Living and Learning in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

Dame Maggie Smith has taught us lessons for years. But she may have reached her prime before becoming a dame, when she starred in the 1969 Academy Award winning From the screenwriter of Cabaret and Funny Lady, Jay Presson Allen crafted a story around the growing minds of four young women. Based on the novel by the same name written by Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a film that crosses the likes of both The Dead Poets Society…and Judy Blume. 

It’s 1930s Edinburgh, and Miss Jean Brodie is a beloved teacher striving to shape the minds of her young girls, teaching them to be the “crème-de-la-crème” of society. She is the undisputed favorite among the young students; educated, and full of opinionated passion. Her lessons don’t follow any guidelines, inspiring her girls to go off book. But to the dismay of the headmistress, Miss Brodie teaches more than just education; she teaches life and her passions intertwine as she crosses the fine line of education and personal opinions.

The Brodie Brood— a group of four girls, Sandy, Monica, Jenny and Mary— are affected by watching Jean fall in and out of love with two suitors. After all, romance is very different from the eyes of a grown woman than from the eyes of young girls coming into their own. An ex-lover of Brodie’s, Mr. Lloyd (played by Maggie Smith’s real life husband at the time, Robert Stephens) vies for her constant affections, although he’s married. But romance is no match for Jean’s passion of teaching.

classroom

Miss Brodie’s students matriculate through the years, they find themselves still a part of the Brodie Brood. They grow up alongside their mentor who still has some growing up to do herself. (Sometimes, teachers must be taught a lesson themselves.) Sandy’s coming of age, in particular, is impacted by watching Jean struggle with her male relationships and seeing the emotional toll it takes.

Sandy sees through the rose colored glasses that all the other young girls seem to have on: she sees there’s more to Miss Brodie than meets the eye. As time goes, Sandy comes into her prime, realizing Miss Brodie’s lessons have a darker reality.

There’s a mood throughout the film that reminds you of growing up. Being in school was learning not just books but about life. Looking back at our own school memories, we may see that the greatest subject we learned wasn’t about textbook education but was about life. We all had a idealistic view of our teachers, learning as we grew about the lessons they instilled in us. Miss Jean Brodie is a familiar figure we’ve all encountered.

miss jean brodie

Bold and mature, the novel of Jean Brodie was first adapted to the stage where Vanessa Redgrave starred as Brodie in the original London run. Over on Broadway, Zoe Caldwell would go on to win a Tony award for her turn in the role. From the pages of a book, to the theatre, to being projected on the silver screen, the story of Miss Jean Brodie is ageless. The film itself will forever exist in the history books since Maggie Smith won an Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal as Jean Brodie.

From the pages of a book, to the theatre, to being projected on the silver screen, the story of Miss Jean Brodie is ageless. The film itself will forever exist in the history books since Maggie Smith won an Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal as Jean Brodie.

Get yourself a seat in Miss Brodie’s class by owning this Limited Edition Blu-Ray from Twilight Time.

 

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