Fire brings “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart” full circle, but had it not been for director Glendyn Ivin, the Prime Video series’ final scene may not have been there.
The Prime Video series, adapted from the best-selling book by Holly Ringland, follows younger and older versions of Alice Hart, whose parents Agnes (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and Clem (Charlie Vickers) died in a fire, as she reconnects with the place her parents met — Thornfield Flower Farm — run by her paternal grandmother June (Sigourney Weaver).
After June dies of cancer, Alice (Alycia Debnam-Carey), June’s lover Twig (Leah Purcell) and Candy (Frankie Adams) set fire to one of Clem’s wood carvings of June that he made in the greenhouse where he violated Candy. Director Glendyn Ivin fought for that final fire scene, which wasn’t in the original script.
“When I first read the first draft of episode seven, that fire wasn’t there. As I was reading and I was getting towards the last few pages, I really thought as I turned that last page that there was going to be a fire, but there wasn’t, there was something else,” Ivin told TheWrap. “I rang Sarah and I said, ‘Sarah, we’ve got to have the fire. It’s gotta happen.’ And she was like, ‘No, no, no, there’s too much fire’ and I was like, ‘No, no, there’s not enough. We have to do this.’ So there was a bit of an arm wrestle there.”
The fire is especially symbolic and meaningful because Alice (Alyla Browne) fantasized about fire as a child. Her fascination with it turns to fear when she makes imagination a reality and sets her father Clem’s woodworking shed on fire at the beginning of the show.
“I’m glad we got it through. It’s a really beautiful ending, and fire for Alice, in her life, has always been a destructive element,” Irvin said. “There’s a different kind of reverence to that element at that point. It’s really uplifting whereas, at the beginning, it’s destructive.”
Ivin’s love for fire even showed up in a scene during Episode 5, where Alice and a romantic interest get to see fireflies at a beautiful lake in a canyon. Australia, where the story takes place, does not naturally have fireflies, so that scene was made with CGI.
“I love fire. It’s always featured in nearly everything I’ve done — fire or sparks or fireworks. It’s just something I’m really drawn to visually and as a director. When I first read that when I was sent the script, the very first page had about 10 moments of fire or mentions of fire and I’ve never been sent something that felt so specifically written for me right now,” Ivin said. “So anywhere I could bring in fire or reintroduce it as an idea, to either use it physically as a plot point or metaphorically as to underline a psychological idea or a tone or an atmospheric element to the story, I was into it and I filmed way more fire than what was ever on the page.”
Showrunner Sarah Lambert echoed Ivin’s description of fire as at first destructive and then cleansing. The blaze that burns down Clem’s carving marks a reclamation of June’s identity. June scolded Clem for raping Candy, who was much younger than him, and she took away his right to inherit Thornfield as a result of his actions. The carving takes on extra meaning with June’s memory of Clem choking her as a threat to suppress her from revealing the truth. Her interruption of the rape and her removal of Clem from the Thornfield will and estate brought him to carve the critical statue.
“It’s finding the version of June that is shaped by her son, Clem. He carves this heartless woman — it’s got this big hole in the center, the way he sort of sees her, and the way she sees herself. He’s claimed a version of her and that’s where she punishes herself,” she explained. “But it’s the burning of all of that. It’s the burning of ‘You don’t get to have my story. You don’t get to tell me who I am. You don’t get any of that. I’m going to burn this down and create my own.’ A new story can come out of that, which is owned by Alice, Candy, Twig, Sally, etc. It’s a symbol of rebirth, really the phoenix rising out of the ashes.”
“The Lost Flowers of Alice Heart” is now streaming on Prime Video.