Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Mike Figgis's film Hotel

"Hotel’s cannibalism is theoretically based on the ravening act of adaptation. Its sexuality, including prostitution and necrophilia, is far more graphic than its violence, which tends to be sleek and hidden by night, as one of the duchess’s brothers says, 'I’ll goe hunt the Badger, by Owle-light: / “Tis a deed of darkenesse' (4.2.360-61). The sexual resurrection of the director in Hotel recalls not only the Winter’s Tale-influenced resurrection in The Fatal Secret but Webster’s own brief resuscitation of the duchess through the medium of Bosola’s love-struck repentance: 'Upon thy pale lips I will melt my heart / To store them with fresh colour' (4.2.370-71). She awakens: 'her Eye opes, / And heaven in it seems to ope, (that late was shut) / To take me up to mer[c]y' (4.2.373-75). Bosola speaks in the language of Petrarchan poetry, itemizing the beloved’s lips and eyes. This verbal anatomization recalls Nancy J. Vickers’s discussion of the Petrarchan disarticulation of the beloved, 'an obsessive insistence on the particular' and the 'individual fragments of the body' (266). For Vickers’s study of Petrarch, this dismemberment is misogynistic, but here it is matched by Bosola’s linguistic excisement of his own heart to nourish the duchess. Both are broken into pieces, collapsed, lost. The duchess cries for Antonio, whose dead body had been presented to her in waxwork alongside waxworks of their children slain, and Bosola assures her, '[Antonio] is living, / The dead bodies you saw, were but faign’d statues' (4.2.377-78), foreshadowing Theobald’s radical reversal of monument into living body. She cannot live, however, though she has proven resilient enough to come back from the dead. Dying, she cries out forgiveness in an echo of Bosola’s word, 'Mercy!' (4.2.381). Not only is this scene unabashedly sentimental, it contains the resurrection trope within Webster’s own text."

Citation: Bowman, Elizabeth. “Gender Memory in the Adaptation History of The Tragedy of the Dutchesse of Malfy: Webster, Theobald, Figgis.”  Philological Research. Chapter 9. Ed. Almitra Medina and Gilda M. Socarras. Athens: ATINER, 2011.

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