February 4, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
I know it’s not a big secret, but I am a huge fan of Jane Austen. I’ve read all of her books and I’ve seen just about every movie version of her stories. Even the wretched adaptations.
I’ve seen the big-screen versions of her books, the BBC productions, the MasterpieceTheater works (COLIN FIRTH AS DARCY. DROOOOOOOOL.) and even the Bollywood versions. Heck, there’s even a Mormon version of Pride and Prejudice (also a drooly Mr. Darcy). MORMON. BOLLYWOOD. There’s something for everyone. I even enjoyed the somewhat recent miniseries, “Lost in Austen” about a devotee that gets launched into Pride and Prejudice, messes everything up and then decides she wants to stay. Cute and quirky. Especially the LAKE SCENE.
Nonetheless, I find it necessary to read and watch OVER AND OVER. I don’t know what it is about these stories. I don’t know if it is her thinly veiled criticisms and social commentary or her story-telling style but I get lost in these stories. When my own life isn’t the peachy-keenest, I only need to look to Regency England and my ills disappear. Honestly, we’ve got it so much better. Women were so disrespected back then (unless they had money), couldn’t marry who they wanted most times (unless they had money) and often had difficult lives (unless they had money. The required Ten Thousand Pounds a year). If you don’t believe me, I have two words for you: CHAMBER. POT.
I’ve read a few “sequels” and fan-inspired fiction. Though I don’t necessarily call myself a Janeite and I don’t belong to any national chapters (yes, they do exist), I am a devotee. Jane ain’t for everyone. People either love or hate her stories. Most of my friends that enjoy modern literature don’t like Jane, whereas my posse that reads historical fiction cannot get enough of her.
I have to tell you, though, as much as I enjoy Pride and Prejudice (COLIN FIRTH. LAKE SCENE IN THE MOVIE. DROOOOOOL.) and Emma (BOOOOOO Gwyneth Paltrow version!), I am sick of them making film adaptations. Seriously, if you are going to go through ALL OF THAT TROUBLE and rent the costumes, and hire the actors and film on location, etc, etc, why do you drastically depart from the book? I get the concept of an adaptation, but changing MAJOR STORY LINES is just absurd. And as much as I liked Clueless (did you know it was an adaptation of Emma?) It irks me when they change too much.
My favorite BOOK of Jane’s is Mansfield Park. But the movie versions? Well, the 1999 version with Embeth Williams and Jonny Lee Miller (in the current Emma as Mr. Knightly) was well done but still deviated from the story quite a bit. The 2007 version? Dreadful. Fanny was played by a woman who Dr. Who fans would recognize but she was dreadful in the part. Instead of meek and mild-mannered, Billie Piper was a bleached-blonde, hippy child who ran carelessly about the manor. The only redeeming qualities of this version were Edmund (played by the same actor that plays Mr. Elton in the current Emma) and Lady Bertram (played by a Redgrave. You can’t go wrong with a Redgrave). Otherwise. Ew.
Yeah, I’m picky.
I’ve just started my way through Northanger Abbey. So far, so good for this adaptation. A few changes but fairly close to the story. If I make it through this version alive, I will watch Persuasion. Lastly, I’ll round out my current addiction with Sense and Sensibility. I’ve seen the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet version and it was decent, but I’m dying to watch the 2008 miniseries.
Are you still there? Good.
I’ve recently stumbled upon a woman who is rewriting All of the Austen Classics, slightly changing the genre (read: MAKING THEM INTO TEEN DRAMAS) and putting them out for young adults. In modern times. As in, the Edward Cullen crowd. Barf. Gag. I’ll probably try to read them.
Why do they have to mess with my Jane?
Anyways, thought you should be aware of my TEENSY LITTLE Jane Austen problem. Just sayin’. If you need me, I’ll be dreaming in Regency England.