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24 January 2014 @ 09:04 am
It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like the sun we seldom saw.  
I watched the Lifetime version of Flowers in the Attic. Here are my thoughts.

As far as adaptations go, it was okay.

It wasn't perfect by any means, but it wasn't all that bad either.

I just wished that it could have been darker, because the entire Dollanganger series is basically a gothic horror. It's dark, disturbing, and incredibly twisted and fucked up in the most beautiful way, as anyone who has read the books knows precisely what I'm talking about. Of course this is Lifetime, they have to subdue all of that otherwise it wouldn't even air. Ultimately, what we got was a very tame version of the story.

At least they got certain things right. Aside from getting the correct era and having young actors fitting the appropriate age range of the characters, there were other smaller details that I'm happy they included in what they could. Like, having Cathy's hair tarred for her punishment, the mouse being named Mickey, the donuts powdered with arsenic, the incestuous storyline between Chris and Cathy (although it wasn't as complicated as it should have been, I'll admit, but we did get jealous!Chris so there's that), the "needlework book" she found in her mother's bedroom, Corrine's swan bed, the inclusion of Bart Winslow and Cathy seeing him/kissing him as he slept, even the thing with the grandmother being claustrophobic and not being able to go up into the attic, along with making her a little bit humanized instead of just a stone-cold emotionless old woman. It was great being able to spot things that appeared in the book and making it work for a televised retelling of the story. I do wish we could have gotten some other things, like Chris feeding his blood to the twins when they were starving, or the grandmother forcing them to read and recite the Bible every single day, but I think what we got was better than nothing.

And now here comes my little issue that I can only see as ironic when it comes to anyone trying to adapt Flowers in the Attic. One thing will be done right while another thing will be done wrong, feeling kind of uneven.

The 80s movie had the right tone and atmosphere, but got many things wrong.

This newer Lifetime movie got certain things right (aka not changing things, esp the ending), but the tone, pacing and overall feel was a bit off.

I know adaptations aren't always going to be exactly like its written source, but there are times when I wish, given the right formula and combination, we could actually get that with this series.

I just want to post a friendly reminder that Flowers in the Attic is not a YA book, and was never intended to be. Many of us did read it when we were preteens/early teens, but most of VCA's books were not categorized for teenagers and is not your typical coming of age story, and anyone who has read them can vouch on that. I think this is my problem with people wanting to adapt these stories visually; they're going by the reputation of how these books are circulated around versus the actual story and the tone it sets. I'm not saying that this version was exactly fluffy (like that failed attempted adaptation of Rain all those years ago) since it did had its unsettling moments, but they did underplay and sugarcoat things and honestly it could have been a bit better in places, and I hope that one day we can have a proper adaptation of the story, or of the other VCA stories.

Overall, I have to say while it certainly wasn't perfect, for what it was, it was decent. Especially for something simplified for Lifetime.


They've been greenlit to adapt Petals on the Wind, which will be the first in continuing the Dollanganger series past Flowers. Given that they've already planted things in this one that will foreshadow what happens later, we'll have to see how it goes. It would be interesting if they actually are able to do all the books.
 
 
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thekaiserchiefthekaiserchief on January 25th, 2014 12:35 am (UTC)

I haven't checked out Flowers in the Attic because the whole incest situation has me a bit squeamish. But Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men plays one of the children, I heard, so I am curious about her performance at least.
Renéerogueslayer452 on January 30th, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
I'm not familiar with her work prior to this. Personally she's not my version of Cathy, but from what I saw she did a pretty okay with what she was given to work with.
lynnyloulynnylou on January 25th, 2014 03:12 am (UTC)
I am going to have to see if I can download this anywhere so I can watch it.
an idea is bulletproof: 90210 castelizalavelle on January 29th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
I think my feelings on the remake match yours. The pacing felt a bit off but they were fitting a lot in that probably worked if you've read the books but without that backstory the pacing might have thrown the experience off.

I'm interested to see them make a sequel as that hasn't been done yet. The tone wasn't entirely dark enough but it felt like a decent adaptation of the book.
Renéerogueslayer452 on January 30th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I just wish that it wasn't so limited for television, because everything is so downplayed.

On the other hand, if it gets people to pick up the books and actually read on how dark and fucked up the story really is, and how it's much more complicated, than I'm all for it, tbh. Because I feel that no matter how many adaptations it will have, it won't capture the language and the writing and the atmosphere VCA wrote for the story in general. I think that's what's missing, honestly. VCA had a distinctive style of writing that, unless there's a screenwriter who recaptures that particular flow, it won't translate well from book to screen. Does that make sense?
an idea is bulletproof: BtVS - WML1 gotta get insideelizalavelle on February 3rd, 2014 02:08 pm (UTC)
It almost would be better if a different network took it and decided to just go all in and tell the whole dark story. AMC or HBO or something. They almost need someone to come in who loves the story already to write it because rather than trying to fit the moments in they'll understand the flow of the story and can create a movie to match.