By Kate Domenichella and Tava Hoag
**Disclaimer- Contains spoilers about FSOG movie and personal opinions**
Kate’s Take (Perspective after reading the book–twice):
On Monday, Tava and I decided to see for ourselves the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey. I went into the movie theater knowing all sides of the FSOG debate. I read the book in 2011 when it was first published and I didn’t see the big deal because I didn’t understand the severity of Anastasia and Christian’s sexual relationship. It wasn’t until the hype surrounding the upcoming movie release that I finally took notice of what was truly going on in their relationship.
When talk of the movie began spreading- I began to read the influx of articles on how FSOG gives BDSM a bad light and how it promotes domestic violence and sexual assault. I also read articles on how Anastasia is in control of herself and her relationship with Christian and has the ability to walk away whenever she chooses- providing the perfect female power fantasy. I took everything each article said with a grain of salt, and I chose to make my own decision.
After Tava and I saw the movie, I read the book again. My reading of FSOG this past time was different than the first, simply because of all the opinions I had in the back of my mind. I would be lying if I said I couldn’t see why people had said the things they did.
The movie, although held true to some of the scenes from the book, had its fair share of differences:
For one, it was not told from Anastasia’s perspective in first-person. I think that the first-person narration of Anastasia clouds the book.
Anastasia’s “inner goddess” does not make an appearance.
Jose, Anastasia’s friend, does not make much of an appearance in the movie- only as Christian’s photographer for the photo shoot for Kate’s story and when he tries to drunkenly kiss Anastasia. It made sense for their relationship to not be in the movie because the central relationship between Anastasia and Christian is complicated enough.
One of the biggest differences I noticed was that Christian was presented as much less of a stalker in the movie. Granted he shows up in Georgia and the bar scene unexpectedly, but his “call me” texts and the GPS tracker on Anastasia are not mentioned.
Anastasia’s career goals were also put on hold in this film, but there is talk that her career becomes more prominent in the other two films of the trilogy.
The ending of the movie (a cliffhanger of course, but remember it’s the first movie of a rumored trilogy) stops one scene short. In my opinion, it allows Anastasia to have the final say and prove that she isn’t as submissive as people may think she is.
Lastly, but probably the most important difference, was that the movie did not portray Anastasia and Christian’s sexual relationship as rape/domestic violence/abuse. She remains true to her concerns about Christian’s sexual fantasies, she questions his actions and motives, and she agrees and acknowledges his safe words. In one scene where she could have (and according to many– myself included, should have probably screamed “red”), she didn’t. Their sexual relationship (in the movie) was entirely consensual.
In regards to the actual film itself, book aside, I did enjoy it. I liked the casting choices (although I do think Charlie Hunnam would have made a great Christian), the soundtrack was amazing (‘Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding is fantastic!), and the cinematography was incredible.
When all is said and done, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Whether or not you’ve read the book, or seen the movie, or done research on dominant/submissive relationships– you can make your own educated decision on how you view E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s movie version (with respective credit to Kelly Marcel, the screenwriter).
Tava’s Take (Non-book Perspective):
Before I start, it’s important to remember that I have never read the book by E.L. James, therefore my opinion of this film comes entirely from what I saw on the screen. That being said, this past weekend I succumbed to the curiosity of the masses and watched Fifty Shades of Grey. Let me be the first to say that I genuinely enjoyed it. I thought the movie was thought-provoking and, dare I say it, addicting. I want all of you skeptics out there to know that before, I was just like you. I have been boycotting these books because I wanted nothing to do with the raw eroticism that goes on within their pages. I actually went to the movie with the assumption that I was going to hate it and boy was I wrong.
Overall I felt that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan did a wonderful job playing the roles that I expected of them. Perhaps they didn’t do as great a job depicting their book counterparts, but it was satisfactory to me just the same. The sex, which I was expecting a lot of did not govern the entire film and it definitely was much more low-key and restrained than I anticipated. Finally, I loved the soundtrack, the songs went great with the scenes in the movie where they were placed.
I wanted to address a few issues that I know have come up online and on the radio. First, based on the movie Christian and Ana’s relationship was not rape. At no point did he ever force Ana into doing anything that she was uncomfortable with. I am not implying that their relationship was normal, it was far from it, but it’s important to realize that in this movie everything seen was consensual.
Another popular controversy is the negative portrayal the film gives relationships and the inaccuracy with which it presents romance. Of course it is a negative representation of relationships, but romance was not part of this film. Christian stated repeatedly that romance was not his thing and that Ana should not expect it from him.
I saw this film to be more about the psychology of relationships. Ana is constantly seen questioning Christian’s motives and begging him to open up to her. She’s trying to change him and the audience sees this beginning to take effect towards the end of the film.
The only previous information that I had about this story was that it had originated as “Twilight” fan-fiction. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s characters were initially based off of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. As I was watching the movie I noticed a few similarities between the two relationships. For one, Christian tells Ana to stay away from him because he’s not the man for her, but he can’t stay away from her, just like Edward’s strange attraction to Bella in “Twilight”. It’s also noticeable that Anastasia Steele is a smart girl, but visibly nervous and self-conscious like Bella. Christian comes on very strong, as Edward did and he can’t seem to leave Ana alone. Ana has a relationship with her mother that is similar to Bella’s with her mother. Anastasia’s mother has been with a lot of men and she leaves her daughter to do things on her own, they are close but only on a surface level. The biggest similarity that I saw between Edward and Christian was their ability to play the piano. There are a lot of other little connections but you’ll have to watch the movie to try and find them.
Ultimately the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey focused on the intimacy and privacy of relationships. What occurs between two people is entirely up to them and no one else should be involved. Again, no one is trying to claim that a dominant and submissive relationship is perfect– it’s only an option and if two people agree to it then why not? As wrong as this kind of behavior is in today’s society, people have the right to choose this and the decision should be made together. If one person does not agree or says no, then it stops exactly like it is seen in the film.
Whether you enjoyed the film or not, try to remember to see Fifty Shades of Grey as it is– a form of entertainment. Viewers aren’t meant to take its content to heart because it’s only a story. It was made to make money and bring people in to watch it. So far, regardless of personal opinion it has done its job– earning over 80 million dollars this past opening weekend.