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It sounds so pretty!
January 1, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

Hailee Steinfeld as Hattie Ross in True Grit (2010) and Megan Fallows as Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables series speak almost exactly the same. And it sounds so great. What is the origin of this method of speaking? Elocution lessons? Having parents in the theatre? What?
posted by leotrotsky to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Their locution reminds me of Judy Garland ala Wizard of Oz.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBA1udq8ZNQ <--anne of green gables for reference.
posted by allthewhile at 5:54 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anne of Green Gables

Sorry about that forgot to link.
posted by allthewhile at 5:54 PM on January 1, 2011


They're imitating the form of the King James Bible, which rarely uses contractions, and uses verb forms, pronouns and prepositions very differently. To our ears, it all sounds very formal.

Matthew 3:9 in King James:
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

New International version:
And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:54 PM on January 1, 2011


I thought Megan Follows (and Ellen Page) just sound great because they are/were precocious Canadians!
posted by bquarters at 6:10 PM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


In addition to fewer contractions, I think it has to do with precision both of word choice -- which demands a broader use of vocabulary than we are used to -- and of diction -- words are articulated individually. It may also be a reflection of being exposed to language more through reading properly-written prose than through conversation with people who speak colloquially. Hattie is clearly educated and bright, and that would be reflected in the books she's read and the amount of time she's spent reading, particularly in a more isolated American frontier area.
posted by amtho at 6:14 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as word choice and phrasing, I assume they're speaking the lines provided for them, which were likely written in an effort to sound old fashioned by way of formal sentence structure and word choice. The enunciation and that sort of thing strikes me as an attempt to deliver the lines in the same way as was done in old movies.
posted by The World Famous at 7:47 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It strikes me as "affected". Sort of a layer of "ACTING!" on top of the words. And up-talking.

Also, at least in the Anne of Green Gables (and Judy Garland), they gesture with their heads. Nodding for positive things, shaking head for negative things.
posted by gjc at 7:52 PM on January 1, 2011


They're imitating the form of the King James Bible, which rarely uses contractions, and uses verb forms, pronouns and prepositions very differently. To our ears, it all sounds very formal.

Both True Grit and Anne of Green Gables are scripted films, so the antiquated language isn't the way the actresses speak, it's from the script of the film. I think leotrotsky is asking about a particular tone or style of pronunciation, not the scripts they're reading from.

To answer the question - I can't put my finger on it exactly, but I've always mentally referred to it as a "Julliard" way of speaking. Allison Brie, from Mad Men and Community does it, as well. Christine Baranski has an exaggerated, more mature version. I call it "Julliard" because to me it sounds very coached and formal. It reminds me a lot of some combination of the prescribed enunciation we were taught to use in my high school drama classes (lots of "Moses Supposes His Toeses Are Roses" sort of stuff) and the more advanced vocal techniques (specifically Linklater) I studied in college acting courses.

I haven't seen True Grit yet, but one thing Anne of Green Gables, Mad Men, and Community all have in common is that the characters are either meant to be highly cultivated "young ladies" or someone who is precocious and wishes more than anything to be just such a cultured individual. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne even grows up to be a talented public speaker - so the filmmakers probably wanted to cast someone with exactly the right sort of voice. Someone the viewer will believe could be just that kind of girl.
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 AM on January 2, 2011


Maybe Sara C is thinking of the Trans-Atlantic/Mid-Atlantic accent, aka Edith Skinner's American Theater Standard? It has that sort of formal, crisp, slightly-pretentious* sound. Then again, I don't hear much of it specifically in the Hattie Ross character other than the slightly coached**, clipped style, since she has much more of a "Western" accent.

* or precocious, if you want to be more generous :)
** compared to her normal speaking voice in this interview with film clips
posted by bcwinters at 7:04 AM on January 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, botched the American Theater Standard link.
posted by bcwinters at 7:05 AM on January 2, 2011


the antiquated language isn't the way the actresses speak, it's from the script of the film.

That's exactly what I meant. Moreover, the script of True Grit is based on the book of the same name.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2011


Yep, bcwinters, that's pretty much exactly what I'm talking about! Cool to know that there's a codified Way To Talk Like A Classic Film Star. And that also explains the speaking style of someone I know who grew up In The Theatre but who isn't an actor, herself.

Now that I see a clip, I don't hear any similarity between Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit and Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables. Though I'd guess there's a similar strain of "holy crap I have a bad life so I damn well better be a precocious and strong-willed little thing otherwise I'm going to get slaughtered in this big scary world" to both characters. Also braids. And calico.

(I always envisioned Laura Ingalls being more like both of these characters, and was bitterly disappointed when I saw the TV show and she was just some scrawny dumb kid.)

It's pretty impressive that Steinfeld was able to do that with her voice, though, because her interview speaking style couldn't be more different from her character's voice in the film. No wonder they've been sending her around with Sally Draper from Mad Men and touting the two of them as the Next Big Things.
posted by Sara C. at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2011


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