Monday, November 29, 2010

Jane Things - A biography, The Making of Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion 2007

While I'm waiting for the worst of the storm to arrive (I hear we're likely to have a bit of ducking in store, shortly), I'm going to tell you just a wee bit about some Jane Austen things I've meant to talk about for quite some time.

The first is a bio of Jane Austen, which is included as one of the extras in my 10th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition of Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version, of course). It is billed as the "new Jane Austen documentary from the Emmy-winning BIOGRAPHY series".

Well, my friends, that sounds like a case of too big for your britches, after viewing the bio. I just can't think of a better descriptive term than "sucked". It was truly awful, not in any way fresh or revealing, and the visuals were horrendous. To avoid putting a face to Jane, every time they showed an image of an actress playing Jane, the image was deliberately blurred. Sheesh. That makes for some pretty pathetic viewing and the bio itself was all rehash.

After viewing the Jane bio, I cleared my palate with a viewing of yet another extra in my anniversary edition, a film about the making of the same film version of Pride and Prejudice. The "making-of" was absolutely enthralling and well made up for that sucky bio. Several members of the cast shared their experiences: Lucy Briers (Mary Bennet), Alison Steadman (Mrs. Bennet), Benjamin Whitrow (Mr. Bennet), Adrian Lukis (Wickham) and David Bamber (Mr. Collins -- and, wow, he looks great when he's not playing an obsequious little toady).

The story of how that particular version of Pride and Prejudice came into being, how the locations were chosen, etc., is all quite fascinating and if you can get your mitts on a copy, I highly recommend it. My 10th-anniversary set also included a companion book, The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin(shown at left) and I plan to read that, but not as a part of the Everything Austen II Challenge, which I'll wrap up with a final post linking up to everything I've read and viewed.

Last but not least, I checked out the more recent version of Persuasion, starring Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth. And, I am torn. There's such a huge difference between the 2007 Penry-Jones/Hawkins version and the 1995 Root/Hinds version I reviewed a while back that it kind of stunned me.

Here are my thoughts, though. In the 1995 version, I thought Anne was a little too subdued and unemotional but the film was admirably accurate to the storyline and the lack of emotion is probably, in fact, more in line with the subtleties of Austen. At any rate, it is certainly well done, but I would have liked to see a little more emotion on Anne's part, at least at times when she was not in the presence of The Captain Who Made Anne Swoon.

And, the Penry-Jones/Hawkins version (ITV, 2007)? Well, when it comes to emotion, they really went whole-hog. As to the accuracy; I'm afraid that's sadly lacking. And, of course, those of you who have seen Anne runnning through the streets shared a good laugh with this viewer. But, it's still awfully fun to watch and who can look at that photo of Penry-Jones and not think, "Oooh. Ahhh." Not I.

I'll have to stop, here, as my weather radio has just screamed that we're under a tornado warning and that means I must shut down the electronics and duck. The official wrap-up will come in a later post.

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  1. Too bad about the biography :( I still really want to see the new Persuasion!! While I'm not a fan of Ms. Austen's books (blasphemy!) I do love the BBC productions of them!

    I hear the thunder rumbling out there now!!! I've heard this weather is supposed to be nuts! It's been windy all day here! And then it's supposed to get cooooolllld!

  2. Chris,

    Fortunately, the biography was short and therefore not as torturous as it could have been. But, it really did suck. LOL The making-of special was/is excellent. I'll likely watch that again.

    Funny that you don't like Austen's books but you like the movies!! I'm just a Jane Fan, period, but I've found it difficult to get into some of her books. A little patience worked for me, but I can understand why she's not everyone's cup of tea.

    My little weather radio screamed about 4 times, today. Yeah, crazy weather. The cats and I spent some time hanging out in the bathroom when we went from watch to warning. I took my point-and-shoot camera, so I have pics of Fiona trying to escape. I made myself a nice little bed in the tub and put folded towels on the floor for the kitties (they did eventually settle in), so I got to sneak in some nice reading time in comfort.

    The bad stuff seems to have passed us, now, for the most part - just rain and a tiny bit of distant rumbling remains. It's supposed to get cold? I didn't realize that. I've only been half paying attention. Cold is good. I'll take cold. :)

    BTW, did you see my last post? I have a feeling The Artificial Man might be a Chris book. I'll let you know, when I get to it.

  3. Oh yes, the Bath 10k. Classic bad period drama moment right there but I think what really killed that version for me was the kiss. It was the most unattractive kiss. *shudder*

  4. Sassy,

    Hey, lady! Long time no see! "Bath 10K" is a perfect description. Last night, as I was writing about the movie it occurred to me that she must have done some regular working-out to be able to keep running, running, running for those final scenes. I don't remember the kiss. I suppose I should be grateful for that. I was probably still too busy laughing about those running scenes and missed it.

  5. Hope that storm skipped over you!

  6. Care Bear!!!

    So happy to see you! We had fun in the tub. I'm working on a post that includes a little about our stormy evening. How ya doin'?

  7. Man, that running scene. Why all the running? That drove me nuts!

  8. Chrisarama,

    I know! When PBS played the movies, I missed Persuasion and thought it was interesting that absolutely everyone seemed to comment on that running scene, so I was waiting for it. And, I was still stunned. She didn't just run into the street; she practically ran a marathon. Very strange. You have to wonder who came up with that idea and what the heck he or she was thinking.

  9. I can overlook all the storyline inaccuracies in the Persuasion adaptation because I'm just drooling over Rupert Penry-Jones. ;) However, I thought he did a great job as Captain Wentworth. Too bad the script wasn't more like the book.

  10. Anna,

    That's exactly how I feel. I liked Penry-Jones better as Captain Wentworth, when it comes to comparing the 2 movies. It's definitely a shame that they didn't stick closer to the storyline. I think the newer adaptation could have been awesome if they had. The settings were wonderful and I like a bit more emotion.

  11. Agree with sassymonkey's shudder about the kiss following the Bath 10k. It's awkward watching Anne (all out-of-breath) stretch up for a kiss and Wentworth takes forever to bend his head down and kiss her.

    Rupert Penry-Jones is quite lovely to look at though. I really need to pick up watching MI-5 episodes again.

    That's cool that the making-of P&P is so interesting. I'll have to see if my DVD copy has it.

  12. Christy,

    Apparently, I'm going to have to recheck the 2007 version of Persuasion, just so I can deliberately horrify myself by watching for that kiss. LOL

    Yes, Penry-Jones is awesome. I'm not familiar with MI-5.

    I hope you have the "making-of". It's very good.


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