Monday, February 21, 2011


I'm including spoilers, mainly because I don't think I understood the movie and I feel like I might be able to figure stuff out if I give things away. I am sorry for the inconvenience.
Brand is a British TV movie of a Henrik Ibsen play starring Patrick McGoohan as (and this is probably not entirely accurate because I had a hard time following the story) a priest who kind of accidentally steals another guy's woman, whom he marries and they have a kid (I thought priests weren't allowed to get married?). But the kid dies and the wife dies and I assume Brand is sad but he's to busy trying to be Captain Purity Pants to show any emotion or something. Then he gives the villagers a rousing speech and they all follow him into the mountains before they realize "Hey, he never told us what our reward was going to be." So he tells them death is the only thing that will save them and isn't that an awesome reward? Nobody agrees and they all beat him with rocks and go back home. Then a crazy lady thinks he's Jesus and he starts crying because his life sucked and his philosophy of "all or nothing" was pretty much wrong. Then an avalanche kills him. The end.
I get the feeling Brand would be a pretty powerful play to watch for people who understand it. Me and my tenuous grasp of religion and flowery monologues were left in the dust. I got that Brand was a jerk (he refused to give last rites to his own mother because she wasn't willing to give "all" to God, and when their son dies he implies that his wife's mourning is her "worshipping an idol" and that it's a sin for her to remember him or something) and that he was pretty much insane the entire time (Patrick McGoohan's got crazy eyes for most of the movie). But if there was a deeper meaning than that, it went right over my head.
In spite of his royal jerkass attitude, I did feel bad for the guy at the end. I don't know how much of that has to do with Patrick McGoohan being a good actor and how much of that has to do with the fact that I have a bad case of hero worship (which Brand would not approve of) and a pretty big crush on the guy. The review of Brand I read on IMDB in an attempt to try and figure out what I just watched seemed to think it was just brilliant acting, so I'll go with that.
And, because I am a Prisoner nerd, it would be wrong of me to skip my favorite part of the movie: Brand is talking to somebody who I think is supposed to be another priest but resembles a Dracula (widow's peak, bushy eyebrows, cape, fancy medals or something around his neck), who tells Brand that you have to curb your individuality for the good of the community. My resonse was a hearty laugh and a "Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" There were a couple of moments where I got the chance to throw out lines from The Prisoner (at one point he says "What do you want?" and I never heard the answer in the movie because I was too busy saying "Information." When the crazy lady starts telling him "You are the savior man!" I couldn't help but add "You are Number Six!").
So, yeah, I'm maybe not the target audience for Brand. I assume Ibsen wanted people to see this play and think deeply about philisophical things, not just giggle at references that didn't yet exist when the play was written.

End of line.


Moor Larkin said...

The TV version of this play kinda blows the real climax. At the very very end, as Brand is crushed by the coldness of his own ice, he aks his God to tell him where he went wrong and a big God-Voice booms: "God is Love".

That kinds seems a bit weak nowadays, but in 1959 when God was still all about fear, damnation and retribution, that was a pretty hot message and you could say it prefaced the Peace and Love generation that the Sixties became.

As I say, the TV production blew this crucial element. In the theatre it was a huge gob-opening moment apparently and McGoohan became feted for his performance in the London theatre and this is why the TV version got staged. You were right on the button really that the whole play was about how Brand got it all so hopelessly wrong, but of course he had the triumph of the will - if you get my drift.

As an aside, that dracula guy was actually peter sallis who is more known nowadays for being the voice of Wallace, who owns the dog called Gromit.

Peace and Love to you too for sitting through what is a pretty tough call for anyone nowadays... :-D

Sally said...

Hey, thanks for the insight! The "God is Love" thing explains quite a bit; I kinda wonder why they didn't leave that in.
At first I didn't think the movie had much of an effect on me, but I haven't stopped thinking about it all day, so it made more of an impression than I thought.
Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

Roman Catholic priests can't marry, but others can. I don't know the play so I don't know what kind of priest he was supposed to be. I'm guessing not Roman Catholic though.