We watched Iris again last night, this time on DVD.
Just a thought about it . While we know how the older versions of Iris and John got to be where they are, we know nothing about them when they’re younger. They just appear, ready-made as it were, with no background, no inkling of why she’s so much herself and almost none of why he’s so little himself in so many ways: he does tell her that he was a late starter and that his brother was still doing up his shoelaces for him when he was seven, but that’s it. You can build up a picture of him more easily than her. She’s just suddenly there, as though God had decided to forego the usual process of babyhood and childhood in her case and throw her complete as a young adult into the world. We hear about her former lovers, but that only adds to the promiscuity that seems so much of her youth; it doesn’t tell us anything about her, because the promiscuity seems almost a sham, in a way – her casual attitude to Maurice, for instance (even though he is a pain) seems more hurtful than anything, and there are times when she seems to look at herself through John’s eyes and wonder what on earth it is she’s playing at.
I realise that the film isn’t interested in a biography of Murdoch, but in detailing the awful downhill spiral that she suffered in her last years, and the way this contrasted with the utter life she had in her youth. And no doubt I could go and find out about her earlier life if I wanted to. (I just did.) Still it struck me as a little odd in the film itself.