Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

If your colour is ‘grey’!

With Valentine’s at our doorstep, the pervasive colour is traditionally red, symbol of passion, fire, excitement and beating hearts. Why then is half the world pushing and rushing, darting and dashing towards grey! Not just any grey, but Fifty Shades of Grey, the film adaptation of the sensational best-selling novel, now about to hit the screen.

Advance ticket sales reached $63 million 9 days before release and several shows have already been sold out for Valentine’s weekend. The trailer alone has been viewed 193 million times on YouTube as of this writing.

The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival February 11, with a London opening February 12 and general release slated for February 13, just in time for Valentine’s. A huge bounce at the box-office is expected on Valentine Day, February14.

What is it about ‘Fifty Shades’ that makes it so hotly anticipated?

No big name super-stars are associated with it. The cast is made up of relative unknowns including director Sam Taylor-Johnson, OBE (Order of the British Empire) better known for her art photography than film direction. What is behind the hoopla is the 2011 erotic/romance novel that ignited a flame in the hearts of its readers, mostly female, naturally, selling over 100 million copies and translated into 52 languages!

Who is the author of this global phenomenon who knocked out J K Rowling off the best-selling throne?

She is E L James, an ordinary 51 year-old Middlesex housewife, mother of two teen-age boys, who is just as startled by her success as is everybody else.

Born, Erika Mitchell to a Chilean mother and a Scottish father she studied history at the University of Kent and after graduation became a studio manager’s assistant at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. Married to Niall Leonard, the L in her initials, she originally started to write fan/fiction under the penname Snowqueen’s Dragon. Her most notable work “Master of the Universe” was fashioned after Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight”, which eventually developed into ’50 Shades’ trilogy--- ’50 Shades Darker’ and ’50 Shades Freed’,  soon to be heading for the big screen.

E L did not start writing till 2009 when she finally plucked up the courage to put pen to paper and write a story the readers would fall in love with. 

“The explosion of interest has taken me completely by surprise’, admits James. “It is my mid-life crisis, writ large. All my fantasies are in there, that’s it.”

Her fantasies proved to be everybody else’s as well. Erotic, amusing and deeply moving, the books have earned her $95 million so far and her fortunes are rising.  Although the critical reviews were mixed, some downright negative, that did not stop the rapid sales which according to Amazon UK,’is the fastest selling paper-back in history’, having sold more copies than the entire Harry Potter series, combined.

What are those bedroom fantasies of a middle-aged housewife which EL was able to transform into this phenomenally successful trilogy?

The plot revolves around the “innocent and unworldly” college student Anastasia Steele, who interviews the mysterious business magnate, Christian Grey, (of the title), and finds him beautiful, brilliant and intimidating. She is startled to discover the desperate degree of attraction she feels for him. Grey likewise, is attracted to Ana’s quiet beauty and independent spirit. What follows are the revelations of Grey’s 50 shades of his character. Tormented by his demons he lures Ana into an erotic relationship which both find irresistible. So did hundreds of millions of readers.

Who are the interpreters of this highly erotic romance? Anyone familiar?

Anastasia Steele is played by Dakota Johnson! Who is Dakota Johnson, you ask? You may be more familiar with her parents, her father, Don Johnson and her mother Melanie Griffith. Her maternal grandmother is Tippi Hedren of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and her step-father is Antonio Banderas, married to mother Melanie. Dakota has appeared in a handful of minor movies and in one scene of David Fincher’s Facebook saga, ‘Social Network’, which garnered 8 Oscar nominations.

Christian Grey is portrayed by Irish actor Jamie Dornan, who was the face of perfume Dior Homme and modelled for Calvin Klein Jeans. He appeared in 3 or 4 films, notably ’Marie Antoinette’. Dornan has now been dubbed ‘the sexiest man alive’.

It is due to her books that sparks went flying in the publishing world.  Demand for more erotica books heightened. Works such as Anne Rice’s “The Sleeping Beauty” trilogy and M M Majer’s, ‘Ero 4’ have been republished to meet the higher demand. 

How can author E L  James top her explicitly erotic fantasy?  Well, there are two more anticipated films to complete the trilogy and then she is considering writing more 50 Shades seen through the eyes of the sadistic billionnnaire, Christian Grey, as the original books were written from the perspective of Anastasia.

The author and her books have garnered many accolades. 50 Shades won both Popular Fiction and Book of the Year in the UK National Book Awards, in 2012. That same year, Publishers’ Weekly named her Publishing Person of the Year, and Time Magazine one of the ‘100 Most Influential People’ in the world. In 2013 James topped the Forbes’ list of the highest earning authors.

With millions already heaving and panting well before the film’s release, the future of E L James looks bright red, just in time for Valentine’s.


“There is only one success---to be able to spend your life in your own way”

Christopher Morley (1890-1957)

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