MMT Quick Review: THE BEGUILED by contributor Samantha Hollins

When I was invited by to see “The Beguiled,” directed by Sofia Coppola, I was ecstatic and anticipated seeing a gothic drama with a dominant female presence. With Coppola being the second woman to win the best director award at Cannes Film Festival, it became even more intriguing to me. I had no idea this film had a former life until I did my research, which I usually do before attending a screening.

While digging up the bones of the film’s past, I discovered there was an original 1971 version of this cinematic creation starring Clint Eastwood, and directed by Don Siegel. As I shoveled my way through further investigation, I realized there was a novel, that was the precursor to the film, written by Thomas Cullinan in 1966.

Okay, the transformation of most reincarnated screenplays, and novels to scripted language, will undoubtedly translate differently on-screen. So, I decided to walk into the theater with an open mind to the alterations done on the casting – which (we know) was more diverse in a time of racial static.

Just about everything about The Beguiled was mesmerizing; capturing the essence of the time period in each moving scene. The enchanting costumes fit the era as well as it fit the ladies, making the visuals extremely real. The storyline was so hauntingly romantic, with passion engaging in despair. And Nicole Kidman led an amazing ensemble of brilliant actors.

With that said, I could not help but to think about how a piece of “Her-Story” was ripped out the pages of this southern American saga to create a comfort zone. The truth is not as glamorous as this revision of The Beguiled. With social media and cell phone videos putting a larger lens on the bloody soil still staining our lives, this would have been the perfect time to come clean with an authentic account of race and gender during the civil war.

African-American singer/actress Mae Mercer quilted a powerful statement in her co-starring role Hallie in the original film. Her presence was too important to be denied as if she never existed.

Many black women left the theater feeling the ripple effect of Hallie’s absence and how easy it was to erase her, which meant erasing our relevance.

But what if Sofia Coppola did include the plight of the black slave experience during the civil war and didn’t handle their narrative responsibly? Then another controversial conversation would be plaguing us now. This makes me ponder: why introduce yourself to a project and not invite one side of the human scope that was welcomed in the first place?

Since I am not one to give spoilers, go see “The Beguiled” for yourself, now playing at a theater near you. I also suggest you check out the original version as well, and let us know what you think.

Samantha Hollins, aka Ghetto SongBird, is a multi-talented singer/songwriter, guitarist, poet/writer, photographer and all around creative soul, who passionately enjoys sharing her positive artistic energy and harmonic vibes. You can follow her, and get additional information about her next tour date, on her Facebook page here; and check out her reviews of The Girl With All The GiftsGet Out, and Nocturnal Animals right here on MMT!



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