Terence Davies’s new film, A Quiet Passion, explores Emily Dickinson’s extensive yet withdrawn life. Dickinson is considered a parent of American poetry. Dickinson’s short iambic poems with ABAB rhyme scheme and slant rhymes inspired poets looking to stay within the formal style. In life, she was a recluse, yet we are able to explore her unique thoughts after a posthumous publishing of tightly confined, highly contemplative poems. A Quiet Passion delves deeper into the life that most fans have never read about.
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Davies made the movie after reading five biographies on the poet, along with Dickinson’s collected poems. His thorough research and appreciation for the subject shows in the final product, with the movie currently sitting in the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite her reclusiveness, she had a substantial life full of religion, family, and language. All these aspects are aptly featured in the movie without portraying her exclusively as a shut-in writer. Her personality could be booming and harsh at times, which actor, Cynthia Nixon gives life to.
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People want to know more and more about Dickinson because we not only admire her work but her hidden life as well. Her passion was for her words, not her image or fame. She was able to dramatically change and influence American poetry while hardly sending her work out to be published or leaving Amherst, Massachusetts. The era in which she grew up was one of outstanding literature, yet her poetry stands on its own. These factors draw us in and Davies’s film humanizes her, showing more than an enigma but a person who cared deeply for language and family.
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