Among the Morris dancers and Bronte tea towels, there is little today in the Yorkshire village of Haworth to dispel romantic images of Charlotte, Emily and Anne strolling on sunlit moors, gaining inspiration for tales that would one day busy the costume drama industry.
It is harder to imagine dungheaps and foul drains, the open sewer in the street and the cholera and typhoid that killed most children before their sixth birthday. It is this dark vision of Bronte country that will be evoked in the first major British biopic of the literary household.
Bronte, likely to be filmed from October in a Yorkshire village that has yet to be chosen, will not replace chocolate-box images with black clouds and tragedy. The £6 million movie will argue that what the sisters achieved in spite of the death and disease was a miracle of imagination and nothing short of heroic.
Doesn't that third paragraph contradict the second? First we're told that "It is this dark vision...that will be evoked," and then we're assured that the film "will not replace chocolate-box images with black clouds and tragedy."
Yes, the Brontes were real people who lived in difficult times. But while I'm no fan of sugar-coated history, it sounds as though this biopic might edge too far in the opposite direction, aiming to shove our noses into those dungheaps so we can smell the Brontes' reality. I'm going to keep my eye on this project, and if it looks like the film's going for grittiness in order to play up the heroism of the Bronte siblings, I'll probably give it a miss and stick with my books.
How about you?
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