Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola; Movie Retitled as: "In Secret," now available on DVD/Instant Video--DEDICATION: to Philip Seymour Hoffman!

Philip Seymour Hoffman.
DEDICATION: To Philip Seymour Hoffman.

     This blog post is dedicated to Mr. Hoffman, a wonderful and well-beloved actor who died of an apparent drug overdose on February 2, 2014. Mr. Hoffman was most lauded for his work in Capote, winning him the BAFTA, Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his leading role in Capote. Other notable work included: In Cold Blood, Doubt, Charlie Wilson's War, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous, State and Main, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Death of A Salesman, and most recently, Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

     My heartfelt condolences to family and friends and to all who loved Mr. Hoffman. My heart and prayers go out to you. Philip Seymour Hoffman will be missed by us all.

     Blog Post Update on 06-03-14: The book-to-movie, Therese Raquin, retitled, In Secret, for the big screen, has been released to DVD and rental through instant video. You can get more information about this movie by clicking on the link, here.


Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola is available as an e-
book, hardcover, paperback, mass market paper-
back, and in audio on CD, or from as
an audio edition of the work. It also comes in a
Kindle Edition (e-book) for free from Amazon. For
information about the upcoming movie, In Secret,
the movie based on this book, see below.
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

      Are you ready for a break from reading books with unreliable narrators (Ender's Game, or Endless Love)? Perhaps you like magic realism, and even enjoyed The Green Mile and Winter's Tale, but, for a change, would like a story that is realistic and down to earth? So many modern stories these days seem to leave the reader scratching their heads in perplexity, or leave them agitated and disturbed.

Have I got a book for you! The book we are focusing on in today's blog post is, Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola and is considered a work of Naturalism (an extension of Realism). The book was first published in 1867 as a serial publication in the journal, L'Artiste, and because it was so successful, it was then published in book format.

Paul Cezanne painting of Paul Alexis,
an author, reading to Émile Zola
(1869-1870) Sao Paulo Museum of
Art. Cezanne and Zola were boy-
hood friends. As so many artists
of the day, Cezanne and Zola had a
falling out later on in life, from which,
they never seemed to quite recover.
     This book seems to have everything in an exciting plot. You have a tempestuous love affair between a woman and her husband's childhood friend, a murder plot between the lovers that is realized, terrifying visions of the drowned dead man in the lover's bed, fear of betrayal that could lead to the guillotine, and the vengeance of the murdered man's mother. What more could you ask for?

     Madame Raquin, a shopkeeper, takes in a child, Therese, after Therese's mother dies. Along with Therese, Madame Raquin raises her own son, Camille, who is sickly. She dotes on him, and spoils him--the result is a spoiled and selfish child. When the children are old enough, Madam Raquin has the two marry. The compliant Therese goes along with the arrangement because she feels she can do nothing else. This opening part of the book passes quickly as the set-up to the rest of the story...the stage has been set.

A movie poster featuring
Laurent and Therese
in a passionate kiss.
     Camille takes a job at a railroad company where he renews a friendship with an old childhood friend by the name of Laurent. Laurent freely admits to wanting to be a wastrel and neer-do-well and to live a life of ease and contentment. He has very little money, though, and cannot even afford to visit the local prostitutes for his enjoyment. So, soon after renewing his friendship with Camille, Laurent begins to have sexual relations with Therese, using her for his own pleasure. What he doesn't plan on is that he would become so enamored, so obsessed, with the rather plain-looking Therese. The two begin a torrid love affair, the couple scheming to continue meeting "in secret."

Laurent and Camille struggle before Laurent is able to
drown Camille--Therese looks on in horror.
     Time passes and it becomes increasingly difficult for the two lovers to be together. Therese has the idea that if she and Laurent could kill Camille, and make it look like an accident, they could go off and be together. Laurent manages to arrange an outing on a boat, at which point Laurent drowns Camille, pushing his body into the water--but not before Camille bites a chunk out of Laurent's neck. Laurent then capsizes the boat and for show, "rescues" Therese.

     The authorities clear the couple of wrongdoing, but Laurent is worried about whether or not Camille is really dead, and Therese begins having nightmares. Laurent goes daily to look at all the dead bodies in the mortuary to see if Camille has yet been found. Eventually, he is. The couple marry, but grow increasingly apart. All that is left is the "disintegration" of the couple, their growing distrust and suffering. Eventually, they plan to kill each other, but each discover the other's plan. They kill themselves as Madam Raquin watches in glee, her vengeance sated.


Gothic fiction story,
The Tell-Tale Heart,
by Edgar Allan Poe.
     What I found most interesting about the book occurs after the murder of Camille. From that point forward, the balance of the book is as horrifying as anything Edgar Allen Poe could have conceived in the Gothic fiction genre (akin to his short story, The Tell Tale Heart, first published in January 1843). In that story, the unreliable narrator, the murderer, begins hearing noises, hallucinates, and hears ringing in his ears growing increasingly louder. He becomes terrified by the murdered man's heart beating so loudly. Convinced that police officers can hear the heart and know of his guilt, he confesses.

Laurent and Therese have visions
of the drowned Camille.
     The two murderers, in Therese Raquin, suffer a similar fate. They not only have bad dreams, but see the bloated, wet, and soft decaying flesh of Camille in the bed with them, his picture on the wall haunts them, and Laurent is terrified of the Madam Raquin's cat as it watches him akin to the vulture-like, "evil eye" in Tell-Tale Heart. Laurent is convinced that the cat, Francois, knows of his guilt--Laurent knows that if the cat could talk, it would turn him into the law. Eventually, Laurent kills the cat by throwing it out the window against the wall--the cat's back is broken and it screams loudly all night until it dies. Laurent can't escape the guilt of murdering his friend. He constantly suffers from the bite given to him by Camille in the struggle. And, even Laurent's art suffers--every drawing he does, or painting, looks like Camille.

Laurent's art takes on
the visage of Camille,
the murdered friend.
     Madam Raquin, who has suffered a stroke-like illness is paralyzed and can't move or communicate except through her eyes, and is cared for by the couple. One night, forgetting that Madam Raquin is present, the couple, inadvertently start arguing about the murder. Then they decide to "confess" all to her, not worried about her turning them in. The couple are heartless in their treatment of Madam Raquin--Emile Zola describes them as "human brutes."

     The day arrives when Madam Raquin is visited by her old friends, Michaud (the police commissioner), his son, Oliver (who works at the police prefecture) and Oliver's wife (Suzanne); Madam Raquin tries and fails to tell them about the confession of the murderers. Madam Raquin is dejected, but still hopes for vengeance. This part, too, is like The Tell-Tale Heart, in that the police have been entertained by the murderer(s).

     The couple's relationship continues to deteriorate. Horrified, Therese finds out she is pregnant and kills the unborn baby. Then Therese takes a young lover, and Laurent is increasingly distrustful. They suffer continually with guilt. The couple constantly argue and Laurent ends by beating Therese. Many times a day Therese subjects Madam Raquin to Therese's piteous cries and begging for forgiveness. Therese unsuccessfully tries to deny her part in the murder, blaming Laurent for everything. 

Madam Raquin's cat, Francois,
was perceived by Laurent to
have a "diabolical" look.
The cat looked at him with great round eyes that were diabolical in their fixedness. He wondered what these eyes which never left him, wanted; and he ended by having regular fits of terror, and imagining all sorts of ridiculous things...[he] perceived Francois examining him with a harsh, implacable stare, he turned pale and lost his head. He was on the point of saying to the cat: 'Hey! Why don't you speak? Tell me what it is you want with me...' The murderer [said] to himself that the cat, like Madame Raquin, must know about the crime and would denounce him, if he ever found a tongue (p.154).
     I think this passage shows just how insane Laurent is becoming. Here, Laurent reminds me so much of the "evil eye" of The Tell-Tale Heart. I love this passage. Obviously, in reality, an animal can't know about a crime and be prepared to denounce anyone. It is Laurent's own guilt in the form of an inner evil eye that glares at him so.

Emile Zola, gifted author, stated that his goal in this novel,
Therese Raquin, was to study Temperaments." Therese is "mel-
ancholic,"Laurent is"sanguine,"and Camille is phlegmatic."
     In the AFTERWARD of the book, Therese Raquin, Emile Zola relates that he got the idea for his book from a novel called, La Venus de Gordes, contributed to the "Figaro" by Adolphe Belot and Ernest Daudet. He tells us that that story dealt with the "murder of a man by his wife and her paramour, followed by the trial of the murderers at the assizes" (p.168).

     Apparently, Zola, upon reading it for review, indicated that a much better story could be made of the same subject matter by simply "invoking divine instead of human justice." Zola thought that allowing the murderers to get away with the murder was superior to having them punished as an "earthly consequence." He states that he wanted to see the murderers get their just desserts by being separated "by the pool of blood between them, haunted by their crime, and detesting one another for the deed done together" (p.168).

One of Emil Zola's famous quotes: He said, " If you ask
me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you:
'I came to live out loud.' "

MOTIFS: I am always interested in motifs in any work, and in this novel many interesting ones exist to help the author move the story forward. I've already mentioned a few, above, but here are a few more to consider as you read the book: beasts (or human beasts having animal-like tendencies), chains, cages, tombs (the store that Therese owns is compared to a tomb, she is living in it and cannot escape), pits, and mechanical man (the un- thinking machine). Also much is mentioned, of course, of corpses and visions of corpses.

NATURALISM: Therese Raquin is considered to be a work of "Naturalism (as an extension of Realism)," given Zola's "detached and scientific approach." Some of the hallmarks of Naturalism include: pessimism; detachment from the story (such that the reader experiences it as "objective"), determinism (basically, the opposite of free will)--the course of the character's lives are determined by nature or fate. In this story Therese complacently accepts her marriage to Camille believing there is nothing she can do about it. Also, naturalist novels tend to show that nature, itself, is indifferent to the human struggle. Sometimes, A Surprising Twist at the end of the story is utilized. The term, "Naturalism" may have been used for the first time, ever, by Emile Zola; "he argued that his innovation in fiction-writing was the creation of characters and plots based on the scientific method."
The Life of Emile Zola,
a 1937 movie starring
Paul Muni.

EMILE ZOLA: Emile Zola led a colorful life. He was to become a lawyer, but failed his exams, instead, working as a shipping clerk and then for a publisher (Hachette). Next, he wrote literary and art reviews for a variety of newspapers while continuing to write his novels. His third novel, Therese Raquin was his very first successful novel. Zola also had a friendship with the painter, Cezanne (from childhood); Cezanne painted a famous portrait of Zola and Paul Alexis, an author (see above). Subsequently, Zola wrote many novels becoming a highly respected author.


This image is the front page of
L'Aurore newspaper, dated
January 13, 1898. It includes the
letter written to the President of
the Republic from Emil Zola,
excoriating him about the
infamous Dreyfus affair.
In an episode of Emile Zola's life, often referred to as "The Dreyfus Affair," Zola risked everything, including his life and freedom, to draft an open letter to the President in an attempt to help clear Alfred Dreyfus, a French-Jewish artillery officer, who had been wrongly convicted of treason and sent to Devil's Island. Zola laid accusations against high-ranking members of the French Army for obstruction of justice and antisemitism in Dreyfus' conviction and imprisonment.

     Zola's goal was to be charged with libel so that new evidence could be made public. The open letter split the country into factions and caused civil unrest and antisemetic riots. Zola was tried and convicted (02-23-98), but fled to England before he could be incarcerated. In October 1899, he was able to return to France "in time to see the government fall." Dreyfus was given a conditional pardon (not exoneration) and freed from Devil's Island. In 1906 Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

     Tragically, Zola died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 1902, before seeing Dreyfus completely exonerated. Alfred Dreyfus, however, was able to attend Zola's funeral. Zola's remains now lie in the Pantheon near Victor Hugo's and Alexandre Dumas' crypts.

     The Dreyfus Affair had far reaching effects, not only within France, but extending to many countries around the world, impacting various movements and politics. It also has impacted literature, documentaries, cinema film, television, radio, and theater productions. If you are interested in reading about this fascinating incident, here are a few sources to get you started: The Dreyfus Affair: The Scandal That Tore A Country in Two (book); In Search of History: The Infamous Dreyfous Affair; Prisoner of Honor (A Movie: Amazon Instant Video Starring Richard Dreyfuss); and Countries of Europe Series: France, Parts 1, 2, and 3 (World Events Over Time Collection), includes the Dreyfus Affair.


     Therese Raquin has previously been an opera (premiering November 2001), BBC television productions, plays, and movie(s). The first, and oldest, is a silent move shot in 1919-20, entitled, "La Terre." The second is a 1934 movie, entitled, "Nana," and the third is entitled, Therese Raquin, made in 1953. More information about all three of these moves can be obtained by clicking the following link:

Cover for the 1953 movie, Thérèse Raquin.
The Director is : Marcel Carne. Popular film
star, Simone Signoret plays Therese, and Raf
Vallone portrays Laurent. The movie is in
French, with English subtitles; it is rated 4.5
out of 5 stars by Amazon viewers, and 7.4
out of 10 by IMDb reviewers. The movie runs
 for 1 hour 44 minutes and is available to watch
on Amazon Prime for $2.99 or purchase for
$9.99 as a digital download
. You can also
purchase this movie on DVD for $17.96 with
free two day shipping (for Amazon Prime
members). The movie can also be
purchased used, from $5.87 on Amazon.
     On the right, is an image (with added information) about the 1953 film, Therese Raquin. I thought this movie might be nice to watch, in anticipation of the upcoming film. 


The new Brian De Palma movie is re-
ported to star Emily Mortimer.
     In addition to the new movie to debut on February 21, 2014, with Charlie Stratton Directing, entitled, In Secret, Brian De Palma also has a Therese Raquin movie in the planning. In one news report, the reporter bemoans that we have had to wait sixty years to see a new adaptation of Emile Zola's work, and now, all of a sudden, we have two that come along at once.

     In the article entitled, Brian De Palma Makes New Therese Raquin, that we find out that Emily Mortimer will star in the film and that the film will be a "Meta" version (To read the complete article, click on the article title link.). Apparently, the film will be a "very loose" adaptation of the book where a filmmaker will be filming a movie about a book and the actors all begin seeing parallels in their own lives (Sounds a lot like The French Lieutenant's Woman doesn't it?). As of today's blog post, no start date or movie title has been given for the film.


     I also have available for your enjoyment, a trailer of the upcoming movie, In Secret, opening in theaters on February 21, 2014. Therese Raquin will be played by Elizabeth Olsen, Camille Raquin by Tom Felton, Madam Raquin will be played by Jessica Lange, and Laurent by Oscar Isaac.

     Other roles are as follows: Mackenzie Crook as Grivet, Shirley Henderson as Suzanne, and John Kavanagh as Inspector Michaud. The Director is Charlie Stratton, and the Writers are Neal Bell (play) and Charlie Stratton (screenplay).  

     Meanwhile, here is the trailer for, In Secret, the new movie about the Therese Raquin novel by Emile Zola. Release date: February 21, 2014.


     First, let me say that this book and movie is absolutely not for young readers or viewers or, likewise, for sensitive readers or viewers. The themes involving planned murder, infidelity, sexuality and prostitution, domestic violence, animal abuse, violence, and suicide are definitely themes for mature adults and not, for those who are young or have a sensitive nature.

     If you do not fall into one of those categories, then this book may be right up your alley. The pages of the book are filled with gritty realism (what Emil Zola refers to as Naturalism). Many consider Therese Raquin to perhaps be Emile Zola's finest work. Take a look at the trailer and see if you think the movie may be a film you would like to see. Better yet, just pick up the book and give it a go.

I liked the book. I am happy to give Therese Raquin the rating of 4.25 stars out of 5.
Rating for Thérèse Raquin: 4.25 stars.

Pages: 170
ISBN: 1438287399
Publisher: Start Publishing LLC
December 12, 2012)

     I hope you have enjoyed this week's posting of Therese Raquin. Please join me again next week for another book review. Please feel free to continue making suggestions for blog posts; I love to hear from you. If you enjoy my posting, please share.

Until next time...
White rose.
...many happy pages of reading!

_______________________________________________________ - Philip Seymour Hoffman; - Thérèse Raquin in books on;,+Paul+Alexis+reading+to+%C3%89mile+Zola,+1869%E2%80%931870,+S%C3%A3o+Paulo+Museum+of+Art&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=4mDtUoP2ItHZoATFqYKoBw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAg&biw=1592&bih=857#facrc=_& - Paul Cezanne's painting of Paul Alexis reading to Emile Zola; - Movie poster of Laurent and Therese kissing; - Therese Raquin in boat with Laurent and Camille; - The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe; - Image of drowned man, Camille; - Laurent's art; - Cat eyes; - Emile Zola, "All I care about..."; - Emil Zola quote; - Amazon DVD of The Life of Emile Zola with Paul Muni; - J' Accuse...!; - Thérèse Raquin as digital download or rent movie to view; - Amazon purchase DVD 1953 movie version of Thérèse Raquin; - Purchase used DVD of Thérèse Raquin; - Emily Mortimer; - YouTube trailer of 2014 movie, Thérèse Raquin; - Emil Zola Quote; - Naturalism; - The Dreyfus Afair: The Scandal That Tore France in Two; - Paul Muni in the movie, The Life of Emile Zola; - In Search of History: The Infamous Dreyfus Affair; - Prisoner of Honor (Amazon Instant Video, Starring Richard Dreyfuss); - Countries of Europe....; - The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe; - Brian De Palma Makes New Therese Raquin; - 4.25 stars out of 5; - White Rose.