84 Charing Cross Road

Ontem, ao voltar de um passeio e um jantar de despedida a Londres que envolveu Piccadily Square e Oxford Circus, resolvemos voltar a pé para o hotel pela Charing Cross Road (que está em reforma na parte em que cruza a Oxford Street, que ali passa a se chamar New Oxford Street). Eram mais ou menos 20h. A razão para o desejo de voltar pela Charing Cross Road, que envolveu uma volta bem maior no trajeto, foi verificar se havia, na rua, o número 84. E a razão para esse desejo foi o filme que tem, no original, o título de 84 Charing Cross Road.

É um filme magnífico, de 1987 (obrigado, Ximenes, pela correção), com Anne Bancroft (que, infelizmente, morreu em 2005 com 73 anos) e Anthony Hopkins (que, felizmente, continua firme) – dois dos principais monstros sagrados na minha lista desses monstros… Vide a ficha técnica do filme em http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090570/.

A terrivelmente inadequada descrição do filme colocada no site diz o seguinte:

“História real de uma correspondência comercial transatlântica sobre livros usados que se tornou uma estreita amizade”.

Alguém iria se preocupar em ver um filme sobre correspondencia comercial acerca de livros usados, mesmo que essa correspondência houvesse se desenvolvimento em uma estreita amizade?

O sumário do enredo no site IMBD, escrito por um leitor do site IMDB, também não revela adequadamente a natureza do filme. Diz o seguinte:

“Quando uma leitora de enredos, que mora em um apartamento em Nova York, lê, no  Saturday Review of Literature, um anúnicio de uma livraria em Londres que vende livros pelo correio, ela começa uma correspondência muito especial com Frank Doel, funcionário da livria de livros usados Marks & Co., que opera em 84 Charing Cross Road, Londres”.

Um filme com esse enredo geraria interesse?

O filme trata, na realidade, de um delicado romance epistolar. Quem escreveu a descrição e o sumário do enredo não percebeu a sutileza das entrelinhas e dos entreditos, o significado daquilo que fica apenas implícito no texto das cartas e no diálogo dos personagens, o sentido profundo de olhares sem foco que se perdem voltados para nenhum lugar, depois de ler uma carta, o “texto” que se escreve numa expressão facial sutil de um grande ator…

Uma resenhadora anônima do filme captou (também no site IMDB) a sua mensagem perfeitamente:

“Helene e Frank de fato nunca disseram um ao outro que se amavam – eles nem mesmo se encontraram, que diabos! Mas eles se amavam daquela forma não expressa necessariamente em palavras que as pessoas de hoje não compreendem. O filme não baixa ao nível da convenção, não apela para o romance pegajoso. Helene e Frank fazem bem um para o outro, enriquecem a vida um do outro. Isso não é amor? Hopkins tem um momento inesquecível no filme, quando lê a carta em que Helene lhe comunica que terá de cancelar, por problemas de saúde, a viagem que havia planejado fazer a Londres.  A expressão de sua face diz tantas coisas, tudo de uma vez só, que é realmente lindo constatar que um ator pode expressar tanto sem dizer nada. Fico comovida toda vez que vejo a cena – e vou ficar, não importa quantas vezes a veja. Sou extremamente grata por esse filme ter sido feito com tanta sensibilidade”.

É isso.

Fala-se muito, hoje, em romances que se desenvolveram através de contatos pela Internet. Conheço os personagens de alguns desses romances que podem ser descritos como “transatlânticos”. Mas isso, hoje, não importa tanto, porque a Internet e os vôos internacionais relativamente baratos reduziram as distâncias entre os continentes… Assim, o romance epistolar pela Internet logo se transforma em um romance relativamente normal – ou termina. 

Mas, antes da Internet, e antes de as passagens aéreas internacionais se tornaram acessíveis a boa parte das pessoas, havia o romance epistolar, o amor que se alimentava, durante longo tempo, meramente de palavras escritas a mão em cartas cuidadosamente redigidas em blocos de papel de carta (que desapareceram de nossas papelarias por total desuso em tempos de e-mail). Esse amor, a maior parte das vezes, não se transformava logo em contato face-a-face, porque a distância e a falta de dinheiro o impediam. O romance epistolar de Helene e Frank, que o filme descreve, durou quarenta anos. A história é baseada em fatos reais.

84 Charing Cross Road é um filme desse tipo. Extremamente delicado – que mais se pode esperar de Anne Bancroft e Anthony Hopkins?

Em Português o título foi, se não me engano, Nunca Te Vi, Sempre Te Amei. Em Portugal o título foi A Carta do Adeus. Em países de fala espanhola o filme se chamou La Carta Final. Desses, o título em Português é o que mais se aproxima do conteúdo do filme. O título em Inglês é virtualmente inteligível para quem não sabe que a região de Londres em que está o endereço que dá título ao filme é cheia de livrarias, muitas delas de livros usados… 

84 Charing Cross Road me faz lembrar um outro filme de amor intenso, mas delicado, e que também não se materializa (embora, no caso, não por dificuldade de proximidade física): Remnants of the Day (Vestígios do Dia), também com Anthony Hopkins, mas neste caso com Emma Thompson.

Traduzo o texto de mais uma resenha e transcrevo várias outras no original em Inglês:

“Não mudaria uma coisa sequer nessa produção. Cada membro do elenco faz o que deve fazer, a história é emocionante e verdadeira, os personagens ganham vida e você fica envolvido em suas vidas. Quando você se cansar de ver corridas de carros pelas ruas, com acidentes e explosões, ou de ouvir linguagem que você não tem coragem de repetir para sua mãe, ou relacionamentos humanos distorcidos e cheios de clichés, ou humor baseado em funções corporais que normalmente seriam consideradas privadas, dê um presente a si mesmo e assista a esse filme”.

Eis algumas das inúmeras resenhas deixadas pelos leitores no site IMDB.

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36 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Simply the best., 12 April 2004

84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favorite movies. Based on the memoirs of Helene Hanff (the book contains the letters from which they read throughout the film), this is the story of a single New York woman named Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) who builds a forty-year friendship with some people who work in a bookstore in England. The movie begins during WWII as Helene, a writer, is searching for out-of-print books and, frustrated at the poor selection in the city’s bookstores, starts writing letters to the Marx brother’s bookstore in England. Through her letters, she not only becomes a frequent customer, but eventually, becomes quite close with all of the bookstore’s employees. And through their letters, they share experiences over the years, which the viewer witnesses through a juxtasposition of two different cultures: American and British.

I like the technique used in this film. The interaction between Helene and her British friends occurs only through letters, so rather than have the characters write a letter and then dub what is written, eventually, the characters just face the camera and say what they would have written, with the camera cutting back and forth for each others response at times as though we suddenly become the recipient of their conversations.

The film also has a wonderful cast with Anne Bancroft as Helene, Anthony Hopkins as the generous Frank P. Doel, Judi Dench as his wife, and Mercedes Ruehl as Helene’s neighbor. It is a wonderful story.

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34 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

My favourite film, 17 August 2004

Whenever anyone asks me, which isn’t often, I tell them this is it. And they invariably have never heard of it, which is a terrible shame.

I love the film, and advise those who love it as well that they SHOULD read the book too… and also read The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, and find out what happened when Helene went to England after all those years.

And don’t stop there… look up the Oxford Book of English Prose and the Oxford Book of English Verse (http://www.bartleby.com/101/), edited by the venerable Q (Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch), and see what inspired Helene to begin the correspondence in the first place (basically she decided to read everything Q mentioned, “unless it’s fiction.”)

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29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

A poignant and well-crafted story of long-distance friendship., 2 December 2003

This movie is an example of how the cinematic medium can powerfully explore a mundane activity as letter writing. The movement of the characters through their activities and concerns over different times of life and across 2 physically separated cultures is smooth, subtle and engaging. The movie does not contain the bombast that many others seem to be more pre-occupied with. Rather the viewer is taken into the quiet enjoyment of human conversation and communication. And just like a good conversation, one is left with both satisfaction and longing.

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A remarkably fine film for those who enjoy a great personal story. Here, we get two!, 24 June 2004

’84 Charing Cross’, from the address of the used book store in London, takes place over roughly 20 years from 1949 to 1969. Watching it today, I became totally immersed in the story, and I found out why later, because it is based on the real story of Helene and Frank. I always like movies based on real people, and closely identify with the idea of a seemingly random event triggering a new and perhaps lasting friendship. Helene (Anne Bancroft), a New York Jew and struggling writer, loves English literature but cannot find suitable and reasonably-priced books that she wants in NYC. She finds a simple ad in a publication, writes to the bookstore in London, they send her two of the three books she seeks, for a total of $5.30, and the story begins in earnest from that point. Bancroft (Helene) and Hopkins (Frank) are magnificent here, in this wonderful little movie of two people, quite different, living worlds apart, but who become lifelong friends. One of my new favorites!!

The rest of my comments contain SPOILERS for my recollection, please stop reading if you have not seen the movie.

The correspondence between Frank and Helene, who became a somewhat successful TV writer, carried on for 20 years from 1949 to 1969, and was published in 1970, which eventually led to this movie. During that time he sent her photos of his family, she sent ‘care packages’ of food to them in post-war rationing times, she requested certain books, he found and sent them. One planned trip to London had to be cancelled because of $2500 of emergency dental work for Helene. Then, in 1969 she gets a letter that Frank had died after an attack of appedicitis, and later that the bookstore would be closed. When she finally was able to make her trip, we see her walk into a now vacant space, but she smiles as she recalls 20 years of correspondence with Frank and the other workers there.

The movie actually begins at the end, as she is on a plane, and awakes to sunlight through her window as she approaches London. Then, as she enters the vacant store, the movie flashes back to 1969. When the movie ends, we see her in the store, the completion of that earlier scene. No extras on the DVD, but it has a good picture and sound.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Different View of Singlehood, 9 June 2005

I saw this movie in 1987, read the book, and just rented it again in memory of Anne Bancroft. It remains for me a gem-an amazingly done story. What is really amazing however-and a sad comment on where people’s attentions are focused-is that in 1987 there were two movies that dealt with married men and single women. This was one of them; the other was “Fatal Attraction.” What a difference! People flocked to see the latter film in which (spoilers for “F.A.” here) a single urban career woman has a brief affair with a married man, tries to kill herself, tries to kill everyone else, fricassees a pet rabbit, etc. Now in “84 Charing Cross Road,” the heroine’s finances prevent her from crossing the ocean to actually meet the married man of her daydreams- but even if she had been able to visit England and meet him,I doubt she would have baked his children’s pets or kidnapped his children. This was not,thankfully,that kind of film. This was a true story of a single career woman whose life was happy in spite of her being single. She had friends, her writing, the books she was buying and reading. We see at one point a photograph on her bureau of a man in uniform-was this a former boyfriend,a fiancé,who was killed in the war? Possibly-but the woman does not live in grief nor does she go melodramatically crazy. It’s too bad that America chose to make the derivative trash that is “F.A.” popular while not honoring “84 Charing Cross Road” for its depiction of a brainy adult relationship.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Impeccable Acting & Dialogue, 17 October 2003

A fantastic piece of work. This movie is for those who are interested in dialogue and masterful acting. The acting is impeccable and the dialogue is magnificent and very touching. Surely Anthony Hopkins deserved an AA and so did Anne Bancfroft.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Next time, I’m in London!, 4 June 2002

84 Charing Cross Road is a wonderful enchanting film about the differences and similarities between the Brits and the New Yorkers over the years. Helene Hanff really was a special writer. She gave an identity to 84 Charing Cross Road to last a lifetime. Her letter writing relationship between a bookstore and herself is one of legendary stories to become part of London and New York. Sadly, she died 5 years ago. I am sure that 84 Charing Cross Road will always remember the writer, Helene Hanff, who inspired such a legacy. Anyway the film has a wonderful cast like Anne Bancroft who is ageless in the role. Sir Anthony Hopkins as the bookseller. Dame Judi Dench as his wife and Maurice Denham in a supporting role. Also, I have been to London three more times since I wrote this review and sadly this time, I made the effort to visit 84 Charing Cross Road, sorry folks, it’s a Pizza Hut and I had dinner there tonight anyway. THere is no plaque. I still think Anne Bancroft was superb now that she’s gone. So has Maurice Denham since I last wrote this review. God Bless them wherever they are.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A very pleasant , very intimate film, 27 June 2005

I recently saw this film for the first time, as a chance to see an Anne Bancroft film I had not seen before. Bancroft and Hopkins are both excellent in this. And, more than almost any other film, they have to be excellent; their performances are the only thing this little film hangs on.

Everything about this film violates almost every “screenwriting 101” type rule. The two main characters communicate primarily through letters. Characters address the audience directly. There is no real conflict. Change occurs only with the natural passage of time in the characters’ lives. No heroes, no villains. No romance, no violence, no adventures- just two people (one a writer, the other a rare-book dealer) living their lives and caring about how the other leads theirs.

And yet, the film works. Over the span of the 20+ years portrayed in the film, the audience gets to know and like both of the main characters, and their compatriots as well. And just getting to know them and their unique friendship makes it all worthwhile.

Also, the portrayal of the privations of the post-war U.K. of rations and food shortages is done very well. Michael Palin, amongst others, have addressed the tragicomic aspects of postwar rationing in the U.K., but in this film, it is poignant how even a poor American managed to make the entire bookstore’s Christmases worthwhile with a well-timed shipment of Danish food.

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ET: Tanto quanto pude aferir, não existe o número 84 na Charing Cross Road… Smiley triste

Em Londres, 16 de Janeiro de 2011.

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