Five Films That Share Themes with the National Theatre's 'Julie'
Published Oct 04, 2018Promotional consideration provided by Cineplex.
Novelist and playwright August Strindberg created a masterpiece of naturalism with his 1888 play Miss Julie. Taking place on a Midsummer's Eve on a count's estate in Sweden, it follows the titular Julie as she falls in love with Jean, a well-read servant. Despite Jean being engaged, the two fall in love with disastrous results.
Though its setting (a count's estate!!) isn't entirely relatable, Miss Julie's themes of class, sexuality and survival are universal — that's likely why the play has been adapted so frequently.
Up next, it will receive a modernization from Polly Stenham, who has moved the story to contemporary London. Now just called Julie, the play will be broadcast by National Theatre Live at select Cineplex locations across the country on October 13.
Before then, however, it's worth looking at the history of the play — and similarly themed stories — throughout film history.
Miss Julie (1951)
Directed by Alf Sjöberg, this mid-century adaptation of the play was met with critical acclaim. It even earned Sjöberg his second Grand Prix du Festival International du Film award at Cannes — the award now known as the Palme d'Or. For decades to come, the film would be lauded for its acting and cinematography.
The Servant (1963)
Proving just how universal these issues can be, Harold Pinter's filmic adaptation of Robin Maugham's novelette The Servant offered a complex psychological look at class roles. With its myriad sexual affairs (including what some scholars have since argued is homosexual subtext), the film is undoubtedly from the same school of thought as Strindberg's masterpiece.
Miss Julie is a triumph of naturalism, a form of drama that prioritizes realism above all else. But the cult-classic body horror flick Society proves that similar themes can be discussed by taking an entirely opposite approach. The film utilizes gross-out monster scenes and a truly bizarre, orgiastic finale to get at a similar point about just how messed up class struggle can be.
Gosford Park (2001)
Robert Altman offered a similar glance at complex relationships in a wealthy manor with his 2001 film Gosford Park. The film used a murder at a dinner party to explore detailed character studies of everyone from the wealthy party guests through their humble servants.
Miss Julie (2014)
The original play was given a more recent adaptation in 2014. Set in Ireland this time, the film starred Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton, and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was directed by Liv Ullman — an actor and director who was considered a muse for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman.