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A new short video about Virginia Woolf was recently published on YouTube by TED-Ed. Titled “Why should you read Virginia Woolf?”  it is narrated by Iseult Gillesipe from the University of Wisconson-Madison.

The video details Woolf’s early life and highlights several of her novels. Check it out on YouTube or view it below.

 

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Where I live, we are lucky to have Nightlight Cinema, a small locally-owned theatre that shows independent films ignored by the big theater complexes that feature blockbusters.

Drawn in by a preview of A Ghost Story, I attended Nightlight’s last showing of the film on Thursday. I was glad I did. Why? Two reasons. It was intriguing. And it pays tribute to Virginia Woolf.

The film, which has received rave reviews, includes the first line of Woolf’s short story “A Haunted House” in the opening credits. It is shown for a few moments on a dark background.

Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting.

Filmmaker David Lowery’s use of the quote was a clue to what I didn’t know but soon learned — that Woolf is one of his favorite authors and her 1921 story helped inspire his film.

My investigation also uncovered the fact that when the ghost knocks several books off a shelf, the open book upon which the camera focuses includes important lines from “A Haunted House,” lines about treasure, buried treasure, “the light in the heart.”

Woolf as guiding light

Orlando is one of my favourite novels,” Lowery told the Irish Times. “I love her letters too. She’s my guiding light. The way she uses time fascinates me. Especially in To the Lighthouse and Orlando. They play with time in this dynamic and fun way. I love the idea of a character existing outside of time in the way that Orlando does.

“So that was certainly on my mind when I was writing the screenplay. And I wanted to pay homage to her in some small regard. And I wondered if she had ever written about ghosts. So I did a Google search. And found A Haunted House. I couldn’t believe that I had never read it before.

“The first sentence begins: ‘Whatever hour you woke there was a door shunting’. [sic] I couldn’t resist extending that to the film. I hope that it encourages somebody somewhere to pick up her work. Because I owe a lot to her.”

Playing with time as Woolf does

The film is a story of a house and its haunting, much like Woolf’s story. And it kept me thinking about its meaning and the message of the film long after I exited the theater, just as Woolf’s writing does long after I finish one of her novels or stories.

What’s more, Lowery plays with time in the film, much as Woolf does. As he noted in an interview with Huffington Post: “Virginia Woolf’s literature really transformed my own ideas about how to formally represent the passage of time and how time affects us. Specifically, the benchmarks are Mrs. DallowayTo the Lighthouse and Orlando, all of which have time as a central conceit.”

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Gemma at Flower Show

Gemma Arterton at the Chelsea Flower Show (image via IrishNews.com).

Preparations for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia are well underway. British actress Gemma Arterton, will play Vita Sackville-West in the film about the friendship between Vita and Virginia Woolf. Sackville-West was a celebrated gardener whose work continues to inspire gardeners today, so Arterton has been has been preparing for her role by gardening and spending time around flowers.

Arterton visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last month where she talked about her experience gardening and her work preparing to play such a respected gardener. The Irish News writes that Arterton became a “devoted gardener” while researching for the role in the film:

 

“I would like to be a big gardener and I am constantly trying to find new ways to bring it to life. I am moving house soon just so that I can have a garden.

“The role came before the passion. Vita was one of the world’s most famous gardeners, so I have been trying to get into the zone for that.”

andrea as woolf

Andrea Riseborough will play Virginia Woolf.

 

We learn from the article that filming will take place this summer at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. The article also states that the role of Virginia Woolf will be played by Andrea Riseborough, which is different from the original cast that was announced, which had Eva Green lined up to play Woolf.

Riseborough has been featured in such films as Brighton Rock, Oblivion, and the Oscar winning film Birdman.

The director of the film, Chanya Button, has been preparing in other ways. In May she tweeted about attending lectures on the Hogarth Press at the Charleston Literary Festival:

 

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In the video posted here, Fiona Shaw does a masterful reading of “Shakespeare’s Sister” from Virginia Woolf’s feminist polemic,  A Room of One’s Own (1929), which was based on a series of lectures Woolf gave at Cambridge University in October 1928.

Woolf’s speech is one of several featured in the digital project Figures of Speech,” presented by the Almeida Theatre in London.

The project places history’s greatest speeches centre stage through a series of films read by well-known actors speaking the words of important historical figures and moments, to explore how they resonate in 2017.

Besides Woolf’s speech, the project also includes talks by:

  • Labour Party Politician Neil Kinnock spoken by Ashley Walters
  • American politician Harvey Milk spoken by Ian McKellen
  • Nelson Mandela spoken by Lucian Msamati
  • AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser spoken by Nicola Walker

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Actors have been chosen for the roles of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, according to The Guardian.

The part of Woolf will be played by French actress, Eva Green, and the role of Seckville-West will be played by English actress, Gemma Arterton.

Both Green and Arterton have appeared in several major motion pictures, and both have experience playing “Bond Girls” in James Bond films.

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Actress Eva Green will play Woolf (image via Pinterest).

Eva Green has appeared in many films including Dark Shadows, 300, and recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

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Actress Gemma Arterton will play Sackville-West (image via BBC).

Gemma Arterton has also appeared in many films including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Byzantium, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Harper’s Bazaar has created side-by-side images of the actresses and of their subjects for a visual analysis:

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Green and Woolf (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Arterton and Sackville-West (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Chanya Button will direct the upcoming film Vita and Virginia (image from TheFrisky.com).

Chanya Button, the director for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, which will be about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, recently spoke with ScreenDaily.com about her upcoming film.

According to the article shooting for the film will start in March or April of 2017.

Button is now an up and coming director, but as a student she studied English Literature at Oxford University. She admits that she has had a long relationship with Woolf. From the article:

Virginia Woolf has been a passion for me for a long time,” Button said.

Button states that Woolf inspired her recent film Burn Burn Burn, an independent feature which will be available to stream on Netflix soon:

Woolf has influenced how I think about everything, there is even an essay she wrote, On Being Ill, that influenced Burn Burn Burn.”

According to the article, the film will cover about 15 years of the relationship between Woolf and Sackville-West, but we are now learning that it will focus specifically on events that occurred between 1925-1927. From Button:

“It’s about how their relationship inspired Orlando, It’s the study of a complex female relationship…

“It’s a fresh period drama…Also, you get a view into her creative genius, and some bonkers surreal visions.”

You can follow Chanya’s Twitter page where she has been documenting some of her research expeditions for the film including a trip she made to Vita’s home Knole House.

 

 

 

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If Virginia Woolf had a personal assistant, here’s the tale she might tell — according to comedian Gaby Dunn.

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