The Invisible Woman (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 13, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“The Invisible Woman” is a gorgeous and fascinating film which boasts strong performances, gorgeous cinematography and costume design,. “The Invisible Woman” is a film that I definitely recommend!
© 2012 Headline Pictures (Invisible Woman) Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation and British Film Institute. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Invisible Woman
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 111 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, Portuguese, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RATED: R (For some sexual content)
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Directed by Ralph Fiennes
Screenplay by Abi Morgan
Based on a Book by Claire Tomalin
Produced by Christian Baute, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Stewart Mackinnon, Gabrielle Tana
Co-Produced by Kevan Van Thompson
Executive Producer: Maya Amsellem, Sharon Harel, Eve Schoukroun
Music by Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography by Rob Hardy
Edited by Nicolas Gaster
Casting by Leo Davis
Production Design by Maria Djurkovic
Art Direction by Nick Dent, Sarah Stuart
Set Decoration by Tatiana Macdonald
Costume Design by Michael O’Connor
Felicity Jones as Nelly
Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens
John Kavanagh as Rev. William Benham
Kristin Scott Thomas as Mr. Frances Ternan
Perdita Weeks as Maria Ternan
Gabriel Vick as Mr. Berger
Mark Dexter as Mr. August Egg
Joanne Scanlan as Catherine Dickens
Tom Hollander as Wilkie Collins
Amanda Hale as Fanny Ternan
Nelly (Felicity Jones) is haunted by her past. Her memories take us back in time to follow the story of her exciting but fragile relationship with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes). Dickens – famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success – falls for Nelly. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens’ passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and, for Nelly, a life of “invisibility”.
Charles Dickens will always be known for his literary work.
From “A Christmas Carol”, “Oliver Twist”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “Great Expectations” to name a few, considered as a genius for his time, Dickens work continues to entertain generations.
But there is also another side of Dickens that has entertained the masses and that is his alleged affairs. Back in 1991, Claire Tomlin’s novel “The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens” was among the novels about Dickens affairs.
Dickens who was 45 at the time, allegedly had an affair with 18-year-old Ellen Ternan, a very big fan of his work. (Note: Dickens refuted any affairs with any women)
One thing that has been featured in writings about Dickens’ life is his lack of approval of his wife Catherine and the worries of his financial situation because he had 10 children. Also, unlike him, Catherine was seen by him as lazy and as not an intellectual like himself. Whereas Nelly was an intellect, interested in the arts, literature, theatre, politics and more.
But in Tomlin’s book, in order to avoid any public leaks regarding their affair, Dickens would travel with her using different names and thus, their affair was hidden and Ellen Ternan would become an “invisible woman” during a time where the man can do what he wishes, while the woman is seen as unimportant.
Bringing the film adaptation to the big screen, actor Ralph Fiennes (“Schindler’s List”, “Skyfall”, “Harry Potter” films) had directed only one film titled “Coriolanus” in 2011 and the challenge for his second film was that he would not only direct, but he would also star as Charles Dickens, while actress Felicity Jones (“The Tempest”, “Like Crazy”, “Hysteria”) was tapped to play the role of Ellen “Nelly” Ternan.
And now “The Invisible Woman” will be released on Blu-ray+DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
“The Invisible Woman” revolves around how Charles Dickens (portrayed by Ralph Fiennes) was first introduced to Nelly (portrayed by Felicity Jones) and her mother Frances (portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas).
The film would begin many years after the death of Charles Dickens death with Ellen Ternan watching a play being planned and a small gathering by her husband Mr. George Wharton Robinson (portrayed by Tom Burke).
For Rev. William Benham (portrayed by John Kavanagh), he is very interested in learning more about Nelly but moreso about her past working with Charles Dickens and the memories of her past with Charles Dickens begins to return. For William, he feels there is more to the meaning of various characters conveyed in Charles Dickens books and wonders if there are more to these characters and in relation to Nelly.
But her husband Wharton is unaware of why Nelly becomes alarmed and saddened when it comes to discussion of Charles Dickens.
As the past is remembered, Dickens would cast Frances, Nelly and one of her sisters in “The Frozen Deep” and eventually, both Dickens and Nelly would enjoy each other’s company.
We see a relationship between Nelly and Charles Dickens eventually bloom (supported by Nelly’s mother Frances as she sees it as a way for her to enhance her career) but what happens when Catherine receives a bracelet meant for Nelly? And what happens when Charles Dickens starts to see the public become interested in his public affairs?
But what is more important for Charles Dickens? Would it be Nelly, his wife and family or the public that he entertains?
“The Invisible Woman” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio). The cinematography by Rob Hardy is well-done as Hardy is able to capture the romance, the sadness but all with a cinematic flair that looks gorgeous on Blu-ray.
Outdoor scenes are vibrant and beautiful, skin tones are natural and black levels are good and deep.
I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Invisible Woman” is presented in English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue is crystal clear as with the music by composer Ilan Eshkeri (“The Young Victoria”, “Kick-Ass”, “Stardust”). While the film is center and front-channel driven, there is a moment during the Staplehurst Disaster in which the lossless soundtrack utilizes the surrround channels and LFE.
The lossless soundtrack is quite adequate for this film and the lossless soundtrack is crystal clear in HD.
Subtitles are in English, Portuguese and Spanish.
“The Invisible Woman” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary from director/actor Ralph Fiennes and actress Felicity Jones.
- SAG Foundation Conversations with Ralph Fiennes & Felicity Jones – (26:33) The Q&A with Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes.
- On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Premiere– (16:33) tiff behind-the-scenes on the red carpet and at the screening of the event.
- Toronto International Film Festival Press Conference – (21:00) tiff press conference with Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes.
- Theatrical Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “The Invisible Woman”.
For anyone who grew up reading a Charles Dickens book or even watched a Charles Dickens novel, the story about Dickens is rather interesting. From his fight against slavery, his fight against piracy of his work and his push for copyright, his criticism of religion (or deviations from Christianity), his fight for the poor and there is no doubt that Dickens was a fascinating man.
Especially because of how his films and how he presented himself as this caring, family man. The film does show the difference between the public vs. personal Charles Dickens.
And his personal matters surrounding his muse/mistress Ellen “Nelly” Turnan is rather fascinating!
While not surprising, considering that Dickens was a celebrity and one of the well-known celebrities during the early-to-mid 1800’s, it’s hard to believe this burly bearded man, who was 45 at the time, would have a relationship with an 18-year-old young woman.
But this is possibly what Dickens had desired, a woman like himself, an intellect, a person who respects the arts, theatre and a person he can have intellectual discussions and one that would understand what he is saying.
And that one would be Ellen “Nelly” Turnan.
While one can easily read on the Internet about this relationship, especially from the book by Claire Tomalin, the film does bring into context of what kind of relationship the two had especially at that time.
Sure, we are not phased by celebrity affairs in today’s society, in fact, you come to expect it. But for Charles Dickens, it was a different time because it was more about the needs of the man and a celebrity who had to take action in order to not be found out by any gossip that may harm his name.
And for Ellen Turnan, a young woman, who never really had any major relationship. Being captivated and then close to the man she idolized, having a mother who was cajoling her towards having a relationship for career purposes and Dickens ways of showing that he was in love by having his wife encounter Ellen, there is part of you that accepts the situation as a sign of the times but another side of you who felt that perhaps, Charles Dickens outside of his literary work was a jerk.
But at the same time, you study other successful men in different industries and you start to learn more about these affairs and relationships that these celebrities or wealthy and well-known individuals had at the time. As for Dickens, it’s his way of doing or handling things that is left as undesired.
Dickens wife throws Nelly a question about who is more important to Dickens, is it the woman or his public? The film shows us how this relationship has affected Nelly as the woman in his life that must be invisible to the public, not acknowledged by anyone else but Charles Dickens.
Another memorable scene in the film aside from the numerous gorgeous scenes shot by Rob Hardy is the Staplehurst rail accident, one of the largest train accidents of its time and one that was widely reported because of Charles Dickens, who was riding in the train along with Nelly and her mother, and was able to save them but at the same time, trying to save others who would eventually die of their injuries but also seeing how he was able to cover up his affair with Nelly.
The direction by Ralph Fiennes is well-done, it may be a bit slow for some viewers but the actual building of the relationship in accordance to his career was carefully paced. But the acting by Fiennes and actress Felicity Jones plus actress Joanna Scanlan was well-done and “The Invisible Woman” is a film that manages to capture the emotional suffering that the women closes to Dickens, must go through.
The film looks absolutely gorgeous in HD and the dialogue and music is crystal clear, along with a few special features including audio commentary and footage from the Toronto International Film Festival.
Overall, “The Invisible Woman” is a gorgeous and fascinating film which boasts strong performances, gorgeous cinematography and costume design,. “The Invisible Woman” is a film that I definitely recommend!
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