In this episode of the Seventh Row podcast, we discuss Chanya Button’s Vita & Virginia, a biopic about the romantic relationship between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.
Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney (@bwestcineaste), Executive Editor Orla Smith (@orlamango), and Editor at Large Mary Angela Rowe (@lapsedvictorian) discuss the film’s sex positivity, Elizabeth Debicki’s magnetism, the trend of woman author biopics, the problem with projecting today’s values onto feminist heroes of the past, and much more.
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About Chanya Button’s Vita & Virginia
Chanya Button’s second film, Vita & Virginia, tells the story of two very different women, each radicals of their time, who had one of the most infamous affairs in literary history — Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton). This relationship inspired one of Woolf’s greatest achievements, Orlando. Watch the trailer.
When the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018, Seventh Row named it as one of the festival’s top 20 acquisition titles. Here is an excerpt from the capsule review by Alex Heeney that ran at the time:
“Arterton’s Vita is a rich, fabulously dressed 1920’s New Woman, a successful author who wants to experience everyone and everything, and has no interest in letting her husband slow her down. Debicki’s Virginia is more reserved and subdued, a brilliant woman with confidence in her intellect but less comfortable socially; she seems as fragile as she is ethereal. Though Virginia doesn’t have a sexual relationship with her husband, they are deeply entwined partners, offering mutual support and running a publishing house together.” Read more.
Show notes and recommended reading
Here you will find links to pieces mentioned in the episode which were used as comparison points for Vita & Virginia.
In 2016, Alex interviewed Una director Benedict Andrews, who also directed Debicki in The Maids.
In 2017, we released a special issue on Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion, a biopic about American poet Emily Dickinson. The issue includes Gillie Collins’ essay on Dickinson’s subtle rebellion and Laura Anne Harris’ analysis of Cynthia Nixon’s performance
In this episode, we also discussed the recently released Seventh Row ebook on Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir. Find out more about the book here. We also discussed similarities between Vita & Virginia and The Souvenir.