Daily Archives: November 5, 2011

Frye at the Movies: “The Count of Monte Cristo”


One of the sources for V for Vendetta (here and here) is The Count of Monte Cristo. Frye saw the movie on a double bill with The Barretts of Wimpole Street on November 1, 1934 with his friend Roy Daniells (CW 8, 375). The entire movie after the jump. Above is a traditional fireworks display in London celebrating Guy Fawkes Night.

Here also is an interesting passage in one of the late notebooks on the relation between opera and romance, including a surprising declaration to rehabilitate the melodrama. Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas and other authors of the genre are cited:

Scott was the source for the 19th c. opera — Donizetti’s Lucia & Bellini’s Puritani, the latter very loosely adapted from Old Mortality. I think not Verdi, though Verdi drew from a Romantic tradition that Scott did a lot to solidify: Hugo, Dumas, Schiller, etc. Nobody could imagine an opera of that period based on Jane Austen. If I try to rehabilitate Scott as a romancer, I should also try to rehabilitate melodrama. That term is usually used with contempt, & I’ve used it myself, because of the way it approximates lynching-mob mentality in its hiss-villain setup. But there’s a legitimate type of melodrama where characters and plot outrage “probability,” yet seem to live in a legitimate world. I find Scott very hard to read now, but there are a lot of important critical principles extractable from him. (CW 5, 245-6)

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Guy Fawkes Day


“Remember, remember the fifth of November.”

It’s Guy Fawkes Day. Fawkes has recently become a ubiquitous symbol of dissent, thanks primarily to V for Vendetta. Here’s the film’s finale, in which Parliament is this time successfully destroyed. It will be interesting to see if Occupy London observes this traditionally celebrated anniversary tonight.

Appropriately, today is also Bank Transfer Day in the U.S.

Earlier post on Fawkes and demonic modulation here.