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"Becoming Jane"New Austen movie (& more adaptations on the way)


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#1 dirac

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 02:24 PM

The Jane Austen bandwagon keeps on rolling. A new movie called "Becoming Jane" starring Anne Hathaway as the writer, opens this week:

http://www.washingto...7072700707.html

These fanciful wishes for Austen might explain why the British press was mostly kind to the film: The Daily Mirror called it "delightful and nicely made"; the Times deemed it "giddy as champagne bubbles" despite the "few liberties" taken.

And there are some Austen scholars who welcome the movie.

Leading the pack is Spence, who was tsk-tsked for suggesting in his book a deeper romance between Austen and Lefroy than had previous scholars. (Not nearly, however, as passionate as the film implies; read: Frenching in the courtyard!) "The film captures Jane Austen's spirit and her values," Spence says. "I think she would have rather liked it. Besides, could you really make a movie where Jane flirts with a man and then never sees him again? What kind of a movie is that?"



Recent article from the NY Times speculating on the sources of Austenmania.

http://www.nytimes.c...ies/29jame.html

She has entered pop culture more thoroughly than other writers because she is almost spookily contemporary. Her ironic take on society is delivered in a reassuring, sisterly voice, as if she were part Jon Stewart, part Oprah Winfrey. Beneath the period details, the typical Austen heroine offers something for almost any woman to identify with: She is not afraid to be the smartest person in the room, yet after a series of misunderstandings gets the man of her dreams anyway. It doesnít take a marketing genius to spot a potential movie audience for that have-it-all fantasy.

And while Austenís era, with its rigid code of social rules, must have been repressive if you lived in it, when prettily depicted on screen it can seem positively peaceful and stable, a respite from todayís fraught, slippery world of quick hook-ups, divorce and family counseling.




The topic of Jane Austen and adaptations of her work has arisen on different forums and threads in the past. What do you think of this project, Janeites?

#2 Hans

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 02:52 PM

I think it is an interesting idea, and I am hoping that the film will be entertaining, but I hold almost no hopes for historical accuracy or realism.

#3 perky

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 03:40 PM

It's an inspired casting choice with Anne Hathaway as Jane. She looks the part from the neck up at least. From the neck down she's too thin and tall to be believeable as Austin. Wasn't Jane very short? Plump rounded shoulders were also very much in voque during The Regency.

#4 GWTW

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 08:26 AM

perky, I assume that the casting directors were aiming for someone who looks the way a contemporary audience imagines Elizabeth Bennet rather than someone who 'really' looks like Jane Austen. :tiphat: Also by contemporary Hollywood standards, Anne Hathaway is not particularly thin. Compare her to Keira Knightley - the most recent Elizabeth Bennet.

More on topic, I'm not sure I'll see this. I can live without a fictionalized life of Jane Austen. Austen lives on in her books. :rofl:

#5 dirac

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 10:25 AM

perky, I assume that the casting directors were aiming for someone who looks the way a contemporary audience imagines Elizabeth Bennet rather than someone who 'really' looks like Jane Austen.

Just so.

More on topic, I'm not sure I'll see this. I can live without a fictionalized life of Jane Austen. Austen lives on in her books. :wink:


She lives on in other places, too. The chick lit shelves are strewn with Austen-related topics and titles, books with names like "Mrs. Darcy," sequels, prequels and the like. There are also slightly higher-browed efforts such as the "Jane Austen Book Club," if I am recalling the title correctly.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 August 2007 - 08:48 PM

I just came from the movie theatre...and to tell the truth, i'm not realy impressed :bow: . Yes, the movie keeps a nice , light and easy to digest atmosphere. Anne Hathaway plays the most of the time a very young Jane Austen still living with her parents , being the object of desire of 2 prospective husbands and having a truncated love affair with a charming young man . But still, the thing is that i remember when studying Jane Austen in college our professor would always enphazise on the deep pshychological connotations of her writings, making her appear to our eyes as an extremely sophisticated and larger than life persona , way beyond society's norms and standards . I, personally, didn't get that feeling from Ms. Hathaway's characterization. On the other hand, locations are beautiful, costumes are lovely and british accent is accomplished. The best of the movie ?, with no doubt a little role played by Dame Maggie Smith :wink: an always delightful actress who completely steals the show during her brief appearences...

:tiphat:

#7 dirac

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 02:18 PM

I just came from the movie theatre...and to tell the truth, i'm not realy impressed :dry: . Yes, the movie keeps a nice , light and easy to digest atmosphere. Anne Hathaway plays the most of the time a very young Jane Austen still living with her parents , being the object of desire of 2 prospective husbands and having a truncated love affair with a charming young man . The thing is that i remember when studying Jane Austen in college our professor would always enphazise on the deep pshychological connotations of her writings, making her appear to our eyes as an extremely sophisticated and larger than life persona , way beyond society's norms and standards , and I didn't get that feeling from Ms. Hathaway's characterization. On the other hand, locations are beautiful, costumes are lovely and british accent is accomplished. The best of the movie ?, with no doubt a little role played by Dame Maggie Smith :) an always delightful actress who completely steals the show during her brief appearences...

:(


Thank you for the review, cubanmiamiboy. I'll probably see it if timing and location are convenient, but I'm not rushing out the door.

#8 GWTW

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 05:57 AM

Well, the Jane Austen bandwagon knows no geographic boundries either. A new Hebrew translation of 'Pride and Prejudice' is in the works, replacing the existing 20-30 year old translation which is out of print. Interestingly, the translator will be Irit Linur, the very first 'chick-lit' Hebrew writer. Her first novel 'The Siren's Song' was material in revolutionizing the Israeli literary world and creating a bestseller driven market. Sounds promising... :) On the other hand, Linur is a self-professed Janeite and she has experience in translating. :lol:

#9 Ray

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 06:41 AM

Has anyone ever choreographed a Jane Austen ballet? WHAT would/could that look like? Which novel would be best suited for such (mis?)treatment? My vote, if there was a gun to my head, would be for Northanger Abbey.

Hey if they choreographed The Great Gatsby, anything's possible!

#10 Helene

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 06:47 AM

I think that Anne Eliot's extended sadness in Persuasion might look a bit like some of Jerome Robbins' choreography for Stephanie Saland, maybe from Ives Songs.

#11 GWTW

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:30 AM

There is social dancing in (almost?) all of Austen's books and at least the period clothes can be easily adapted for ballet dancing.
I think either Boris Eifman or Maurice Bejart would do a good job of chereographing a ballet 'loosely' based on the life of Jane Austen and including ALL Austen's heroines too as manifestations of her sub-conscious. Ooh, I like it!!!

#12 bart

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 07:38 AM

Has anyone ever choreographed a Jane Austen ballet? WHAT would/could that look like? Which novel would be best suited for such (mis?)treatment? My vote, if there was a gun to my head, would be for Northanger Abbey.

Interesting question. There's a problem with Northanger Abbey, though. Catherine Morland's fantasy's about horrible Gothic secrets at the Abbey -- which would make for wonderful theater-ballet -- turn out to be a young girl's fantasy. It's a case of "less here than meets the eye." (As opposed to "La Sonnambula," for instance, where mystery and menace are slowly revealed.) It would be hard to create dramatic interest out of the situation, and the characters may be a little unfamiliar for the audience.

Why not go for the big one? Pride and Prejudice. You could reduce it to the stories of 4 couples:

Elizabeth and Darcy,
Jane and Bingley (without his sister),
Mr. Collins (untimately with Charlotte),
and Lydia and Wickham.

Each represents a distinct character type, as well as a unique way of resolving individual aspirations and differences into a viable relationship.

I'd actually have all the action take place at the country ball. Or, rather, 2 acts at two country balls. I know; I know: in the novel several of these characters have not been introduced at the time of the first ball. But think of the opportunities for dancers.

The 2 act =2 ball format allows for development as in "Liebeslider Walzer."

In Act I You introduce each group of characters (the Bennett party, Darcey/Bigley, etc.) as they arrive -- you establish what and whom they like and don't like -- you pair them off, re-pair them, and pair them off again. Pas de deux, pas de trois, moving on and off stage amid the dancers, tete a tetes among the corps: lots of opportunities. There's also a chance for character dancing by Mr and Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (minus her daughter). The Act I dancing can reveal the illusions/delusions and the resolution as well.

The Act II finale -- perhaps at another ball -- would allow us to see (briefly) what has happened (or will happen by the end of the novel) to each couple:

Mr. Collins, whose character does not develop at all, despite his repeated failures and humiliations, continues to dance self-importantly around a stable, resigned, but altimately supportive Charlotte. (I can see her actually promenading him, as he does elaborate port de bras in a strange arabesque.)

Lydia finally becomes the boss in a strained by ultimately companionable relationship with Wickham. (Image: keeping him on a short leash.)

Lydia and Bingley have a sweet little Ashtonian pas de deux of domestic happiness. It's short, sweet, and just a bit smug.

Elizabeth and Darcey have the big dramatic/romantic pas de deux (not without some flashes of brief disharmony).

All ends happily, or at least in a kind of resigned, cosmic resolution, as all the couples join in a waltzy country dance. Just before the end, Elizabeth and Darcy leave the dancing, slowly mount a central staircase, look down at the dancers, smile at each other, and quietly depart. Curtain falls as the others continue swirling around the stage.

#13 dirac

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 09:38 AM

Ray writes:

Hey if they choreographed The Great Gatsby, anything's possible!


True, but you would lose more than you gained. Even 'straight' adaptations of Austen, which can retain much of the dialogue, plot, and mood, lose that all-important narrative voice. It wouldn't stun me if some company tries a Pride and Prejudice one day, though - well known story and title, built in appeal to women, etc.


Well, the Jane Austen bandwagon knows no geographic boundries either. A new Hebrew translation of 'Pride and Prejudice' is in the works, replacing the existing 20-30 year old translation which is out of print. Interestingly, the translator will be Irit Linur, the very first 'chick-lit' Hebrew writer. Her first novel 'The Siren's Song' was material in revolutionizing the Israeli literary world and creating a bestseller driven market. Sounds promising... On the other hand, Linur is a self-professed Janeite and she has experience in translating.


Thanks, GWTW. I didn't know that. The connection between the vogue for Austen and chick lit is an interesting one and this is another example of it. As for the bestseller driven market....well, I suppose it was inevitable that the disease would spread.

#14 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 10:25 AM

For my money, the only really successful Jane Austen Novel - to - Movie effort was Clueless. Others have been "truer" to dialogue and period detail, but Clueless was somehow truer to the novel's moral center (the novel in this case being Emma). It's an example of "updating" really working for once.

Edited to add this quote from a Barnes and Noble interview with Edward Gorey:

Edward Gorey: There are all sorts of classics I could possibly illustrate if asked, but as I have over the years accumulated too many of my own texts to have any chance of doing drawings for but a few of them, I would only do something by someone else if I was offered an outrageous sum of money, and maybe not then.

barnesandnoble.com: Any classics you would refuse to do?

Edward Gorey: For example, Jane Austen and the Marquis de Sade, although for different reasons.

perhaps Eifman will go where Gorey feared to tread ... :smilie_mondieu:

#15 Ray

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:23 AM

Bart, you should get this on stage--perhaps if not as a choreographer (although for all I know you are Christopher Wheeldon writing in disguise) than as a dramaturg!

I can see your point about NA being just "a young girl's fantasy," but so, one might argue, is most of Nutcracker. In that sense, NA is not unlike the Gothic authors it parodies, who operate all on the surface, dragging us through many pages just for sensations' sake (i.e., nothing about character is "revealed" in most gothic novels in the late 18th-early 19th Cs). An oversimplified reading is that NA wants to tell us that the surface of life is just fine, not full of barely concealed horrors.

Actually, I didn't imagine that any Austen could be balleticized until I read Bart's scenario of P&P! And I'm with Katherine on Clueless.

Has anyone ever choreographed a Jane Austen ballet? WHAT would/could that look like? Which novel would be best suited for such (mis?)treatment? My vote, if there was a gun to my head, would be for Northanger Abbey.

Interesting question. There's a problem with Northanger Abbey, though. Catherine Morland's fantasy's about horrible Gothic secrets at the Abbey -- which would make for wonderful theater-ballet -- turn out to be a young girl's fantasy. It's a case of "less here than meets the eye." (As opposed to "La Sonnambula," for instance, where mystery and menace are slowly revealed.) It would be hard to create dramatic interest out of the situation, and the characters may be a little unfamiliar for the audience.

Why not go for the big one? Pride and Prejudice. You could reduce it to the stories of 4 couples:

Elizabeth and Darcy,
Jane and Bingley (without his sister),
Mr. Collins (untimately with Charlotte),
and Lydia and Wickham.

Each represents a distinct character type, as well as a unique way of resolving individual aspirations and differences into a viable relationship.

I'd actually have all the action take place at the country ball. Or, rather, 2 acts at two country balls. I know; I know: in the novel several of these characters have not been introduced at the time of the first ball. But think of the opportunities for dancers.

The 2 act =2 ball format allows for development as in "Liebeslider Walzer."

In Act I You introduce each group of characters (the Bennett party, Darcey/Bigley, etc.) as they arrive -- you establish what and whom they like and don't like -- you pair them off, re-pair them, and pair them off again. Pas de deux, pas de trois, moving on and off stage amid the dancers, tete a tetes among the corps: lots of opportunities. There's also a chance for character dancing by Mr and Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (minus her daughter). The Act I dancing can reveal the illusions/delusions and the resolution as well.

The Act II finale -- perhaps at another ball -- would allow us to see (briefly) what has happened (or will happen by the end of the novel) to each couple:

Mr. Collins, whose character does not develop at all, despite his repeated failures and humiliations, continues to dance self-importantly around a stable, resigned, but altimately supportive Charlotte. (I can see her actually promenading him, as he does elaborate port de bras in a strange arabesque.)

Lydia finally becomes the boss in a strained by ultimately companionable relationship with Wickham. (Image: keeping him on a short leash.)

Lydia and Bingley have a sweet little Ashtonian pas de deux of domestic happiness. It's short, sweet, and just a bit smug.

Elizabeth and Darcey have the big dramatic/romantic pas de deux (not without some flashes of brief disharmony).

All ends happily, or at least in a kind of resigned, cosmic resolution, as all the couples join in a waltzy country dance. Just before the end, Elizabeth and Darcy leave the dancing, slowly mount a central staircase, look down at the dancers, smile at each other, and quietly depart. Curtain falls as the others continue swirling around the stage.




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