In the film “The Grass Harp” The developing relationship between two sisters shows the emotional change each goes through . In this, the filmaker passes on the message that love has the power to change and influence people.Verena Talbo starts as a hard, severe and controlling women and Dolly Talbo, a beautiful, shy and radiant spirited presence. But gradually, as their relationship progresses, and they fear losing one another, each learns to change to make a more fulfilling relationship. Verena learns to love and be more equal in a relationship, and Dolly learns to make her own descisions and give out her affection.
From the very beginning of the film, Verena is very controlling. She automatically takes charge of Collin, her nephew whose mother just died. Her controlling ways are shown when she sternly tells Collin’s father, Eugene, ” I’ll expect him this afternoon!” The filmmaker uses dark clothes, hard wavy hair and a heavy stamp to highlight Verena’s character. She maintains an outwards appearance of control and decency. Further more, Verena’s house is designed to convey her power and authority over the other characters. The wall paper is a vertical stripe to convey a prison like feeling and the colours are green and gold, the colour of money. As Collin puts it in the film, ” She was the richest person in town… and it did not make her an easy woman.” Being the richest person, she has considerable power over the other characters in the small township, one being the sherrif, as shown when she instigates the party to bring Dolly home, and to stop the revival meeting. Even the road she lives on is named after her- Talbo Lane. Verena is extremely domaineering over the people that live in her house, especially her sister. ” Put on that new pink dress I bought you…. and hold your head up. It makes me dizzy to watch you…… and do something with that mop of hair.” Verena treats her sister like an incapable child, and makes all the descisions for her.
Dolly is Verena’s oppisite. Dolly is romantic where Verena is all business, and shy where Verena is a hard charger. The filmaker also uses clothes and mannerisms to highlight Dolly’s character. She wears loose, flowing pink dresses and acceseries and a veil, which she uses as a barrier to the outside world, or when she has to talk to someone, as she has no confidence. She also has a breezy walk. Dolly’s kitchen, pink with lots of open space, contrasts with the rest of Verena’s house. Dolly is nearly totally dependant on Verena. Catherine, the housekeeper, and dolly’s best friend has alot to say about the way Verena acts towards Dolly. ” That one! Always…do this, don’t do that, stop this!” Dolly is trapped in a prison of conforinty.
One technique used to show how much the sisters were unalike was to show what each one loves. ” Verena loved the owning of things and people.” was what Collin said as he described Verena to us. Verena also loved money, and she thrives from having authority over other people. Dolly loved people. Collin and Catherine were the main characters Dolly loved, yet she even loved Riley, Judge Cool, and Sister Aida’a children, when she said to Verena ” You have brought dishonour to our name, robbing from children and driving out an innocent woman.” Dolly also loves sentimental things, such as the flowers, nature, and her box of things from when she was little, all her precious memories.
As Verena became more and more domaineering, Dolly starts to stand up for herself. When Verena tells her she is going to sell her Dropsy Cure, Dolly , trembling, tells Verena ” It won’t do. It won’t do cause you haven’t any right. Nor you sir.” and in a stunning moment, Dolly breathes ” It won’t do… then you would have it all.” Dolly is starting to come out of her shell and out of Verena’s control. After this episode, Dolly runs away to the tree house with Collin and Catherine. It isn’t until Dolly meets Judge that she flowers into a woman and feels free to give her affection and make her own descisions. Dolly’s modest rebellion unwittingly throws her into a process of self-discovery. ” For the first time in my life, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. It makes the whole world look bright and beautiful.” Dolly has broken free of verena, and the space that is now between then allows Dolly to change. Dooly to Verena when Verena orders Dolly home ” You wanted me to lift my head up. Well I did. You said you were ashamed of us. Well it gives me no pleasure to say that I’m ashamed of you.” By this time, Dolly has lifted her veil to face her sister and the party, and she stands at the front, lifts her head up and talks loudly. Dolly now has the confidence to face up to Verena and make her own descisions.
Verena’s process of change occurs when Dolly goes away. She desperatly wants Dolly and Collin back, and she does it the only way she knows how, to order them down, to control the sheriff to get them down . Verena misses Dolly as shown when she enters Dolly’s room and it is empty, and she breathes ” Dolly.” When Collin is shot, and she blames someone else for the shooting, Dolly says ” It’s all our faults.” The camera draws back from Verena and at this point she is made out to be very small and lonely. Back at the house she realizes that she will lose Dolly if she doesn’t change her ways and let Dolly make her own descisions. ” I’ve always envied you; your roses, your kitchen. The house is yours.. and catherines too I think. Let me live with you.” She is pleading and sobbing. Verena has learnt to love.
Verena wants to be part of the love that Dolly gives out, and to become more sisterly, more on her level, so when Dolly goes out to the feilds again, she asks “May I come with you? I’d love to help, if you’d let me.” She lets Dolly make the descision of whether she can come, and this is the real change in Verena.
After Dolly’s death, Collin asks if he could go away. She realizes he is talking about himself , she breaks the habit of organizing and making descisions and let’s him go. Right at the end of the movie we see Verena, with Dolly’s pink shawl. Collin has taken her there to hear the voices that Dolly always talked about, and Verena can finally hear Dolly’s voice.
The filmmaker effectivly passes on the message that love has the power to influence and change people. The relationship and love between the two sisters enables Verena to learn that for a relationship to work, there needs to be equality and some giving, and Dolly to learn to become more self-confident and make her own descsions. Dolly was truly eccentric, yet in the end, it was she that teaches Verena everything.