The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
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The film consists of lots and lots of dialogue delivered in quaint Scottish accents. (The accents are not as much a problem for American audiences as they are in other films such as Gregory's Girl.) There is an occasional glimpse of old Edinburgh but, for the most part, the settings are confined to interiors. The film is directed and photographed professionally and unobtrusively. The 1930's period is nicely byt subtly evoked. The one discordant element is the rather twee musical score by Rod McKuen. The emphasis, as in a play, is on the characters.
The supporting cast are just that but most of them manage to have their moments. Robert Stephens (married to Maggie Smith at the time) is quite good as a slightly bohemian art teacher. Gordon Jackson steps somewhat out of his usual typecasting to portray a wimp of a music teacher. Celia Johnson is positively evil as the jealous and strait-laced headmistress. Best of all is Pamela Franklin as Miss Brodie's pet pupil - a nicely shaded and slightly underplayed performance that both contrasts and complements Maggie Smith's flamboyant turn.
And it is Maggie Smith that you will be mostly watching.Read more ›
That said, this is a brilliant (but not perfect)movie.
The acting of Maggie Smith is superb beyond words. She starts out as a heroine, just the type of teacher we would all like to have. As the movie progresses, the character of Miss Brodie moves closer and closer to a breakdown. What's brilliant is that this peril is obvious to the viewer, but not to Miss Brodie herself, a most difficult task for a screen-writer, a director, and an actress to accomplish.
The depiction of Edinburgh in the 30's is so realistic that you really feel as though you've been put into some sort of time machine- this is one of my favorite aspects of the film, and also the beautifully haunting soundtrack. I truly admire when a film is able to transport you to another place and time and make you truly feel it.
The movie is quite different from the book to be sure (aren't they all?) but the location filming, and the truly brilliant acting overcome any drawbacks.
The film is also notable for the performance of Pamela Franklin.
If you've only seen her in Disney movies, be prepared for a very different Pamela Franklin this time around.
I have watched this film over 10 times now and still do not fully understand it. Is Miss Brodie the Miss-understood heroine? Or is she truly a dangerous person intent on using others so that she can live vicariously through them? Is the film a warning to all of us that evil lurks where least expected? Or is it a trip inside our souls, in those deep somber moments where we have all been betrayed by our dearest and most trusted friends?
Watch the film and decide for yourself. Either way, you will have a beautiful journey thru the very mind and soul of a most complex character, in a nostalgic era, brilliantly portrayed by Maggie Smith.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS FILM !
Once you understand that the Sandy transformation is the principle dynamic, the rest of the story fits together rather smoothly. The on-going struggle between Miss Brodie and the headmistress is almost a Hitchcock McGuffin, providing a lot of character motivation but ultimately of little importance.
Another key is the use of Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott". "When the Moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed; "I am half sick of shadows," said The Lady of Shalott."
In the poem she is a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot. Her purpose is to look at the world outside her castle window in a mirror, and to weave what she sees into a tapestry. She is forbidden by the magic to look at the outside world directly. Looking at the world in a mirror and depicting it in a work of art is an allegory for the life of a teacher viewing the world from an ivory tower and interpreting it for her young students. And Miss Brodie's often fearless lifestyle is much like the heroic action taken by Tennyson's lady which leads to her doom.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the films I remember seeing at the Fox in San Jose as an impressionable youth. The other most memorable being 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Patrick Henry
Love Maggie Smith and a wonderful performance. Her character's views are quite fascist here, but a great performance and a great movie of how one person's beliefs can hurt another... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Katey
For the Maggie Smith fan and her Oscar winning performance.Published 1 month ago by Peter J. Ceccarelli
Great acting, great movie. Who knew this actress would wind up on Downton Abbey?Published 3 months ago by Julia M. Johnson
What a classic. Any fan of Maggie Smith simply has to add this to their library.Published 5 months ago by LexPam
I have given this film the highest rating because it tackles an interesting and unexamined phenomenon with depth and nuance without losing the point. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eric Hutchins