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In contrast, housekeeper Dorcas Miriam Margolyes has a no-nonsense, working-class wryness.

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After a fierce storm, a body washes up in view of the Widdington manse. Miraculously alive and with little more than a broken ankle to show for the ordeal, the mysterious stranger is brought inside by the sisters, who minister to his wounds. Janet breaks out her old German primer and relishes her ability to communicate with the grateful young man. Meanwhile, Ursula hovers around Andrea, extra-attentive to his needs and resentful whenever her sister gets to him first. Andrea turns out to be a violin virtuoso, and the sisters borrow an instrument from the village fiddler.

Visiting painter Olga Danilof Natascha McElhone overhears the luscious sounds coming from the house and loudly shouts her appreciation from the road, but the sisters disapprove of this beautiful, young stranger. Undiscouraged, Olga writes a letter to the sisters telling them that her brother, world-famous violinist Boris Danilof, would love to hear their talented guest. Dench almost wordlessly captures the conflicting feelings welling up inside Ursula. Film delivers a sense of period without overloading on design details, and news of the outside world filters through in snippets heard on the radio.

Sole misstep is a late-on flashback that veers into more facile sentimentality. International sales: Lakeshore Entertainment, London. Later, when Olga sent them a letter asking to meet Andrea, explaining that her brother is a famous violinist, Janet burnt the letter. Nevertheless, Olga seems determined to become acquainted with Andrea. Their first encounter takes place at the Harvest Festival being held at the village pub. Here, Andrea has some beers with other young men his age and catches the eye of a pretty village girl.

Largely to attract her, he takes over the fiddle and begins to play some Polish dance tunes, winning not only her admiration but that of all the merrymakers. This scene represents an advance in Andrea's search for himself in that he is learning that through his music he can give pleasure to others by uniting them in the joyful acknowledgment of their shared humanity.

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The scene is also important because Olga, applauding enthusiastically, is among the villagers gathered around the stage as Andrea plays. The second meeting takes place as Andrea is playing for Janet and Ursula, as they sit in their sunny garden, knitting, the dainty remains of tea on the table. Again, Olga "just happens" to be passing by. Her visit is very short because Janet and Ursula again give Olga a chilly reception. Before taking her departure, Olga, uninvited, takes a bit of cake from the tea table, and murmurs "delicious.

The third and most significant encounter occurs among the fishermen gathered on the beach, mending their nets and selling their fish.

Andrea has gone down to talk to the fishermen, in a futile attempt to find a way to America. The camera focuses on Olga standing to the side, looking out to the sea with a pensive expression, like Polyhymnia the muse of sacred poetry , and holding a long staff, like Urania the muse of astronomy.

Unaware of Olga, Andrea stands on a rocky promontory, looking down at the fishermen mending their nets below. When one of the fishermen throws an eel at Andrea, Olga playfully calls out to Andrea to throw it back at the fisherman. Then as she moves toward Andrea, she retracts her command, saying that one bite from the eel could destroy his career. To this, Olga answers significantly, "You will have if you practice. Later at her cottage, to which Olga has invited Andrea for lunch, she tells Andrea that her brother is Boris Danilof, the world-famous violist.

She also tells Andrea that she had sent a letter to the sisters regarding introducing Andrea to her brother and is surprised to hear that they have not told Andrea anything about the letter.

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She suggests that they are imprisoning Andrea, thus casting them as the wicked witches of the fairy tale, just as they have cast her. This scene ends with Andrea agreeing to make many additional visits to Olga's cottage so that she can paint him while he is playing his violin. Hoping to win the love of this beautiful woman, Andrea begins to practice as never before.

In another significant encounter, Andrea is back at the pub learning to bowl, surrounded by the village men who are taking great delight in teaching the young man this skill so essential to living in the village. Again, Olga just happens by and asks Andrea to come to her cottage the next afternoon, that she has something very important to tell him. When Andrea goes to the cottage the next afternoon, Olga tells him that she has heard from her brother and that they must set off for London immediately.

Andrea protests that he has to say goodbye to Janet and Ursula but Olga insists that there is no time and whisks him away. Upon hearing that Andrea has gone off to London with Olga, the sisters are bereft. In Locke's story, the significance of this event is made explicit: "The stranger woman had come and had taken [Andrea] away from them.

Youth had flown magnetically to youth. They were left alone unheeded in the dry lavender of their lives.

Third Circle: Apotheosis. The third circle contains images of Andrea's triumph in the concert hall, and it is from this circle that the center is perceived. Just as the center is not shown in the drawing of a mandala, the center of this film can only be experienced.


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Most people in the audiences on both sides of the screen probably perceive the central point during Andrea's playing of the exquisite violin solo in "Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra. All are merged in a vision of the totality of life in this glorious violin solo. For Andrea and Ursula, it is suggested, the central point came earlier. In the story from which the film takes its title, we are told that Andrea returned home "one late afternoon, after spending the day playing his violin to dolphins and waves and things some miles off along the coast" with his face flushed and a new light burning in his eyes.

Perhaps this is the point at which Andrea receives his revelation. The precise nature of Andrea's revelation is perhaps described in Locke's story "The Song of Life," where another musician receives a "tremendous inspiration" as a young man, when he hears what he calls the song of life:. It was life, indestructible, eternal. It was the seed that grew into the tree; the tree that flourished lustily, and then grew bare and stark and perished; the seed, again, of the tree that rose unconquerable into the laughing leaf of spring.

Nigel Hess: Ladies in Lavender

It was the kiss of lovers that, when they were dead and gone, lived immortal on the lips of grandchildren. It was the endless roll of the seasons, the majestic, triumphant rhythm of existence.

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Ursula seems to have found her central point on the night after Andrea has disappeared from her life, having been carried off to London by Olga. Here again, the story provides a useful adumbration on a scene in the movie. Unable to sleep, Ursula had gone to Andrea's empty room. Leaning on the sill of the open window, she had looked out on the sea:.

Sooner or later, she knew, would come a letter of explanation. She hoped Janet would not force her to read it. She no longer wanted to know whence he came, whither he was going.

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