Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mourning Become Electra (1947)

Incest, Murder and Suicide! That pretty much sums up Mourning Become Electra, one of the most messed up movies I've ever seen.

The film stars the way-too-old-for-this-part Rosalind Russell as Lavinia Mannon, the daughter of the wealthy Ezra Mannon (Raymond Massey). She is completely devoted to her father (freakishly so), so she becomes quite upset when her mother Christine (Katina Paxinou) poisons him so that she may leave to be with her much younger lover. Enraged, Lavinia teams up with her Oedipus complex-ridden brother Orin (Michael Redgrave) to kill Christine's lover. The resulting break in the family could potential damage Lavinia's relationship with her love Peter (Kirk Douglas) as well as drive her mother and brother to extremes.

Ok, I want to get this out of the way, this is not going to be a film that is easy to recommend. I happen to love it, but it's VERY long (173 minutes) and the acting could turn some people off due to appearing overly theatrical. Rosalind Russell is absolutely fantastic as the conniving Lavinia who seeks to avenge her father's murder and Michael Redgrave is just as good playing her brother Orin who could be torn apart by aiding his sister in her revenge.

The film has a very heavy suggestion of incest. Not necessarily of the actual act, but of inappropriate relationships between parent and child. In fact, Orin is not out to avenge is murdered father, he instead wants to have his mother all for himself again. It can make for a very uncomfortable viewing experience. There's also a lot of weird mysticism in the film, with the presence of long-deceased Mannons in their family estate become more and more prevalent as the film goes on and the sins stack up.

This is not going to be a film for everyone, the acting can be seen as over-the-top and as I already said, the film is VERY, VERY long, but if it you still wish to give the film a show, you'll find a very layered, very tragic film.

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