Monday, February 11, 2008

miss austen

(photos courtesy of

Have you been watching the Masterpiece Theatre adaptations of Jane Austen's novels? I think they are a perfect indulgence for these bleak months of January, February, and March. As I have been at home these past few weeks, my mother and I have been watching them each Sunday evening. Unfortunately we missed Persuasion and the biography, Miss Austen Regrets. But, we thoroughly enjoyed what has to be our fourth viewing of the Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth. Sigh.

I'm not going to belabor the many fine points of Austen's novels here, or the sadly indulgent nature of the millions of women who appreciate them. If you are in, you are in, and if not, too bad. I'd rather spend a few moments on the movie adaptations. We own all the Hollywood versions of Austen's books. I've been known to watch the P&P with Donald Sutherland more than twice in one month (notice I didn't say with Keira Knightley--once you see her in Domino, there is no way she can be Elizabeth Bennet) Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma is a decent choice I think, particularly alongside tall, dark and handsome Jeremy Northam. What about Mansfield Park? Frances O'Connor (now stateside in Cashmere Mafia) is all giggles and whimsy with her Edmund played by Angelina Jolie's cast-off Johnny Lee Miller, but not entirely as innocent as she is depicted in the book. Persuasion, done by the BBC back in 1995 is perfectly balanced and restrained with lovely cinematography, but proves that Hollywood cannot seem to adapt the "feel" of the novels as well as the Brits. In my opinion, the closest Hollywood comes is with Sense & Sensibility featuring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Gemma Jones, and Hugh Grant. Hmmmm, maybe that has more to do with Ang Lee and the British actors than anything else!

The mid-nineties were good for Miss Austen, but the recent feature films of Becoming Jane and the Jane Austen Book Club were disappointing. Thankfully, Masterpiece Theatre has come to the rescue! I'm not a true Anglophile. Nonetheless, seeing so much of the English countryside in each of these weekly films has me very glad that my family will be headed across the pond this summer for a celebratory vacation, a birthday, an anniversary, and two graduations! Yes, the entire family with wives and significant others all stashed away in a flat. Bro2 and I have already reserved a day to visit "Pemberley" (actually Chatsworth House) in Derbyshire.

There is still time to see the remaining parts of P&P: 2/10, 2/17, 2/24 and then it is on to Emma 3/23, and Sense and Sensibility 3/30, 4/6. What's your favorite? Please post below!


jessie said...

You didn't miss much with Masterpiece's was a terrible adaptation, in my opinion. I'd much rather see Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds! I did like their Northanger Abbey, though. It's been ages since I saw the Ang Lee S&S--probably time for a revisit! But I am always up for P&P, whether the more recent feature film or the 6-hour extravaganza that is currently gracing PBS.

bethany janine said...

Ok, good. I need to buy that earlier version! Catherine had it in Philly and I alternated between that and P&P to keep me company while sewing. Probably should assemble my own collection soon.