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Sunday, January 19, 2003
The Hours

I heard recently that a film called The Hours is about to be released. Apparently, it stars Nicole Kidman. I saw a still from the film and she is unrecognisable. Even her children did not know her. This is, after all, not surprising - she wears a false nose for the part.

I have been reading Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway for reasons totally unconnected with the film. There are two very interesting points to be made about this. Firstly, The Hours is a film version of Mrs Dalloway. Not only that but The Hours was Woolf's working title while she was writing the novel.

The edition I have been reading has notes by the excellent feminist writer Elaine Showalter and very useful they are, too [Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (London: Penguin, 1992)]. She draws the reader's attention to a great deal of Woolf's writing in which the novelist describes her thought processes governing the work's genesis. It is clear that Woolf wants to be 'modern' in her subject matter. For example, she deals with aircraft sign-writing and uses it as a linking mechanism between apparently unrelated incidents and characters.

Showalter perceptively points out that Woolf uses cinematic techniques, although the diaries do not give any hint that she is doing this deliberately. Showalter says that Woolf '...uses montage, close-ups, flashbacks, tracking shots and rapid cuts...' (p. xxi). It will be fascinating to see if the director of The Hours uses the same techniques in the same places.

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