Kates Observations


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Kate Winslet

Kate sings a little in almost all of her films, have you noticed? In 'Heavenly Creatures' she sings the beautiful aria "Sono Andati" from the opera 'La Boheme', which of course is on the HC soundtrack, and does a very impressive job with it; she has a wonderful upper register for those high notes. The song is used to supplement the drama and tragedy of the moment as Juliet and Pauline fear being parted. (The aria is actually sung in the opera by Mimi to her lover as she is dying.) Plus of course there's the scene in which she and "Pauline" traipse through the forest singing Mario Lanza's "The Donkey Serenade" at the top of their lungs. Then in 'Sense and Sensibility', she not only plays the piano as Marianne several times, but also sings; I don't have the soundtrack yet and don't know the song titles. It is while singing and playing that Colonel Brandon first sets eye upon her character and is thoroughly enchanted. In 'Jude' Kate only sings once, during a brief scene near the end in a church, where she is seen singing a hymn with the other churchgoers. She also plays the piano at one point in the film as well.

In 'Hamlet', her singing is quite a key part of the "mad" scenes in which Ophelia demonstrates that she has completely lost her grip on reality (singing snatches of songs, of course, is a traditional trait associated with madwomen in literature). The part where she sings the little "Will he come no more?" ditty is a truly heartbreaking moment in the film; it gets me emotional about every time. Then of course you have 'Titanic,' in which Kate sings twice. The first time is with the rest of the first-class passengers at the church service, singing a hymn; you can hear individual voices as the camera moves from row to row, Kate's included, and the scene ends with a full shot on Kate singing the most significant line, "For those in peril on the sea." The second time is near the end, as she lays upon the floating wreckage; her chilled lips barely move as she gazes distantly at the stars above and sings the "Come Josephine, my flying machine" sung earlier in the film by Leo when they're together at the ship's bow. Yet another chilling and heartbreaking moment with a very cold, surreal feel; a woman quite alone and just barely alive. Kate also sings in 'Holy Smoke' - she sings passionately along to Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know". :)

Anyway, Kate indeed has an enchanting and beautiful voice, and her moments of song have served well to enhance these various performances. I wonder if she's had any kind of voice training at all, or singing experience?

Another common aspect found in many of Kate's films thus far is dancing/spinning. Someone pointed this out on alt.fan.kate-winslet, and I realized it was quite true. First of all, there's 'Heavenly Creatures' - you have the one scene where Kate and Melanie Lynskey are dancing together in a circle, and are whirling around together (to the tune of Mario Lanza's "The Loveliest Night of the Year," in their evening gowns.) Then in 'Sense & Sensibility', you have quite the same shot again - this time it's Kate whirling around holding hands with Greg Wise as Willoughby, both ecstatic, Kate grinning and squealing. Then, the same thing again in 'Titanic'; Kate and Leo grab hands and spin around together during the dance in the steerage party scene, grinning and squealing again. Isn't that odd? Kate also whirls around a bit with Christopher Eccleston in 'Jude', and dances a few different times (in the outback to Alanis, in the club) in 'Holy Smoke'. At any rate, that's a rather interesting observation; Kate must simply have quite a knack for spinning around in circles. :)

Kate is interestingly tied to two other British film stars who I rank among my favorites - Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, of course. Emma and Ken used to be a couple and starred together in such wonderful films as "Dead Again" and Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Henry V," both excellent Shakespearean adaptations. Kate first starred with Emma in "Sense & Sensibility," for which Emma had adapted the screenplay from a classic by Jane Austen. Later, Kate went on to work with Kenneth, in "Hamlet," for which he had adapted the screenplay from Shakespeare. Both Emma and Ken were Oscar-nominated for these screenplays, but only Emma won hers.

And, when they split up, Kenneth paired with Helena Bonham Carter, a young British actress who shares quite a bit in common with Kate. Kate auditioned for the lead female role in Kenneth's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," but lost the role to Helena. (Later, he cast Kate in "Hamlet" without even having her read or audition!) And, she is frequently compared to Helena because both are known for doing period roles; Helena has done little else. Kate, however, has said many times that she'd love to do modern films, and of course 'Holy Smoke' was Kate's first time playing a 90's girl. I for one would love to see "Corset Kate", as she has been dubbed, in more contemporary roles; after all, she is actually a very contemporary girl in real life, complete with combat boots and cigarettes.

More connections between Kate and Helena: Both have played Ophelia in a film of 'Hamlet'; Kate was in Kenneth Branagh's version, Helena was the Ophelia in Franco Zeffirelli's 'Hamlet' with Mel Gibson in the title role. I hated that version, actually - for one thing, I thought Gibson was horribly miscast as the gloomy Danish prince, and I also think Kate made a much better Ophelia than Helena. (Of course, I've never been a big Helena fan as far as her acting goes...) Both have also played Emma Thompson's sister, Kate in S&S and Helena in "Howard's End".

And, then in '98 Kate was up against Helena in the awards - both were Golden Globe nominees for Best Actress (neither won - another Brit, Judi Dench, did), and also the Oscar and the Screen Actors Guild award in the same category. (Neither won.) Interesting.

My email friend and fellow "rabid Kate fan," Jesse (maintainer of the Unofficial Kate Hotline!) pointed out another very interesting Kate observation. Kate is wet at at least one point in almost all of her films! In HC, it's in the bath with Paul (and then she goes for a swim with Paul at Port Levy, although you don't really see her wet then). In S&S she gets thoroughly drenched in the rain twice. She gets soaked in the rain a few times in Jude, and is also seen near a river and dancing by the waves of the ocean. In Hamlet she gets hosed down with water after having gone mad (and drowns herself off-camera), and then of course there's Titanic, in which she's soaking wet for about an hour! She even gets wet in Hideous Kinky - the scene where she and Bilal go skinnydipping in the lake. (No wetness in Holy Smoke, however.) And while her character Madeleine doesn't get wet in Quills while she's still alive, her dead body is found submerged in water in the washing tub (ick).

Kate getting wet again.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," but it's an amusing way to stump your friends and yourself as far as knowledge of the entertainment world. What started as a little Internet phenomenon has become a sorta Gen-X pop culture staple, at least here in the U.S., and it's one of the ways bored college students can occupy themselves and test their trivia. To play, you simply pick an actor or actress, and try to connect them to actor Kevin Bacon through their film or TV roles. For example, Tom Cruise would be easy - he was in "A Few Good Men" with Kevin Bacon. Being a film junkie myself, I actually find myself playing this game in my head all the time when my mind wanders.

Anyway, I was thinking recently about what exactly the quickest route to Kevin Bacon would be from Kate. It took me a little while, but I think I've realized the easiest path. Ok, here goes: Kate was in "Titanic" with Bill Paxton, who was in "Apollo 13" with Kevin Bacon. Voila! :) The first path I came up with, a bit longer, was: Kate was in "Sense & Sensibility" with Hugh Grant. Grant was in "Extreme Measures" with Sarah Jessica Parker, and Parker was in "Footloose" with Kevin Bacon. You could also go through the likes of Leo DiCaprio, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, or even Billy Zane, but I think Bill Paxton is the quickest way. (Someone has also suggested to me this one: Kate was in "Titanic" with Leo, who apparently was in "Critters 3" with Kevin Bacon?)

I already previously mentioned on the Titanic page, but I thought I'd go into further detail here. There seem to be quite a few similarities between Kate and another favorite young actress of mine, Claire Danes. Ok, yes, there are the obvious differences. Kate is taller, older, British (Claire's American, of course), smokes, and has had rather different roles and film credits than Claire as well as 2 Oscar nominations. However, here are some of the common aspects of the two:

- Both Kate and Claire are natural blondes who have sported a range of different hair colors for different roles. Claire went red for her TV series "My So-Called Life," the show that really introduced her to the American (and international) public and gained her much fame and critical praise, as well as a Golden Globe. Kate went red for the film "Titanic," which was also the critically acclaimed project that made her a household name worldwide; she also bagged a Golden Globe nomination, albeit in the film category for Best Actress.

- Both Kate and Claire have now co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio (who I believe is older than both of them) as romantic leads in big-budget, massively popular films - "Romeo+Juliet" and of course "Titanic". Both films feature a poignant, intimate romance between them and Leo, complete with lots of kissing and a love scene in each (although Kate's featured a bit more nudity). Both actresses have talked about how funny and wonderful they think Leo is, and both insist they were never romantically involved with him in real life. And of course, both movies hit it big with the teenage crowd; in fact, most of the girls who fell in love with Leo in R+J returned to swoon over him in Titanic. There are tons of personal websites and webrings out there devoted to both films, most of which focus on the romance part of the story. Also, both romances are tragic in nature - both Claire and Leo die in R+J, Leo dies and Kate narrowly averts death in Titanic.

- Both Kate and Claire have played the ingenue in a film of a Shakespearean tragedy. Claire, of course, was Juliet in (a modern-day version of) "Romeo+Juliet," while Kate marvelously played Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's traditional-setting "Hamlet". Both Juliet and Ophelia kill themselves near the end of the film; Juliet by gun (dagger in the original play), Ophelia by drowning, off-camera. And of course, both do so for love of the leading male, although in Ophelia's case insanity also plays a part.

- Both Kate and Claire were up for the role of Juliet Capulet; Kate auditioned for R+J but was ultimately not cast (obviously). Kate said of the experience: "I tested for it three years ago, when Leonardo was definitely already doing it, but I knew, reading it, that I was too old for the role - too old inside." I tend to agree with her; she simply seems a bit too mature to convey Juliet's naivete and wonder. Interestingly enough, Claire auditioned for Rose in "Titanic," which of course went to Kate.

- Both Kate and Claire have played a character named Juliet; Kate was Juliet Hulme in "Heavenly Creatures" and Claire was Juliet in R+J.

- Both Kate and Claire look up to the sky at fireworks onscreen; in Titanic and R+J respectively (thanks to Sara Chen for pointing this out)

I admire and appreciate both talented actresses and consider them to probably be my favorites foremost. Interestingly enough, I'm right between them as far as age; Kate is 3 years my senior, and Claire a year younger. And, I've been aware of them for about the same time; I "discovered" both around '94/'95; Claire when MSCL debuted and Kate when I first saw HC.

Jude and Hideous Kinky are the only films in which Kate is a mother herself. They are also the only films in which Kate's character has a job; Sue is of course a schoolteacher for a while, Julia is a translator, makes dolls, etc. They are also the only films in which Kate smokes and drinks, along with "Titanic", although "Holy Smoke" will probably have a bit of both.

Almost all of Kate's films thus far have been directed by men, have you noticed? Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke" was Kate's first (and only, so far) woman-directed picture.

Here are some interesting Kate observations made by LdVinci I thought I'd post as well:

1) In "Jude" soon after Jude and Sue meet, they are together on a bridge reading a book. Sue tries to keep the book away from Jude, he grabs her and then they spin together. More spinning! [Yep, I noticed this as well when I recently re-watched "Jude" myself.]

2) In Jude, the scene where Sue is smoking and drinking in the bar, showing the boys how enlightened she is, is much the same as the scene in Titanic where Rose shows steerage how down-to-earth she is.

3) In both Heavenly Creatures and Jude, Juliet/Sue ride bicycles with her significant other in moments of bliss.

4) The town in HC is "Christchurch." The town in Jude is "Christminster"

5) Kate's feet: In S&S, Willoughby removes Marianne's shoe and examines her foot. In Titanic, Rose does a full ballet "Pointe" for steerage. I believe (though I'm not entirely sure) as Sue is dancing in the bar (in Jude) there is a shot of only her feet.

6) As a natural response to being wet, Sue complains to Jude "I can't get warm" and complains to Jack (Titanic) "I'm so cold."

8) She is often in bed/un-well: Juliet (HC) has TB; Marianne (S&S) has a twisted ankle and pneumonia; Sue (Jude) is giving birth.

Yet some more observations made by someone else and sent to me (i.e. not my words), this time thanks to Anissa:

Kate cries in all of her movies.. And not just a trickle or two from her precious eyes.
HC: When they're split up and she's looking out the window (If memory serves) [Actually, more times than that, methinks]
S&S: When she realizes Willoughby is much like the men I see.
JUDE: When the children are discovered DOA
HAMLET: When she is being accused of her relationship with Hamlet, and I do believe there is much more when she gets the straightjacket.
TITANIC: Tears are everywhere, almost.
(Sarah's note: she cries in Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke, and Quills too!)

Kate's character in "Holy Smoke" is named Ruth, which is also the name of Rose's mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, in "Titanic".

The only film thus far in which Kate's character has died (via suicide, not shown onscreen) is of course "Hamlet," but her character Madeleine in "Quills" gets murdered. :( Actually, suicide seems to be a theme in Kate's films. In HC, Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) seriously considers suicide. In "Jude," young Jude of course kills himself, as well as the other kids. In "Hamlet," Ophelia obviously commits suicide. In "Titanic," one of the officers does, as well as presumably Captain Smith, Andrews, and the others who don't even make a try for the lifeboats and such. And in "Holy Smoke," P.J. and Ruth's family are concerned about the possibility that Ruth might get suicidal.

Four of Kate's films so far start with "H"! They are of course "Heavenly Creatures," "Hamlet," "Hideous Kinky," and "Holy Smoke". All are 2-word titles except for Hamlet, obviously. Hmm...

Bree shared an observation with me about the intriguing connections between each of Kate's films: "In Heavenly Creatures, she dons a princess dress... in AKIKAC, she wears princess dresses as her costume for Princess Sarah, and she has a younger sister. In Sense & Sensibility, she has a younger sister (as well as an older one) and loves Shakespeare. In Hamlet, she plays a Shakespearean character and Hamlet's mum has an incestuous relationship with his uncle (it was his uncle, wasn't it? I can't remember). In Jude, Sue has an incestuous relationship with her cousin and has a nude scene. In Titanic she has a nude scene and talks of Sigmund Freud. Hideous Kinky, the novel by which the movie was based on, was written by Esther Freud, Sigmund's great grandaughter. Also in HK, Julia searches for religious enlightenment. In Holy Smoke, Ruth finds religious enlightenment."