The Hours (nice name for a confusing movie!)

1: Analysis of the Book

The Hours by Michael Cunningham received rave reviews when it was published in 1988. It not only won the Faulkner Prize, but it also won the Pulizer Prize for Fiction The book is a tour de force in that it presents the lives of three women from three different eras. The connection between the women is slowly made apparent as each is linked through the writings of Virginia Woolf. One of the women is reading Wolfe’s novel, Mrs. Dalloway, and the Meryl Streep character is called “Mrs. Dalloway,” by her ex- husband, Richard, who is dying of AIDS. All three women are dealing with their own identity crises as they try to reconcile their social roles and limitations with their sense of their inner selves. The women mirror each other as they struggle with husbands, lovers of both sexes, depression and suicide. 

2: Analysis of the Movie

Naming a movie “The Hours” is a good way to make money, but it’s also a good way to confuse the heck out of the viewer, as it did me. But apparently, the movie, directed by Stephen Daldry, was able to keep most viewers in the mix of the followings and able to keep them from being confused. 

3: Analysis of the Adaptation

In this case, unlike the other adaptations of books we have seen in this course, the movie adaptation of the book was consistent and clear. The movie, in this case, follows the structure, plot and style of the book.  In fact, although the medium of film is limited by not being able to show interior dialogue as is possible in print; this movie does an excellent job through direction and editing of showing how the characters feel. This is important to this adaptation because so much of the meaning has to do with each character’s feelings and interior dialogue. There is so little action in the book/film that the movie feels slows at times, but the richness of the acting keeps the viewer interested most of the time. Since this adaptation is so faithful to the novel, it is not quite as challenging to analyze from that point of view. Perhaps this pairing of book and film is in the course to show us a congruent example.

4: Online Research

In this review, David Putnam gives an extremely good review of the movie. He not only talks about how good the main characters are portrayed, he also goes on to compliment the supporting characters as well. In fact, he gives a thorough summary of the entire movie in all of its complexity. In fact, I would recommend reading this review before seeing the movie, as it explains clearly who all of the people are and how they are related, information which is difficult to discern from just seeing the film.

In this Rolling Stone movie review by Peter Travers, he not only talks about how well the actors do their part, he raves the movie. In fact, he says that “Director Stephen Daldry interweaves these stories with uncanny skill, “which goes to show how good a director Daldry is.

“Three women, three times, three places. Three suicide attempts, two successful. All linked in a way by a novel.” In this Roger Ebert review, he starts off the review with a very catchy and interesting opener, as that is basically what the whole movie was about. He also goes to show how fast paced this movie actually is, by saying that it took place in only a day, which might explain the title of the movie. 

5: Critical Analysis

Each of the three story-lines in The Hours occurs during a single day. Did this structure (which was also the structure of Cunningham’s book, as well as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway) work well in the film, or did it cramp the story and make the action seem compressed and contrived?

The three story lines happening during a single day made the movie very confusing. It also made the movie really cramped, seeing how the whole thing was set to take place in 24 hours, and it seemed like it couldn’t be followed unless watching it two or more times. In my mind, not a good way to make a movie!


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