Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)

NC-17 | 98 mins | Drama, Romance | 1993

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HISTORY


       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, several filmmakers tried to develop Jean Rhys’s novel for the screen since it was published in 1966, but adapting a screenplay proved difficult. One such aborted attempt was announced by DV on 6 Feb 1981, with Norman Jewison’s Bolton Films Ltd., Silverworld Films Ltd., and distributor United Artists Corporation collaborating on an $8 million version written by Arthur Hopcraft, to be directed by John Irvin. In the late 1980s, producer Jan Sharp decided to write a treatment for the film adaptation after optioning the book and auditioning several screenwriters. Over the next two years, still unable to find a suitable writer, Sharp wrote a first draft of the screenplay herself, and in late 1990, began to raise financing and search for a director, hiring John Duigan in Jan 1991.
       New Line Cinema’s involvement in the project was reported on 1 Mar 1990 in a DV article, stating that the studio planned to “carve out a larger market share” by quadrupling its development slate with a $120 million in production funds and an “average project budget of $6 million.” At the time, the film was expected to shoot in Martinique, and Shelagh Delaney was credited as screenwriter, though Delaney received no credit on the final version. A 4 Mar 1991 DV article announced that New Line greenlighted the film with a reported budget of $4-5 million and a Jun 1991 start date. Wide Sargasso Sea was set to be New Line’s “first international coproduction.” The actor Michael York, who had previously been slated to star as “Rochester” in three failed attempts by ... More Less


       According to production notes from AMPAS library files, several filmmakers tried to develop Jean Rhys’s novel for the screen since it was published in 1966, but adapting a screenplay proved difficult. One such aborted attempt was announced by DV on 6 Feb 1981, with Norman Jewison’s Bolton Films Ltd., Silverworld Films Ltd., and distributor United Artists Corporation collaborating on an $8 million version written by Arthur Hopcraft, to be directed by John Irvin. In the late 1980s, producer Jan Sharp decided to write a treatment for the film adaptation after optioning the book and auditioning several screenwriters. Over the next two years, still unable to find a suitable writer, Sharp wrote a first draft of the screenplay herself, and in late 1990, began to raise financing and search for a director, hiring John Duigan in Jan 1991.
       New Line Cinema’s involvement in the project was reported on 1 Mar 1990 in a DV article, stating that the studio planned to “carve out a larger market share” by quadrupling its development slate with a $120 million in production funds and an “average project budget of $6 million.” At the time, the film was expected to shoot in Martinique, and Shelagh Delaney was credited as screenwriter, though Delaney received no credit on the final version. A 4 Mar 1991 DV article announced that New Line greenlighted the film with a reported budget of $4-5 million and a Jun 1991 start date. Wide Sargasso Sea was set to be New Line’s “first international coproduction.” The actor Michael York, who had previously been slated to star as “Rochester” in three failed attempts by other filmmakers, was cast to play “Paul Mason.”
       Pre-production took place on location in Jamaica, where filmmakers based their operations out of Jamaica’s north shore, “the original site of many of the greatest plantations,” according to production notes. Instead of building sets, various locations were refurbished; however, in the case of the main plantation set, a house was entirely rebuilt. In more than one instance, a number of different locations were made to appear as one, and the waterfall scene was shot at four different locales.
       Beginning Jul 1991, filming took place over six weeks “during the hottest time of the year” in Jamaica, followed by a two-day shoot in Oct 1991 at Greystoke Castle in northern England, with the castle serving as Rochester’s English estate, Thornfield Hall. Post-production followed in California.
       Critical reception was largely positive. In a 21 Apr 1993 HR review, Duane Byrge stated that the film would “dignify” the NC-17 ratings classification, awarded to the film partly due to a glimpse of male frontal nudity according to the 23 Apr 1993 LAT review. Reviewers uniformly praised the film’s eroticism and scenery, and HR described the script as “sharp and dense” and Duigan’s directing as “fittingly sensual.”
       Wide Sargasso Sea marked the first leading role for model-actress Karina Lombard, who had previously played a small part in Oliver Stone’s The Doors (1991, see entry).

       A written statement appears in the end credits thanking the following organizations and individuals: Jampro; Jackie Neath and Suzanne Thomas; The NSW Office of Film and TV; Sandy Lieberson; Michael Frankel; Tony Hart; Praise Car Rental; and Wesley Gordon Enterprises.


Academic Network University of Washington, Seattle; student: Jessica Campbell [email protected]; Advisor: Jennifer M. Bean [email protected] . SBC 4/3/12. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1981
p. 1, 46.
Daily Variety
1 Mar 1990
p. 1, 39.
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1991
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1993
p. 5, 16.
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1993
p. 4.
New York Times
16 Apr 1993
Section C, p. 6.
Variety
3 Jul 1991.
---
Variety
19 Apr 1993
p. 45.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
Prod mgr, Northern England shoot
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Northern England shoot
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
3d asst dir, Northern England shoot
Addl 3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Line prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, Northern England shoot
Dir of photog, Underwater shoot
Focus puller
Focus puller, Northern England shoot
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam asst
Asst cam, Underwater shoot
2d asst cam
2d unit cam asst
3d asst cam
Addl cam op
Clapper loader, Northern England shoot
Chief elec, Northern England shoot
Best boy elec
Jamaican best boy
Elec
Elec, Northern England shoot
Key dolly grip
Best boy grip
Cam grip, Northern England shoot
Cam grip, Northern England shoot
Grip gaffer, Underwater shoot
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod des, Northern England shoot
Asst to prod des
Art dir
Art dir, Northern England shoot
Art dir, Underwater shoot
Art dept coord
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser, Northern England shoot
Prop master
Propertyman, Northern England shoot
Prop buyer
Asst props
Greensman
Greensman
Greensman
Leadman
Swing
On set carpenter
Scenic artist
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv, Northern England shoot
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Stitcher
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Score co-prod & mixed by
Featured E.V.I. performance
SOUND
Sd des
Sd mixer
Sd mixer, Northern England shoot
Boom op
Boom op, Northern England shoot
Addl boom
Cable puller
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
ADR ed
ADR eng
ADR eng
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec asst
Dir of sd services
Digital sd & re-rec by
High performance post production
Dolby consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Eff const coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Mechanical eff coord
Main title des
Fire anim
Boat matte composite
DANCE
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
Make-up/Hair asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of post prod
Exec in charge of prod
Prod coord
Prod coord
Scr supv
Casting dir, USA
Casting asst, USA
Casting dir, London
Casting dir, Paris
Casting dir, Jamaica
Casting dir, Jamaica
Casting dir, Jamaica
Story board artist
Loc mgr
Asst loc
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Jamaican captain
Honeywagon driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Horse wrangler
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, Underwater shoot
First aid
Prod supv
Prod accountant
Prod accountant, Northern England shoot
Asst prod accountant
Accounting clerk
Jamaican consultant
Asst to Ms. Risher
Asst to the dir
Prod attorney
Prod attorney
Contract supv
Legal asst
Caterer/craft services
Caterer/craft services
Loc projectionist
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
Post prod administrator
Inventory control mgr
STAND INS
Stand in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (London, 1966).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Schubert Quartet," arranged by Lee Ashley BMI, published by Software Music BMI, courtesy Capitol Production Music/Ole Georg
"Haydn: Quartet, Opus 64, No. 5 Minuet," arranged by Les Peel BMI, published by Group Pro, Inc., BMI, courtesy Capitol Production Music/Ole Georg
"Briccialdi: Andante," arranged by Lee Ashley BMI, published by Software Music BMI, courtesy Capitol Production Music/Ole Georg.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1993
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 16 April 1993
Los Angeles opening: 23 April 1993
Production Date:
began July 1991 in Jamaica
Copyright Claimant:
New Line Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
9 November 1993
Copyright Number:
PA666871
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
NC-17
Countries:
Australia, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31683
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Antoinette Cosway recalls her youth in 1840s Jamaica, growing up with her French mother, Annette, and younger brother Pierre. Following the abolition of slavery on the island and the financial collapse of the family plantation, Antoinette’s English father drinks himself to death, and her mother marries another Englishman named Paul Mason. Though the Jamaican plantation workers harbor hostility toward Antoinette’s family, their anger is kept at bay by her nurse, Christophene, who is widely feared because of her skills in black magic. However, as Mason and his brother Richard agitate the workers with criticism and threats, the Jamaicans retaliate by setting fire to the house. Everyone in the family survives except Pierre, whose death drives his mother to insanity. Subsequently, Mason provides for the family financially but retreats to England, leaving Antoinette with only her Aunt Cora to care for her. Several years later, Antoinette, who has been living at a convent, receives a visit from Richard Mason, who tells her that Paul has died and has left the properties in Jamaica to her, provided that she marry. The Masons have already arranged a match with a family in England, and Edward Rochester, a second son whose older brother is set to inherit his family’s property, comes to Jamaica. Despite Aunt Cora’s reservations as to how little they know about Edward, he and Antoinette marry and move into the Cosways’ summer house in the mountains, where the newlyweds and a few servants, including Christophene, attempt to maintain some European upper-class customs. Though they have very different backgrounds, Antoinette and Edward get along and experience particular satisfaction in their sexual relationship. One night, Antoinette has ... +


Antoinette Cosway recalls her youth in 1840s Jamaica, growing up with her French mother, Annette, and younger brother Pierre. Following the abolition of slavery on the island and the financial collapse of the family plantation, Antoinette’s English father drinks himself to death, and her mother marries another Englishman named Paul Mason. Though the Jamaican plantation workers harbor hostility toward Antoinette’s family, their anger is kept at bay by her nurse, Christophene, who is widely feared because of her skills in black magic. However, as Mason and his brother Richard agitate the workers with criticism and threats, the Jamaicans retaliate by setting fire to the house. Everyone in the family survives except Pierre, whose death drives his mother to insanity. Subsequently, Mason provides for the family financially but retreats to England, leaving Antoinette with only her Aunt Cora to care for her. Several years later, Antoinette, who has been living at a convent, receives a visit from Richard Mason, who tells her that Paul has died and has left the properties in Jamaica to her, provided that she marry. The Masons have already arranged a match with a family in England, and Edward Rochester, a second son whose older brother is set to inherit his family’s property, comes to Jamaica. Despite Aunt Cora’s reservations as to how little they know about Edward, he and Antoinette marry and move into the Cosways’ summer house in the mountains, where the newlyweds and a few servants, including Christophene, attempt to maintain some European upper-class customs. Though they have very different backgrounds, Antoinette and Edward get along and experience particular satisfaction in their sexual relationship. One night, Antoinette has a dream: as a child, she pays a visit to her increasingly unstable mother, who at first hugs her but pushes her violently away. When she wakes, Antoinette seeks comfort from Christophene instead of Edward, which he discovers. Later, Edward receives a letter from Daniel Cosway, a man who claims to be Antoinette’s half-brother, purporting to tell the true story of Antoinette’s family, including the fact that her mother is still alive and insane, not dead as Antoinette had told him. Daniel hints that Antoinette may also go mad one day, and Edward wonders whether his father and brother knowingly married him into an unstable family. That night, he confronts Antoinette, asking her to tell him what became of her mother. As Antoinette repeats her original story that her mother died soon after the fire, Edward recalls Daniel’s words in the letter, “She will look you in the eye and tell you lies.” Later that night, Edward has a nightmare about being entangled in the masses of seaweed he saw at the edge of the Sargasso Sea on his journey from England. When he wakes, he notices Antoinette sleeping restlessly. Edward becomes aroused and commences intercourse without waking her, persisting after she wakes and says, “Not too hard.” Afterward, he is horrified at himself and apologizes, but she assures him that she is fine. The next day, without telling Antoinette his plans, Edward rides to Spanish Town to ask Richard Mason what happened to Antoinette’s mother. When Richard replies that she died shortly after the fire that killed Antoinette’s brother, Edward is shocked to learn of Pierre’s existence. After attending a staid ball with the Europeans in Spanish Town, Edward returns home the next day to find Antoinette drunk and furious with him for disappearing. Christophene announces that she plans to leave so as not to come between husband and wife. Before going, she chides the servant Amelie for making eyes at Edward. Later, Edward meets in person with Daniel Cosway, who claims that Pierre was born crazy and Antoinette’s mother now lives on a hill and sleeps with men indiscriminately. When Daniel demands five hundred pounds, Edward storms away. Meanwhile, convinced that she has lost Edward’s love forever, Antoinette goes to Christophene’s hut and begs her for a love potion. Christophene hesitates but agrees, and that evening, Antoinette and Edward attempt to reconcile. She tells him the truth about her mother and brother, but he reproaches her for lying to him in the past. Antoinette experiences a lucid memory from childhood, seeing a Jamaican man hand her disheveled mother a drink and then embrace and kiss her. Edward asks where Antoinette went earlier in the day, and she replies that she visited Christophene, who advised her to leave him. Edward suggests that perhaps they should separate, but he softens when she approaches and kisses him. Antoinette slips Christophene’s potion into Edward’s drink, and though the drink makes him inebriated and confused, he joins her in bed and kisses her. After another nightmare about swimming through the Sargasso Sea, he wakes and runs to the balcony, yelling for Amelie to bring him water. She does so, remarking that she feels sorry for him. He looks at her angrily, but his mood quickly changes and they have sex against the wall, causing Antoinette to wake up and overhear them. The next day, Edward receives a letter from England telling him that his older brother has died, leaving Thornfield Hall, the family property, to him. Christophene chastises Edward for cheating on Antoinette and begs him to love his wife again. When he promises only to look after Antoinette, Christophene asks that he return to England alone, leaving Antoinette with enough money to live peacefully with her servants. Edward retorts that she will live with him forever. That night, he finds Antoinette lying on the bed and hints that they could make up, but she refuses his touch and hits him. Soon, Edward and Antoinette leave Jamaica on a ship bound for England. As her Aunt Cora says goodbye, Antoinette looks dully at her and fails to respond. Sometime later, during an English winter at Thornfield Hall, a housekeeper ascends to an attic room and tells another servant, “The master’s marrying our Jane Eyre,” suggesting that Edward plans to remarry. An unkempt Antoinette overhears and resolves that Edward has forgotten her. At night, she steals the keys to her room and sets fire to Thornfield, dancing atop the mansion as it burns.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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