Sofia Coppola’s remake improves on this Clint Eastwood Western

The Western has been one of the most popular American film genres since the silent era of cinema. Even in 1939 Stagecoach Credited with creating the modern version of the genre, Westerns were first John Fordclassics, and they have evolved greatly in the eight decades that followed. Many of these stories have become timeless, and making Western lovers can sometimes produce surprising results; for example, James Mangold2007’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma adds character depth to the 1957 original. While some Westerns are not necessarily remakes, Don Siegel1971 Clint Eastwood West Beguiled is one of the things that are absolutely necessary. By changing the perspective of the whole story in her 2017 remake, Sofia Coppola Fix the flaws in the original source and turn the relatively throwaway thriller into a modern classic about the complexities of gender dynamics in the 19th century.


Related: Clint Eastwood’s Best Directed Movies to Watch


What did Sofia Coppola add to the ‘Beguiled’ character?

Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Nicole Kidman, and Addison Riecke in The Beguiled (2017)
Image via focus feature

Both Siegel and Coppolas’ version of Beguiled is based on the 1966 novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan. The original film follows wounded Union soldier John McBurney (Clint Eastwood), who flees the dangers of battle to find shelter at Miss Martha Farnsworth’s seminary for young women in central Mississippi. It is far from the conflict itself, and those in the all-female school are forced to choose what to do with this enigmatic stranger. While some residents like 12-year-old Amy (Pamelyn Ferdin) and school teacher Edwina Dabney (Elizabeth Hartman) believe that it is their duty to save innocent lives, whether fighting for The flag, the stern head Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine page) asserted that men would only cause problems within an isolated learning environment. theirs.

While Don Siegel may have attempted to reflect the limited gender dynamics of the era, Farnsworth’s portrayal as a man-hating man obsessed with delusions (and McBurney as an innocent bystander) comes off as incredibly problematic. Although Siegel is arguably one of the great filmmakers of his time (responsible for such classics as Invasion of Body Snatchers And Dirty Harry), he is taking a very complicated novel as inspiration for a thriller in which an innocent man is persecuted by a group of women who love him. Comparatively, Sofia Coppola used the story to mine the type of tension. Instead of making a thriller, she turned the idea of ​​one man in the company of five women into a fun, occasionally campy melodrama.

Sofia Coppola’s version tells the exact same story, but the perspective is changed by giving more insight into Miss Farnsworth’s approach (Nicole Kidman) the school operated before McBurney’s arrival (Colin Farrell). It was revealed that since the beginning of the war, many teachers and students had left school for fear of invasion, as they had heard about the “total war” strategy of the Union Army. This shows Farnsworth’s lack of empathy, and it also gives more reasons for both of Amy’s (Orna Lorraine) and Edwinas (Kirsten Dunst) motivation.

Amy was left without many other girls to interact with, and therefore became very naive about the kindness of strangers; Edwina is left feeling aimless with less students to care for and finds success in having another adult around. If the arrival of Eastwood’s McBurney was met with nothing but contempt by the residents of the school, the presence of Farrell’s McBurney at least presented an open debate between the girls. Coppola does not paint them all in the same light, as she is known for the complexity that she can bring to her female characters. Mrs. Farnsworth, Edwina, Amy, and other students Alicia (Elle Fanning) and Jane (Angourie rice) have different expectations of McBurney’s motives based on his own (in some limited cases) interactions with men. It’s not just a timely update; Watching the conflict and conversation between five generations of women is more interesting than watching a grizzled Eastwood get spooked every minute by a creepy woman.

How has Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Beguiled’ changed compared to the Clint Eastwood Original?

Clint Eastwood and Jo Ann Harris in The Beguiled (1971)
Image via Universal Pictures

While Sofia Coppola Beguiled Clearly told from a woman’s point of view, it doesn’t mean that McBurney is portrayed as a mustache-twirling villain. One of the flaws of the original film is that despite being injured and seemingly defenseless, Clint Eastwood looks cooler than ever. Comparatively, Farrell actually showed that this is a grizzled soldier who has faced the dangers of battle and needs to rest. Even some of his objectionable behavior has some motivation behind it; He had been fighting for his country for months without proper shelter or food, and he often decided to act out of desperation. In fact, the kindness he showed Amy in the beginning when he met her at the edge of the school was real.

The complexity with which McBurney is portrayed makes the central inciting incident very interesting. In the original film, McBurney learns of the woman’s intention to hurt him after he resists Miss Farnsworth’s own sexual urges. It is an inherent gender concept; Farnsworth simply declared that separation was necessary because of some ingrained sexual desire. In Coppola’s version, it is the combination of McBurney’s relationship with Abigail and the way he takes advantage of Amy that brings the women together to agree that he no longer has a place in their community.

Coppola also understands that at the end of the day, Beguiled A melodrama. After realizing that they cannot defeat McBurney physically, the women decide to take the mushrooms that they used in the elegant dinner. This is a jump scare in Siegel’s version, but Coppola understands how silly it is. There’s a sickening tension that comes from the film’s pivotal final meal, and it’s almost comical to watch a robust Farrell thank his host for a meal he doesn’t know will be his last.

Like the Sofia Coppola movie, Beguiled Decorated with beautiful production design, beautiful picture frames, and elegant costumes. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit; Neither movie really takes into account the fact that as Southerners during the Civil War, Farnsworth and her friends would own slaves. Perhaps a better remake will emerge at some point that balances the perspective, but as it stands, Coppola’s version represents a step in the right direction.

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