Leave All Fair
Director John Reid
Producer John O’Shea
With John Gielgud (John Middleton Murry), Jane Birkin (Katherine Mansfield, Marie Taylor)
On the 7th August 1922, Katherine Mansfield wrote to her husband, John Middleton Murry, a “farewell” letter. It contained some cruel accusations against him and ended: “All my manuscripts, books, papers, letters I leave to you. Go through them one day, dear love, publish as little as possible and tear up and burn as much as possible. You know my love of tidiness. Have a clean sweep, Bogey, and leave all fair – will you?”… Five months later, Katherine Mansfield died.
"Leave All Fair contrives a fiction in which John Middleton Murry privately confronts and publicly evades accusations that his version of the New Zealand writer, the late Katherine Mansfield, is not the real one; that as her editor, lover and husband, he oppressed her, ignored her suffering, flouted her wishes, tailored her work to the market and tailored their love story to his own remote, romantic needs and then, with consummate false modesty, collected the royalty cheques after her horrible death. Gielgud’s performance is among his late best, a full-blooded rendering of a bloodless man. Jane Birken plays Mansfield as the gaunt and steely ghost who, in flashbacks, stalks his every move. She also plays Mansfield’s bolder, less brilliant alter-ego of 30 years later, the lover of the publisher of the latest batch of Mansfield pieces to be released by Murry. Gradually she comes to see Murry as a self-serving monster of the cold male ego and challenges him to justify his actions. Murry also stands accused of suppressing the New Zealand connection in this film which was shot (beautifully) in France, but written, produced and directed by Wellingtonians. A contemporary feminist response to Mansfield and the spirit of this Newish World merge in the script, accentuating the corruption of the old, male and literary world in which the story is set. John Reid’s direction dramatises the issues in the material with flair and authority and serves his exceptional actors well in this haunting and thoughtful film." — Bill Gosden, Wellington Film Festival, 1985
This is a KM130 Screening:
KM130 is a Wellington city-wide programme of events, exhibitions and performances, celebrating Katherine Mansfield's 130th birthday.
KM130 is proudly brought to you by the New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Katherine Mansfield House & Garden, Circa Theatre, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Check out our new online exhibition showcasing Katherine Mansfield images, audio and video from the archives.