A Butterfly in a Cage
"I am like the goddess of the moon,
the little goddess of the moon
who comes down by night
on the bridge of the sky." ~Butterfly
I love this romantic escape into a fantasy world of dreamy
opera and sometimes the singing can literally make you heady. I
fell completely in love with this story after listening to a
1987 London recording from the library.
The story begins near Nagasaki, although this movie was
filmed in Tunisia. A Japanese house, terrace and garden is
situated on a hill overlooking the harbor. There is a sense of
serenity and peace, but this does not fully represent the
Lieutenant Pinkerton (Richard Troxell) is selecting a home
and Goro brings him into the house to show him all the benefits
of the house. He in turn thinks the house is "as delicate
as a puff of wind." Which could rather be used to describe
his commitment to his new bride, Butterfly (Ying Huang). We
can't quite figure out why this naval officer wants to buy a
bride when he is just going to leave her trapped in a beautiful
cage for three years.
Is this not the entire fantasy of the knight who rescues a
woman and then puts her in a tower? Yet, here the knight and the
maiden don't seem to share the same commitment to one another
and when the knight leaves, he seems to forget to even send a
note back to the maiden.
The love duets are magnificent and beyond compare. The world
literally dissolves when you watch this movie. The letter scene
gives you hope and yet the sheer tragedy of the situation
reaches new levels when Butterfly tosses Sharpless out of the
house due to his heartless comments about her accepting a
proposal from Yamadori.
I also love Butterfly's sweet innocence when she asks when
the robin builds his nest in her husband's country, because in
her country it has built a nest three times and she can't
understand why her husband has not returned. He promised he
would return when the robin was building his nest.
Butterfly has many opportunities to escape her cage with a
variety of suitors, yet stays completely faithful. She lives
with her maid, Suzuki. They almost run out of money while
waiting for Pinkerton to return. When she realized Pinkerton has
finally returned, she takes flower petals (peach-blossom,
violet, jasmine) and strews them all over the house. She then
falls asleep, exhausted from waiting up all night.
"Oh, the bitter fragrance
of these flowers
spreads in my heart like poison.
Unchanged is the room
where our love blossomed.
But the chill of death is here.
Three years have passed
and she has counted the days and the hours!" ~Pinkerton
"Madame Butterfly" is an exquisite and faithful
cinematic adaptation of Giacomo Puccini's Opera "Madama
Butterfly" set in Japan in 1904. It is really a
heart-wrenching story of a young geisha who sacrifices her
religion, family and life with a more suitable partner, like
Prince Yamadori, while she waits for Lieutenant Pinkerton to
Unfortunately, a rash decision does not allow her heart to
heal. This movie is just mesmerizing, heart breaking and
terribly romantic. If you want to create a romantic atmosphere,
watch on a rainy afternoon with a jasmine scented candle and
~The Rebecca Review
Living with Japanese Gardens
Japanese Poetry, Gardens and Traditions, July 27, 2006
Aching nostalgia -
As evening darkens
and every moment
Longer and longer,
ageless as the
thousand year pine."
~Kenneth Rexroth, One Hundred More
Poems from the Japanese
One of the ideas I love from Japanese design books is the luxury
of a deep soaking tub. One of the baths in this book is in an
open room with glass windows and walls. Of course taking a bath
outside seems a dream, but now and then you find those pictures
Throughout this lovely book you will find quaint bridges, bamboo
gardens, Japanese maple trees, waterfalls, sand and stone
gardens and romantic stone paths wandering through trees.
Inside, you can see how to place a bed near an antique paneled
screen or how to bring stone fountains indoors.
"An ideal Japanese garden is viewed through a window while
on relaxes inside, sipping tea at the kitchen table; soaking in
a hot bath; or sitting on a bench on a covered veranda." ~
One of the brilliant ideas is a courtyard garden with a
retractable roof. The ponds are especially artistic with lots of
lantern designs. There is a teahouse in a forest and a home you
can only access if you walk over the pond on a slab stone
~The Rebecca Review
Another Woman on the Verge
Ingrid Bergman in Jean Cocteau's The Human Voice
A Stunning Representation of a Woman's Emotions, July 2,
Human Voice is initially unassuming and it takes about 5 minutes
or more to fully realize the potential of this painful expose of
a woman's emotions. The scenes all take place in one room.
Ingrid Bergman plays a woman in the most painful state she could
possibly exist in besides the state in which she is mourning the
loss of a child. She has just lost the love of her life and has
tried to commit suicide. Fortunately she wakes to find she has
survived taking all the pills in her medicine cabinet.
What happens next is rather disturbing really. When a woman
feels these emotions, she may happen to glance at herself in the
mirror, but more than likely she is in bed crying her eyes out.
The honesty is captivating, but painful to observe.
Through a one-sided telephone conversation a woman first tries
to hide her feelings and then after numerous attempts to talk to
the man she loves and convince him she is handling the break up,
she finally breaks down. She experienced devastation,
desperation, completely heartache, longings of the soul,
everything a woman feels when she has lost the man she thinks
she will spend the rest of her life with; it is poetic and
Ingrid Bergman wanders about in a pink housecoat, clinging to a
old-fashioned phone and is stunning in this solo performance. At
one point she wraps the phone cord around her neck and says that
her lover's words are now around her neck. It is very
provocative at times as she plays with ideas in creative ways.
This movie may stir up memories from the past and may cause you
to hunt down doughnuts, chocolate or anything comforting.
Watching this movie is similar to riding the waves in a storm.
The sad part of this movie is that women feel these emotions all
too often. The callousness of her lover is especially difficult
to take. While we never hear his voice, we hear her reactions.
Even when she is expressing her undying affection, he seems
angry with her and displays an almost inhuman disregard for her
This movie might make you angry, it might make you cry and it
will definitely leave you with a lasting impression. Human Voice
is a true classic and one of the best representations of
complete desperation and loss of self-esteem I've ever observed.
~The Rebecca Review