Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Lame Spin on Pride and Prejudice

Don't get your hopes up... I'm not quite human yet. My son went through a hard day yesterday, too, where he did little beyond lie on me and drink water (slowly). Scared me a bit, but I still haven't gotten my appetite back, so I figure he's just fighting what's been attacking me for the last week. 

I said I'd blog on Fairest, but I'm not going to, not yet, anyway. I finally watched the film version of Pride and Prejudice--the Hollywood film--and I was so utterly unimpressed with it I'm not sure what to say. Perhaps it points to what I think makes most pseudo-epic Hollywood films fail miserably: cinematography and soundtrack replace a good script.

You might assume I am a purist, and to a degree you might be right, for I love a good script, love a good story, and love dialogue more than most... but I don't need for everything to reflect a book entirely, or the recent miniseries of Lost in Austen would have been unwatchable. But Lost in Austen, for all the liberties it took with Austen's original, used the original in such a fabulous, engaging, and humorous way that it taught viewers about the characters, paid its homage to a wonderful novel, and reflected the truth of the original, linking it to today's world in a refreshing way. (Can you tell I liked it? I almost sent $80 to the local PBS station so I could get the DVD of the 3-hour series). 

But the film with Keira Knightley did little to reveal any of the characters from the book. Honestly, I blame the director. Some of the actors were completely miscast, or were directed to play people who simply did not exist in the book at all. Bingley was an idiot, simpering, stupid, pathetic in his lack of backbone. Mr. Collins bore absolutely no resemblance to the novel's character at all. He was bland, bland, bland, when he should have been pompous, oily, and smarmy. He should have made us squirm. And Mr. Darcy was neither handsome nor regal... and though Colin Firth was brilliant in the role (and most men would fall by comparison), he cannot be the only capable male actor with a decent face out there. 

Most of all, though, I sensed that the director wanted to make Pride and Prejudice better. But Joe Wright didn't get it (and I must say that most men don't). He neither understood Darcy nor Elizabeth, nor any of the rest, and in the end he created a world as stilted as the entire second Star Wars trilogy. Had I not seen other versions recently, I might wonder what I ever saw in that book at all. Really terrible. Almost as bad as the local theatre company's versions of Shakespeare's plays (I need to blog about that soon). 

I think I'll go back over my DVR and watch the Lost in Austen series again, if only to get the yucky taste out of my brain. Were I Jane Austen, I fear I would have rolled over in my grave from Joe Wright's version. One should understand a work thorough before trying to take liberties with it.


  1. It just goes to show that people can gather different things from the same book. Where I got terribly bored with the Pride and Prejudice miniseries, I got all of my favorite aspects of the novel in the Hollywood movie. My daughter and I both love it.

    What I love about the book, I found in the movie. That doesn't mean that your reaction was invalid - far from it - just that what you got out of the book and what the directors and I got out of it are different.

    Sometimes, it's easy to lose track that there can be more than one valid translation of the same classic work.

  2. i have not read the book or watched the movie.. i'll have to put those on my list..

  3. Perhaps it's that what I loved from the book wasn't in the movie, and what you loved from the book was.

    It may be that the movie held several things that spoke to you, but they simply did not speak to me.

    Then again, when does that EVER happen to us? Us disagree? NEVER.

    The film version of MANSFIELD PARK takes the same liberties, but I applaud nearly every liberty taken, for each one adds to the depth which I didn't find in the book itself.

    Perhaps we are, individually, only able to fill in some holes, to supply some of the interpretation. That is why some people hate Pride and Prejudice from the very beginning--it neither speaks to them nor fits in what they, as a reader, can provide.

  4. I agree.

    Nor do I think your reaction is wrong. I'm sure many will agree with you. Mine was just different.

    I, personally, think one of the cool things about literature and art and music (as opposed to something unforgiving like engineering or physics) is that there can be a number of "answers" or solutions and all of them are still valid. That one can read a book or look at a painting or listen to a masterpiece and enjoy it while getting something completely different than the person next to them, even something the author/artist/composer never even intended.

    I guess that's my cue to tell you EVERY STINKING DETAIL about Star Trek to tell you how I think they recaptured the magic. 'Cause, you know, that's what I do.



  5. I knew you'd see that... and if that's the biggest thing I can criticize you over, you have been pretty damn good. You should see the list I've made for my own husband.

    Then again, if you and I LIVED together... no, too scary. ;-)