The 1957 A Farewell to Arms film directed by Charles Vidor was a delightful film that tied together the excellent writing of Ernest Hemingway perfectly. Something that is mentioned at the very beginning of the film is that this story is a love story, not a war story. This allows the viewers to not expect many harsh visual focusing on the war but rather allows us to remember to focus on our main characters and the journey they go through. Throughout the entire film we see a wide range of different landscapes. Specifically in the opening credits we get to see the beautiful scenery of Italy that sets the viewer up for where we are and where this film will begin. For a 65-year-old film, the visuals and camera quality are amazing. I was very impressed on how clear the scene was and how nicely edited the film was. If I did not know the year this film was released, I could honestly say I would think this film came out in at least the 1990’s. If you are debating on whether you want to watch the film first or read the book first, definitely read the book first. It was interesting to watch how scenes played out in an actual visual. I felt as though this gave me a clearer opinion of certain events or conversations that occurred in the book. Although the story line was the same as the original writing of Hemingway, there were some minor changes that you will only pick up on if you read the book prior to viewing the film. I do not believe these changes took away from the story but added a deeper meaning to the story line. In this film there was foreshadowing of something very important. I do not want to spoil it for those who have not read the book to understand the importance but as you watch, try focusing on the visuals of children within the film and how they are represented throughout. It will give a lot of contexts to a big moment in the film. Rock Hudson, who played as Fredric Henry, was able to really capture the role as Henry. He was a natural for this role and seemed to give his all within his performance. Jennifer Jones, who played as Catherine Barkley, also tapped into the role of Catherine perfectly. While at first, I discredited her acting in certain scenes, I realized that based on Catherine’s personality, she mirrored her exactly as she would have behaved. The chemistry between Hudson and Jones was strong and it showed throughout the entire film. It was as though they were genuinely in love and going through all there obstacles together. This really made the viewer feel sympathy for the two all throughout the movie. One thing that seemed very interesting was the feel that time was going by so quickly, compared to in the novel time was slowed down. I appreciated this in the film because there was not a bunch of fluff throughout it and the transition of new scenes had a pace that was not confusing to the viewer. Overall, the film was very well put together and was a direct visual that demonstrated the truth behind Hemingway’s words. I leave you with one quote from the film and the novel, “You never have a chance to learn”. As you watch this film, keep that in mind, it is amazing how much power those seven words have.
When Frederic arrives to Milan, he is told by two doctors that it will take six months to operate on his knee.
“Certainly. It’s a question of time I could not conscientiously open a knee like that before the projectile was encysted.” (84)
He insisted on getting another opinion from Dr. Valentini, who agreed to do the surgery the next day. Frederic healed fine and was progressing well after his operation. I felt like when I read this part, it reminded me of when Paul from All Quiet, was at the hospital and the doctors were experimenting with the wounded soldiers. Waiting the six months could alter the entire book and story line drastically.
In Frederic’s scenario, do you believe the doctors we’re experimenting to see how he would do? Or was their argument genuine as to why he had to wait six months?
During the second portion of our reading for A Farewell To Arms, most of it is centered around when Frederic is at the hospital in Milan. Catherine is a nurse at the hospital Fredric is at, so we get more dialogue and scenes of the two and we read their relationship getting more serious. Early in the book Frederic lies when discussing with Catherine about loving her. As time goes on, he does genuinely fall in love with her. As their time in Milan progresses marriage is discussed a few times.
“We said to each other that we were married the first day she had come to the hospital, and we counted months from our wedding day. I wanted to be really married but Catherine said that if we were they would send her away and if we merely started on the formalities that they would watch her and would break us up.” (99)
I understand that there could be rules regarding relationships, but it is strange that Catherine would not want to be married even if they tried their best to keep it a secret. As we know, Catherine was previously married. Again, there decisions around marriage would alter the book, especially if Catherine were to be taken away.
Is Catherine concerns of getting married stemmed from her previous marriage? Did Hemingway do this strategically to show that Catherine could be afraid to marry again?
Throughout part one and two I get annoyed with Catherine’s actions. She reminds me of a young high school girl in love with a senior jock. There isn’t much context that describes how her previous marriage was but she comes off as someone who just wants to be loved. She often does any and everything that Frederic wants.
“I’ll do what you want and say what you want and then I’ll be a great success won’t I?” (92)
“I want what you want there isn’t me anymore just what you want” (92)
“Don’t you think Miss Barkley ought to go off night duty for a while? She looks awfully tired. Why does she stay on so long?” (95)
Catherine only stayed on night duty because Frederic asked her. There are many things he asked for and she does immediately.
How do you think her willingness to do what Frederic wants connects to her character development? Do you believe there be much growing or development at all for her in the next part?
When I started reading the last section of Not So Quiet ... I found Helen’s experience on leave very interesting. Prior to actually being home, she made it very clear that she would not return to war, “I have finished with the war for good” (167). After losing multiple people that were close to her and all the things that occurred while working, it is not shocking that she would want to never return. Helen’s family’s response to her not wanting to return to war is outrageous. We have talked about mother in our previous classes, but the way she immediately wants to show Helen off at a meeting is sad. She immediately questions, “What will Mrs. Evans-Mawnington say?” (182). Mother is not concern whether Helen is physically or mentally okay, she is more concern on what her rival will think. I believe Mother is so caught up in trying to keep this persona up that the actual danger her children are in does not matter.
Aunt Helen is so dramatic in my opinion. She really was going to rewrite her will if Helen did not enlist again, which is so sad. I am sure Aunt Helen, as well as mother, knows about the hardships that come with being in the war but obviously for them what is going on at the front lines is not as important as their reputations at the home front. Besides all that her family is saying and threatening to do, Helen still sticks her ground and refuses to go back to war. However, this changes when Trix is in need of help. When Helen helped Trix, that showed true family value. Helen was willing to do the one thing she did not want to do so then her sister could get help. When Helen returns to war, it shows that she has more value in her relationship with her sister then her reputation. Although this makes her aunt and mother happy, she did not do it for them. She did it for Trix, the one person who seems like true family to Helen.
As I started reading Not So Quiet, I noticed the repetition of certain words that Helen used to either show her emotion towards something or help build a clear image of something that she is explaining or describing. I am a bit ahead as far as the reading but so far, I have marked 8 different times up to chapter 5 that she has repeated words together to help the reader understand what is happening. I felt as though when I was reading the repetition helped me feel as like I was there and gave me a clear picture of what was happening and helped me connect more with Helen. I noted that the words were often repeated in 3’s.
Just to show a few explains:
“Number Five hospital” (page 12): this was repeated to show how tiring it is to continue returning back to the hospital, almost like going in a circle, ” It ended, just as I thought it would never end” (12) This is one of the first times in the book that we get a description of how Helen’s experience as an ambulance driver went during the war. Defiantly not a smooth job!
“Snip, snip, snip” (page 14-17): this was used to give the image on Tosh cutting her hair. This repetition (3 times each time mentioned) is used throughout three pages and gives the image of Tosh cutting her hair and how long it took her to finish. Along with this, the repetition allows us to be in Helen’s mind and gives us her opinion on short hair and it is the first reference to her mother’s beliefs, “Poor Mother, she would die of horror if I came home on leave with my hair cut short like a man’s” (15).
“Limp, limp, limp”(page 57): this was used to describe Edward’s husband not having one leg. Helen expressed that she would not want to marry someone like this because if not she would be like Edwards and, “She will never be able to forget these days and nights of war and horror”(57). I felt like although it was used to give an image of Edward’s husband, it allowed the reader to think about how Helen does not want to remember the war once it is over.
This is just something I noticed as I was reading and found it interesting and helpful as I got farther in the book.