Sunday, 18 July 2010


A few years ago George Clooney made an interesting film about radio journalist Edward R. Murrow and his on-air campaign against witch-hunting Senator Joe McCarthy. Good as the film was it had one dramatic flaw. Murrow and McCarthy never met. The film never found a way around this. It may have been historically accurate but very unsatisfactory for the viewer who is waiting for some sort of consummation of the plot. Two films that fully understood this problem were MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS and KHARTOUM which took the decision (justified in my mind) to let Mary and Elizabeth I meet and to bring General Gordon and The Mahdi together. A film with actors, however historically accurate, is not a documentary. Orson Welles tells a story of meeting William Randolph Hearst in an elevator before the opening of CITIZEN KANE and offering him tickets to the premier. Personally, I don't believe that meeting ever took place - I think it was invented by Welles who realised it would be dramatically satisfying when telling the story of the making of his great film. This lack of meeting between the two central characters in JULIE AND JULIA is about the only thing wrong with this delightful film but to be fair it is hard to see how the film's makers could have solved the problem. It's easier to rearrange facts when separated by history. What makes things even more difficult for the film is that we, the audience, become very fond of Julie who is working her way through Julia Child's famous cook book and Julia herself whose life (or the bits of it concerning the writing of her book) we see in flashback. When we learn towards the end of the film that Julia hates what Julie is doing we are as devastated as the poor girl. We are carried through the film by Julie's enthusiasm for her self imposed task of cooking every recipe in the Child book in a year and we grow to love the eccentric Julia (superbly played by Meryl Streep) and when the rejection comes it sort of colors our previous perception of the latter. The friend with whom I watched the film was chomping at the bit to go out and buy Julia's book simply commented "What a bitch!" and decided to stick to Nigella Lawson in future. Rating ****


Cerpts said...

I really don't know why Julia Child had such a reaction to Julie's blog. Haven't dug into the facts enough. However, like you (and Julie) I was flabbergasted to hear such a reaction since it is totally unlike Julia Child and everything I've ever seen or known about her. Perhaps they interviewed her on an off day? As you can see in the film, Julia was one who punctured pomposity and "sacred cow-ness" -- just witness her attitude towards the stuffed shirts at the Cordon Bleu school -- so I am really at a loss to explain why her reaction to a simple cooking blog. Unless she was misquoted by some unscrupulous reporter??? I really don't have an explanation for this. Possibly, since we never are shown Julia having this reaction in the film, the filmmakers also had some doubt as to the veracity of Julia's reported reaction. I dunno. I mean, she is even on record as loving the Dan Ackroyd parody of her on Saturday Night Live so why would she react so violently against a little blogger cooking her way thru Julia's cookbook??? Something's odd here.

Weaverman said...

Of course, by the time this happened, Julia was a very elderly lady and age often brings increased eccentricity (look at me!) and a tendency to be grumpy.
Maybe they got her on a bad day. Sadly, life doesn't always conform to the dramatic rules we expect from fiction. Maybe Julia didn't understand bloggers - a much misunderstood breed.