The Hours (film)

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The Hours is a 2002 Academy Award winning drama about three women of different generations and times whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs. Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf. The action in the movie takes place within the span of one day in the life of each of the three women, just as Woolf's 'Mrs.Dalloway' takes place within the span of one day in Mrs.Dalloway's life. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award winning 1998 novel, The Hours, by Michael Cunningham. Directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Michael Cunningham and David Hare. The Hours was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best Adapted Screenplay and best Picture, and won in the category of Best Actress (for Nicole Kidman).

Virginia Woolf

  • Dearest, I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of these terrible times again and I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices and can't concentrate. So I'm doing what seems to be the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I know that I'm spoiling your life and without me you could work, and you will, I know. You see, I can't even write this properly. What I want to say is that I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me. And incredibly good. Everything is gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
    • Virginia's suicide letter to Leonard
  • Leonard, I believe I may have a first sentence.
  • A woman's whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day her whole life.
  • It's on this day. This day of all days. Her fate becomes clear to her.
  • I can't think of anything more exhilarating than a trip to London.
  • I am saying, Vanessa, that even crazy people like to be asked.
  • Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? It is possible to die. It is possible to die.
  • I am attended by doctors! Everywhere, I am attended by doctors who inform me of my own interests.
  • I am ungrateful? You call me ungrateful? My life has been stolen from me. I'm living in a town I have no wish to live in. I'm living a life I have no wish to live. How did this happen?
  • If I were thinking clearly, Leonard, I would tell you that I wrestle alone in the dark, in the deep dark. And that only I can know, only I can understand my own condition. You live with the threat, you tell me you live with the threat of my extinction. Leonard, I live with it too. This is my right; it is the right of every human being. I choose not the suffocating anesthetic of the suburbs but the violent jolt of the Capital. That is my choice. The meanest patient, yes, even the very lowest is allowed some say in the matter of her own prescription. Thereby she defines her humanity. I wish, for your sake, Leonard, I could be happy in this quietness. But if it is a choice between Richmond and death, I choose death.
  • You cannot find peace by avoiding life, Leonard.
  • Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.
    • closing narration

Laura Brown

  • I'm gonna make a cake. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna make the cake for daddy's birthday.
  • Obviously, you feel unworthy. Gives you feelings of unworthiness. You survive and they don't.
  • There are times when you don't belong and you think you're going to kill yourself. Once I went to a hotel. Later that night I made a plan. The plan was I would leave my family when my second child was born. And that's what I did. I got up one morning, made breakfast, went to the bus stop, got on a bus. I'd left a note. I got a job in a library in Canada. It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It's what you can bear. There it is. No-one's going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.

Clarissa Vaughan

  • That is what we do. That is what people do. They stay alive for each other.
  • Why is everything wrong?
  • When I'm with him I feel... Yes, I am living. And when I'm not with him... Yes, everything does seem sort of silly.
  • I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.

Richard Brown

  • Oh, Mrs. Dalloway... Always giving parties to cover the silence.
  • I wanted to be a writer, that's all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it's all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity.
  • Would you be angry if I died?
  • Just wait till I die. Then you'll have to think of yourself. How are you going to like that?
  • I had this fantastic notion. I took the Xanax and the Ritalin together. It had never occurred to me!
  • I've stayed alive for you. But now you have to let me go.
  • I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
    • Richard's last words, quoting Virginia's suicide note, before he jumps out the window


  • Leonard: Do you think it's possible that bad writing actually attracts a higher incidence of error?
  • Sally: Why do I always have to sit next to the exes? Is this some kind of a hint, sweetheart? And anyway, shouldn't the exes have a table of their own where they can all ex together in ex-quisite agony?
  • Kitty: All my life I could do everything. I could do anything, really. Except the one thing I wanted.
  • Kitty: I don't think you can call yourself a woman until you're a mother.
  • Louis: The day I left him I got on a train and made my way across Europe. I felt free for the first time in years.
  • Vanessa: Your aunt is a very lucky woman, Angelica. She has two lives. She has the life she is leading and also the books she is writing.
  • Julia: They're all here, aren't they? All the ghosts... All the ghosts are assembling for the party!
  • Dan: The thought of this life, that's what kept me going. I had an idea of our happiness.
  • Julia: So that's the monster.
  • We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so... There she is with another hour before her.
    • From the book


Clarissa: I'm having a party. My friend Richard has won the Carruthers.
Florist: Well that's just terrific! If I knew what it was.

Richard: Who is this party for?
Clarissa: What are you asking, what are you trying to say?
Richard: I'm not trying to say anything. I think I'm staying alive just to satisfy you.

Virginia: [beginning to write] Mrs. Dalloway said...she would buy the flowers...herself.
[transition to Laura, reading in bed]
Laura: Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
[transition to Clarissa, getting ready to run errands]
Clarissa: Sally, I think I'll buy the flowers myself.

Richard: We want everything, don't we?
Clarissa: I suppose we do.

Clarissa: Just to let you know I am making the crab thing. Not that I imagine it makes any difference to you.
Richard: Of course it makes a difference. I love the crab thing.

Laura: [We're] baking the cake to show him that we love him.
Richie: Otherwise he won't know we love him?
Laura: That's right.

Vanessa: Virginia.
Virginia: Leonard thinks it's the end of civilization: People who are invited at 4 and arrive at 2:30.
Vanessa: Oh God.
Virginia: Barbarians.

Kitty: Oh, you're reading a book?
Laura: Yeah.
Kitty: What's this one about?
Laura: Oh, it's about this woman who's incredibly — well, she's a hostess and she's incredibly confident and she's going to give a party. And maybe because she's confident, everyone thinks she's fine... but she isn't.

Virginia: Do you think she’d like roses?
Angelica: Is it a she?
Virginia: Yes, the females are larger... and less colourful.
Angelica: What happens when we die?
Virginia: What happens? [pause] We return to the place that we came from.
Angelica: I don't remember where I came from.
Virginia: Nor do I.
Angelica: She looks very small.
Virginia: Yes, that's one of the things that happens. We look smaller.
Angelica: But very peaceful...

Clarissa: He came out behind me. He put his hand on my shoulder... 'Good morning, Mrs. Dalloway.' [pause] From then on I've been stuck.
Louis: Stuck?
Clarissa: Yep. With the name, I mean.

Angelica: What were you thinking about?
Virginia: I was going to kill my heroine. But I've changed my mind. [pause] I fear I may have to kill someone else instead.

Virginia: You return to what?
Vanessa: Tonight. Oh, just some insufferable dinner not even you could envy, Virginia.
Virginia: But I do.

Leonard: Why does someone have to die?
Virginia: Leonard.
Leonard: In your book. You said someone had to die.
Virginia: Mm.
Leonard: Why?

[Virginia gazes at the fire thoughtfully.]

Leonard: Is that a stupid question?
Virginia: No…
Leonard: I imagine my question is stupid.
Virginia: Not at all.
Leonard: Well?
Virginia: Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.
Leonard: And who will die? Tell me.
Virginia: The poet will die. The visionary.

Julia: You can't see that? You can't see that Louis Waters is weird?
Clarissa: I can see that he's sad.
Julia: Well. All your friends are sad.

Clarissa: He gives me that look.
Julia: What look?
Clarissa: To say: Your life is trivial. You are so trivial.

Richard: I don't think I can make it to the party, Clarissa.
Clarissa: You don't have to go to the party, you don't have to go to the ceremony, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. You can do as you like.
Richard: But I still have to face the hours, don't I? I mean, the hours after the party, and the hours after that...
Clarissa: You do have good days still. You know you do.
Richard: Not really. I mean, it's kind of you to say so, but it's not really true.



See also

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