A movie For Some Cold Winter Evening

“Glorious salvia which keep going until the first frost takes them.”

We had wonderful rains this past week. I hardly stirred outside the whole day. A trip out to the mailbox in my Wellies was just about my only contact with my garden and the great outdoors. Late in the day my wife and I had a supper of Pine Bark Stew (a column on this recipe at another time) in front of the television. I had heard about a movie that I could download from iTunes with which we might entertain ourselves. We were quite surprised that the film was the perfect way to stay snug and dry indoors yet revel in a garden at the same time.
The film “This Beautiful Fantastic” by director Simon Aboud is, as my wife describes it, lovely. I personally don’t use the expression ‘lovely’ when describing things. It seems an affectation coming out of my mouth. But, in all actuality, my wife is right. It was lovely. I really don’t know how to describe the film without spoiling it for you. The movie is a cheerful love story, but one of the characters in the film is a garden. Yes, that’s right, a garden. There’s really no other reason for me to bring up this film. After all, this is a gardening column.
Roger Ebert panned the film saying, “This Beautiful Fantastic is not meant to be realistic. It’s supposed to be a fairy tale. That’s fine, but it’s a very low-stakes fairy tale wrapped in a strained garden metaphor.” Let me just say right here and now, I don’t think the garden in the film was a metaphor, strained or otherwise. It just played a central part around which the other characters in the film orbited. The garden was certainly more than a mere setting and its purpose was too literal to be a mere metaphor.
Some great gardening truths were espoused. Let me quote just a few:

“Creating a garden begins as an interest and soon becomes a lifetime’s obsession. One that can be engaged at a moment’s notice simply by stepping outside.”

“A true gardener can create more happiness propagating life from one seed and seeing that single flower unfold, then the rich man could ever get.”

The garden “is a world of beautifully ordered chaos. Now, that’s chaos, not calamity.”

“Life and nature… it’s just waiting to burst out anywhere it can, seeking light.”

And how about this one? “Everything that matters takes time. You can speed-read, but you can’t speed-garden.” (This reminds me of something David Creech is fond of saying, “Creating a garden takes at least a 100 years, 200 if you’re not in a hurry.)

“How do we make a garden? How do we create a color palette? How do we create depth and texture? How do we keep interest from April to October?” The answers to these questions are not answered in the film, but they are real questions that real gardeners really ask. Creating a garden is taking a “blank canvas” and  is a “chance to create a masterpiece.”

Roger Moore says that the characters don’t force their charm on us, but they “make aphorism, anecdotes and  literary quotations poetic and warm. So much of it takes place in the flowers and brambles of a garden that the movie smells like spring.”
For you Anglophiles, the film is set in England, a nation of not only shopkeepers but gardeners. Fittingly, many of the cast members are English and well known, seen in Downton Abbey and Sherlock, etc.
As a gardener watches this film, he will not have to ignore horticultural faux pas and other garden inaccuracies. I found very few, myself. Clearly, the writers and producers of this film had horticulture experts helping along the way. In other words, a gardener won’t have to stumble through this film in order to enjoy it. It’s a delightful film that can be rented or bought via DVD now. Wait for some cold winter evening and it will warm your soul. The film is lovely.

3 thoughts on “A movie For Some Cold Winter Evening

  1. Tell your wife that “lovely” is a favorite adjective of her older sister, too, whenever appropriate for people, things, experiences…

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