I Capture the Castle in half an hour

Quickly! Must post!

I’m posting this in between classes. I have half an hour! Hence the possible poor quality of the review and the multiple grammatical/typo mistakes…

Last night, I stayed up late to watch the film adaptation of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.

It was at around 11:30pm when I started watching it. It was around 2AM when I went to sleep!

It was so hard to stifle my giggles – though I suspect my roommates aren’t so peeved since I saw lights under their doors, too.

Set in the 1930s, Cassandra Mortmain and her family of eccentrics arrive at an old castle, where their father will hopefully be able to write a masterpiece. After 12 years of nothing published, everyone is desperate, especially Cassandra’s sister Rose, who dreams of a better life, of luxuries and love. Cassandra herself vows that she’ll never fall in love. When the landlord americans of their castle arrive, however, her entire life and that of her family whirl completely our of control. Result: lots of giggling moments, lots of touching moments, lots of sad moments, all taking place on a beautiful English Countryside, castle in no-man’s land kind of backdrop.

Cassandra is played by Romola Garai, who I thought played the role to a tee. At least, based on what I remember of the book (I must re-read it!). She was innocent and loyal and helpful and a total romantic, despite being afraid of falling in love.

Rose is played by Rose Byrne. I don’t remember much about Rose from the book, except that she must’ve been very pretty and playful. Despite having forgotten accurately how Rose was like, I love the Rose in the movie. Her character dripped with dramatic flair. Her costume bubbled with eccentricity. It altogether made for some snort-worthy scenes.

Henry Thomas plays Simon Cotton, with the sweet face and the romantic goo-goo eyes. I remember him from Legends of the Fall. And, Marc Blucas plays Neil.

The cinematography was…beautiful, just so picturesque.  The music, by Dario Marianelli, was beautiful and subtle and haunting.

There are so many little things that I loved about the movie, and I’m all about the little things sometimes. Like the talk of inheriting a portion of their Aunt’s inheritance, which makes everyone look at the dilapidated wardrobe in the corner of the bedroom.  After a moment, Cassie quips, “I hope it’s the door.”

Or having the rich folks over to dinner at the old castle. There is no food, no proper tableware, not even a proper table. Father basically says, “We’ve got doors we can unhinge, don’t we?”

I’m pretty sure I got some tea up my nose during those moments. But, to be fair, if I could’ve hollered healthily at those scenes, such dangerous incidents wouldn’t have happened. But it was midnight. On a school night. Hence the slow suffering snickering.

There are some spoilers after this!

The first scene caught me. Imagine driving up a windy road by a sparkling bay, and there, in the middle of an undulating grass field: an old dilapidated castle that will be your home. It was quite dramatic – the lone tower sticking out, looking haunting and peculiar.

When we meet seventeen year old Cassandra, she’s writing in her diary/journal, and all around her is the usual family havoc: step-mum Topaz, sister Rose and brother (whose name I can’t remember!!??) working with some green scouring powder (?) in the middle of a medieval-like setting. That scene was so lovely and eccentric and funny-worthy. In the middle of this day-to-day normal eccentricity, Cassandra is day-dreaming, and she thinks, “I am never going to fall in love. Life is dangerous enough.”

Then there’s the scene where the two Cotton brothers arrive, and in the rain storm, trying to free herself from constraints of all sorts, is Topaz, naked and exposed to the weather like a mad woman. And when the men arrive into the castle, Cassandra is stark naked as well, in her tub, eating chocolate. And, I don’t remember why, but Rose enters with grand flair, tottering down the stairs like a drunkard. Everyone is so innocent to how crazy they look to these Americans, of which this is probably their first taste of life in England. But, they took it all in stride well enough, with a few moments of awkwardness from the brothers that were misread to be as a result to an electric attraction to Rose.

My favourite scene, and it was around midnight when I choked on my tea, was when Rose and Cassie went to pick up the fur coats from their recently deceased Aunt. They were discussing how hideous the furs looked: Rose’s was bear and Cassie’s was monkey.

On the train ride back, well, by some utterly hilarious coincidence and misunderstanding, the two girls become the prey of a hunting party, mistaken for bears… in England. They caused such a whistle blowing ruckus, and to the mortification of the girls, somehow inspired the hunting instincts of one of the two brothers who immediately launches into a story about the feats of bear hunting.

Okay, got to run. But look – I even put pretty pictures in!



  1. I have just recently read the book, so now should probably watch this? Lovely stills. It’s not how I imagine Rose to be but Cassandra looks just like she does in the book. 🙂

  2. I’d like to see this film, although as a rule I do not care for Romola Garai at all. I’m just the opposite of Claire – Rose looks just like I imagined her, and Cassandra not at all. And do my eyes deceive me, or is that Riley Finn playing, I assume, Neil?

  3. I literally just heard about this book — don’t know where I’ve been — and am determined to read it soon! It has so many fabulous elements in it… love, England, romance, writing, the castle. Sigh. The film looks great, too — really enjoyed your post! Such pretty pictures! I’ll be back to re-read it after I’ve watched the adaptation, too 🙂

  4. Sounds like a fun movie! I don’t have much time to comment, but I have to tell you that I’ve finally finished reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and posted about it. Can’t wait to read your review!

  5. I just mentioned this movie today! Romola Garai is playing Emma is the BBC’s Jane Austen adaptation – can’t wait to watch. I thought she was great in I Capture the Castle too – I loved both the book and the movie.

  6. I haven’t read the book yet- but from how beautiful the film looks I know I want to see it now. Even before I read, perhaps.

  7. Maria Grazia – Haha yeah, I was desperate to post about something since I was away from this blog for so long. And I found that in general, I really enjoyed this movie. The beginning was especially funny. Thank you for that darling little award! I do try to write from the heart (it might just be because I’m too lazy to actually think before I post :P)
    Claire – I thought so, too (about Cassandra). I don’t quite remember exactly how she looks like, only an impression of what I thought she looked like. And she pretty much fits it! I definitely have to re-read the book, I remember loving it back in the day.
    Jenny – Haha, I don’t remember how Rose was supposed to be like! I just remember her being vain. And yes, it is Riley Finn! Is that weird? I don’t know…I totally had flashbacks of certain scenes from Buffy which didn’t quite work with the film. And next to him, Rose looked so dainty delicate.
    Nymeth – I was so happy when I heard that there was a movie about it because I thought it would totally be do-able in movie-version. And if anything, it will fulfill your cravings for some nice, scenic landscapes to escape to.
    Aimee – This would totally be your kind of book Aimee! It’s quirky and eccentric, funny with a slight bit of bittersweet in there.
    Megan – Yes the castle of all old, dilapidated castles! I would gladly give up a day of luxuries to experience the ambience of a drafty, ancient castle. I wish they put more scenes of just the random rooms in there. I would disappear for an entire day into one of the hundreds of rooms, armed with a lantern, a book, and a pen and scribble away. I would probably need something sharp to poke away at the rats, but all the same!
    Allegra – I feel so behind! I haven’t even finished The Demon’s Lexicon yet. Everything’s on hiatus for now, I’ve got too many papers to write 😦 Boo. But, did you enjoy it? Probably! It’s Neil Gaiman afterall. Even if you don’t totally love him, he’ll wring a few giggles out of your at least.
    Bookdaze – I know! I can’t wait! Emma is one of my favorite Jane Austens. I hope BBC continues to pump out those film adaptations, lots of hungry period drama watchers out there!
    Jeane – Oh, go ahead and watch it or read it first, both ways won’t spoil your experience, I believe. If anything, watch it for the costum-y, cinematography of it!

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