My personal experience at the Toronto International Film Festival could be seen as nothing less than an extraordinary opportunity. It enabled me, along with many others, to view the magnificent creations of filmmakers from all over the world. Last Thursday, I had the chance to view the premier screening of The Secret Scripture, a movie directed by Jim Sheridan.
My primary impression of the event was that it was exceptionally organized, with several employees and volunteers available at every turn to help with any questions that guests might have had. After taking my seat, the screening event began promptly at 6:30 p.m. The audience was introduced to the film by Sheridan himself, who gave a humorous and concise speech about the making of the film. He also shared his appreciation of actresses Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave for their outstanding dedication to their roles as the main character, Rose (past and present, respectively).
The Secret Scripture depicts the struggles of Rose, a woman confined to a mental institute for over 40 years after being accused of murdering her own child. However, this was not the first time someone had been admitted to a mental hospital in Rose’s family. Rose explains in the film that her mother was sent to be treated for going mad after losing the love of her life, Rose’s father. Similar to her mother, Rose was confined to a mental hospital for several years. But unlike her mother, Rose’s confinement was as a result of betrayal.
The story occurs in the 1940s, during World War 2, in a small city in Ireland. Throughout the film, Sheridan uses flashbacks to display the hidden story of Rose’s past—one filled with love and family relationships, and hardships such as loss.
Setting plays a significant role in the development of the film’s plot. Most of the events that occur are meaningful as a result of the era in which they take place. For example, the use of electrical shocks to “treat” Rose in the mental institute is certainly a result of the film’s time period. Evidently, the time and place in which the events take place shape the outcome of Rose’s life.
Throughout the film, there is a significant use of imagery, especially relating to Rose’s past. At the beginning, we are introduced to a small Bible that Rose has altered into “The Book of Rose,” with each page containing different memories from her past. Finely written at the top of each page, Rose purges the truth by writing, “My name is Rose. I did not kill my child.” In a shocking plot twist near the end of the film, a barrage of emotions flow through Rose as she remembers the passionate love she shared with her husband, Michael McNulty.
The Secret Scripture could be classified as a tragic love story. It consequently teaches us through the life and experiences of Rose. We learn that despite all, the truth always comes to light in the end.