Room with a Kiri

O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini is used in the Merchant Ivory 1985 production of Room with a View starring Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands as the two lovers Lucy and George. It is sung in the film soundtrack by Kiri te Kanawa. It is used at the beginning of the film in the title credits and when Lucy and George first see each other. It is also used at the end when they are married and back in Florence again. Below I will discuss why I think it was used in this production and what it could mean.


Room with a View.jpg

In this aria Lauretta is pleading with her father Gianni Schicchi to read her lovers uncle’s will so he can have enough money for them to get married. She then threatens that if he does not do this that she will drown herself in the Arno. Now I generally think this song is used in the film because like Lauretta and her lover Rinuccio Lucy and George are held back by class but not by money. In Room with a View George is not poor but is lower middle class, from a socialist background and behaves unconventionally. This is in that he is not emotionally restrained and believes in equality between men and women and therefore is not seen as appropriate husband material for Lucy.

Kiri Te Kanawa 2013 (cropped).jpg

Instead Lucy’s snooty, culture obsessed and wealthy fiancé Cecil is seen as more suitable for Lucy even though he is a pompous bore. However George adores her and she clearly feels the same way even though she denies her feelings for him for most of the film. I also think this song is used as both the opera and film are set in Florence.

I think the music is placed at the beginning when she first sees George to show that they will be lovers. However with the lyrics meaning this shows how there will be obstacles to their union. Also perhaps that they will have to fight to be together like Lauretta and Rinuccio. I think the use of the aria at the end of the film creates a bittersweet feeling. It shows Lucy and George happy together. In contrast her cousin Charlotte who helped them get together is alone in bed reading a letter from Lucy. Then she turns out her light. Therefore thus this could show how Charlotte threw away love which Lucy almost did because of class and of society’s expectations. This connecting to Lauretta threatening to throw herself into the Arno. However unlike Lucy and Lauretta she will always be alone and regretting her past but happy with her actions towards George and Lucy. This is because she originally opposed their relationship but saw Lucy behaving like she did and did not want the same thing to happen to her.


Scully’s shoes

One thing I will never understand about the character of Dana Scully is her shoes. For me they are a total contradiction to her character. Below I will write why I think that as a character she would not wear them.

Kill Switch
Scully fighting in heels

As an FBI agent she is always on her feet and chasing after criminals. Or in her case supernatural or alien ones. She does not always wear heels thank goodness at least she has the sense to wear walking boots for hiking through woods. Nonetheless there are constant images of her and Mulder chasing people with her in heels. She even scales fences in them. Now as a doctor she would know that heels are bad for her feet. She would also know as she is a sensible and intelligent woman that she would most likely fall over in them when chasing criminals. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with wearing heels but seriously if you were on your feet all day they would be really uncomfortable. Also you would probably injure yourself if you were doing the activities she does.

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Her in heels again

Now onto my second reason why I do not believe she would wear heels. Scully dresses very seriously mostly in double breasted suits for the earlier seasons and later single breasted. This shows her personality as a serious nerdy professional. In contrast to Mulder’s floppy gelled hair and silly ties which show his spooky, emotional conspiracy theorist personality. However on her feet are high heels which for me are a little at odds with her serious image. I mean Mulder is more likely to wear them than she is as they would go well with his personality. I have also seen real female police officers wearing flat but smart shoes why can they not do that with her?

Another thing is also why is there such a focus on Scully’s wardrobe? I never got the impression that she was that interested in fashion and definitely not shoes. Excepting in wearing her hair neatly styled and occasionally dressing up nicely for going out. She is not Carrie Bradshaw with her huge collection of expensive shoes. I suppose the change in her costume is probably that they wanted to show her changes from a sceptic to a believer.

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Now she’s wearing stilettos

It could perhaps be that the show’s creators feel that to appeal to men sexually she has to wear silly shoes and be transformed in appearance. This is as the ones in the show who are sexualised are the men. However I mean is it not possible to find a woman attractive without her wearing heels and changing her wardrobe constantly. Another theory is that if they had more female writers that they would be far less focus on her costume. I think I would be more ok with it if Mulder’s costume was changed a little through the series. The only thing that seems to change is that his hair is either jelled or scuffed up at the front or at other times worn naturally.

Here is a clip of her fighting in heels from the episode the Kill Switch

Also here below is a link I found to a blog devoted to Scully’s shoes:

The Suffragette who knew Jujitsu

Cartoon of Edith Garrud from

Edith Margaret Garrud was a martial arts instructor and suffragette who was born in 1872 in Bath. 5 years later she moved with her family to Wales. In the 1890s she married the physical culture instructor William Garrud. They moved to London where he worked in several universities teaching physical culture. She and William in 1899 met the first Jujitsu teacher in Europe Edward Barton Wright who introduced them to it. A few years later they both became pupils at a jujitsu school in Soho.  When the owner of the school left England in 1908 William became the new owner and manager of it. Edith also took over teaching the women’s and children’s classes.

It was about the same time she became involved with the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) booked her and her husband in for a jujitsu demonstration. However he became ill and so she went to the meeting alone. Emmeline Pankhurst encouraged her to speak about jujitsu instead of just doing a demonstration. This was because normally it was her did the demonstration and William who spoke about it. This led to her teaching self-defence classes to the suffragettes.  

In 1913 the Cat and Mouse Act became law. This was where suffragettes who had been force fed were released from prison but when they had recovered were captured again so they could finish their sentence. The WSPU responded by creating a thirty member all female protection unit called the Bodyguard. They were established to protect fugitive suffragettes from re-arrest. Edith trained them to use Indian clubs to fight back against the police’s truncheons and also to use jujitsu on them. These lessons took place in secret locations so they could avoid attention from the police.

In 1914 the suffrage campaign was called off so women could help with the war effort. After this Edith and her husband continued to work teaching self-defence and jujitsu classes. In 1925 they retired and sold their school. After this Edith’s life was quite quiet but on her 94th birthday there was an article about her in the Woman Magazine. Edith died 5 years later at the age of 99 in 1971.


Edith Margaret Garrud(18th October 2018),retrieved from

Williams Rachel, (25th June 2012), Edith Garrud, Women, the Guardian, retrieved from

Edith Garrud, (3.5.18), retrieved from

The Enchanted April: Room with View but with 4 women

The story is of 4 very different women who go on holiday together in the 1920s to escape their lives in England. They are the downtrodden Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot a sweet faced but sad woman who has buried her grief for her baby in religion. There is also the beautiful Lady Caroline Dester who is angry with the way her beauty makes her be treated like an object. Finally there is the much elder Mrs Fisher who is trapped in the past of her dead literary friends. They all stay in a castle in Mezzago and are overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. It changes all 4 women for the better and becomes something they will never forget.

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Elizabeth Von Arnim

The story was both sad and funny. For example it poked fun at the women such as Mrs Fisher who keeps thinking about being friends with the dead Ruskin. I like the mix of sad and funny as I do not like books that are really sad and where everyone dies. However I do not like ones where everything is taken very seriously all the time either.

The characters in the story were also very interesting. I also like how different they were and the exploring of their different personal problems. From Mrs Wilkins who escaped London to run away from her boorish husband who is obsessed with thrift. However when he actually appeared he was not nearly as bad as she said. Well he was actually rather silly really although obsessed with making money. However on to Lady Caroline who for me was really sad. She is 28 but her parents infantilise her because she is very beautiful. People even women forget because of her beauty that she has inner thoughts and feelings of her own.  I did not like the book ending for her where it was implied she would marry the castle’s owner Mr Briggs who started worshipping her as beautiful object. I personally hope they did not get married as I think she would hate it.

The men although minor are also interesting particularly Frederick Arbuthnot or Mr Arundel. I liked in particular the bit where the reader realises he and Mr Arundel are one and the same person. It was also interesting to see him come to see Lady Caroline. However after seeing the castle like the women he was transformed and went back to his wife. Not in a sad way but in a soppy romantic way. It is strongly suggested at the end of the book that they were having sex which was quite entertaining.  I bet there would be a baby on the way after the book’s ending.

Interestingly there is also a film of this book which since I enjoyed it so much I will have to watch.



Emily Faithfull

Emily Faithfull was a publisher, women’s rights activist and writer who was born in Headley Rectory in Surrey on 27th May 1835 but spent most of her adult life in London.  Her parents were the vicar Ferdinand Faithfull and his wife Elizabeth. She was educated both at home and at a school in Kensington.

Image result for emily faithfull
Emily Faithfull

She first became involved with campaigning for women’s rights in the 1850s as a member of the Langham Place Circle. This featured other women’s rights activists such as Emily Davies the founder of Girton College. Langham Place supported women’s suffrage, improvement of women’s education and furthering women’s employment. Emily’s main interest however was in improving women’s employment. Her interest in this grew out of her role as the secretary and as a committee member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. This society was set up by the Langham Place Circle. She was introduced to the printing press by a fellow committee member Bessie Rayner Parkes. This led to Emily setting up the Victoria Press in 1860.

In the Victoria Press Emily employed women as compositors and a few men to do manual labour. She employed women as compositors because she believed that publishing was a suitable occupation for them.  Emily treated her staff very well for the time period. Emily noticed that the average age printers and publishers died was at 48 partly to due to lung problems because of the lack of ventilation systems where they worked. Therefore she introduced proper ventilations systems and stools and chairs for her employees to sit on. Her workers also had a staff kitchen and worked in good lighting. Her employment of women was attacked however by the all-male Printer’s Union who even tried to sabotage the Victoria Press. For example they dirtied her employee’s stools with ink. Nonetheless her press was actually quite successful. For example Emily was awarded the position of a printer and publisher to Queen Victoria in 1862.

Emily was also a keen writer. In 1868 her only novel Change Upon Change was published. It is the tragic love story of a young man who falls in love with his coquettish cousin. It also called for improvements to women’s education.

Emily also established her own journal the Victoria Magazine which was published monthly. She continued the journal for 18 years and called for improvements in women’s employment in it.

At about same time when she was involved in the much publicised divorce case of Admiral Henry Codrington and his wife Helen. She had worked in their house as a companion to Helen but was dismissed from the position by Helen’s husband under mysterious circumstances. In Henry and Helen’s much publicised divorce case he was accused of raping Emily by Helen. Emily was however accused of being Helen’s lover. At first Emily gave evidence on behalf of Helen but later refused to. This was in order to protect her reputation as it was already at risk by being associated with a divorce case. It would have been completely ruined if she had carried on standing as a witness. These events have been written about by Emma Donoghue in her novel the Sealed Letter.

Despite this her reputation was clearly not badly affected as she toured England and the USA giving lectures in the 1870s and 1880s. In these talks she lectured about women’s rights. For example she argued in New York for marriage to be based on love and not money.  She published her account of her tour in her book Three Visits to America in 1884. In this book she wrote chapters about women’s roles in America in particular she devoted a whole chapter to how Mormon Women were treated in Utah.

In the 1880s she started the organisation the International Music, Dramatic and Literary Association to help protect the rights of artists and composers. In 1888 she received a civil pension and was presented with an engraved portrait of Queen Victoria for her 30 years work for women’s rights. There was no title of Dame at the time so this was the Victorian Equivalent.

7 years later she died at the age of 61 in Plymouth Grove in Manchester of a Bronchial Disorder as she was a heavy smoker.



Newspaper Articles

Emily Faithfull Obituary, (June 3rd 1865), Issue 34593, The Times, London,


Emily Faithfull, (24 May 2018),

Massey Gerald, Faithfull Emily,

Simkin John(January 2015), Emily Faithfull, Spartacus Educational, Spartacus Education Publishers ltd,

Wojtczak Helena, (2009), Emily Faithfull and the Victoria Press, British Women’s Emancipation since the Renaissance,



The Queen of the Abbey: the Magic Flute and Northanger Abbey

In the 2007 ITV adaptation of Northanger Abbey the song Der Hölle Rache or the Queen of the Night’s Aria is used which is from the opera the Magic Flute by Mozart. Now in the scene the novel’s protagonist Catherine Moorland(Felicity Jones) is at the opera watching the Magic Flute with some friends. They are watching the moment were the Queen of the Night sings the above song. Catherine’s friends are the Allens, Isabella Thorpe(Carey Mulligan), Catherine’s brother James and John(William Beck) Isabella’s brother. Catherine looks hopefully across Henry Tilney (J.J Field) who is her main love interest in the story and his sister Eleanor but they both look at her coldly. Meanwhile John who desires Catherine for himself sees her looking at them and comments that Eleanor is attractive but Catherine is better looking. Catherine ignores him as she is more interested in the Tilneys. Now Henry looks at her coldly as Catherine was meant to go out walking with him and Eleanor. However John and Isabella manipulated her into coming on a carriage ride with them instead.

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Catherine and Henry

Now in the Magic Flute the Queen of the Night is angrily telling her daughter Pamina that if she does not kill her rival Sarastro that will she disown her. The Queen of the Night has originally been set up as a good character who manipulates Pamina’s lover Tamino into believing she is good and that Sarastro is evil. Now as the opera goes on this is revealed to be the opposite. Pamina in this scene who sees Sarastro as a father figure and does not want to kill him but also does not want to lose her mother. Therefore she does not know what to do.  Below I will suggest what the use of this song could mean in this adaptation.

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Catherine and Isabella

Firstly I think it could symbolise people appearing to be good on the surface but being the opposite underneath. For example Isabella, John, and Henry’s father General Tilney appear to like Catherine. Nonetheless they all have ulterior motives. Therefore this could foreshadow how Catherine has been deceived by appearances and will realise that these 3 characters are not what they appear to be.

It may also link here to the theme of conflicted parent and child relationships as in this scene in the Magic Flute it too deals with this. Eleanor and Henry in Northanger Abbey have a rocky relationship with their father. This is as they both oppose him in their choices of spouses. He wants them to marry for money. However Eleanor and Henry are only interested in marrying a potential spouse for love.

Finally the song could symbolise the love triangle that has developed. Catherine has to choose between Henry the nice guy and John the bad boy. The creepiness in the song could show the tension that has built up between the three of them as both men are rivals for her affection. Now at the point in this production Catherine I would say has not shown a strong preference for either man. Perhaps slightly more for Henry as she has a sexual fantasy about him while she is in the bath. I suppose she has a sexual fantasy about John too as there is a scene where her and Isabella are in their underclothes discussing him. Here Isabella teases her about him and she appears to blush at the mention of him. Later she falls in love with Henry after spending time at Northanger Abbey. Also after getting to know what John is really like.

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days: clichéd, unoriginal but kind of fun if you don’t think

Take Sex and City but remove the substance from it and also focus on a man as one of the main characters, then you have… How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Andy, Ben and the Dog

Andy(Kate Hudson) is a bored columnist for a women’s mag called Composure which I think is meant to be based on Cosmopolitan. She writes How to Articles on things such as fashion and men but she would rather write serious articles about things such as politics. However her boss Lana played by (Bebe Neuwirth) insists she carry on with the How To theme. She does however come to an agreement with her that if she writes a how to article on losing a guy in ten days then she can write about anything she wants.

Bebe Neuwirth as Lana and Kathryn Hahn as Michelle
Bebe Neuwirth and Kathryn Hahn

Meanwhile Ben (Matthew McConaughey) is bored with his work as an advertising executive. He wants to be involved in an advertisement on diamonds but is not allowed to by his boss (Robert Klein). His boss along with some rival colleagues say he can work on the advertisement if he makes a woman fall in love with him in ten days. His two rival colleagues both called Judy I am not joking here pick out Andy as his target as they saw her earlier at a meeting with Composure. Andy also on meeting him decides that he will be her lose a guy target.

This then results in her embarrassing efforts to get him to dump her. Such as being clingy and needy. Ok I get that she is meant to be extreme but some of this was too extreme. She decorates the toilet in his flat with a pink fluffy cover and buys a little ratty dog for them to share. The worst is that she insists on calling his penis Princess Sophia. Somehow he stays with her despite her gruesome behaviour. However I will not spoil the end although it is very predictable and you only need to guess it.

The only good point of this film was Hudson and McConaughey. They had chemistry, actually very good chemistry a key ingredient for rom coms. They were both also likeable and had good screen presences despite her dire behaviour. What they needed was a funnier and cleverer script to do justice to their on screen chemistry.

Now onto the other actors. Bebe Neuwirth as Lana was awful. Now most people will recognise her for her role Dr Lilith Sternin in Frasier and Cheers for which she won 2 Emmy Awards.  Or more recently her role in Madam Secretary. In Frasier and Cheers she is very funny. For me Lilith is one of the funniest female TV characters of all time. Here however Neuwirth is embarrassing. I expected better from her but I guess it paid well.  However she has generally done quite well for herself as an actress. For example she has also won a Tony Award for her performances in Sweet Charity and Chicago. Therefore perhaps here I will give her the slip.  The other actors were nonetheless not even worth mentioning in the film. Andy and Ben both have a gaggle of tedious mates who were boring and unoriginal. Their friends also had no personalities and did not feel real at all.

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Andy in extreme mode

Anyway back to the plot. This film was so full of clichés. A woman bored of writing tedious articles or wanting to be a writer oh no we have not heard that one before. Let’s see Never Been Kissed and the awful Letters to Juliet. A man making a woman fall for him but not meant to feel anything for her falls in love with her instead. Oh no let’s see 10 Things I Hate About You. Actually they both used each other in How To Lose, generally it is just the man in the films I have seen with this trope.

Also it was clearly influenced by Sex and the City but without the humour and seriousness of the TV Series. Let’s see a columnist who writes about men and lives in New York, oh I bet Andy is partly based off Carrie Bradshaw. It is also no coincidence that McConaughey was in one episode, where he proposes that he turn Carrie’s column into a film. I do not like this scene in the TV Series it is so cringe worthy. 

Overall I would give this film 2.5 stars which may sounds generous from what I have said about it but the two leads were good together and had great chemistry. This film is also mildly entertaining if you suspend judgement and do not use your brain at all.