The Crown

The Crown: Seasons 1-4, produced by Peter Morgan

The Crown is intended to be a “made for television” series that will run for six seasons. The fifth season has currently been shown but is not available for download. The series is written and produced by Peter Morgan. The Crown is the story of Queen Elizabeth II from the time of her coronation up to her death. Season 1-4, which I am now discussing, covers the Queen up to about 1990, which would be just before the divorce of Charles and Diana.

Apparently, the series was very expensive to produce. Settings include palace props that I believe were not in the actual location, such as the events transpiring within Buckingham Palace were not actually filmed in Buckingham Palace.

While Morgan is not a historian, he has endeavored to create a story that reflects actual history. Morgan utilized respected historians in the weaving of his tale. A large portion of this series portrays private conversations with family or other personal relationships, or on a government level that could only be conjectured by Peter Morgan as to what actually happened. The reconstruction of closed-curtain affairs might resemble the truth or could be wildly in error. I’m inclined to believe that there is a little bit of both.

This series has come under heated debate, perhaps because it has a disparaging leaning toward the royal family. Numerous independent articles, as well as a book, have been written, mostly in regard to the truthfulness of the series to history. The book, The Crown Dissected was written by Hugo Vickers, who is a royal historian and takes issue with much of the veracity of this series. Yet, Vicker’s issues seemed to be over issues of minutia rather than the general course of what historically transpired. Even with multiple errors, the greater story is not destroyed. Trivial issues, such as the question of who actually burned the portrait of Winston Churchill or whether or not there actually was a “Balmoral test” don’t distract from the storyline. Some articles offer complaints about the factual content of the series, but are written by those who claim that they were “in the know” regarding royal proceedings behind closed doors, though most of the harshest royal conversations had no third-party observer. Besides, an intimate friend of the royal family would be biased to protect the family rather than have the truth be told.

This tv series brings up the issue of historical fiction. One might read James Michener as historical fiction yet be aware that it is truly just fiction within a true historical context. The movie industry offers the pretext that their story is a mostly non-fictional account of past events. Though I am not a fan of “Hollywood” historical fiction, it provides a fruitful curiosity and engages my mind to explore the true histories of events. Usually, there is a blank wall, since most events in life are not historically recorded. Thus, a screenwriter like Morgan necessarily must engage in presumption as to the events which occurred behind closed doors, and, as is said in 1 Samuel 15:23, “presumption is as iniquity and idolatry”. There may be moderate inaccuracy behind the story that Peter Morgan is painting, but there still may be a general ethos of the royal family that is accurate even though the events are only partially true. I’ve watched a number of other historical fiction series including those from ancient Rome, the medieval popes, and 14th-16th century kings of England, and find them informative only in that they get the general events correct. Specific events are dramatized and created to improve the theatric impact. Videntium cave: let the viewer beware.

An minor side comment need by stated since the first season brought up the matter. Those of my dear readers who know me also know how much I detest Winston Churchill. It is true that the Winston Churchill fan clubs, both in the USA and in Great Britain, tend to be drooling, fawning, and adulating folk of all stripes, including conservative, liberal and confused folk. This series did not paint Churchill in a kindly light, but rather as a petulant, arrogant, and obnoxious personality. If pride were Churchill’s only fault he could easily have been forgiven. His deceiving, lying, belligerent manner does not get so easily excused, and his lust for war and incompetence in managing war make him a competitor with Stalin and Hitler for the lowest rungs of hell. (Just my two cents worth)

The western concept of Royalty was based on the mistaken medieval notion of the divine right of kings, a notion that seems to be missing from the pages of Scripture. It is true that all of society is ordered by divine providence, including that of kings, emperors, dictators, Führers, presidents, and any other legitimate or illegitimate potentate. It has rightly been said recently by the head coach of the Boston Celtics Joe Mazzulla when asked what he thought of the royal family (referring to William and Kate Middleton who attended a game involving the Celtics). His response was “Who, Jesus, Mary and Joseph?”. This should be all of our responses when asked about “royalty” since there is only one true King of the universe.

A common answer obtained when I’ve asked many people as to why Great Britain still has a royalty is that it generates revenue for the state. So does Disneyland. The royalty no longer is the leader of the state in the most important matters, which is the duty performed by the prime minister. They may serve as advisors, but usually are marginal in that duty. They may serve as public relations officers, but the prime minister stands as the most important “public relations officer”. Frankly, royalty in today’s world is as useless as an ice delivery service to the South Pole. The British people now have the BBC to entertain them, and they don’t need royalty to accomplish that function. The only entertainment function of the philandering royalty is to generate an astronomical volume of gossip.

I am told that the royalty is not terribly costly to the British government. Last year, British taxpayers supported the Crown to the tune of £104 million, which is a pretty penny in my estimation. Any expense seems in need of accountability, something lacking with the royal household. The royal family does pay income taxes, but that is not obligatory. I presume that property taxes and other taxes are waived. The British government is essentially funding a single family to live a life of leisure and pleasure. Few other people enjoy the delights of having minimal responsibilities, minimal risks, and minimal fears. The only negative aspect of being a part of the royal family is that you live in a glass house. Something in my brain suggests that I am missing something. Am I? Could an entire country be so stupid as to be paying a single “privileged” family massive amounts with minimal return on their investment? The British taxpayer would probably be better off eliminating the royalty, confiscating their properties, and turning their palaces into museums, parks, and public showplaces. The entrance fees alone would probably return much of the £104 million annually that it costs taxpayers. Besides, the castles of the royalty will allow prime minister Rishi Sunak more room to house illegal aliens.

Queen Elizabeth was portrayed as a Christian Queen. She said her prayers before bed. She often attended church on Sundays. She had a heart for the poor and downtrodden. If her true faith is reflected in her children and many of her actions, then we have a problem. Only God knows her heart, and He will deal wisely with her soul. It is not ours to judge her Christian status. I respect her as a past Queen only in that she could have been infinitely worse. Her children and grandchildren leave great doubts in many minds as to the viability and sustainability of the royalty concept in Great Britain. Muckraking, as performed by Peter Morgan, may have done the royalty and image of Queen Elizabeth II a minor disservice. Perhaps the royalty of Great Britain is their own worst enemy and not the imaginative portrayals of the BBC and Hollywood. I probably will not be living long enough to see the final outcome.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Der Ring des Nibelungen DVD set, composed by Richard Wagner, and performed by Bayreuther Festspiele, conducted by Pierre Boulez ★★★★★

What can I say? I love the music of Wagner. Wagner the man is despicable, but like so many people, their person and their art are not congruous. Many folk hate Wagner. Some dislike his music. It’s not strophic. They expect a Mozart performance with ensembles, duets, solos, and delightful musical interludes. Wagner has no intention of offering that. I was first encouraged to listen to Wagner by Dr. Sunderland with whom I was doing a summer research project. She was Jewish but loved Wagner, and loaned me a recording of Tristan und Isolde. I listened to about 15 minutes and found it intolerable—it is the very music that years later hear with riveting fascination and tears in my eyes, wondering how music could be so beautiful. Wagner’s music is definitely complex and thus needs to be listenedto several times before true appreciation can occur. It is not easy music, but a little sweat and patience will definitely pay off. Isn’t that also true of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, Shostakovich, and so many other truly great composers? 

The other reason people hate Wagner is because of his personality. It is true that Richard was a horrible excuse for a human being, proud, atheistic, rebellious, racist, anti-semitic to the core, self-serving, and envious of all others outside of himself. The music of the Ring, when rightly understood, is highly anti-semitic (the dwarves representing the typical Jew), and it is to that which must be looked through to admire his works. Wagner is a vehement atheist and was at times an intimate friend of Neitsche. The “God is dead” theme reverberates through this opera. When examined critically, the god that Wagner portrays is the god of Arminian theology, a not-so-powerful god that is dependent on the choices and will of others, and dependent on an external standard of morality. Wagner’s god is not all powerful or transcendent, not omniscient, immoral, and needs to rely on others to know things or to accomplish things. He is subservient to the oaths carved out on his spear and lapses into terminal despair when that spear is shattered by his “grandson” Siegfried, the Übermensch, the hero that knows no fear. 

I will not detail the story of the Ring. If you haven’t seen it at least once before, you will not be terribly interested in my rehashing of the storyline, and it is not a terribly gripping story, missing the music that drives it. Too many listen only to the Walkürienfluct or Siegfried’s Rheinfahrt only to miss 17 hours of steady great music. It is no wonder that many conductors today that are known for outstanding Ring performances also happen to be Jewish, like James Levine. Listen to the music, and forget the man. I try to listen to or watch a Ring performance every year. I certainly love most of the other operas of Wagner, personal favorites which include Parsifal and Tannhäuser. Wagner was first introduced to me by a childhood friend in Portland, Ron Bonneau, who would listen to the Ring in his living room off of vinyl: it took about 35 or more records and he would diligently change and flip each record from start to finish, pausing only to feed his wolf dog. I’ve seen both the Ring live (in Seattle with Dr. Cull) and Tannhäuser (in Chicago with Alan Segall). Betsy and I both marvel at how the singers can not only remember their lines, come in at the right time but also act so well. Truly it takes the best of the best opera singers to do Wagner. Give the Ring a chance or two and you also might become addicted.

Downton Abbey Complete Series

Downton Abbey: PBS Television series ★★★
Downton Abbey was a TV series that ran for 6 seasons, and was most popular during its time. It is the story about the life from about 1910-1925 of one of the remaining great houses in Yorkshire area of England. The movie presents life of both the aristocratic family in contrast to the servants in the manor, or to say it differently, of the working class as compared to the leisured class. Each season presented the tensions and problems of the two classes or people in the Abbey estate. It was intended to paint a sense of sympathy for life on both sides of the class divide. The story line left suspense and tension with each episode, until the very last episode of season 6, where everything is resolved, friendships and feuds resolved, the appropriate people married to the appropriate spouses, and the Abbey is at peace while celebrating a new year.
A most appropriate change to the name of this series would be Pride and Prejudice on steroids. The entire story line ultimately evolves around only two issues, 1) will Downton Abbey survive in the new world?, and 2) who will marry who, and when? To the first question, the answer is, “yes”, Downton Abbey survives, but with a loss of the Pracht and Herrlichkeit (splendor and elegance/majesty) of the past. The movie attempts to evoke sympathies for the aristocratic classes in their “loss” of their leisured world, and disappointed that they can no longer have people dressing/undressing them, having their regular elegant garden parties and life on the fox hunt, and massive banquets of white tie affairs, surrounded by maids and butlers, and a host of staff jumping to their every whim. They failed to claim my sympathies. To the second question, if one of the actors survived, they were all able to eventually get married, and usually within the desired class and to the “right” person.
The story line held one’s attention. Oftentimes, the story was a bit too contrived, such as people dying simply to create and maintain the appropriate flow of the movie. The story and scenery tries to maintain historical accuracy, and to that end I presume they did superbly. The setting was in one of the now retired great houses. Do I feel sorry for the aristocrats of the past, or possess some secret desire to wish I could have filled their shoes? Hardly not! I mentioned that this was Jane Austen on steroids, and that indeed is exactly what it was, without the hidden comedy of Jane Austen. The storyline is a seemingly endless repetition of the Jane Austen novels, yet is a little more crass at demonstrating the arrogance, as well as the hypocrisy of the British elite, especially in terms of their moral/sexual behavior. The issue not that they were more sexually loose than one would like to think, but that they maintained a stringent desire to cover up their dalliances with a gloss of moral righteousness. In this regard, they excelled over Jane Austen.
I don’t regret watching Downton Abbey. It was long. Betsy (wife) definitely enjoyed watching it again, and found it better to watch the entire six seasons in one long setting, rather than having to wait for each episode week after week. So, I’ll cease my criticisms and await your thoughts on this series.

Twilight Forever Saga

Twilight Forever; the complete saga, starting Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattison ★
My son Jon and I spent a night in Forks on a week-long bicycle ride looping around the Olympics, and there was much talk in Forks about this film series. I had no great interest in watching this series, but then, curiosity killed the cat. It is a series of three episodes, the last episode dived into two parts. The movie is based on a series of books, written by Stephanie Meyer. The plot is easy to summarize. A girl (Bella Swan) moves from her mother in AZ to her father, who is a town sheriff in Forks, Washington. She is in her last year of high school, and needs to find friends. She first encounters a native Indian (Jacob Black), who is quite attracted to her. She also encounters another dude (Edward Cullen) who looks and acts more like a creep than anything else. The creep also has other family members attending the school who are just as creepy. Through a variety of events, Bella becomes attracted to the creep Edward as well as the Indian boy Jacob. Eventually, she discovers that Edward is actually a vampire with remarkable talents and doesn’t age with time, and that Jacob is a werewolf, but worse, that the vampires and werewolves really don’t get along too well together. Eventually, she totally falls in love with Eddie the vampire, partially because she fears growing old and thus would like to become a vampire herself. After many sub-events, she eventually marries Edward, has a baby from him which almost kills her, but is saved by becoming a vampire herself. Her baby though becomes imprinted to Jacob, making a crazy threesome.
There is just too many things wrong with this movie series to know where to start. First, this movie really doesn’t have good acting, and how Kristin actually became famous by playing the lead role testifies to the desperation of the Hollywood audience. None of the acting was remarkable. The visuals were good, but not outstanding. Secondly, the storyline was just plain stupid. Too many things were inexplainable, or inconsistent. Why would a 107 year old vampire wish to place himself in a high school situation? Why would the vampire father masquerade as a doctor? Why would the vampire family move away in order to keep their identity concealed, only to return later for no good reason? Similar questions could be asked of the werewolves. Why would the lead female fall in love with a creep? Why didn’t the female experience the problems of becoming a vampire and losing her soul, as she was warned? In both the vampire camps and the werewolf camps, there were bad vampires and “good” vampires, bad werewolves and “good” werewolves. What’s going on there?
My only explanation to this story is that the author really wrote with flight of thought, not even giving thought to what she previously wrote. Perhaps the books offer a better explanation? The mindset of the entire tale is with teenagers living in a solipsistic world of their all important selves. After all, high school is so great, and even 107 year old vampires would eagerly love to re-experience high school. So, my advice to anybody curious about this series—don’t waste your time. It isn’t even good entertainment. There are too many other reasonable movies to watch to waste your time on the stupidity and poor acting of this series.

North and South

North and South, a film adaptation of a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell ★★★
Elizabeth Gaskell was the wife of a Unitarian minister living in Manchester, England, writing about the social injustices of the industrial revolution. This, like the Jane Austen novels, is essentially of romantic novel with the twist of making a social statement. The main character, Margaret Hale, thwarts a marriage proposal, returns home to her family in southern England, where her father serves as an Anglican pastor. He is forced out of the church owing to a loss of faith, and moves to Milton (Manchester?) to serve as a teacher. He acquires pupils, including the young owner of a local cotton mill, the nouveaux rich John Thornton. Margaret catches Mr. Thornton being quite harsh on several of his employees. She sympathizes with the employees, even when they threaten to go on strike, much to the chagrin of Mr. Thornton. Eventually, through the maturation of Margaret’s understanding of the complexities of employee/employer relations and the problems of maintaining a successful factory, Margaret helps mend relations with the employees of Mr. Thornton. In the end, Margaret falls in love with Mr. Thornton.
In a way, I felt like I was watching a Jane Austen novel even though there were differences. The now “impoverished” Mr. Hale still is able to afford servants. Margaret is able to conduct her life in a leisurely fashion, never worrying about needing to work or develop skills for gainful employment. The love story had to be incorporated into the novel, and the progression of confusion or hate to love had to occur. Events, such as the death of mother and later father, were unexplained and used only to make the novel progress. Thus, the story was a bit contrived, as are all the JA novels.
The movie itself had great scenes but fairly mediocre acting. Margaret seemed to have a very flat affect. Mr. Thornton did not have a realistic personality. It was more like watching a soap opera than seeing a film. The movie has its entertainment value but does poorly at social protest. Other films, such as the French film “Germinal” made a much better statement about social injustices, while having phenomenal acting (who can beat Gérard Depardieu?).


Persuasion, a film adaptation starring Amanda Root of a novel by Jane Austen ★
This is the last novel of Jane Austen. The film adaptation was a bit confusing and challenging to follow. I presume that it assumed that one had already read the novel. A brief summary is as follows. Anne Elliott breaks off an engagement to a sea captain Frederick Wentworth. She is one of several daughters of a wealthy landowner now in the leaner years, needing to lease out the family mansion and live in Bath while the mansion is then occupied by the admiral and his son-in-law Frederick (surprise, surprise!!!). While most of the Elliott family move to Bath, Anne is asked to remain at the mansion to help with the transition. As predictable, Frederick appears to be no longer interested in Anne, courts other ladies, while a cousin of Anne is chasing her. Through multiple episodes of misunderstandings and ultimate clarifications, many of the eligible maidens are married off in the novel, while Anne and Captain Wentworth realize they both love each other and are engaged.
The predictability of these novels reveal some commonalities of the film adaptations of the Jane Austen novels. These points also summarize all five reviews.
1. The theme is always the pursuit of the main character, a young female, to an eligible person.  The movie always ends with the successful engagement or wedding of the appropriate person(s).
2. The females always come from, or are living with, wealthy landed gentry.
3. The movies always have at least one dance scene. The inability to dance, or the play the piano for a dance, removes a female or male from marriage eligibility. In several novels, the ability to quote Shakespeare or Byron were also eligibility tests.
4. Young eligible ladies from wealthy families never ever seemed to have anything to do but to go for walks and sit around pretending to read books. Occasionally they would play the piano without practice. Never were they expected to perform work. They usually played the piano, but their playing was always very mechanical.
5. Even when the wealthy became “poor”, they maintained a host of servants to care for them.
6. Military folk also seemed to be essentially idle and free to loaf at will. Perhaps that is why the British Empire eventually fell, but historical facts suggest that there were no military in sedentary life living in England at the time of Jane’s novels.
7. Older ladies were always pictured as obese, meddlesome, and suffering from verbal diarrhea. Older men were usually lazy old farts who did nothing but read the newspaper.
8. In all of JA’s novels, there is a confusion regarding who loves who, which is always perfectly resolved in the end.
9. Jane Austen was never married, and perhaps all of these novels are a psychological projection of a fantasy world that she wished to be in. Poor Jane. Why wouldn’t somebody marry her? Then, we might have been spared some of her novels.
1o. As to Jane Austen novels being comedies, Emma is the clearest example of that. Her novels are also seen as perhaps a jab at the ever-diminishing numbers of landed gentry in England in her time.
11. Religion is present in its Anglican form in all five novels reviewed, but this religion is very superficial and also a form of prestige. People went to church, but church was more a social gloss rather than a serious undertaking. Perhaps this explains why England is the way it is now.

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park, a film adaptation of the novel by Jane Austen ★★★★
This is the one film adaptation of a novel by Jane Austen that I actually enjoyed, and could not predict exactly the ending at the beginning. It is also one of the most controversial novels that JA wrote. Fanny was born into a poor family, but (for reasons not made clear in the movie) was invited to live with a very wealthy rich uncle Sir Thomas abiding at the estate called Mansfield Park, and whose wealth came from the slave trade in the West Indies. The Sir Thomas family includes two girls slightly older than Fanny, Edmund, who becomes close as a friend to Fanny, and a much older son. Fanny acquires a Cinderella role, with the two daughters being heavily favored in all social and family interactions. Edmond decides to become a clergyman. Henry Crawford and his sister come to town, and become heavily socially entwined with the Mansfield Park family. Finally,  Sir Thomas suggests that Henry and Fanny get married, since Henry is fabulously wealthy. Fanny rejects this out of hand, leaving to go back to her poor family rather than be intimidated into a marriage that she doesn’t want. Henry comes to visit Fanny several times in hopes of persuading her, but this finally comes to an end when Henry is caught in a sexual tryst with one of the now married daughters of Sir Thomas. Ultimately, Fanny and Edmond figure out that they were always in love with each other, and get married, ending the novel and the film. I guess cousins got married in 19th century England?
Several aspects of this film are interesting. First, is that it offers mild disapproval of the wealthy landowners for ill-gotten gain in the slave trade. Secondly, it actually brings in characters of other social status than just the multi-generational wealthy families. Third, it is Jane Austen painting her own deepest feelings about who she wished she could have been in the person of Fanny.


Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale★★
This is now the third of five Jane Austen books adapted to film that I will review. I will keep the review short for the sake of my dear readers. After all, it was hard enough bearing through yet another Jane Austen novel. Emma is a rich young snot who loves to meddle in other people’s affairs, and the story starts with her at a wedding that she helped fix. She, like all the JA novels, comes from a wealthy landed family that had daughters, all of whom are eligible for marriage and desperate. Emma disguises her desperation by working on fixing other marriages throughout the movie (novel). She disrupts one marriage proposal to a friend Harriet, which she is trying to match to the local parson. Multiple brief episodes of love and hate occurs, until Harriet is finally united to her original suitor and Emma marries a Mr. Knightley, another rich young man with whom she has lapsed into and out of favor with. The movie has rich scenery, but the acting is quite mediocre. The story could mostly be ascertained in the first 10 minutes of the film. Emma as a film has it’s rich moments, and the Queen’s (King’s???) English is adorable. Multiple adaptations of this film have been done, including the film Clueless with Alicia Silverstone, a movie almost certain to never be seen by me.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winsley, Hugh Grant ★
I have recently reviewed the movie “Pride and Prejudice”, and suggest that you review that review and the subsequent comments before reading this review. This is another of the Jane Austen novels put to film, and I will be doing several more Jane Austen reviews before the end of the year. As mentioned previously, I have absolutely no intention as to ever reading any of her books.
I’m not sure if Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility first or Pride and Prejudice first, but it is of little regard, since they are essentially exactly the same story, names and a few details changed. I guess that Jane ran out of creative juices. Perhaps the only difference is that the lead eligible maiden (Maryann) preferred men that read Shakespeare, rather than prefer dancing. The general details of the story between the two novels are practically identical. A family loses its fortune (in this instance, through the death of father) and must move out of the mansion with numerous servants to live like paupers in an ordinary house without servants. Yet, the two oldest eligible maidens are equally pursued by very wealthy gentlemen. The suitors mysteriously disappear to London, and the two oldest daughters journey to London to find their loves. Maryann discovers her lover is now interested in a more wealthy maiden, and so she eventually falls back in love with her original love interest, Snipe, who should have taken her back to Hogwarts. Eleanor discovers that her lover, whom she thought was engaged to somebody else, has broken off that engagement. Maryann goes through a near death experience, miraculously comes back to life, and the movie ends as a double wedding, just as in Pride and Prejudice. I was able to predict half way through the film exactly what would happen, based on recently watching Pride and Prejudice.
Why the title Sense and Sensibility? I presume it is because the oldest daughter, Eleanor, had the most common sense, and tended to hold in her emotions. The middle daughter, Maryann, was an emotional, flirty, “artistic” and impractical type, an addle-brained maiden desperate for a man (just like P&P!). Realism is lost in the novels. Wealth, like in P&P, simply did not exist as such in England at the time of Austen’s books. The gentlemen are aptly defined in the script of the movie as “men without an occupation or profession, and nothing to do” (loose quote). Austen herself was never married, so these novels were probably her painting wishful fantasies of herself into the feminine characters of her books. I know of many young ladies who have watched these films and used them as models for behavior and desire in courtship. In reality, this movie, as in P&P, only makes sense if really viewed as a comedy rather than a romance novel. Because of extreme similarity and “fictions” of both S&S and P&P, I will not be belaboring my point any longer to the weariness of the reader.
I will next be reviewing “North and South” based on a family recommendation. Then I will get back to several more Jane Austen novels. Since I have not seen these movies, you’ll have to wait for my comments.


Chocolat, starring Juliette Binoche, Josh Densh, etc. ★
Chocolat is a marvelous, cute little movie that won 5 academy award nominations, which my wife watched many years ago, and suggested that it was a nice girlie type movie extolling the beauty of chocolate in transforming an innocent little French town from a prejudiced, unhappy villa to a place of joy and happiness. Right? Wrong! The movie is quite innocent, but really has little to do about chocolate. Instead, the entire theme of the movie is that Christian ethics and morality are oppressive and joyless, and by abandoning those morals, one can find peace, love, joy, and contentment.  The true movie title should have been called “Immorality”. The movie is in many respects “clean”. There is minimal blatant sex, drunkenness, bad words, and the only violence is performed by town Christians in seeking to drive out a poor helpless woman and her daughter from the town for corrupting the village morals. This makes is easy to accept without realizing the fundamental theme is rotten to the core, and the entire movie based on  impossible fictions.
Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk drift across Europe in the years after WWII. They arrive in a quaint French villa, where she sets up a chocolaterie. It happens to be that the town is staunchly Catholic, and that she arrives at the beginning of the Lenten season. She finds it challenging to establish a clientele for the business, save for a few troubled souls of the town who have already cast off their Christian faith. The town mayor and new priest insist that the Lenten season be abided by, making it all the more challenging for her to establish her business, and she is branded as immoral since she is a professing, avowed atheist free to share her deviant faith with those who would listen. The town is then visited by some river “rats”, gypsies that float the river, selling goods along the way, and generally having fun as they go. These river people are also rejected by the town, owing to their loose morals. Tragedy strikes when the town drunk burns down their floating city. Ultimately, Vianne decides to leave town on the day of easter sensing that the town is too “intolerant” for her good. The evening before, the mayor breaks into the shop to destroy a nude female made of chocolate, gets a taste of the chocolate, and is immediately addicted. The easter morning service is suddenly transformed into a lesson on tolerance, the village takes to liking for chocolate and dancing in the streets, and suddenly the village goes from doom and gloom to one of joy and gladness, accepting their new religion of atheism and amorality.
This movie is wrong in so many ways. First, it is economically a total fantasy. The movie shows the river rats living a rather sumptuous lifestyle, and yet never working to earn that lifestyle. Were they actually thieves? It shows Vianne coming to town with nothing but an illegitimate daughter and a few handbags at the start of Lent, setting up a very elaborate chocolaterie, making chocolate, baked goods and drinks in excess every day, and yet having only a few buyers. Vianne would give away multiple free samples, and also throw parties, such as a grand feast with lobster and turkey and all kinds of treats, yet never had a successful business as of yet to support that. Perhaps she was independently wealthy, but more likely than not, the author was completely clueless to the simplest matters of economics.
Secondly, the movie is wrong in trying to be so politically correct. It is politically correct to insult the prevailing western Christian morality and religious practice. Such a movie, if made in an even stricter moral context such as in a Muslim country during Ramadan, would be identified as blasphemous. I guess it is okay to rip apart the Christian faith but not Mohammedism. The final sermon offered in the village church on Easter morning was a sermon on tolerance. In one swift hour, the village is transformed from faith to paganism, from defined morality to undefined lust. It is so politically correct it makes me feel like vomiting.
Thirdly and most importantly, the movie (and book which the movie is based on) creates straw men. Nobody in the movie have real living personalities. To win an argument, contemporary liberalism uses the sly tactic of role reversal. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao become the kind, loving, benevolent leaders. Mother Teresa becomes a crotchety old moralistic witch (note that mother Teresa would not be personally attacked, but that the church which bred her is brutally and usually unrealistically attacked). In this movie, the Catholics of the town are intolerant, unloving, joyless brutes. In reality, I have never seen such a village. The personalities are entirely fictional, with the Compte (the mayor) living as widower (or divorcee, the book/movie never makes that clear but implies that NOBODY would live with such a wrench). Reality is that the Christian faith  brought joy and peace to the warring barbarians of Europe. It is the Christian faith, as compared to atheists/agnostics who have a much lower divorce and separation rate. It is the Christian faith which developed the interest in the world, including art, music, and cooking which Vianne now tries to market. The movie has Vianne painted as the only loving, caring person in the town, willing to reach out to the provincial village with self sacrifice. Actually, Vianne was intolerant to the conventions of the village, even refusing to occasionally set foot in a church or acknowledge some of the fundamental traditions of religious life in the village. The entire theme is that the village must adapt to her, no give or take, and no adaptation on her part. Also, has one ever stumbled across a loving, sacrificing atheist? This movie has no realistic personalities, and it is straw men created to form the fictional intentions of the book author.
Sadly, the movie is more destructive than meets the eye. Many will watch the movie as the joyful transformation of a town through the mediacy of chocolate. In reality, it is a town that goes overnight from Christianity to atheism. I would have appreciated the movie far more had it presented itself with entire fantasy, such as with fairies or magical spells. It would have then been more obvious as the fantasy that it is. But, that is so typical of the Hollywood elites, as they live in a fantasy world but wish the world to believe that they are presenting reality.   If you haven’t seen this film before, please don’t waste your time.