Earlier this week we watched 'The Stepford Wives', directed by Bryan Forbes it tells the story of a married couple who move from New York city with their two children to the small town of Stepford. The plot is based around the family settling into the town and the wife discovering there is something strange occuring with the wives. As the film progresses the town becomes more and more strange, as the characters are introduced. The main character, Joanna, soon becomes suspicious of the wives, and their actions as more and more of them become 'perfect' in the eyes of their husbands, suddenly becoming obessed with housework, cleaning and providing for their partners.
The film uses a very familiar setting of a steretypical American town, with the sets featuring shopping centres and the well-kept gardens of the large country houses. As the film progresses, the town starts to become slightly unfamiliar and 'uncanny' with the wives changing personalities and the men conspiring against the women in the 'gentlemen's club' which ends up to be changing the women into robotic type people.
This film is very eery and creepy in parts, especially when the robotic house-wives started to malfunction in parts and their humanity slowly dissapeared. The film had different themes running throughout, one being the cosumerism nature of Americans, which is shown in the shopping scenes. Another theme is the role of women; when Joanna first leaves New York she is shown as a independant, strong and intelligent woman which is a strong contrast between her and some of the other wives in Stepford. This part of Joanna is under threat at the end of the film where she is to lose her personality and individuality to become a 'drone' house-wife. There is also the theme of men wanting their women to be stereotypes and to cook, clean and shop for them whilst they work, it shows the control some men desire to have and do have over women.
Overall, I enjoyed this film, it was much more modern and had a more recent genre than the other films we have watched this unit. I liked the constant suspicion of the story, it reminded me of 'Invaders of the Body Snatchers' where anybody could have been 'in on it'.
'Timeout' magazine based in London slated the film's adaptation of the novel, saying the script was too 'leisurely' and describes Forbe's direction as 'dull'. I can see how this can be affliated with the film, as it's pace was very slow and the main character really didn't seem to feel in any point of danger until the end, which is described by Time Out as dispelling the unnerving atmosphere that the rest of the film had built up. The magazine did commend Forbe's for the final scene, which shows the 'logical' conclusion of the plot, with Joanna being 'one of them'.
This review calls on 'Stepford Wives' as not being a good example of excellent film-making saying it is 'little more than a knock-off of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'. The reviewer, Christopher Null, makes the sweeping statement that the women are more appealing and interesting after the transformation, as before hand they are 'whiny and petulant, and little else'. I can see where he is coming from, the plot is slow and the indecisiveness of the women and their actions does begin to grate on the viewer after some time.