Firelight makes time stand still. When you put out the lamps and sit in the firelight’s glow there aren’t any rules any more. You can do what you want, say what you want, be what you want, and when the lamps are lit again, time starts again, and everything you said or did is forgotten. More than forgotten, it never happened…
This is a brief bit of dialogue from Firelight, a film few people have ever heard of. It’s the tale of two people who “come together” to create a child, and find themselves drawn to one another a decade later, reliving the same emotions and experiences of their brief affair. The story explores the power of sexual intimacy by showing that it is not to be taken lightly and has emotional consequences, while also giving the audience a moral dilemma to ponder. To be together, a woman who has been in a coma for over a decade must die. Is it moral? Is it just? Is it forgivable? If a deed is done in love, though fueled by desire, is it right or wrong?
These are questions you won’t find in Austen. Firelight is not a “classic.” It is not based on a literary masterpiece. It was conceived in a director’s mind and brought to the screen only to fade into relative obscurity among all save fans of costume dramas. It is unique, original, and often forgotten which just goes to show that undiscovered or neglected stories can have a powerful impact and ask much harder questions of its audience than “popular” tales. And in many ways, it is the stories that aren’t as well known that I like the best, perhaps because many of them confront their audience with truths and ideas that are not easy to confront. Like Firelight. Passion. Lust. Benevolent murder, or rather, a Victorian version of “assisted suicide,” without the brain-dead individual’s consent. That isn’t romantic. It isn’t sweet. It doesn’t give us a warm place in our chest like Lizzie and Mr. Darcy do, but it’s not supposed to. Its purpose is to make us think.
Some of the films and books in this issue you have heard of before, and some you haven’t. It’s our hope that in introducing you to lesser-known tales, you will find a whole new world to explore, to unleash your imagination, to ponder the complexities of obscure tales and why they are left there to founder. You may even find a new favorite along the way… if nothing else, something to think about.