Monday, 15 September 2014

Entertainment Monday: Enid ( 15 September 2014)

It is common to see an Enid Blyton books in school libraries and in a children’s bookcases. Enid Bltyon was the author of several successful children’s books such as Noddy, The Enchanted Wood, The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. I think her appeal was that she wrote for children by writing in simple vocabulary and her books have an idyllic quality about them.  I only read one or two Enid Blyton books but I am familiar with Noddy. I use to watch the Noddy cartoon when I was little.
To be honest, I don’t even like Enid Blyton’s books but I was intrigued when I heard that the BBC had created a movie about Enid Blyton. I wanted to find out what was the inspiration of her writing and the life she lead. I pictured that she was a sweet old lady with a white perm who was charming and beloved. I found out that Enid Blyton was outwardly a delightful woman and in private she was selfish and cruel. It goes to show that sometimes you shouldn't meet your heroes because they will disappoint you.

Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton 
The film starts off by revealing that Enid Blyton had a troubled upbringing. Her father was a womanizer who abandoned her family and her mother was cold woman who preferred her brothers. It was Enid’s upbringing which helped her develop her imagination and passion to be a writer. While her parents fought, Enid told her brothers stories about magical faraway places where no one is ever sad.

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
Helena Bonham Carter played Enid Blyton showcasing her from her time as a writer, her marriages and motherhood. Enid is portrayed as an energetic and playful person who escapes anything unpleasant by fantasizing and refusing to listen to anything serious. 

Her aversion to unpleasant things causes strain between her first husband, Hugh Pollock (played by Mattew McFadyen). McFadyen portrays Hugh as a long suffering man who drinks to numb his pain. While I had sympathy for Hugh Pollock, I was frustrated by his lack of persistence to reason with his wife. He always gave up every time Enid refused to talk about anything important.
Mathew Macfadyen and Helena Bonham Carter
Enid is also seen as having a strained relationship with her daughters. Enid loved children but hated being a parent. The movie shows the neglect of Enid’s daughters and her preference for her fans. To the public, Enid is seen as a caring mother who balances her time between writing and motherhood. However, in reality she spent most of her time writing and allotted an hour a day to interacting with her children.   I particularly liked the scenes where Enid pretends to interact with her daughters when the press comes over but stops as soon as the cameras are off. My favourite scene would have to be when her children are listening to a radio interview where Enid says being a mother is the most important thing to her and her children give incredulous looks at the news.

The film also focuses on Enid Blyton’s prolific writing as she wrote a large quantity of books as well as articles and essays for various publications. Enid seemed to have an active mind which never stopped and was the cause of her strained relationships. She always put writing ahead of anything else.
 I can see how this film must have caused some disillusion among Enid Blyton fans. Enid Blyton’s true character has been debated for quite some time as not everyone believes that she was a difficult person.  Enid’s daughter Imogen wrote an autobiography describing her mother as "arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult I pitied her” (Blyton, 1989).
Imogen Smallwood -autobiography of Enid Blyton's daughter
In contrast, her eldest daughter Gillian remembered her as a loving mother in her own way. Although some speculate that the reason why Gillian had fonder memories of her mother is that Gillian was four years older than her sister and spent much of her time in boarding school so she did not have much interaction with her mother.
the real Enid Blyton

Regardless of what the real Enid Blyton was like, I think the film shows her to be a brilliant writer. Enid Bylton’s works continue to be enjoyed by children all over the world. 

1 comment:

  1. I feel as if I've heard of Enid Blyton somewhere before and perhaps I even had a book or two of hers read to me when I was little, but I can't quite place it in my memory. I enjoyed reading your movie review Carlyn. It seems as if Enid Blyton used her fantasy world and writing as an escape from the things she either had trouble dealing with in life or did not find important. It's hard to make that distinction without knowing more about her.

    I know I like to use reading and fantasy as an escape in my own mind sometimes, but once we put the book down or wake from our dream we have to appreciate the very real world we live in and not look at it with dread.

    It seems unusual or counter intuitive that someone who would write for children would have difficulty in finding a maternal instinct. And yet, maybe it's not all that unusual? Many authors create wonderful worlds despite the trails and tribulations they face in life. Perhaps the FIRST target audience for any writer though is the author them self. It's just too bad that on a personal level much of her joy was between the binding of two covers. =(


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