[Milton-L] PL film

Angelica Duran aduran at cla.purdue.edu
Tue Nov 22 08:04:09 EST 2005

Dear all,

When I first heard of the movie version, my first response was to think of
the directorial decisions or special effects to put a veil on nudity.  One
of the tricks in my pedagogical grab bag is to have a group of students do
illustrations of _Paradise Lost_ before I bring in the Blake, J.M.W. Turner,
etc.  In discussing their choices, the students/artists often mention
hesitating before drawing naked Adam and Eve. The practice worked especially
well at Stanford, which has a Rodin garden (how glorious!): students are
able to appreciate Rodin's boldness.

I'm for the film version. I hope that the 21st century brings with it
multiple filmed versions of Milton's works, as the 20th brought multiple
filmed versions of Shakespeare's, which will help minimize Diane McColley's
correct concerns about viewers possessing only one fixed version rather than
many and their own.


Angelica Duran
Assistant Professor
Department of English and Program of Comparative Literature
Purdue University
500 Oval Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 496-3957
<duran0 at cla.purdue.edu>

> From: Harold Skulsky <HSKULSKY at email.smith.edu>
> Reply-To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 08:01:19 -0500
> To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L]  O Eve, in evil hour...
> Richard Strier writes that "what's really interesting to consider is that the
> movie version would be pornography; I think this is actually quite important."
> This is a touch cryptic, but (from where I sit anyhow) on the mark.
> I rarely get through a reading of PL 4.492-502 (to take one example), with its
> gratuitously teasing closeup at 495-97, without regretting the obvious
> discomfort of my otherwise worldly senior classes. I remind them that this is
> prelapsarian sexuality, pure as the driven snow. (Think of the naked figure in
> Titian's "Sacred and Profane Love.") I might as well not bother. For them it's
> unmistakably a decorative little riff of lubricious peek-a-boo.
> But could the fallen eye be onto something? After all, stretching in all
> directions around the embracing pair is a physical universe that is charged
> with eros, as with other marvels of the body; the archangel in PL 8 lets us
> know that an erotic version of the ladder of love reaches up even to the
> heaven of angels (though the blushing description of their "unrestrain'd
> conveyance" is hardly the stuff of a scene in Aretino).
> Asked for a constitutionally respectable definition of pornography, the
> Supreme spoke only too well when he answered, helplessly, "I know it when I
> see it"; the pornographer Professor Strier has in mind, of course, is the film
> maker, not Milton--the film maker who can't avoid this kind of trivialization
> even if he would: there are no prelapsarian movie cameras.
> But maybe (as Professor Strier seems to be hinting) there's something in
> Milton's Eden that the voyeuristic eye singles out in spite of itself but is
> doomed to misrepresent, and that something is "actually quite important."
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