sundry Austen items

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Sunday, January 20, 2008
+TV reminder: tonight Masterpiece Classic's Complete Jane Austen continues with Northanger Abbey. I've never read NA! (note to self: get on the stick.)

+ via Smartbitches , a HILARIOUS ultra-condensed Collected Work of Jane Austen:

The Collected Work of Jane Austen
by Jane Austen
Ultra-Condensed by Christina Carlson and Peter da Silva

Female Lead: I secretly love Male Lead. He must never know.

Male Lead: I secretly love Female Lead. She must never know.

(They find out.)


read more condensed literary works at: Book-A-Minute

+via Meg Cabot -- a link to vote on your favorite Austen hero, Masterpiece Classic-style. (Please have smelling salts at the ready so you don't faint from surprise when I confide that Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth, has a healthy lead.)

Persuasion v. Persuasion

I wanted to do a comparison between the 1995 adaptation and the 2008 adaptation, but decided that it wasn't fair since I've only seen the 2008 version once (why didn't I record it?!?), whereas I have seen the 95 version somewhere in the 4-7 times range. (most recently this afternoon while I worked on that infernal quilt.) It was so interesting to me since they are both modern adaptations, both from the same source material, etc. etc. How they each chose to get the same information across was fascinating. (plot-moving lines from the book would pop out of different character's mouths, etc.) The newer version focused (I think) more exclusively on The Romance, while the older version certainly did as well, but it was grounded in a larger context.

I quite enjoyed the new one with a few quibbles -- I probably would have liked it more if I weren't so familiar with the other.
Quibble 1) Anne looked at the camera so often that I was put out when she didn't take the good advice I was so generously dispensing from the couch.

Quibble 2) OMG -- that running at the end. The whole ending felt rushed (especially when compared with the 95), but all that running, running, running to get to Wentworth (after she found out so he could find out, etc.)... it felt like an engineered gimmick (thank god there were no airports in 1814 Bath), which kind of bummed me out because there was plenty of drama in the situation without having to give her shin splints at the same time. I did like how the actress looked as though she might puke or cry at any minute -- that seemed eminently plausible considering her emotional state.

Quibble 3) The very end, with Anne and Wentworth in front of some gigantic manor -- I think it was intended to be a massive STFU to her status-crazy busybody family, but since wealth and prominence were things that Anne discovered she didn't value as much as her unctuous relations, it seemed pretty hollow compared to the excellent ending of the 95 version. (Anne on the deck of a ship with her husband, whom I'm convinced she would have gone with whether or not he'd made his fortune in the war.)

some things I really liked about Persuasion 95:

+ the sense of historical context -- since the royal navy was so important to the story (Wentworth made his fortune at sea, many other key players were navy affiliated), it was nice to have a sense of what was going on (temporary peace while Bonaparte was exiled to Elba) and how naval officers fit into Society. (not at all, according to Anne's snobby father.)

+ the sense of familial context -- so much of the drama in Jane Austen novels isn't just the Will They Ever Get It Together of the romance, but how the community at large has such an influence over the lives of Our Hero and Heroine. (I loved the scenes early on when Anne is visiting her hypochondriac sister Mary -- played by the wonderful Sophie Thompson -- and every one of her extended family, all very fond of her, take it entirely for granted that she will sort their petty issues out. This is shown with brief little moments of them each saying "you must blah blah blah blah" and we see Anne get more and more tired and resigned as they all vent their grievances, often directly relating to the gripe she just heard a moment before.)

+It felt like there was enough time for the story to play out as it should -- minor characters were highlighted and served their purpose without seeming like they should be named "Guy Who Gives Bad News" or "Dragon Lady" or "Nurse Exposition." This really goes back to the context thing. The 95 movie was only 10 minutes longer than the new one, but when something is less than 2 hours long, ten minutes can be a long time.

+ So much of the interaction between Anne and Wentworth happened in front of a group of people who had no idea (even worse, wouldn't care if they did) about their history and how tense and fraught it was -- lots of subtle acting, double meanings, significant glances and repeated breaking of my heart.

+ the end -- I loved that at the almost end where Anne catches up with Wentworth (in another of those moments that is hugely significant to them -- the "they find out" moment, but ordinary business to the present but oblivious Charles Musgrove) there is a parade of theater performers, stilt-walkers, etc, who are not just out of the blue but have been set-up beforehand. The streets of Bath celebrate along with us! I also loved that we got this moment where they know (and we know they know) and instead of that being THE END, we get to see a little bit of how it will play out with their family and friends.

Anyway -- if you haven't seen it, I recommend doing so if you like that sort of thing (Jane A. smart women, the royal navy, dandies, fops, insufferable relatives, meaningful glances, oblivious but well-meaning friends and relatives, scoundrels, great costumes, setting right things that once were wrong, etc. etc.). It is one of my favorite Austen adaptations from that period of 95-99 where you couldn't sit down without seeing one.
3 comments on "sundry Austen items"
  1. I have never seen an Austen adaptation so maybe I should start with your favoritest favorite of all? Which would be?

  2. Hmmm. That's a good question! sometimes I'm in the mood for one but not another. I think a fun way to get your feet wet would be to watch Clueless and then the Gwenyth Paltrow Emma. (Or Emma and then Clueless.. actually, that order might be better because if you're bored by Emma you have Clueless to look forward to, and who doesn't love Clueless?)

  3. CLUELESS!!! How could I have forgotten about that being an adaptation? I lovelovelove that movie! That is what I should have rented today. I was leaning towards renting Breakfast At Tiffany's but remembered that it depresses me. I liked the short story better and the ending makes way more sense. I rented nothing. I guess I have been a bit on the blue side lately and someone asked me today why I was depressed. That question makes me either want to pat someone on the head or shake them. Or at times it makes me feel good that someone notices. It all depends on something not quite tangible. Maybe I will get on the bus and get Clueless. Not Emma. I am not a fan of GP. But I am sure she is a lovely person.


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