Constance Casey, one of my new favorite writers, complains in Slate about "garden fraud" in the movie "Enchanted
April" and worries that the false perfection shown in such movies can lead to despair because our gardens simply never look that good.
She goes on to say that while the movie "Greenfingers" is at least about gardening itself, it’s depicted in a misleading way. And the garden in "Secret Garden" is simply too other-worldly for us to relate to.
But Casey did recommend one movie for horticultural verisimilitude and that’s "Atonement", the highly acclaimed new release just beginning to rack up awards, including seven Oscar nominations. She approves of its true-to-season and less than perfect summer garden.
Aha! I loved the book and would follow Ian McEwan anywhere. And with all the kudos rolling in for the movie adaptation of his book, and now a garden recommendation – I’m there! So I grab my equally McEwan-loving friend and we venture to the multiplex, hoping to be transported to the world of extravagant English estate gardens and forget the arctic weather here in Maryland.
Our review? Loved the garden! But after the opening 20 minutes or so, some of which did take place a the glorious summer garden, the time and location did a 180 – to WWII hospitals with looooong scenes of blood and guts, one gory wounded soldier after another. Then another looooong scene on the beach at Dunkirk with more horribly wounded and dying soldiers and in case viewers aren’t appalled and horrified ENOUGH, we’re shown a horse being shot in the head and crumbling to the ground. Yeah, it was that kind of movie and two days later my friend and I are still sorry we saw it. Still seeing those images. Still hearing the gun shooting the horse. Still feeling angry at the filmmakers.
Great garden, though.
PS. I just noticed the news account announcing the Oscar nominations describes "Atonement" as a "melancholy romance." Not exactly the words I’d choose.