Love is Close at Hand: The Age of Innocence Essay

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Love is Close at Hand: The Age of Innocence November 1998, written for FILM 220: Aspects of Criticism. This is a 24-week course for second-year students, examining methods of critical analysis, interpretation and evaluation. The final assignment was simply to write a 1000-word critical essay on a film seen in class during the final six-weeks of the course. Students were expected to draw on concepts they had studied over the length of the course. INSTRUCTOR'S COMMENT: Brilliantly observed and beautifully written. The Age of Innocence is a film about confinement, restraint, and stoicism. Characters drift from tea, to the opera, and home again. They attend lavish parties, and observe the rigidity of English decorum; marry, have…show more content…
When Newland first meets Countess Olenska in a balcony at the opera, she thrusts her hand towards him, beaming expectantly. Newland is distracted be the gesture and captivated for a moment by her outstretched fingers. With his eyes, he follows a sweeping gesture of the Countess's hand as she indicates the opera house and the nostalgia it holds for her. From this meeting onward, Newland has not only chosen the woman in which he is interested, but also the body part he wishes to explore. After the opera, Newland repairs to the Beauford's house for a ballroom gala. The roving camera begins its tour of the drawing rooms by focusing on a table strewn with white gloves. The gloves suggest sterility and conformity, and once Newland has selected his, he is free to proceed into the party and mingle with society. In a capricious long shot, Newland is shown negotiating his way through the drawing rooms to the ballroom. Amid the clutter of draperies, candles, plants, and Barnsian collages of art, Newland spies "The Return of Spring", a decidedly salacious display of painting, revealing a woman's body in its full nakedness. Newland acknowledges the piece with a subtle smirk and strolls on. It is not a woman's voluptuous breast and curving thighs which intrigue him: it is her hands and her touch. When Mrs. Manson
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