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Back to Eden? Movies and GARDENS


misswonderly3
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We're on the cusp of gardening season ( at least in the northern part of this continent). Apparently, gardening ranks as the #1 hobby of most Canadians - and, I suspect, Americans too.

 

There are many movies, both new and old, that in some way feature gardens, (or at the very least, master landscaping) in their stories and settings. It's a pretty attractive concept, a garden. Among(st) other things, it's evocative of escape, a place of refuge, rest, healing, back-to-nature (even though an awful lot of skillful contrivance goes into the making of many gardens), and serenity.

And let's not forget all the sexual associations with the garden - all that fecundity ! Plus, so often a place of assignation where lovers secretly meet.

 

Even though I'm not a particularly good gardener myself, I love gardens.

 

 

So, let's see: Well, just to be predictable, there's *The Secret Garden*. Several versions, in fact. It's a very obvious example, because of all the healing, both physical and psychological, that goes on in it. And it's mysterious and abandoned and beautiful. Until the kids discover it, of course. (Well, it remains beautiful, but it is no longer abandoned...)

 

 

People, can you think of other "garden" movies? The word does not have to be in the film's title for a garden to be prominent in the story.

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Yuck ! Sorry, but I just expostulated on that recent thread about *God's Little Acre*, how much I disliked the film, and why.

Ironically, Ty Ty takes what could have been a garden (using the word broadly) and turns it into a desolate field of holes and dirt. He kind of UN-gardens his land.

 

Anyway, I know you were joking. ;)

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How about Being There featuring Chauncy Gardner, (maybe Peter Sellers finest moment.)

 

 

 

 

 

There's a film called The Magic Garden Of Stanley Sweetheart with a young Don Johnson. I haven't seen it but I heard it's uhm, something.)

 

 

 

 

 

I saw a movie called Eden last month on Xfinity. It has nothing to do with gardens. Jamie Chung plays a 18 years old Korean American girl who gets kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. It's a rough film to watch but very good. Beau Bridges is also in it. Something on another thread mention someone trying a make a new Charlie Chan film with a Young girl lead. Jamie Chung would be really good for that role, (she's 30 but looks a lot younger.)

 

 

 

 

 

( I'll try to think of other "Garden Films.)

 

 

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I was waiting to see if someone mentioned *Garden of the Finzi-Continis*. Another film that I saw only once (although some time after it was released), and would like to see again. As I recall, it has something to do with an upper-class, kind-hearted and educated Jewish family, the beautiful daughter of the family, and the tension and even fear surrounding the soon-to-be horrors of the rise of anti-Semitism in the late 30s. The family is Italian, not German, but of course, the anti-Jewish terrorizing existed there as well.

*Brother Orchid* -good choice. I only saw this film for the first time, a couple of months ago (it's on a "Gangster Movie" boxed set I own.) And there is a garden, a lovely one. tended by gentle, peaceful, wise monks. I loved the contrast between Edward G.'s former criminal life and his new serene one at the monestary. Of course, I'm hardly being original here -that's the whole point of the movie.

 

I hope you don't mind, but I'd prefer not to get into "vineyards" on this thread. It's not that I don't think that, too, is a worthy subject for discussion, it's just that vineyards are different from gardens, in ways I won't go into here, and it would sort of dilute the thread (like watering the wine !)

Of course, I can't really "control" it if people want to talk about vineyards in movies -but I think that deserves a thread of its own.

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I o not know if you wish to include animated movies. *Alice in Wonderland* (1951) begins with her napping in a garden and many of her encounters are in a garden or with creatures which are often found in one. The flowers declaring she is a weed is one of my favorite scenes.

 

There is a tiny garden in: *My Neighbor Totoro* (1988). The girls plant the seeds given to them by the Totoro believing they must be magical.

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Of course gardening counts. B-) I just didn't want us to off on a "vineyards" tangent, because who knows where that would end up? (Drunk, maybe, at our ex's wedding, like the guy in *Sideways*.)

 

Right, I thought of Better Davis' last few minutes in *Dark Victory* too, gardening away, carefully planting those lilies(? or whatever they were), even though George Brent ( !) is leaving and she knows they'll never see each other again. Remember, she asks Geraldine Fitzgerald to help her, she's supposed to hand the little bulbs to Bette or something. Bette (Judith), appeals for her assistance, bravely declaring, "Please, I want to very much."

 

I'm embarrassed to say, I've never seen *Mommie Dearest*.

 

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Nobody noticed my very silly (and completely unintentional) typo on that last post? I wrote "Better Davis" . I do like her more than most classic actresses, so maybe it was a Freudian slip. In any case, I kind of like it so decided not to correct it.

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Is it planting time, already!? Wonderful. Down here in paradise we have actually finished off the winter season tomatoes, and the watermelon is in. Magnolias are still blooming in places.

 

There are three movies I think of:

1. the wonderful garden at the Villa in *Much Ado About Nothing* (1993). I love that garden!

 

2. The garden in *Love Letters*. They had raspberries too! Yum!

 

3. The scene of Claudette Colbert planting her little kitchen garden in *The Egg and* I for she starts out so enthusiastic, only to have the garden washed out with the first heavy rain.

 

25 years ago, I had planted a perennial garden on the southern slope side of my house, hand double-digging the earth myself for the garden that was appox 12' x 30' - with a wide variety of perennials and bulbs that bloomed from snow melt till the last of the mums in October. I enjoyed for 10 years, a fully mature garden providing weekly bouquets, then we moved.

 

The new owners immediately had every plant pulled out or plowed over and sodded the entire thing.

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In *Leave Her to Heaven*, Jeanne Crain's green thumb earns her the nickname "The Gal With the Hoe", which serves as an important plot point when Cornel Wilde dedicates his new novel "To the Gal With the Hoe". (That's the dedication, not the name of the novel.)

 

Victory Gardens ought to show up in a bunch of World War II movies, but I can't think of any offhand.

 

I don't know that the trees Geraldine Page plants in *What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice* count as a garden. :-)

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In *Mrs. Miniver*, gardening is a plot point too, with Mr, Ballard, the stationmaster, names his rose after Greer Garson's character (the Miniver Rose), and then being judged the finest over Lady Beldon's usually winning roses.

 

Without really seeing a fabulous garden. Go figure.

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So, I'm guessing *The King of Marvin Gardens* doesn't count?

 

 

How about the garden that Vito dies in during *The Godfather* ?

 

 

Do "hot house" gardens count? Like in *The Big Sleep* , or *In The Heat Of The Night* ?

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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How come everyone keeps asking me what "counts"? I don't think this question is asked that often in other "theme" threads.

If I've come across as harsh or "exclusive" -ie, "we'll have no digressions or tangents here, people. Strictly gardens...I'll tolerate no dealings with mere flower beds or poseys. And you can just forget about any friggin' hot houses !" I am sorry.

Look, it's pretty open. If the thread's limited to some kind of rigid set of rules, it will sink down to page 3 in no time. It won't be any fun. I didn't realize I came across as that restrictive.

 

All I meant in that earlier post about vineyards was, it seemed to me that they kind of fall under a different category, since there are a lot of connotations around vineyards (like wine and wine-making) that are distinct from gardens. And now that someone's started a "vineyards" thread, I suppose we don't want to open this one up to vineyards too.

Or maybe we do.

I just want people to feel free to post anything about any movies that have some kind of "garden" (or even flower) aspect to them.

 

As to *The Godfather*, I'd thought of that. (Although isn't it a vineyard ? Oh wait, I don't want to "go there". Vineyards are fine.)

 

And yup, great choices with the hot house gardens. Although both *The Big Sleep* and *In the Heat of the Night* each feature only one scene in a hot house, you really remember that scene.

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GoodGuysWearBlack, I'm afraid I have not seen *Parrish*. Could you elaborate a little as to its "garden" allusions?

 

darryl, yes, the bizarre, Miss Havisham-like figure of Violet Venable (what kind of a last name is that?) in *Suddenly Last Summer*, and her almost too lush garden are indeed worthy of mention.

 

Actually, this is an interesting point: some gardens are not peaceful retreats from a dirty, busy world, but almost the opposite; disturbingly overgrown, almost jungle-like, bizarro worlds. I think it has something to do with hot places, where strange, uncontrollable, unfamiliar plants extend their roots and stems and leaves to an unnerving degree. It feels as though they're taking over, somehow, they're too fertile. This kind of thing really does deserve the word "creepy" - sometimes literally !

 

Same with the hot house gardens that were mentioned earlier. Both those scenes are uncomfortable for the audience. The greenhouse in *Heat of the Night* is the setting for the insulting, racist behaviour towards Sidney Poitier (well, one of several settings and scenes...) and his justified though at the time shocking response.

And that hot house at the beginning of *The Big Sleep* ! You can feel Marlowe getting hotter and sweatier and more uncomfortable as the scene progresses. And the General who's hiring him- all that talk about orchids and spiders.

Yes, sometimes gardens are not the lovely, restful places we want them to be.

 

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Another film in which a "hot house" contributes to a very unpleasant scene ! (Yup, I've seen *The Hand that Rocks the Cradle*,)

This time -spoiler ! - the hot house is used as the vehicle that almost causes a death.

What is it with hot houses and violent or weird imagery?

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> Same with the hot house gardens that were mentioned earlier. Both those scenes are uncomfortable for the audience.

 

Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick destroy her father's hothouse (I think it's a hothouse, isn't it?) in *The Days of Wine and Roses*.

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>

> I just want people to feel free to post anything about any movies that have some kind of "garden" (or even flower) aspect to them.

>

Well, let's see now - movies, gardens, flowers, free-word association . . .

 

The Blue Gardenia with Anne Baxter (playing this Wednesday, by the way)

 

The Blue Dahlia with Ladd and Lake

 

Black Narcissus - Hey, that one really does have a garden! Intended for uber-practical veggies, but can you really blame Flora Robson for planting all those blossoms in glorious Technicolor? ;)

 

Fanfan la Tulipe with Gerard Philipe

 

That's all that's coming to mind for now, but admittedly, this is not an area of expertise for me. I'm the type that kills cacti. :D

 

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}GoodGuysWearBlack, I'm afraid I have not seen *Parrish*. Could you elaborate a little as to its "garden" allusions?

>

>

> And that hot house at the beginning of *The Big Sleep* ! You can feel Marlowe getting hotter and sweatier and more uncomfortable as the scene progresses. And the General who's hiring him- all that talk about orchids and spiders.

> Yes, sometimes gardens are not the lovely, restful places we want them to be.

>

wow,

 

there were a lot of good things in this post, but I'll address these two:

 

Parrish is kind of a silly film, *but* it is like a (rather valuable) lesson in Tobacco Growing 101, the far more interesting elements of the plot (at least to me) deal with the sensitive nature of growing tobacco, especially when it is in its early stages and highly susceptible to fungus and rot. I was kind of sorry when they got away from the lesson on sharecropping and got in to the silly soap aspect of the family drama.

 

Raymond Chandler is one of my favorite writers *of all time,* and it fascinates me how in every one of his six Phillip Marlowe novels, he makes a lot of references to the flora and fauna of Los Angeles- and in the first-person guise of the hard-boiled detective Phillip Marlow. Frequent mentions are made of the jacaranda trees and flowering myrtle that grows on the hills of the city...which helps to build on the sinister aspect of all the depraved things going on behind the ivy-choked walls and thick hedges of hibiscus.

 

PS- Suddenly Last Summer earned a richly deserved Oscar nomination for the art/direction set design.

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