Entertainment Industry and other works

by Ellen Gillingham

The Hours


The Hours by Michael Cunningham is a piece of American literature influenced by a British author Virginia Woolf.  The plot follows one day of three women, though they are all in different times, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf interconnects the three narratives.  Throughout the novel the sensitive nature of the characters, reveal a theme of mortality.  The characters feel insignificant and see suicide as an escape.  In addition, the prologue sets this theme for the book, as it focuses on Virginia Woolf’s suicide.


Stephen Daldry bases The Hours, a 2002 introspective drama, on Michael Cunningham’s novel.  The plot jumps between the interconnected lives of three women of different generations.  The three women parallel each other and repeat the same actions as each other throughout the novel, creating the theme that all humans need connection.  The women seem lonely and solitary in their own lives, but are connected in their struggle to escape and transcend.


The main issue involved in the adaptation of The Hours is that it does not develop the curiosity that the novel does.  Although Stephen Daldry’s The Hours is an art film, it still does not translate all aspects portrayed in the novel.  The artistic aspect of the film creates a window into the character’s feelings, but not the original narration from the author.  In this sense, the prose style is recreated by the actors’ emotions and voice.  However, much of the narration of the novel is left out of the screenplay.  In essence, the graphic images of the film can create what is described in the narration, but not in the unique voice of the author.



This source was found on Education Research Complete and looks at how The Hours and other films can construct women as victims of culture.


This article analyzes how music suggests an inner stream of consciousness in the characters of The Hours.


This critical source focuses on the adaptation of the novel to the film along with the chatacter of Virginia Woolf’s identity by three men— Michael Cunningham, novelist; David Hare, screenwriter; Steven Daldry, director.


“Film at the Millennium” by Roger Hillman illuminates how many films produce a sense of historical lateness and retrospective gaze created by the new millennium.   Hillman views The Hours as a retrospective view Virginia Woolf’s legacy and a prefiguring of narratives.  He notes the importance of the change in literature style from the time of Woolf to that of Daldry.  Hillman’s analysis ultimately adds a critical look at the relationship between time and medium of literature to the public discourse around The Hours. 


The following is a question posed by Gabrielle Wenig in her review of The Hours: “What happens when a film about women tries to force us to the conclusion that the thinking woman, or the sensitive woman, or the creative woman’s only or best choice is death?” What is your answer to this question in regards to The Hours and how is this a problem?

When a film about women tries to force us to the conclusion that the thinking woman, or the sensitive woman, or the creative woman’s only best choice is death is illuminates the idea that the act of suicide is an escape from everydayness.  The plot of The Hours creates the theme that only an exciting life is worth living.  The women in the film do not take pleasure in simple things in life, but are preoccupied with excitement, perfection, and youth.  For example, in the film, Laura contemplates suicide when a birthday cake does not turn out right.  She is filled with sadness at how simple things in her life stand.  The repetition of this martyrdom in the main characters’ thoughts ultimately creates the problem that it is universal and a connecting factor among women that they do not appreciate simple things in life.


2 comments on “The Hours

  1. orchidsforluna
    June 14, 2012

    The Hours does make apparent a kind of ennui or emptiness to the lives of the woman portrayed. In the case of Laura, for example, she does contemplate suicide after the cake fails, but is this a result of the cake making her sad enough to want to kill herself, or is it more that the cake digs up the emptiness of existing that she’s always had, the latent tendency towards suicide that’s been there but just pops to the fore of her mind when little things go wrong? Is it a tendency of us towards melodrama and an exaggerated view of the grievances in our own lives, or is it something deeper, suggesting that artistic and creative women are suppressed in a way that they have no outlet and thus collapse under the internal pressure to create, forming a void of dissatisfaction and unfulfillment? The women in these stories travel through their lives as if they are perfectly normal members of society but inside they all harbor their own kinds of emptiness that, I think, are pulled to the surface by any kind of shift in mood.

  2. lordbyrne
    June 18, 2012

    Ellen, nice analysis and critical argument this time. Nice job. 10/10. JB.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2012 by in Adaptation, Film and tagged , , , , , , .
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