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1938 __ « Brighton Rock »
Graham Greene (1904-1991)
Comment : Brighton Rock is a novel by Graham Greene, published in 1938, and later made into a 1947 film of the same name [by John Boulting]. The novel is a murder thriller set in 1930s Brighton. Pinkie is a killer. He fears that Rose, an artless waitress, knows enough to give evidence against him. So he courts her, and has her fall for him. He marries her; yet he despises her. Why? Because she is there, raw and helpless; and because she likes him. And likeability outrages Pinkie. In the end, he is killed too. But in the course of the story, he has made a little record for Rose. On the boardwalk, Rose asks Pinkie to make a recording for her, in a booth, hoping he'll declare his eternal love for her. The vicious Pinkie agrees, but then records a hateful message. She thinks it is a love message, whereas in the recording booth - his confessional - he actually says: "God damn you, you little bitch, why can't you go back home for ever and let me be?". The standout moment is Pinky recording his voice on to an early shellac recording booth. His girlfriend thinks he is professing his undying love. Rose at least has her precious recording of what she supposes to be Pinkie's declaration of love and the nun has arranged for a gramophone on which to play it. "There is always hope," says the nun, "it is the air we breathe. Love can bring about salvation." Rose puts on the recording and we hear Pinkie's voice: "What you want me to say is I love you." At that point the needle becomes stuck on the damaged record, repeating over and over again, "I love you . . . I love you . . . I love you . . . I love you.".The last scene is one of those memorable ones that just can't be easily forgotten. It has a raw power that catches the dark side of human nature as it unfolds so suddenly onscreen, even if the scene was changed from the one in Greene's novel to his utmost disappointment. After Pinkie's demise, the black waters by the pier dissolve into the last thing seen and the next shot is in a brightly lit room in a Catholic shelter for pregnant teens. A nun wearing lipstick is comforting the pregnant Rose, who feels she should have died with her husband. She is crying out, "I don't want absolution!" Further saying, "I got his voice--I got proof of his love." The nun, looking at the phonograph by the girl's side, says in a grave voice, "There is always hope, it is in the air we breath. We have to hope and pray. Love can bring about salvation." When Rose puts the record on, we have already heard what Pinkie said and wait to see her reaction, but when she plays the record: "What you want me to say is I love you..." the record gets stuck and plays that over and over, until the final shot of the film is of the crucifix on the wall. Rose is seemingly elated to have her love reaffirmed by such a positive proof. This cynical ending is perfect. The filmmakers thought it could be construed as possibly a happy ending, overcoming the general despair of the film. But the public didn't see it that way and the film was a failure at the box office.Pinkie Brown: [in a recording booth, making a disc for the doting, oblivious Rose] You wanted a recording of my voice, well here it is. What you want me to say is, 'I love you'. Well I don't. I hate you, you little slut... Pinkie Brown: [the record - scratched when he tried to destroy it - suddenly jumps] ... I love you... I love you... I love you... I love you... (Sebastian D. G. Knowles)As the wedding party shuffles into the next room for the ceremony, with Prewitt calling on God to forgive them, Boulting dissolves ironically to the mechanical bell ringers in one of the pier's slot machines, "The Cathedral of Notre Dame". The inspiration comes from Rattigan, whose treatment had suggested the use of a similar machine depicting an execution of foreshadow Fred's death. Pinkie pulls Rose away from this commercial representation of her romantic cravings. His idea of a honeymoon is to saunter distractedly among the pintables and peep shows of his sacred pier. Slot machines are, after all, the stock-in-trade of the Kite gang. Fate, however, draws Rose's attention to a recording booth, just as it had to the photographer's kiosk. She wants a record of her husband's voice to play on a borrowed gramophone if he is away. Pinkie cannot resist the infernal invitation displayed on the machine to "Make it a personal message", and to create a ticking time-bomb of misery within his marriage of convenience. The shooting of this brief, shocking scene is exemplary. Boulting maintains a sense of realism by having extras pass between the principal actors and the camera; and then Taylor cunningly frames Pinkie's recording of his message of hate. Attenborough's scarred face [actor who plays Pinkie Brown] is in the left foreground, with the microphone extending serpentune across the upper right and Marsh's adoring gaze [actor who plays Rose] illuminating the lower half. As the message grows uglier, Taylor slowly zooms in until Marsh's seraphic expression fills the frame. For scholars of Graham Greene it is, of course, tempting to regard the disc Pinkie cuts on the pier as an emblem of the sub-text of "Brighton Rock": the declaration of the author's own misanthropy (or misoginy), waiting to be discovered. (Steve Chibnall)
Source : Knowles, Sebastian D. G. (Sebastian David Guy) (2003), “Death by Gramophone”, In Journal of Modern Literature - Volume 27, Number 1/2, Fall 2003, pp. 1-13.
Source : Greene, Graham (1938), “Brighton Rock”, London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1938.
Source : Chibnall, Steve (2005), “Brighton Rock”, London: I.B. Tauris and Co Ltd, 2005
Urls : http://www.literature-study-online.com/essays/graham-greene.html (last visited )

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