A while ago the film Iris (2001) provoked an animated discussion in our Older Women in Films Group. Some women thought that the account of Iris Murdoch Alzheimer’s disease was very well treated and the fact that she was a thinker and writer made the tragedy more poignant. That it was also important to represent the difficulties of the carer, in this instance her husband John Bayley.
I differed from the majority view. I thought that the whole structure of the film stressed energetic youth as opposed to old age and dementia without portraying the intellectual life and importance of Iris Murdoch as a scholar. I thought she was misrepresented.
I was watching an episode of ‘Lewis’ a television detective series (repeat August 18th, ITV1) and could not believe my ears. The action takes place in Oxford. Lewis enters the room of a suspect. The room is in a terrible mess with papers all over the tables and floors etc… He looks around and says “ I see, Murdoch’s style of interior design“. How many people would have understood the reference of this throwaway line? and does it matter?
To me it matters enormously. It took me sometime to realise that the line refers to scenes in the film ‘Iris’ where the clutter and jumble of her house were visually very striking. Is this the way we should remember a noted female intellectual, fellow of St.Anne’s College Oxford?
I wonder what was going on in the scriptwriter mind?