The Painted Veil
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| When Marriage becomes Romance describes how a woman’s formal marriage compelled by social pressure evolves into a passionate psychological relationship as she discovers deeper human values of goodness and love in the man she married but never loved. See the article and videos.
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Shallow and lost, Kitty marries the intellectual and passionate Walter Fane, a bacteriologist on leave from the Far East shortly after meeting him at a party. They are so opposite to each other in nature, Walter being an earnest, socially awkward bacteriologist and Kitty, a vivacious and vain London socialite. Kitty enters into this loveless marriage with him at the urging of her domineering mother. Following a honeymoon in Venice, the couple goes to Shanghai, where the doctor is stationed in a government lab studying infectious diseases.
Kitty meets Charles Townsend, a married British vice consul, and the two engage in a clandestine affair. When Walter discovers his wife's infidelity, he seeks to punish her by threatening to divorce her on the grounds of adultery if she doesn't accompany him to a small village in a remote area of China, where he has volunteered to treat victims of an unchecked cholera epidemic sweeping through the area. Kitty begs to be allowed to divorce him quietly and he agrees, provided Townsend will leave his wife Dorothy and marry her. When she proposes this possibility to her lover, he declines to accept, and she is compelled to travel to the mountainous inland region with her husband. They embark upon an arduous, two-week-long overland journey that would be considerably faster and much easier if they traveled by river, but Walter is determined to make Kitty as unhappily uncomfortable as possible. Upon their arrival in Mei-tan-fu, she is distressed to discover they will be living in near squalor, far removed from everyone except their cheerful neighbor Waddington, a British deputy commissioner living with a young Chinese woman in relative opulence.
Walter and Kitty barely speak to each other and, except for a cook and a Chinese soldier assigned to guard her, she is alone for long hours. After visiting an orphanage run by a group of French nuns, Kitty volunteers her services, and she is assigned to work in the music room. She is surprised to learn her husband loves children from the Mother Superior, and in this setting she begins to see him in a new light as she learns what a selfless and caring person he can be. He in turn realizes she is not the shallow, selfish person he thought her to be when he sees her with the children. As Walter's anger and Kitty's unhappiness subside, their marriage begins to blossom. She soon learns she is pregnant, but is unsure who the father is. Walter – in love with Kitty again – assures her it doesn't matter. Just as the local cholera problem is coming under control, ailing refugees from elsewhere pour into the area, forcing Walter to set up a camp outside town. He contracts the disease and Kitty nurses him but he dies, devastating his expectant wife. Five years later, while shopping with her young son Walter in London, Kitty meets Townsend on the street. He suggests the two get together but she rejects his overtures and walks away, telling her son Townsend is "no one important" when he asks who he is.
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The Painted Veil
Directed by John Curran
Written by Somerset Maugham (novel), Ron Nyswaner (screenplay)
Starring Edward Norton as Walter Fane,Naomi Watts as Kitty Garstin Fane,
Liev Schreiber as Charles Townsend
Copyright belongs to Warner Pictures
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