We were saddened to learn that Corin Redgrave, who played Sir Walter Elliot in our favorite film adaptation of our favorite Jane Austen novel, passed away last week at age 70.
Report by Jen K.
We have met Captain Wentworth…and he was, by all accounts, a most charming and agreeable gentleman.
I was feeling a bit sleepy on the train down to Brooklyn College so I resolved to pick up a coffee on my way to the campus. A Starbucks was in my path. I popped in. Oh, look who’s standing at the counter, with his coffee and his cell phone, it’s Ciarán Hinds, just like a normal person. I placed my order and went over to the pick-up area (about a foot and a half to the left of where he was standing) – he very nearly brushed by me on his way out.
I got my coffee, left, and spotted out the campus gate. I noticed CH was walking up the middle path and thought, “okay, he knows where he’s going, I’m going to follow him at an extremely respectful distance.”
While recognizing one of the people he was walking with as a co-JASNA-NY chair I was accosted by some other JASNA people who had come early to help with the party. We all catch up with each other as CH is meeting the film professor who helped create this event. Then it’s “here are the Jane Austen people” and then howdoyado, nice to meet you, howdoyado. Thank goodness I was wearing my gloves while shaking his hand. At least I hadn’t started literally shaking at that point. That came later.
How lovely it was to see P2 on a big screen! Even if the print was showing its age and the sound level threatened to deafen the young, it was still possible in a way not possible on my TV to see many details I had never seen before. Why did I never notice that bizarre paint job in the dining parlor at Bath? How garishly opulent that whole place was? There was more – ladies? What a nice reminder of how much I admire Persuasion as a film. While sometimes it felt rote, having seen it so many times, I really enjoyed the theater experience. This was the first time I heard the Captain blurt out “I regret” and actually believed I knew what he meant. Not, ‘I regret being an ass recently’, but ‘I regret not getting in touch with you sooner’. Conjecture, maybe, but isn’t it nice to get something new from something I know so well?
The Q&A was with a Jane Austen scholar, Captain Wentworth i.e. Ciarán Hinds, and a film professor at the school. It was an interesting discussion – Austen scholarship augmenting the actor’s experience with the work, augmented by the film professor’s take on the cinematic choices. CH had not viewed the film in about 10 years and had nothing but nice things to say about Amanda Root, especially, and all the other actors on the film. The director came from a theatre background and chose actors with RSC/classical experience specifically. Apparently he had said he meant to “trash the hotel room of costume drama” with this new adaptation. The film professor said he felt the movie had something to prove but admired the actors’ subtle performances. The Austen scholar provided color commentary regarding themes of the work and how they played out in the film and CH was very interested and attentive. He called the Elliots ‘ghastly’ and joked about the amount of time they spent in mud. Also praising the realistic effect of having the women wear no makeup (as opposed to the samey 80s versions) but claimed all the ‘boys’ were wearing it. If I think of anything more, I’ll add it, but really, this post is long enough!
In addition to being funny and informative about acting and filmmaking, CH was kind enough to stay for everyone who wanted a photo or an autograph. Chatty and personable and totally understanding. What I understand now is why anyone would like him very, very much.
With the Complete Jane Austen gearing up on PBS, everyone seems to have Jane Austen films on their minds, and there are several events coming up dedicated to Austen film adaptations old and new.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is having a special event, “Jane Austen Goes to the Movies,” on Wednesday, January 30th at 7 p.m.
Jane Austen has become one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, with both feature films and television mini-series to her credit. Independent scholar and lecturer, Virginia Newmyer, examines the dramatization of the novels, and whether 20th-century scenarios have improved on the renowned author. The discussion, illustrated with images, interprets the ways in which Jane Austen wove the enduring questions of power, money, and social class into her romantic comedies, and how the themes have been transferred to the screen. Several films and videos are considered, including: Sense and Sensibility (1995 feature film), Pride and Prejudice (1980 BBC mini-series, 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series), Mansfield Park (1993 feature film), Emma (1996 feature film), Clueless (1995 feature film), and Persuasion (1995 feature film). In addition, both Becoming Jane, the 2007 feature film as fictional as the novels, and The Jane Austen Book Club, very different from the book, are included.
Tickets for this event are $20, but if you call and mention that you are an AustenBlog reader, you can get them for the member price of $15! La!
Alert Janeite Jen K. sent us some information about upcoming events sponsored by JASNA’s Greater New York region, kicking off this week. First is a pre-broadcast screening of the new adaptation of Persuasion, this Tuesday, January 8, at 6:30 p.m. at Wollman Auditorium at the Cooper Union. The event is co-sponsored by Penguin Books.
JASNA New York also is co-sponsoring (with Borders) post-broadcast discussions for each of the six novel adaptations on the Mondays after broadcast at several locations in New York and Connecticut.
Another very exciting New York area event (though it’s not listed on JASNA New York’s website, but Jen posted details at The Republic of Pemberley) is a screening of the 1995 adaptation of Persuasion with a discussion featuring Ciarán Hinds, who of course played Captain Wentworth in the film, and possibly Corin Redgrave, who played Sir Walter Elliot, discussing the film with Foster Hirsch of the Brooklyn College Film Department and Rachel Brownstein of the CUNY English Department. The event will be at Brooklyn College on Monday, February 4, 2008 at 3:30 p.m. at the Gershwin Theater, Brooklyn College Campus.
All of these events are free and open to the public.
We previously mentioned “Jane-uary” at the Kansas City Public Library, and as part of that endeavor the library will have a film series called “The Reel Jane Austen” featuring some of the big-screen adaptations, nicely balancing the small-screen versions on PBS. The series will include P&P 1940 and 2005, S&S 1995, and Emma 1996. (No Persuasion 95? Quel dommage!)
In conjunction with Rocky Mountain Public Radio, Audrey Sprenger of the Denver Central Library will present a film and lecture series, Jane Austen, Literature’s Posthumous It Girl.
Created to supplement Masterpiece Theatre’s winter telecast of The Complete Jane Austen, this short cinematic and academic course will chronicle Austen’s slow but steady rise in popularity since the late 1800s, compare her to other It Girls like aviator Amelia Earhart and actresses Jean Seberg and Brigitte Bardot, critique Amy Heckerling’s Clueless, a Hollywood Teen Re-Make of Austen’s Emma and finally, explore Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club, a fictional take on why Austen’s work and persona still endures.
The Denver Central Library will have a free screening of the new adaptation of Persuasion on Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 2 p.m. to kick off the series.