Review of A Love Full of Action

Professor Paul Crossley from the Courtauld Institute in London wrote of the DVD, A Love Full of Action,

First, this is such a sympathetic and at times moving script, beautifully read by Sara Mohr-Pietsch – whose voice is not ‘posh’ but real and clear. And then the music! I hadn’t heard Britten’s Metamorphosis for solo oboe for ages (though I have an old wax recording of it.) It was perfect for the mood of the film – gentle, with strong overtones of sadness (in keeping with the story), but also bucolic and pastoral and in keeping with the freshness of Cornelia’s imagination, and the unaffected spontaneity of children.

But of course it was the script that stood out, – the extraordinary story, … arrayed in all its redemptive tragedy. This is, as the title suggests, love in action, a refusal to be cowed by the horrors of losing her child through illness, and then, far worse, the terrible painful death of her child, dying in agony for two days in her arms. Faced with that level of tragedy – and it is almost Greek in its unmitigated horror, most of us (at least me) would have retreated into a sort of bitter hatred of everything: God, the world, and everything in it. But she turned that tragedy into something profoundly and lastingly positive. All that characteristic Victorian energy and hopefulness turned to the service of young individuals. In a way, she seemed both Victorian and post-Victorian, especially her ‘prgoressive’ views of education for girls as personal fulfilment and her loving belief in their need for self expression. It was love, not justice or rules, that seemed to propel her schools. I loved the story of her in her full nun’s robes whisking one of the girls around the dance floor in a Viennese waltz. And how sweet she was to single out a little orphan and take her for a walk or a drive. Here clearly was a woman strong but loving, a mixture of will and sensitivity that one rarely encounters. And if the portrait of her is right, she was beautiful too.

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