Saturday, February 6, 2010


An Education


There were fairy godmothers when I was little. Plump little women dressed all in pink, who convened at my bedside when I was asleep, to discuss my future and plan my days, occasionally touching my forehead with their star-tipped wands. Inscrutable genies lounged within oddly shaped lamps, ready and waiting to grant any wish I might make. There were magic mirrors on the walls, good fairies in the garden, and rows upon rows of eager frogs requesting kisses.

These charming characters populated my world and gave me confidence that, as long as my heart was pure and my eyes were open, they could help me navigate the labyrinth of yellow brick roads that curled round me, all the way to a most happy life. I don’t remember exactly when I realized that their power, though kindly offered, was rather limited. I suppose it was a gradual awakening.


The mundane fact is, when it comes to making one's way on the journey to a life void of regret, it really boils down to nothing more than a series of decisions. Given this, I have always considered it a weighty thought that some of these decisions, and some of the most vital ones to be sure, demand to be made when one is least equipped to do so. That is to say, when one is young.

Waves of advice crash over you when you are young, index fingers are wagged in your face, each direction proffered seems as insistent as the next - and no fairy godmother is in sight. How do we snatch the young off the technicolour carousel of carefree youth and make them see how monumental these decisions are, how inescapable their consequences? That even choosing not to choose is a choice with certain results? Truth is, we cannot. Nor should we, I suppose. For each must choose for themselves.


I was fortunate to see a film over the weekend that illustrates, with intelligence and beauty, what it is to be young at that crucial, confusing moment when these cardinal decisions must be made. An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig, is set in a rather sleepy England at the dawn of the sixties, just when that country is about to be hit by the culture changing storm of The Beatles. It stars the amazing Carey Mulligan as a sixteen year old girl at the dawn of a culture change of her own, in the midst of the roundabout of choices that only circle past at that age. Every performance in the film is spot on, especially that of the extraordinarily talented Ms. Mulligan, who has been compared to Audrey Hepburn, something I personally find does a disservice to her own uniqueness. Even Emma Thompson is there, playing an implacable headmistress with terrifying efficiency.

And a bonus.... it also has a fabulous soundtrack!


I was thrilled when I read this week that An Education was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and Carey Mulligan also for Best Actress. If this film is any indication, Ms. Mulligan has not only made some very good decisions, but the fairy godmothers who once gathered round her bedside bequeathed more than the usual share of talent.




Go see An Education and tell me what you think.


Painting above: The Princess and the Frog by William Robert Symonds

36 comments:

  1. Must make a date to watch this film!
    ps: thanks for the invite, champagne brunch sounds lovely?!
    xo*

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  2. Sounds like one to see - and I agree with everything you've said. Why is it that when we are in school, we are taught and then we get the test, whearas in life it's completely the other way around ?

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  3. Hello P&E,

    Not often I get to comment this early! I've seen the film mentioned on TV and will cross finger for the young lady. But I suppose life teaches us as we go along, depending upon our willingness to heed the lessons!

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  4. You created the situation and intrigued us to go see the movie. Thank you.

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  5. That is exactly what I used to think! That we must make the important decisions regarding careeer, and marriage so young in life. May God Guide and Steer, for a blessed qismet and the right choices! I still don't know why wisdom, and when there is a real need of wisdom, often lie on opposite ends of a timeline...but let wisdom come at least!

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  6. Beautiful Pamela, both the build up and the film review.

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  7. Adolescence is such a difficult time... not only are you learning about yourself and creating who you are but you must make extremely important decisions...This theme has made many a good coming of age movie...I haven't heard of this one before and it sounds like something I would love!...Thanks for the heads-up!

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  8. I would love to see this movie but, alas! I don't know that it will ever reach this little island of Grenada :(

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  9. I had heard from a friend that this was a very good. I think I will make a date with my charming Prince to go see it-perhaps this weekend. Your beautiful writing certainly sets the stage for a very engaging production.

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  10. Dear Pamela, I was drawn into this posting without, at first, totally realising where it was going. That it went on to conclude with a brief review of a film, I thought to be a very clever device. Most enjoyable writing.

    I shall certainly look out for this film - the first I have heard of it - for it would seem to be exactly my kind of thing.

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  11. Excellent review, Pamela. This sounds like one I would enjoy. Plus, Carey Mulligan looks just like I did at that age!

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  12. I have got this film on my 'films to see' list.
    It looks really good and, now that you've recommended it, Pamela, it's a definite go see.
    .... and many , many thanks for your birthday wishes. It really did make it extra special. XXXX

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  13. How wonderful that you remember your Fairy Godmothers in such detail. Reading your post transported me back to my tiny rose bedroom with my "wishing curtains" and the fearsome gorilla in the closet.
    As for Miss Mulligan - I have adored her since seeing her as the flibberty-gibbit Kitty on Pride and Prejudice. She also played a very naughty young lady on Northanger Abbey. Glad that Jane Austen was able to give her a hand up.
    Cindee

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  14. I was intrigued by your build up and praise of this movie, all dressed up in your wonderful words. It is now on my must see list.

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  15. Thank you for such an wonderful excerpt on God fairies and frogs to be kissed all around your childhood garden...You put it all so nicely and I am right in the midst of it with my teen daughter. Desicions are hard to make and life is not a lesson but an expirience. It is not easy!
    And yet! They blossom and with a little help from all friends hopefully all will be right after these years have passed!
    Love to see this movie, maybe with her.
    XX
    Victoria

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  16. I will...Have a happy weekend Pamela. xv

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  17. Thank you..have to see this one..:))

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  18. Now in my sixties, looking back on the choices I made (or didn't make)in my teens I can see now how surely (even when I thought I was "lost") I have walked to this point. It is not necessary for us to know at the time but I believe our fairy godmothers are powerful and that the path we each take is always the right one for this life. Love your words Sue

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  19. Must get to watch it! Beautifully written post as always! suzie xxx

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  20. Your writing is so beautiful and vivid - we'd all love to see you write a book with all of your posts :-) Thanks for brightening our days!

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  21. love you blog...always such great art and lovely thoughts, to it...

    :-)

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  22. I will be thrilled to see the movie! What beautiful images!
    Karena

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  23. I love the painting. When I see it, then I can believe in fairytales :)
    And thanks for telling about the film. Maybe I will see it soon...?

    Have a nice weekend !

    xo
    Anci

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  24. I hope that we will be able to see the movie in Belgium! Because you made me wanting to see it!
    Have a nice weekend Pamela!
    xx
    Greet

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  25. I have heard about this movie and will get it on
    demand as soon as possible.
    Greetings from New York. Happy weekend.

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  26. Oh Pamela
    I must watch this one.. I'm afraid the fairy godmothers skipped my place as child.. I think I am more apt to find them these day!!!

    As ever.. inspirational.. xx Julie

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  27. I really wanted to see this film but because of one thing and another we missed seeing it at our local Film Theatre - I hoping it comes around again soon:)

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  28. I knew as I started reading your post that you were headed in the direction of An Education. What a film and I have shared with so many friends the need for them to watch the film with their teen children. It was a great film for parents to see as well, just how easy it is for everyone to get caught up in a world that moves too fast, and to take the wrong road.

    So glad you stopped by. I am so inspired by young people who are out in the world doing great things. I sent my daughter the book written by the young girl described on my post and she was blown away. Not just that she wrote a book but that she was willing to dedicate 2 years of high school to the effort.

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  29. Thank you, I must see this film.x

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  30. My but you have a gifted imagination! :)

    The movie sounds fab.

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  31. I've been wanting to see it for a long time. I'll get around to it soon.

    There's a lot to think about here, and so many unanswerable questions. I firmly believe that one important thing parents have to do is give their children decision making power early early early, and let them live with them as best they can. As an academic adviser at university, I recognize every day that this generation, in general, has a set of parents who have made their decisions for them most of their lives, and they really look to authority. I wonder where that will take us in the days ahead.

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  32. Looks like I'll have to put it on my list of films, Pamela - once again, your prose brings smiles and enjoyment :o)
    Judie

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  33. Ooh, thanks for the recommendation!

    The Princess and the Frog has always been my favourite fairytale. I wonder why...

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  34. I've seen this film twice. I first went with my mother who is fluent in Latin and a lover of knowledge and we both loved it. We discussed how funny parental expectations are, how in her time marriage was the ultimate goal for a girl.
    And then I went with my husband. He made me promise to never push our daughter or son into marriage, no matter how worried I might be about the possibility of grandchildren.

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  35. I was also at high school in 1961 and recognised the clothes, music, values and speech perfectly well. But the actress Carey Mulligan was too old, or her character was drawn too maturely, as far as I remember 1961. University-bound girls who respected their parents would never have behaved like that. If only they did :)

    Emma Thompson and Alfred Molina have great characters to get into and both are superb actors.

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  36. I must see this one - it sounds perfect as I was of course still a teenager in England at the start of the sixties!! I arrived here before the Beatles - but my mum actually met them all when they performed in my home town - she was the manager of the local theatre!

    Thanks for the heads up on this one - hopefully it's playing locally.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!