Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Garden scenes

The bloggers at Gardening Gone Wild ask the question "What movies have inspired your garden making?"

I had to think about this for some time. I've seen a lot of movies in my lifetime. These days I find my movie watching to be tapering off a little. Maybe I'm getting older and my tastes for current movies is waning (it seems that the only movies out nowadays are either animated or based on a comic book). I also find that the older I get, I don't want to see a depressing film. In my college days, I was crazy about the film "Tess". I saw it four times at the theater. Granted, I did write a research paper on the novel and that probably enhanced my interest but the movie enchanted me and yes, there are some nice landscapes to gaze upon. Recently, I started to watch this film again, and just could not go there again. The subject matter and outcome is is just too depressing!

As far as movies about gardening go though, there's just not a lot to choose from. The obvious ones have been mentioned by other bloggers. I too adored "Enchanted April", "Saving Grace", "Green Card" and "Greenfingers".

Ditto for the Merchant/Ivory films. Like many other movie watchers, "A Room With A View" introduced me to these wonderful filmmakers whose works are like a sumptuous dessert that you want to savor. My other favorites are "Maurice" and "Howard's End". I purchased a new Blue-Ray dvd player recently and plopped in "A Room With A View" to test it and was just blown away by the scene where they take a buggy ride in the Italian countryside. Art in motion!

And of course there is "The Secret Garden". I collect editions of this book but it is a book that I didn't discover until I was an adult. I've seen all the film versions as well and my favorite is the most recent, made in 1993. It is a gorgeous film to look at and has a haunting score. It also features the great Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock!

I was thinking about movies that are not necessarily about gardening or English period pieces but movies that had displayed memorable gardens. Oddly enough, the one that comes to my mind first, is in "Bram Stoker's Dracula", released in 1992. I think this is one of the most artistic movies ever made. It features my ideal garden. You step outside your bedroom (or in this case, Lucy Westenra's bedroom) onto a large stone terrace and the garden lies spread out below you, a sumptuous English sunken garden enclosed with green hedges, a large fountain and reflecting pool in the center and bowers of roses dripping from archways around the perimeter.

Of course this garden was created on a movie set. In fact, I recently learned that it was filmed on a set that once housed the large pool where the Esther Williams movies were made. Ah, the magic of Hollywood!

My absolute favorite though is not a movie at all but a television series from the UK. "Rosemary & Thyme", starring Felicity Kendal and Pam Ferris, is about two professional gardeners and amateur sleuths who get involved in a murder mystery with every job they take. The gardens in this series were actually filmed on location and are not sets. Some of the locations include manor houses in the English countryside, London's Kew Gardens and Regent's Park, the French Riviera and Italy's Ligurian coast, a Surrey vineyard and the hills of Málaga, Spain. If you haven't seen the series, the complete dvd set is available from Amazon or you can rent it from Netflix.

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