8 August 2017 | boblipton
It's Day-to-Day Living That Wears You Out
The well-to-do are fascinated by themselves. That, of course, is true of whatever individual or group you may choose to consider. Given that the well-to-do have traditionally have had the money and leisure to study literature and art, therefore, it is hardly surprising that a disproportionate share of drama concerns itself with them. However, given the greater resources in time and money they have, it always seems odd to me that the great works of art concern themselves with their unhappiness. Leisure, boredom and dissatisfaction with the world are not curses, but opportunities, so it seems to me that a movie like UNCLE VANYA has an element of disapproving satire in its consideration of unhappy, well-off gentry.
Because of the great esteem that Chekhov's works are held in, it's hardly surprising that Franchot Tone produced, co-directed and starred in this version of the play. It's superbly acted, if unsurprisingly stagy. It's very accessible in its techniques, even though it seems more like a play staged for television broadcast than movie theaters. The camera-work uses long takes, with camera movement to preserve composition. The most beautiful shots are the medium close-ups, the portrait shots. Stark Young's adaptation Chekhov's Russian language is fine. It's simply that, beyond the undoubted excellence of the work on its own terms, watching people being miserable for a hundred minutes with no let-up is not my idea of a good time.