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‘Dickinson’: Inside Emily and Lavinia’s ‘Bill & Ted’ Inspiring Ride

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Apple TV+’s Dickinson is all about Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld)’s legacy as a poet, so it’s only fitting that she comes to terms with her own impact in one of the series’ final episodes. And all thanks to a wildness, Bill & Ted inspired by a trip through time to the 1950s, and an encounter with Sylvia Plath (Chloe Fineman).

Steinfeld told Decider: “It’s great to be time-traveled to this era where we’re standing in front of a woman in pants,” “Sylvia Plath is played by Chloe Fineman, who’s just amazing and I absolutely love it. love her.”

In the episode titled “The Future Never Foretells,” Emily is reeling from a fight with her lover Sue (Ella Hunt), who wants to be with her full-time when Sue’s husband – also Emily’s brother – Austin (Adrian Blake Enscoe) is at the top. to the Civil War. Emily dreads the idea: scared of what it would take to live openly and brazenly with Sue; fear of having to raise children with her; but perhaps most of all, fearing whether that means she will need to give up her time devoted to her art and give it to Sue instead.

Meanwhile, Emily’s older sister Lavinia (Anna Baryshnikov) is distraught because every man she has ever loved has died in the Civil War, and worries that she will be a loner for the rest of her life. Spoiler: in real life, that’s exactly what happened to Lavinia, who was never married, but ended up becoming her sister’s poetic caretaker.

So, naturally, they traveled through time to May 1, 1955.

“To have a car on this set, or to see [Fineman] wearing a pair of trousers, both Hailey and I like ‘what?’ “Baryshnikov recalls in the show’s visit to Long Island this past summer. “She was moving around in a way we couldn’t even imagine.”

Pants aside, improved casual clothes based on the 1860s of Dickinson In keeping with the 1950s, the production staff had to do a lot of work, including adding a gazebo to the backdrop of Homestead, the home of the Dickinson family. As production designer Neil Patel laughs, the reference point provided by host Alena Smith is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the time-traveling comedy finds the duo traveling in a phone booth. Here, instead, Lavinia and Emily travel in a rotating gazebo that is struck by pink lightning. And funny, Old Bethpage, which preserves history Dickinson Exterior shoot, liked the gazebo so much that they kept it to use for wedding events.

But perhaps more important is the improved version of the 1950s Homestead, maintained at the time by Amherst College. The real Emily Dickinson Museum (which Dickinson staff worked hard to keep the series accurate) in Amherst, Massachusetts – and wasn’t even created until 2003 – so Patel and crew basically had to start from scratch. .

“At the time, Emily Dickinson was not very well known and the house was not the museum it is now,” says Patel. “So she walked into that space and saw it decompose over time… We built a version of the house just the way we imagined it in 1955, and we had to. do some outside work”.

When Emily and Lavinia arrive, they are confronted by Plath, who thinks they are dressed for Smith College’s annual Mountain Day. At first, the Dickinson sisters were delighted to discover that women could go to college, and generally freer, than they had in 1862. And then, things got even better when Emily saw it. her own bedroom – furniture barely out of place, but with a book of her poems lying still on top of her clothes.

“[The] The entire episode is one of my favorites because of the fact that we get to see the legacy of Emily Dickinson,” noted Steinfeld. “Where in Season 2 she lost sleep over the idea of ​​becoming famous and publishing her work and being a famous writer, to get a little insight into what that would look like for her. in the future… That’s great. ”

Steinfeld added about part of the sequence when Emily saw her collection on display, “especially at that moment, I was so excited when I read in the script that we touched on that part. in her life.”

Despite their initial positivity, Plath has some idea of ​​Emily’s history that do consistent with the poet’s view of the time, but not with our current perception of her – and certainly not with the version that appeared in the three seasons above. NSickinson.

“I mean, that episode is the world’s least exciting trip to the future, because the gazebo turns into a time machine and they operate in the 1950s, where Homestead is essentially the same as before. here, except it’s dirtier. and no one really cares,” Smith said. “And Emily thought ‘oh wow, now that women are going to college, this must be a great time to be a woman.’ And sadly, Sylvia informed them, “no, no, no, that’s very sad, and I tried to kill myself.”

Plath went on to describe Emily, as Smith put it, as “a shy, reclusive, virginal, whirling girl who died of unrequited love for a man.” And while it’s clear Lavinia was initially as upset with this picture that Plath painted as Emily, the real-life Baryshnikov felt the same way. “I really felt protective of Hailee and Emily when [Plath] is saying that she is depressed, she wants to kill herself, she is the original sad girl. ‘ said Baryshnikov. “I say no. We created this vivacious character. That’s not who she is. ‘ That dissonance between the Emily Dickinson we all know and this fiery character we’ve created is fun to play. “

But perhaps the most important revelation from the discussion with Plath is not about Emily’s future, but her present. After Plath tells her she has a secret, unrequited love, Lavinia forces Emily to name the man in her life. Emily vehemently insists that she has “never been in love with a man”, Plath replies that Emily may be right, and a recent book (“The Riddle of Emily Dickinson,” by Rebecca Patterson) suggests that Emily could, in fact, be a lesbian. But Lavinia and Emily have no idea what she’s talking about, and Lavinia confidently replies that she’s not a lesbian, she’s “an American.”

This semi-distant exchange that goes to the heart of nearly everything is at the root of Emily’s romantic journey for three seasons: Emily really doesn’t know the terminology of what, or who she is. She’s all about words and description, which is part of her lifeline as a poet – but she still doesn’t know what to call herself. There are many different studies here, but while “lesbian” has appeared as a word in many forms over the centuries (and has existed as a concept since the dawn of mankind), then it doesn’t found in medical dictionaries until 1890 – several years after Emily Dickinson died. Plath helpfully defines the word for them (“a woman who loves other women”), and Emily stands there, stunned, silent, finally understanding that she is more than just a lesbian female, there’s not just one word for it… But there are others like her.

“For Emily [this] as part of her larger journey in Season 3, it’s really about stepping out and owning her gender and being a little bit bolder about defining herself and her love for Sue ,” Smith continued. “And capturing the moment is the present, because that’s all we have at the end of the day.”

This opens in Emily’s emotional confession to Lavinia, who asks her if it’s true that she loves another woman. “That’s Sue,” Emily said. “Always Sue. I love Sue. ” Lavinia simply replied, “I think I know that.”

Baryshnikov said: “I was happy to see that was the way that line was written, because that is how I have always felt about this character. “I think there’s something about Emily that Lavinia has always understood to be intrinsically different from the others, not traditional.”

Confusing perhaps, it turns out that time travel is part of a dream sequence, one of Emily’s frequent flights. But then, Lavinia explained that in real life, Emily had complained to her about Sue, and they had “a very pleasant chat” afterwards. The implication here is that while Sylvia Plath and her trip to the future may not actually happen, Emily’s confession about Sue – marks the first time she’s told someone about her relationship; in addition to Walt Whitman (Billy Eichner), who is also only in Emily’s imagination.

“One of our producers and director, Silas Howard, was on set that day,” recalls Baryshnikov. “He texted Hailee and I at lunch and said, ‘I was really emotional watching you guys shoot that scene. It suddenly occurred to me that Emily didn’t say on the show ‘I love Sue’ to anyone but Lavinia in this episode. “

Emily’s revelation, and Lavinia’s urge to pursue Sue in the present, are unfortunately interrupted by news that their friend Frazar Stearns (Will Pullen) has passed away. But as we move into the final three episodes of the series, it becomes clear that Emily finally knows who she is – and what she wants. And that’s Sue.

Dickinson Stream live on Fridays on Apple TV+.

Where to watch? Dickinson

https://decider.com/2021/12/03/dickinson-time-travel-sylvia-plath-hailee-steinfeld-interview/ ‘Dickinson’: Inside Emily and Lavinia’s ‘Bill & Ted’ Inspiring Ride

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