I saw a film recently, which I thought from the previews would be the perfect chick flick to burrow down on the couch watching when Bartender Dude was at work. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a sweeping Hollywood-ised version of the story of Esther, told in the most cheesy, overblown manner possible. The script was terrible, and the actors weren’t good enough to salvage it, but they were pretty, and dressed in the most amazing clothes you can imagine (no, I am serious, I would ROB A BANK to be able to wear these kinds of clothes), and somehow madly compelling. I really wish I could blame what I’m about to tell you on the sartorial brilliance of this production, but the film took over my imagination in a truly adolescent and embarrassing way.
The thing that hooked me, the rufi that those damn Hollowoodising producers slipped into my drink, was not the underlying story of Esther (which in itself is quite a compelling story and well worth a read) but the architecture of the pulp romance novel, the proven formula that hooks many a dissatisfied member of my sex and works like crack on the broken parts of our psyches – always promising, never delivering.
here are the basic building blocks – boy meets girl, boy chooses girl, mistaken
actions, conflict and obstacles ensue, crisis builds, encounter (sometimes
violent) results, truth surfaces, boy and girl passionately reunite. Only in the case of this film, it goes
something like this – (handsome and leonine) king meets (stunningly attractive)
peasant girl, king chooses (oh by the way she can read in several languages!
And has a gift for sparring wit!) girl in BEAUTY CONTEST to be his wife and
queen, like some kind of 5th century BC version of The Bachelor,
king and queen canoodle in the most remarkable clothes and settings you have
ever seen in your life (DRIPPING with bling), king mistakes actions of queen
and vice versa, king and queen come maddeningly close several times to working
things out but never quite, crisis builds, queen confronts king by publicly
entering the throne room unsummoned, at the LAST SECOND before some dude in a
skirt is about to chop her down with a big sword, king saves queen and clasps
her in his arms, king and queen passionately reunite.
I’ve never read any pulp romance novels, but I absolutely know there is a formula, and that it works. What upsets me is its effectiveness. Real life and real love bear almost no resemblance to this kind of cheap thrill effect, the intoxication based on blindness, the drunken escape of infatuation. I love Bartender Dude like the bones in my body, and we did go through a period when the frisson of excitement there all the time, like a shiver under the skin, but we’ve moved on from that. It’s deeper, it’s better, and it’s different.
that is why, now, this stupid film hit me like a juggernaut, awakening the
soppy teenager in me (I thought I vanquished her!), making me so confused. Maybe I miss the puppy stage. Maybe my father never made me feel beloved,
set apart, a princess of the realm (actually I know for a fact that he didn’t –
the queen in this story is both protected and adored, and that alone is enough
to work powerfully on my wounded self). Maybe this is an indication that I need to borrow from the story the
elements and symbols that will provide balance and evolutionary growth. (Oh yes I like that – paper over the
embarrassing bits by pretending this is all about the evolution of your soul
and not really about your truly trashy taste.)
whatever it is, I cannot BELIEVE that I got sucker-punched into this situation
by a formulaic and badly-written historic soap opera of a film. This is the stuff I look down on! Freedom from being affected by this tripe is
what makes me An Intelligent, Mature Adult with Taste!
a load of bollocks.
I’m just like everybody else, and the part of me that would secretly luuuuve to be the Queen HATES to acknowledge that.