UPDATE: Here's a run-down of these posts to keep everyone on the same page
elorianne had a post about her problems with the film, Across the Universe - Prudence, Lucy, and several other things - here.
I attempted to explain some of these issues - no constancy, no explanations, etc. - here.
her response to my post, with a focus on Prudence, here.
my hypotheses on Prudence's role in the film, or lack thereof really, here (that's this post).
It's quite fun, really =)

I tried SO HARD to keep my response to eloriane's response to my response to her Across the Universe post (got that??) short enough to be a comment, but damn it, it was just impossible. So here goes...

I agree with you that Prudence is a character that seemed like she had so much to contribute and such an interesting story to tell that was, for some reason, left out. A lot. In my response, I didn't give as much thought to that part, mostly because I got all OMG ATU I LOVE THIS!!!11!1!1!! hahaha

Thinking a bit more about it, I have two hypotheses about why Prudence was relegated to a handful of scenes and only a couple of lines in those scenes.

My first guess is that while they (director, writers, producers, whoever) knew they wanted Prudence in there, they had no idea what to do w/her once they had her. In a movie that's going to be all over the place and not grounded in anything, what do you do with the one character that seems to embody EVERYTHING that's going on?

Race issues? Check! Gender issues? Check! An Asian woman during Vietnam? Check! Sexual identity issues? Check! Against the war (presumably... she attends the march, at least)? Check! Abusive relationship? Check! Seriously, what doesn't she embody? So my first guess is that they just really didn't know what piece of her to develop and just sort of left her in there and threw her in the mix when appropriate.

My second guess is that there was originally a lot more substance to her character but, for reasons similar to those noted above, they just could not keep her in the movie as she was. All movies have a lot of work done to cut down some of the interactions, dialogue, entire scenes, etc. to make a story that's still digestible. At the end of the day, the movie needs to make money and it can't make any money if there's too much going on. My feeling is that when they had to go through and start cutting things, it was probably easiest to cut Prudence. As a result, we can't learn about her through her own interactions and words, but through everybody else.

I still don't know what word to use to describe her. I originally used flighty, but that doesn't seem right. I understand your argument that she is out of place, but I think it's supposed to be more about her actual character rather than just being out of place. Surely, she is out of place, for all the reasons you mention. She was the out of place in high school, and then a lesbian/bisexual among straight, (mostly) white folks. She ultimately finds her place as a sideshow freak (? or something?), only to go back to NY to be with everybody again.

But I think it's more than just being out of place as a character. I really do think she is intentionally supposed to have an indecisive, tentative, uncertain personality. I am not entirely sure why I think that, I just kind of do.

Ultimately, it really is a shame, because in many ways, the movie could have been about her. And I think that if they hadn't taken out so much of her, it would have been about her. Which is what I think they were trying to avoid.

You're right, there aren't enough lesbians on film. Or women of color on film. Especially not Asian women. So to relegate her to those few lines is disappointing.

I wonder if Prudence was always supposed to have an Asian background of some sort. Does anybody know? Because if that didn't really occur to them, but TV Carpio just sort of showed up and won them over, then that really makes this analysis interesting.

Whether they purposely left her out as much as they did, or it happened for one of the reasons I think, or for an entirely different reason altogether -- it all certainly makes the lyrics to Dear Prudence very appropriate for her character on many levels. Even without being locked in a closet. (Bathroom? Can't remember...)


At Wed Feb 11, 12:47:00 PM Eloriane said...

All right, I can keep this down to comment-length, I think I can, I think I can...

I must've worded it poorly in my original post, because for the flightiness thing, I meant to say that there is definitely an aspect of uncertainty or indecisiveness to her personality, not just her situation, but I think it's tied to the awkward place she has in society. I just objected a little to the word "flighty" because it's a touch negative, and, well, I adore Prudence.

I think you're spot on in terms of why there's not so much Prudence. She really had the potential to steal the show (especially since, as you said, she really embodied so many of the issues of the day!), except that then they'd have a movie about an Asian lesbian and "the audience wants straight, white, male leads!". I wouldn't be surprised at all if earlier versions had more of Prudence, and more of her taking control of her own narrative and telling the story herself, but then it was cut for length (there was a lot of fuss about the version released being too long-- I'm sure there were much longer versions that had even more!) and to keep the focus on our main characters.

Which sucks, because Prudence is awesome and she meant a lot to me, personally, but it doesn't mean the movie sucks.

At Wed Feb 11, 02:02:00 PM frau sally benz said...

WOOT! I think I'm driving my non-AtU-fan readers crazy. My bad...

Anyway, I agree with you on everything you just said. It's a bummer, but it is to be expected. I think I'm still at the stage where I'm excited to even see these characters on screen that I'll take what I can get.

Even so, I wonder how other people view it. Do they notice Prudence in the film and love her as much as we do? Or is she an after-thought to all of the "regular" viewers? Hmmm...


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