An Inspector Calls full movie review - I'm not sure I learned anything other than to not fire people who smiles at you
Based on Priestley's work, an Inspector Calls (AIC) has been brought to video quite a few times, and most recently, this year on BBC1. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed.
Many people think Priestley made a social critique, and he did, but in this version of AIC, I saw less critique and more drama. I'm not going to deny, it was a cinematic masterpiece, with many amazing shots and beautiful music (I'll get back to that later). But it completely missed the point Priestley was trying to make.
In this play, a rich, British family (representing capitalist mentality) sit down and try to enjoy a nice dinner, celebrating an engagement, when the Inspector arrives (representing the socialist way of thinking) and tells them a girl (Eva Smith) committed suicide because of them. Now, he doesn't pinpoint one person in particular and say like "You! You killed her, it was all your fault! Have fun in jail!". No, instead he guilted them individually one by one and made them, well only Eric and Sheila to be honest, feel bad about what they did. Mr and Mrs B are seen to be the capitalists (and Gerald too). They "ruined" Eva purely out of spite and power. The entire play is a power struggle. The other family members had a somewhat legitimate reason for doing what they did.
Anyway, back to the point. By the end of the play, Eric and Sheila (The Birling's children) see themselves as horrible people for doing what they did and they're filled with guilt and remorse. They see their parents (and Gerald) as horrible capitalist people who care more about their image than someone else's life. The Inspector then proceeds to lecture them about how "there are millions of Eva and John Smith's in the world, and if they don't learn, they'll be taught in fire, and blood, and anguish." He then leaves and decides to TIME TRAVEL because you know, he's The Inspector, he can do whatever he wants. This part in particular actually annoyed me. Priestley may have suggested that The Inspector might not be entirely human, but the director didn't do a very good job with this. I mean, to have him time travel is one thing, we see it all the time in other good shows, like Doctor Who, but to have him actually disappear at the end, that's another thing entirely. Was he a ghost? Who knows. Is he not human? Probably.
But all that put aside, it was actually quite entertaining even though it lacked similarity to the original play. I'm sure the script was pretty much identical, but still. It lacked a moral. Also the hinted romance between Eva and The Inspector was completely unnecessary, I can't have been the only one who picked it up.
The camera angles were glorious, portraying power, control, lack of control sometimes, snobbiness and just about every adjective you can imagine. The music was spooky, but not eerie enough to distract you from the script. Also, there is one particular shot that is perfect in every sense. Eric is sat down, back to the audience (or camera), the two women are sat down by his right, and his father and brother-in-law are stood to his left. The Inspector is standing at the other end of the table, if I'm not mistaken. This shows a perfect social critique and understanding of the play. The woman are aside, trying to not get involved, whereas the men, especially Mr B are distressed and ready to take action. Perfectly done, I think. It portrays the characters perfectly. Mr B is trying to seize the floor, fists clenched on the table, leaning forward with his head down. Gerald is looking away, visibly uncomfortable and trying to get uninvolved. Mrs B is sat there, head high, proud as a queen, whereas Sheila has her head down and looks absolutely ashamed of herself.
On the whole, I'm not sure I liked it. It was entertaining, but I'm not sure I learned anything from it other than not to fire people who smile at you.