From the moment it was officially announced that E. L. James’s controversial Fifty Shades trilogy was being adapted for the screen, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding how exactly it was going to happen. Even though the first Fifty Shades of Grey film is not set to be released until February next year, the two-and-a-half minute teaser trailer was released on the morning of the twenty-fourth of July, and since then it’s become a hot topic of conversation. Within the first week it received over one million views, with Twitter recording 98,000 mentions of the film every hour at its peak, making it the biggest online teaser launch in history. But, as with the release of the books, the film’s attention is somewhat bittersweet; despite the flurry of excitement gradually building in anticipation of its release, many have expressed renewed concerns in relation to the erotic content the trilogy is famous for.
Dr Juli Slattery, clinical psychologist and a self professed Christian, has been very firm in stating that creating and advertising such a film shows an acceptance in societal attitudes towards content of a pornographic nature. She feels that film is a more accessible way of reaching an audience that perhaps did not read the books because of their firm place in the erotic genre, and the sinful nature of the trilogy is harmful to anyone who consumes them. Whilst this is an extreme stance, it cannot be denied that the most common topic of interest since the film was in production has been how producers would manage to navigate around the books’ lascivious content without making it a pornographic film. Given the nature of James’s work it is impossible to avoid the fact that the vast majority of the plot is erotic; interestingly in 2012, Smash Pictures, a well-known pornographic company, had intended to make the trilogy into a collection of X-rated films but were unable to do so because of copyright infringement. There has been a lot of thought as to what the final rating of the film will be; as it stands it is yet to be confirmed, but the general consensus is that it is likely to be rated R in the USA ( which means people under 17 can only see it if accompanied by adults) as opposed to an NC 17 (similar to our 18 rating), which I think is a wise decision given the mature content, even though the trailer conveniently skirts around anything too revealing. But early rumours suggest that there may be two cuts released in cinema, one rated R and another NC 17 to allow fans who want “it dirty like the book” access to the more revealing content.
Another popular area of discussion has been who the casting directors would choose to play the enigmatic and elusive Christian Grey, with the casting of Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele coming in at a close second. For around eighteen months names such as Ryan Gosling, Ian Somerhalder and Matt Bomer had been thrown around, but the final choice of Jamie Dornan has received a mixed response. Some feel he is the perfect choice and that the chemistry between him and Dakota Johnson is electric, whereas others are less impressed and feel that more renowned actors would have been better. I think this would have been an issue regardless of who was chosen; these characters take different forms for every individual reader and so translating them on screen in a scenario where their chemistry and personalities are literally the heart of the film was always going to be challenging. I think as up and coming actors they appear to have stepped into the roles fairly well, but of course, it is early days; we only have a trailer to base our opinions on.
I read the book because, like many, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and, to be honest, I wasn’t particularly impressed. But, I have always been interested in seeing the film simply to see how such a book would be adapted. The trailer left a lot to be desired for me, mainly because I feel as though it was so stylised and edited so meticulously that it is hard to see how the rest of the story fits around this framework. But regardless of what your opinion is, it is obvious that the film’s release next year is likely to take over the box office and enjoy as much media attention as possible, both positive and negative alike.