Tuesday, April 3, 2007


A Synopsis of the film Some Do Not

The film starts in a pre-war Edwardian setting. Two young men – Christopher Tietjens and Vincent Macmaster – discuss various matters of the day, from the fairly banal to the utmost important. Here is where the audience is introduced to an adulterous woman whom Macmaster very much dislikes: Sylvia Tietjens.

The audience then crosses the channel in the next scene to arrive on the continent. Lobschied Germany is where Sylvia’s mother Mrs. Satterthwaite, Father Consett and Sylvia are all residing. Mrs. Satterthwaite and Father Consett are seated alone, drinking tea and dicussing the possibility of divorce for Sylvia and Christopher Tietjens. Soon Sylvia arrives and immediately launches into a tirade of the reasons she hates her husband and ways in which to torture him. Sylvia receives a telegram from Christopher making tentative plans for him to come to Lobscheid on Tuesday and asking if this is good for her. Sylvia replies it is, but she wants her maid Hullo Central to come with Christopher. Father Consett then suggests for Sylvia to go on a retreat for Catholic women, but both Mrs. Satterthwaite and Sylvia say this is impossible. The ensuing conversation reaches a climax when Sylvia threatens to corrupt her and Christopher’s child which prompts Father Consett to throw holy water on her. Back in England, Macmaster and Tietjens wait for Sylvia to telegram back. They talk of Tietjens’ work – finding figures for the government, who always want the most flattering figures to keep the country from ruin. Tietjens receives Sylvia’s telegram.

This sparks a flashback of a short time earlier when Macmaster met with Christopher’s godfather General Campion. Campion interrogated Macmaster about whether Christopher (and supposed affairs) is the reason for the Tietjens’ marital difficulties. Macmaster is appalled at Campion’s assertion.

The next day Macmaster goes to Mrs. and Mr. Duchemin’s residence, where he immediately falls for Mrs. Duchemin. She invites him and Christopher for Saturday breakfast. He returns to find Christopher with his brother-in-law Sandbach and General Campion. They are discussing Tietjens’ work and Tietjens asserts he would rather resign than have to fake figures. Both Macmaster and Campion think his attitude is silly. From here the men decide to go golfing. At the golf course Tietjens meet two suffragettes – one named Gertie who has been hurt and another who does not introduce herself. A policeman tries to arrest them, but Tietjens helps them get off. Only Sandbach is annoyed with this. Sandbach recognizes the other suffragette as Valentine Wannop, the daughter of Professor Wannop, a woman he believes he has seen Christopher walking with through Pall Mall.

This is why Campion believes that Tietjens is wrecking his marriage, and promptly chastises Tietjens on his sloppy behaviour in terms of his alleged affair with Miss Wannop. Tietjens, though they are false, does not refute the claims, as he believes it is better for people to find him the problem than Sylvia.

The next day Macmaster and Tietjens arrive at the Duchemin’s for breakfast. Miss Wannop and her mother are there, among other guests. Mrs. Wannop monopolizes Macmaster’s attention and this greatly annoys Mrs. Duchemin. During polite conversation between the guests Mr. Duchemin has a fit. He is taken away under the pretence of working on the next day’s sermon. Back with the guests Mrs. Wannop screams when finding she is dining with a Tietjens: Christopher’s father saved Mrs. Wannop’s life. Shortly after they begin talking, Christopher leaves with both Mrs. and Miss Wannop. Back at the Duchemin house, Mrs. Duchemin and Macmaster make plans to meet at dusk by a white gate.

Christopher acquires a horse and buggy to take Mrs. Wannop back to her house, while Christopher and Valentine Wannop decide to walk. They discuss the suffragette cause and Christopher reveals he approves of their methods but not their cause. When they arrive back at the Wannops’, they have lunch with Mrs. Wannop and again discuss women – Sylvia, Valentine, suffragettes and reputations. After lunch Mrs Wannop retires to her room to write and Christopher goes to work in the study until 5pm, when he will drive Valentine to where she must go.

Christopher takes Valentine in horse and cart. During the ride they discuss Ovid and Valentine proves to be the more knowledgeable of the two. Christopher does not know where they’re going but Valentine insists she does. However, as it gets later and the fog starts to settle around them, she reveals that she does not know where she’s going and in actuality wanted them to get lost. While veiled in fog they continue to banter and argue and talk. Christopher wants to kiss her but doesn’t. When they finally they get on a proper road, it is 5 am. The horse is not long on the road when a car, driven by Campion, hits it. The horse is badly hurt and very bloody. It dies a rather gruesome death while Christopher stays with it and Valentine goes back to her house, and the screen goes black.

When the film comes into focus again, the audience sees Sylvia again. Through a series of flashbacks, we are acquainted with the men in her life – Drake, the possible father of her child, Perowne and Christopher, from her point of view. Back in the present, WWI is raging and Sylvia and Christopher are eating dinner. She throws her plate of food at him on whim. Hullo Central cleans it up and they begin to talk of the recent marriage of Mr and Mrs Macmaster (Mrs. Duchemin) and Christopher’s constant loans to Macmaster. Sylvia accuses him of taking both Valentine Wannop and Mrs. Macmaster as mistresses, and throughout their conversation Christopher keeps forgetting names of people and places. Sylvia asks him what happened while he was in the war in France. He cannot remember and misses three weeks of life. Aside from Christopher’s shellshock, they talk of the deaths of two of Christopher’s brothers, his sister and his mother. His father has also died. Sylvia asks if he thinks she killed his mother by coming back to him. Christopher does not answer and Sylvia is overwhelmed by emotions. She is calmed by Christopher allowing their son to be brought up Catholic and confirms that, through extensive research, the child is his, not Drake’s.

Later on, Mark, Christopher’s brother, and Christopher discuss a man called Ruggles who, on the urging of Mark, has been investigating Christopher and had previously come to Mark and their father to tell them Christopher is having an affair with Valentine Wannop. Christopher explains Valentine is not his mistress and the $3000 Mark thought was going to keep Christopher’s mistress decent was really loaned to Macmaster. They discuss their family’s home, Groby, and their father’s will. Christopher says he will never forgive Mark or his father for not outright asking him if he was having an affair. Mark asks him to have compassion for their father, since he shot himself over grief of Christopher’s affair.

Walking back to the war office, they run into Valentine. She pulls Christopher off to speak to him in private and asks if he’s having an affair with Mrs. Macmaster, for Sylvia has told her this. He tells her it is not true and she is so relieved she begins to cry. Christopher goes off to talk to some officers and leaves Mark to comfort Valentine. Mark tells her his father left money in his will for her and her mother. During his conversation with Valentine he comes to believe Valentine is perfect for Christopher. Christopher returns and Mark leaves. Christopher finally asks Valentine if she’ll be his mistress and she says yes.

In a flashback to a week prior Mrs Macmaster essentially ends her friendship with Valentine. She accuses Valentine of having Christopher’s child – something she heard from Sylvia – and thus does not invite her to their Knighthhod Party.

Christopher attends the Knighthood Party and figures that Macmaster has acquired his knighthood for work originally done by Christopher. He leaves the party to see Valentine. Though they had previously planned to sleep together, they don’t, and, instead, have a tearful good-bye, as Valentine shuts the door. Christopher catches a transport lorry to Holborn, ready to go back out to France the next morning.

- Molly Sotham


Anonymous said...

Hi, Miss Blondé.
I read the book (too bad Sparknotes.com didn't have it, haha) anyways, I noticed that there were a lot of scenes cut out from the book to the movie. For instance, Lord Port Scatho and the bank problem. Why was this omitted from the film?


Anonymous said...

Hi Todd, I enjoyed your question and am glad you're engaging with the material. As I didn't write the screen play I could't give you a definite answer, but I suspect the reason is that they felt because of the length of the book it was necessary and more entertaining to omit certain scenes and focus on the love triangle. Like with most film adaptations, screen writers like to focus on the "juicy" details of the novel and perhaps the director did not feel financial struggle was one of them.
You also have to take into consideration that the novel (850 pages worth!) is much longer than a film can be, so naturally scenes must be omitted.
Thanks for your question Todd.
See you in class tomorrow!

Miss Blondé