, the movie cannot compare, as was the case with “Flowers in the Attic”.
Then there are books that just should not be made into movies, like books by LaVyrle Spencer (a hit-and-miss author for me), and Belva Plain, to name a couple.