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Daughter Objects to Film About Poet

Daughter Objects to Film About Poet

The daughter of the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes has written an angry poem to protest the British Broadcasting Corp.'s decision to make a film about her family, believing it will be a voyeuristic retelling of her mother's suicide in a gas oven, news reports said Monday.

Frieda Hughes' 48-line poem, entitled "My Mother," to be published in the next issue of "Tatler" magazine, criticizes both the makers and the potential audience of "Ted and Sylvia," currently in production and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the tortured Plath.

"Now they want to make a film/For anyone lacking the ability/To imagine the body, head in oven/Orphaning children," it runs.

"The peanut eaters, entertained/At my mother's death, will go home/Each carrying their memory of her,/Lifeless -- a souvenir./Maybe they'll buy the video."

Hughes, 42, says she has been pestered to collaborate by the producers of the $11 million film which explores the fiery relationship between the celebrated American poet and Hughes, who later became Britain's poet laureate. Hughes was 2 when her mother killed herself.

"I wrote a letter to them saying, 'No, I don't want to collaborate,' and they kept coming back," Hughes said in an interview with The Sunday Times. "Why would I want to be involved in moments of my childhood which I never want to return to? I want nothing to do with this film. I will never, never in a million years go to see it."

Hughes, who is literary executor of her mother's estate, has banned the BBC from using any of Plath's poetry in the film. As she says in the poem, "They think I should give them my mother's words/To fill the mouth of their monster/Their Sylvia Suicide Doll."

The BBC denies it has acted with insensitivity and says the film does not focus closely on Plath's suicide.

The film, funded by BBC Films, Britain's Film Council and British-based Capitol Films, is directed by Christine Jeff and also features the English actor Daniel Craig as Ted Hughes.

After years of silence on the subject, Hughes published "Birthday Letters," a collection of passionate and mournful poems about his marriage in 1998, only months before his death from cancer.

"Ted and Sylvia" is due out later this year.


Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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