Friday, September 18, 2015

1970: Glenda Jackson for Women in Love

Glenda Jackson plays one of two schoolteacher sisters in early-1920s England who enter into relationships with two men who are very close friends - perhaps even more than friends. The four of them wander around trying to figure out what love truly means, or if it even exists at all.

I'm so confused right now. Part of it is that I didn't really understand the point of this film. It was very artistically shot, but there wasn't really much of a story. Every time a promising plot line came up - the transformation of the coal mine, the deranged mother, etc - it was abandoned in favor of more nudity, dancing through nature, and philosophical discussions that tried, and usually failed, to be profound. It's definitely not my kind of movie. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself; I don't have to like every movie. I wasn't watching it for the film as a whole; I watched it for Glenda Jackson's performance. Unfortunately that's the part that really confuses me.

I don't understand why she won Best Actress for this performance. She didn't really do anything. Of the four main characters, hers is the least intriguing, and probably the least important. Everything she does, the other three do more of in a more interesting manner, except perhaps dance. She does have some very bizarre dance scenes. Maybe that's why she won. I just don't understand how anyone could come away from that movie thinking, Wow, what a great performance by Glenda Jackson. I didn't really think anything about this movie was Oscar-worthy, except maybe cinematography, but I would have nominated the other three main actors for Oscars before Jackson. How she won when none of the others were even nominated I simply cannot fathom. I'm not saying it's a bad performance; I just found it wholly unremarkable. It does have the distinction of being the first Best Actress winning performance to feature nudity, but even that is unremarkable in the context of this movie. Jackson has way fewer nude scenes than co-stars Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, which was one of the few interesting things about this movie, since generally female nudity is far more prevalent in movies than male nudity. Not only did Jackson have less nudity, she also had fewer scenes than the other main characters (although her sister kind of faded toward the end, but at the beginning she was more important), and her character's objectives were the least clearly defined, in a movie where no character had very clearly defined objectives. So what made her performance stand out above the others? I've tried to come up with something for the sake of this blog, but I still have no idea.

I haven't seen any of the other Best Actress nominated performances from this year, but I do know that it was the only year so far since the 2nd Academy Awards that all five were first-time nominees. Jackson would go on to be nominated three more times, winning again for her third nomination, in 1973's A Touch of Class. I hope that's a more interesting performance than this. I remember being extremely impressed by her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in that mini-series, although I think I was 12 when I watched it. Anyway, I'll talk about her more soon, and I really hope I'll have something more interesting to say than, "I don't get it." But in the immediate future, I'll talk about Jane Fonda.

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