How does The Painted Veil represent the alienation & reconciliation of Kitty and Walter Fane?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the film represents the alienation and reconciliation of characters in the modern setting by exploring the fluidity that is a part of human identity.  Consider actor Edward Norton's approach in this light:

I like to think that we didn't change the book so much as liberate it. We just imagined it on a slightly bigger scale, and made external some of what is internal in the novel... [The film is] rooted in really looking at the way that men and women hurt each other.

These ideas are represented in how the film represents alienation and reconciliation.  The use of long shots that show separation is a part of this.  The forlorn facial expressions of both husband and wife when the marriage is in difficulty are set against the looks of unification when one stares at the other in their element with children.  Certainly, the emotional timbre is visually represented when Walter dies, being futilely nursed by Kitty.  The use of music in these moments also helps to convey the fluid nature of human emotions and human interactions in relationships.  There is a feeling, a definite reality, that there is aspects intrinsic to our interactions with others where moments of alienation and isolation are juxtaposed to instances where there is unity and connection with another.  Camera angles and pan shots help to accomplish this from a visual point of view, representing how there is "hurt" in the most basic of all human interactions.


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