Monday, January 22, 2018

Did Lizzie Borden commit murder naked?

I love how this still is so close you see the texture of their skin. Courtesy, Sundance Review

The reviews for the new Lizzie movie reveal a few interesting things about the plot and its interpretation of the historical events of 1892. For one thing, it utilizes the interesting thought that Lizzie might've murdered her father and stepmother in the nude. Much easier to clean blood off skin than off fabric.

The Elizabeth Montgomery made-for-TV movie of the 1970s used this idea, and seeing the camera dwell on her beautiful calves as she walks towards murder adds a little verve to an already fantastically-rendered movie. Other notable movie moments: Lizzie sneaking down to the dining room where the victims were kept overnight, and lifting the sheet on her father's corpse to...can barely type this....kiss him. And I love it that this movie shows a dispassionate Lizzie, as she was in real life. The only moment where she ever shows horror is for herself, when the attorney forces her to grasp that she may hang for this crime.

But the new movie takes this idea a step further. Not only does Chloe Sevigny disrobe, but Kristen Stewart does too. Lizzie and her Irish maid together strip naked to perform the murders.


I have to say, my first thought is a pragmatic one. And kind of a disturbing one.

There just isn't room for two people to commit these murders. Not in the cramped quarters of the Borden home (Mrs. Borden was slain in a narrow alley between bed and dresser) and more definitively, not in the small real estate of where the hatchet blows landed.

The heads, to be exact.

Mrs. Borden had one blow on her upper back, but other that, only the heads bore wounds.

19 blows for Mrs. Borden, and 11 for Mr. Borden a few hours later.

Plaster casts of the Bordens' skulls used as evidence in the trial, now on
display at the Lizzie Borden B&B

If you think about the average head size...and now the average hatchet head would just be awkward for two people to try to murder together. Maybe they each had a hatchet and took turns? I shudder.

I'm not sure how the movie will handle this, but I'm sure fans of both actresses will be happy to see skin. Sevigny told Indiewire, "It’s just a really carnal moment, and I just thought it would be really arresting. I trusted in [director] Craig’s restraint and [cinematographer] Noah’s beautiful photography that they would make me look good. Now I feel extremely vulnerable!" The murder scene was shot on Sevigny's 42nd birthday, and I applaud her bravery in letting loose with what is likely a far more toned body than the average middle-aged woman has!

By the way, Lizzie was 32 at the time of the murders.

And if you want to know about Kristen Stewart (who plays the maid Bridget Sullivan), she is now 27 years old, much closer to the age of the character she plays: 27.

If you want to read my piece about spending the night in the Lizzie Borden B&B, click here. I stayed in Bridget's attic bedroom.


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