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


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#16 perky

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 09:37 AM

Bart, you should apply for an AD job at at a ballet company somewhere :shake: It would be a blast to choreograph for all those grotesque characters Austins wrote about so well including Mrs. Bennett, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins.
I think Persuasion would lend itself well to a Antony Tudor type ballet on the order of The Lilac Garden. Emma would make a nice Ashton ballet, gently and affectionately poking fun at those characters and situations. It's been so long since I've read Manfield Park that I don't have a suggestion for that one. Need to re-read it.

#17 bart

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:11 PM

[ ... ]for all I know you are Christopher Wheeldon writing in disguise)

I wish! Unfortunately, my choreography would probably be limited to an entire evening of tombe/ pas de bouree/ gllissade/ pas de chat/ jete, with a few pirouettes thrown in, repeated again and again and again. Even the richness of Austen's characters could not overcome that.

perky, the Lilac Garden idea may be the best of all. Don't get bogged down in plot. Instead, show us, in dance, the complex and changing relationships of Austen's most important characters: each with his or her own natures, desires, foibles, etc.

#18 dirac

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:33 PM

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 ... :shake:


Heaven forfend. :wink:

I also liked ‘Clueless.’ The adaptation of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet was very good, I thought. I liked the recent adaptation of ‘Persuasion’ less than many others did, but it was an honorable effort and has been influential – you could see it in the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Keira Knightley.

A family member wants to see 'Becoming Jane,' so it looks as if I'll be going after all. Will report back in this space if I do.

#19 bart

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:58 PM

Anthony Lane's review of Becoming Jane (New Yorker, August 13) has one of the most intriguing opening sentences in recent film writing. Warning: the following quotation contains spoilers.

Nobody studying the life of Jane Austen could easily confuse it with that of, say Ernest Hemingway. Or William Burroughs. There was, in the daily round of the English novelist, a marked lack of hallucinogenic drugs, and her skills at big-game hunting were notoriously poor. "Of events her life was singularly barren," her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote ...

http://www.newyorker...rci_cinema_lane

Actually, it becomes quite an interesting and helpful review, if you get past that first bit.

#20 aurora

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 02:04 PM

It's been so long since I've read Manfield Park that I don't have a suggestion for that one. Need to re-read it.


No you don't. Its dreadful.

I love Jane Austen and almost all her other writing (what I don't love, I still like alot) and still don't understand how she could have written it.
The main character is a milquetoast bore. The character you would normally like (spunky! independent!) turns out to be the bad guy and gets shown her place.

Its like Jane Austen gone topsy turvy, and I find it a huge disappointment.

#21 aurora

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 02:12 PM

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.


Heaven forfend. :wink:

I also liked ‘Clueless.’ The adaptation of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet was very good, I thought. I liked the recent adaptation of ‘Persuasion’ less than many others did, but it was an honorable effort and has been influential – you could see it in the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ with Keira Knightley.


the Keira Knightley P&P was fine, but nothing at all compared to the A&E version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I think it was largely due to time constraints...P&P is a short book, so with 5 hours A&E was able to really do it justice in its entirety.

It is probably one of my favorite treatments of a book ever, up there with the A&E Tom Jones which has, in combination with actually reading the book, made it impossible for me to watch the 1960s movie of Tom Jones (a 2 hour movie can NOT to justice to a 1000+ page novel, too much is excised and when the book is that good it is painful!).

I kind of liked the movie of Mansfield Park, but that was because of the derivations from the text. they gave the main charater a character :shake:

Why didn't you like Persuasion? I thought it fabulous. I also liked S&S quite a bit. But with that cast, it would've been hard to go wrong.

#22 dirac

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 02:54 PM

The main character is a milquetoast bore. The character you would normally like (spunky! independent!) turns out to be the bad guy and gets shown her place.


I understand your sentiments, aurora, and you’re far from alone, but I admire Mansfield Park, albeit from a distance. I thought Austen was deliberately playing with our expectations to make a moral point – that what’s attractive, clever, and vital on the outside may be rotten on the inside.

I kind of liked the movie of Mansfield Park, but that was because of the derivations from the text. they gave the main charater a character.


I kinda liked it, too, but not quite for the same reason. I don’t think it’s possible to do a version of Mansfield Park today that would be true in letter and spirit to the original – times have changed too much-- so I didn’t mind that they took huge liberties with the book. The conceit of turning Fanny into Jane, so to speak, didn’t work for me, though.

Why didn't you like Persuasion? I thought it fabulous.


I thought it was good, I just didn’t understand the hosannas it was greeted with in some quarters. (I’ll allow that Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds were not my idea of Anne and Wentworth.)

#23 Helene

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 03:12 PM

Why didn't you like Persuasion? I thought it fabulous.


I thought it was good, I just didn’t understand the hosannas it was greeted with in some quarters. (I’ll allow that Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds were not my idea of Anne and Wentworth.)

I very much liked the movie, because of the secondary characters, and how they didn't make Anne Eliot a glamour-puss, nor prematurely happy. What I found missing from her performance was the "lost" happy girl that Wentworth and her late mother loved. I thought the Anne in the book had more of an internal struggle to give up Wentworth, the second great love and empathetic spirit that was taken away from her; in the movie, Root was a bit Cinderella-like. Ciaran Hinds was nothing like the self-made man of enthusiasm and self-confidence I envisioned from the book -- he was more Darcy-like -- and he didn't convince me that his interpretation was as valid as my impression.

I also liked S&S quite a bit. But with that cast, it would've been hard to go wrong.


I thought this one was over-cast. My reading of the book from many years ago was that Elinor, though just a few years older than her sister, had aged herself prematurely and pretentiously. In my opinion, Emma Thompson looked a decade older than Kate Winslet's Marianne. Elinor was not a spinster in terms of the standards of her period, just a young women whose suppressed adolescence came back with a vengeance. Thompson looked like one of the late-twenties women in Austen's novels who either settle for the pompous minister or make an almost miraculous love match, which subverted the theme of the book.

#24 aurora

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 10:07 PM

I thought this one was over-cast. My reading of the book from many years ago was that Elinor, though just a few years older than her sister, had aged herself prematurely and pretentiously. In my opinion, Emma Thompson looked a decade older than Kate Winslet's Marianne. Elinor was not a spinster in terms of the standards of her period, just a young women whose suppressed adolescence came back with a vengeance. Thompson looked like one of the late-twenties women in Austen's novels who either settle for the pompous minister or make an almost miraculous love match, which subverted the theme of the book.


well thompson IS at least a decade older.
And you are totally right that this is not in keeping with the novel.
I guess you just had to make a choice here, which movies, with their close ups, generally choose not not ask us to make.

Accept a very good and believable actress as someone of an age, which she evidently is not, or not.

I chose to accept it, much the same way that I never had a problem accepting Ferri as Juliet, even as she entered her 40s.

#25 Quiggin

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 09:43 AM

I'll pipe in to say that I liked Persausion the movie because it was the only one of the movies with subdued production values, and they seemed appropriate to the modesty of the novel. (The movie versions suffer from the Laura Ashley effect of the props taking on a dramatic value almost that of the characters.)

Persuasion--disagreeing a bit with Aurora here--Mansfield Park I would have to say are my favorites.

Mansfield Park, with a small character on the large horse of a novel, has all sorts of things to recommend it: one of Jane Austen's greatest cads, Henry Crawford; the great scene of Fanny Price not being able to pass through the turnstyle (a situation I identify with all too readily); and the device of having the last part of the novel told at a distance through letters, which sort of threw everything into another key. It's a novel Henry James could like (but probably didn't).

#26 dirac

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 09:59 AM

aurora writes:

Accept a very good and believable actress as someone of an age, which she evidently is not, or not.


That was my take. The age difference didn’t bother me that much, although I agree it was noticeable, and I don’t recall it bothering others I spoke to at the time who saw S&S – it doesn’t necessarily register on a modern audience that a woman of Thompson’s age would already have been securely on the shelf back in the day. In addition, Thompson did the very good adaptation of the book herself and was the animating spirit behind the enterprise, so I cut her a little slack on that count, too.

(Similar considerations did affect Thompson in another film, however, ‘Carrington,’ where the casting really wasn’t age-appropriate and it did hurt the picture.)

#27 GWTW

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 10:36 AM

:blink:

(Similar considerations did affect Thompson in another film, however, ‘Carrington,’ where the casting really wasn’t age-appropriate and it did hurt the picture.)


dirac, can you explain what you meant here? I enjoyed this movie a lot - but I'm not familiar with how old each character is supposed to be.

#28 dirac

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 10:51 AM

Becoming Jane” is no masterpiece but it’s not at all bad if you’re really at loose ends. It invents freely, but if it didn’t the movie would last about thirty minutes, so I thought that was fair -- although I rather doubt that Austen would have needed Mr. Lefroy or anyone else to introduce her to “Tom Jones.” Anne Hathaway is very appealing if you like her, which I do. (Her attractions are sufficient to cast doubt on her father’s grim warning, in re a proposal from a rich but torpid suitor, that “This is likely to be your best offer.” Sure.)

#29 canbelto

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 09:53 AM

I think the source of "Austenmania" can be kind of linked to the modern view of romance, especially for women. Back in the day, I think people were of the opinion that you met someone nice in high school (or Mom's best friend's son) and boom, you have the house, the kids, the pool. Nowadays, younger people struggle a lot longer before they are truly "settled." The fact that most of Jane's heroines are middle class without much family money makes them more identifiable to today's young professional woman. Plus, in all Austen novels, the romances take WORK, and are usually based on intellect AS WELL as wealth. Although it's assumed that the Austen heroines aren't "plain Janes" they are rarely stunning beauties either. Elizabeth is pretty but not as pretty as her sister Jane. So it's the ultimate romantic fantasy for young women of today -- if you're smart, sensible, charming, you can find your dream man who is smart, sensible, charming, and rich.

#30 dirac

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 01:10 PM

Very interesting points, canbelto, and thanks for raising them.

Hmmm....it seems to me that Austen’s heroes tend to be lacking in the charm department: charm of manner is not a striking quality in Darcy, Knightley, Edmund Bertram, or Wentworth, although they are attractive in other ways. Notable charm in Austen tends to be a sign of villainy or carelessness in men (though not necessarily in women; Elizabeth Bennet is arguably the most charming heroine in literature).


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