Actually, I don’t have any, not movies that are actually about gardening, that is. I don’t choose movies for gardening subject matter but I do pay attention—quite intently, as you’d expect from someone who sees the world through their obsession—to how nature and gardens are used on the large and small screens.
British mini-series and costume dramas nearly always feature gardens prominently, and sometimes they have significance. I was re-watching the entire Brideshead Revisited recently, and in the early part, the halcyon days of Charles Ryder’s (Jeremy Irons) and Sebastian Flyte’s (Anthony Andrews) friendship, gardens and flowers are prominent. Early on, Ryder says he loves his Oxford rooms because of the gillyflowers (Dianthus? Some kind of wallflower? Sources disagree.) that grow under the window. And then, almost all the Jane Austen adaptations are replete with shrubberies, woods, and formal gardens. Author Phillippa Gregory, known for her Tudor books (great bodice-rippers!),discusses this, a bit, in an article in yesterday’s Guardian:
Why do we like to watch historical drama?
For many, I am sure, it is the visual delight of a pre-industrial landscape. Rural poverty is always pretty, and the loving shots of unsprayed cornfields and ragged haymeadows, little villages with wandering geese and charming urchins, have all the joy of gardening programmes without the implied requirement that you learn something and then put it into practice.
Many of the Masterpiece Theater productions are great for this. I’m watching, via Netflix, The Pallisers now, and even though budgets were low by today’s standards, the locations have beautiful plantings (big advantage of shooting in England—castles, mansions, and their extensive gardens all over the damn place).
While the historical drama Gregory refers to is not an especially tranquil story (The Other Boleyn Girl), most of the PBS stuff I watch is pretty mild-mannered, as well as having lovely garden settings. It’s that association that is most comforting in these movies and miniseries. In many of these shows, really bad things don’t happen; they’re a soothing escape, much as we try to create when we garden.
And thanks to Netflix, I’ll have plenty of these to watch, easily enough to last me into warm weather. Though they’re more filled with tragic matter than I would prefer, I do think Gregory’s two botany novels would make for interesting movies.Posted by Elizabeth Licata on March 2, 2008 at 9:00 am, in the category Watch Someone Else Do It.