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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