I Capture The Castle

Last Christmas, after years of being pestered by the blurb in A Common Reader, I finally bought I Capture the Castle. I read it all Christmas and all Boxing Day and I fell completely in love with it. It’s rare with me for a new discovery to become an instant favorite, but Dodie Smith’s classic so perfectly captures the delights and dashed hopes of a girl’s first love that I’ve recommended it to everyone that would listen, since.

And then the BBC made a movie. And the movie is pitch perfect, especially the performance by Tara Fitzgerald as the artiste stepmother, Topaz. Usually, when you love a book, the movie is always a disappointment. This case is one of those rare instances where if you read the book first, the movie brings it to life, and if you see the movie first, the book will still be filled with little unexpected pleasures.

The movie is intelligent, and amusing, and literate. It’s a wonderful movie for any teenage girl and any woman who remembers what it felt like to be a teenage girl. Sadly few American girls will see this movie because the MPAA has rated it R.

There are no explosions, no bullet-riddled bodies, no slashers, no decomposing corpses, no decapitations, no foul language, no sexual acts (a couple of kisses), no lewd posturing, no smirking double talk. There is nothing as offensive as the smirky lasciviousness found in the PG-13 rated Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, or Lara Croft movies. There is nothing, nothing that should keep a pre-teen or teenager from watching this film. This is an English comedy of manners where the characters spend most of their time in fancy dress clothes talking at dinner parties.

So why is it rated R? Because in one short scene, the stepmother Topaz goes out at night in a rainstorm and communes with nature in the buff (although even in that scene, you only see her naked from the waist up). The scene is completely innocent; there is absolutely no sexual connotation. I can’t imagine being offended by anything in this movie, but since this is America, I could see the movie getting a PG rating. But an R? The people at the MPAA have gone completely bonkers. If American sensibilities continue at this rate, it won’t be long until we’re all wearing burqas.

And, yes, the R rating makes a difference. Our local paper hasn’t even reviewed this movie. Only one theater is playing it on one screen. And when we went to see it today, only about 12 people were there, mostly couples in their forties and fifties–a couple of older women alone. And not one single teenager or child. What a loss. Along with Whale Rider, this is probably the best young person’s movie of the summer.

Go see it. And take your daughters.

One Response to “I Capture The Castle”

  1. jbl Responds:

    I’d been saving this up as a little treat to read when I had more time and a quiet space. Today that came and I savored your review over coffee and an English muffin. I know, a scone or a crumpet with tea would have fit the bill better but…. this reminded me of the delight I experienced watching my first Merchant Ivory film – A Room with a View – back in the 80’s. Sadly, I have not even seen this film around here in Phoenix. But now I’ll keep an eye out just in case. And while I may not be reading much fiction these days, maybe I’ll even pick this up and indulge.
    As for the film industry in general here, it is hopeless, mired as it is in smut, stupidity, over-rated special effects (I thought the chase scene in French connection outclassed the one in Matix 2 by a mile…) and a severe lack of imagination. Time to stop supporting it and go to the indies!

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