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Friday, 24 October 2014

The Smirking Priest

There was a new episode of Father Brown on recently, and Himself dvr'ed it.


The series, which uses plots NOT from the mind and soul and pen of Chesterton is updated to the '50s.
Why not? I'm sure it saved the producers a fortune on cars, clothes, and hiding of modern stuff.

I have no problem with that.

I do have a problem with messing with classic stories, plays, characters, etc., in ways that are anachronistic, or that to suit modern sensibilities remove aspects of plots or personae that render the actions and motivations unintelligible.

For instance, I remember some film movie a while back set in ancient Greece, telling an ancient story, that removed all reference to the gods.
Now, it is not necessary for the writer and director to believe in the inhabitants of Mt Olympus, you can leave them out of the story as characters if you choose -- but if the humans of myth and epic don't believe in their gods, as persons whose will must be reckoned with, who are likely to wreak revenge or demand restitution, who have powers of life and death -- well, the stories stop making sense.

I saw an otherwise mostly good Much Ado once, in which Beatrice not only felt her dear cousin's reputation had been besmirched with lies, she obviously thought that even if Hero had been entertaining strange men in her bedroom, bully for her!
(I just remembered, one other flaw -- it was set in Gone With the Wind territory - did the director not realize that having officers returning from a war wearing uniforms of the Confederacy reads "Losers!!!!!"?)

Anyway, Father Brown.
Silly plot, not very well written, or thought through -- does a Catholic priest coming upon a probably dying Catholic man really go off to solve a puzzle rather than administer last rites?

Okay, writer didn't think that through, had to wrap up story in allotted time, fine.

But in a plot which turned on possible elopement, probable adultery, an underage girl flirting with the help -- wouldn't you have thought there'd be some nod to the sexual mores that would almost certainly be in play in that era, in that place?

If the hot-to-trot girl was making eyes at someone else's chauffeur, who, priest or parent, would suggest that he stay there, in the many-roomed and -corridored manse overnight?

Okay, but maybe that was necessary to the, again, not well thought out plot.

But in a million years, would Father Brown, hearing his (widowed?) aristocratic parishioner swear to the police that she had spent the night in a hotel room with a man, after already telling him that she had spent that night in a hotel room with a different man, SMIRK about it? while the policeman exclaimed over her promiscuity?

Gee, he'd fit right in, in some modern-day circles in catholic England or Germany, wouldn't he?

Polygamy, concubinage, fornication... what's a little kippling* between neighbors?

GKC would not be amused.

(*As in, I say, Elspeth, do you like Kipling?.... I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never been kippled!)

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