More DVDs in Spanish newspapers

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Alert Janeite Carmen wrote to tell us that Newspaper Expansión in Spain will give away DVDs of Persuasion 07 and MP07 as well as other adaptations of classic English literature beginning this Saturday, June 18. As before, check out the site even if you don’t speak Spanish!

Dutch release of "BBC Classics" includes Persuasion 2007 and S&S 2008

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We heard from our Alert Janeite Aad in the Netherlands, who let us know that Just Entertainment has released the seventh edition of their “BBC Classics” DVD box set, which includes Persuasion 2007 and S&S 2008 as well as The Buccaneers, Lorna Doone and The Woman in White.

The Jane Austen Season Arrives Down Under on June 1

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Alert Janeite Lucy has been watching the television listings for us, and she’s spotted some upcoming titles on ABC1 in Australia: Emma (Kate Beckinsale) on June 1 and Persuasion (2007) on June 8, both at 8:30 p.m. Though the TV Guide won’t let us search any further Sundays yet, this article about Sally Hawkins says that NA will air on June 15 and MP on June 22. Will you get more than that in Oz? It remains to be seen.

Speaking of the article about Sally Hawkins:

Hawkins had just re-read Northanger Abbey, the closest thing in Austen’s repertoire to a brooding Bronte novel,

WHAT? *falls over laughing*

Don’t worry, it gets better. We mean that. No snark.

… (she) started to re-read the more conventionally romantic Persuasion with mixed feelings. Unexpectedly, she was drawn into it and embarked on a journey through Austen’s entire library, including letters and other surviving fragments of her life.

“I completely reformed my view of her,” Hawkins says. “I had been slightly dismissive and the fact that I was dismissive is shameful to me now. It’s like being dismissive of Dickens or Beckett. Her work had never really come into my world before and I’m so glad it has.”

Yay!

It is particularly poignant, she adds, when you realise Austen wrote the novel as she was dying. “That made it all the more remarkable,” Hawkins says. “I think she’s phenomenal.”

We agree. 🙂 And Sanditon even more so.

Dutch Jane Austen Collection and Jane Austen Book Club to be released on April 24

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Alert Janeite Aad, who keeps us up to date on releases of Jane Austen DVDs in the Netherlands, let us know that a Just Entertainment will release a Jane Austen Collection, including Persuasion 2007, Northanger Abbey 1986, Pride and Prejudice 1980, and Sense and Sensibility 1971, on April 24. This set is, of course, Region 2 and we believe contains Dutch subtitles.

Aad also let let us know that Sony Benelux will release the Dutch edition of The Jane Austen Book Club on April 24. Mark your calendars in the Netherlands!

Complete Jane Austen News and Stuff Roundup: Firthmania Edition

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Colin sez: Oh yeah. You want me. The last part of P&P95 aired tonight on Masterpiece Whateveritisthisweek, and we have to admit that even your tar-hearted Tilney-lovin’ Editrix’s toes curled a bit at “dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.” And then we’ve been bombarded by overstimulated Alert Janeites letting us know that there’s a very special treat available for auction at eBay for Firthaholics–a Pride and Prejudice Anniversary Edition DVD set signed by His Darcyness himself, AND a personal note from Mr. F. (tee-hee) to the winning bidder! There also are some other auctions featuring Colin’s other work, so do a search and see what’s out there. It all benefits Oxfam, so open your wallets and bid. You know you want him. 😉 Thanks to Alert Janeites Karen, Lisa, and another who sent a message through eBay and didn’t leave his or her name.

In other P&P news, the 15,000 members of Australian bookseller Dymocks’ booklover program have chosen Pride and Prejudice as their favorite novel. Several Jane Austen novels ended up in the Top 100: Persuasion at No. 57, Emma at No. 69, and Sense and Sensibility at No. 72. Thanks to Alert Janeites Lisa, Maria, and Lucy for the info!

In other news related to the Complete Jane Austen, Alert Janeite Liz let us know that the Behind the Scenes show from ITV, featuring the making of MP07, NA07, and P07, are available at YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. Liz said, “Some questions are answered but don’t expect to find any explanation about Billie Piper’s hair.” Darn!

And lastly, Alert Janeite Marybeth wrote to tell us something interesting about P07:

It seems the PBS broadcast includes two very small scenes – totaling 20 seconds -that did not air on ITV and is not on the Region 1 DVD.

In the American broadcast, during the scenes at Lyme, after Anne and Captain Harville’s conversation about Captain Benwick’s ability to get over his recent loss, the sequence introducing us to Mr Elliot for the first time is edited out and instead the scene switches to a shot of crashing waves and then a shot of Anne standing on the Cobb looking out at the sea and then into the camera. (Neither of those shots were a part of the original British broadcast.) The PBS version then picks up with the British version showing Anne in front of the mirror at the inn.

Like I said, the whole thing takes about 20 seconds and replaces a sequence that lasts for 1 minute and 20 seconds. My guess is it was done to help match up the musical cues. But still, I just find it rather ironic that after all the scenes that were taken out, they decided to add something in for us.

The same thing happened with the second Hornblower series–the American cut was different from the British cut, and then the DVDs had less stuff than was shown on the television broadcast, and other stuff that wasn’t shown on the television broadcast. It was very weird.

Marybeth also sent a link to Ask Andrew Davies a question via PBS. Hope he has a bouncer handy.

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Are We Outraged Yet? Edition

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As we mentioned previously, the news flow around The Complete Jane Austen is slowing down some, but has not completely stopped. We found a common theme among some of the latest items: either they express outrage at the latest crop of adaptations, or spark outrage in the reader.

Alert Janeite Surreyhill sent us a review of Mansfield Park from the Flick Filosopher, who apparently took Agent Scully’s ridiculous introduction of MP07 a little too much to heart.

There’s a term for characters like Fanny Price: Mary Sue. And it’s not a particularly nice term. Mary Sues are stand-ins for the author, the author idealized, as Fanny surely must be for Jane Austen in Mansfield Park. Fanny is beautiful, kind, faultless yet modest, noble of heart and spirit but of humble origins that prevent her from being spoiled. She is, in a word, perfect. Fanny may have pleased Austen herself, but she makes for less than compelling drama for the rest of us, at least in the new adaptation of the novel that just aired on Masterpiece Theater, and lands on DVD today.

WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

And misses the whole bloody point of the book. Thanks for playing, enjoy your lovely parting gift. (And we’ve thought of another Fact About Fanny Price: Fanny Price knows you don’t like her, and knows it doesn’t matter.)

Alert Janeite Lisa sent us an interview with Virginia Newmyer, who was to lecture on Jane Austen films at the Corcoran, and expresses her opinions very, um, decidedly.

» EXPRESS: Do you think that, overall, the film adaptations have done a good job at capturing Austen’s novels?
» NEWMYER: I can’t say that, because they started adapting “Pride and Prejudice” [practically] in silent films. They’re not all good. I’ve seen most of this stuff and I know the books quite well. I mean, Andrew Davies did the miniseries adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” — that was absolutely wonderful — but he’s done some of these things that are on television this January that are not worthy of him or of Jane Austen.

I don’t insist on faithful adaptations. One of the best adaptations is Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of “Mansfield Park” and she turns it into a modern look at Jane Austen. “Mansfield Park” is the most problematic of Jane Austen’s books — of the good ones — and Rozema removed all the problems.

*head explodes*

There’s more. Keep reading. We shall retire to Bedlam.

Theresa Hogue expresses genteel outrage with the films so far in the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette Times. We enjoyed it up until…

Of the three so far that have aired in the series, I can safely say that “Northanger Abbey,” was not only faithful to the text,

Not really. How much more “delightful” would Henry Tilney have been if he had been allowed the witty and intelligent dialogue that Jane Austen gave him, instead of a watered-down rewrite?

Many Gentle Readers are no doubt rolling their eyes at the Editrix once again beating that particular dead horse, but this shows why it’s important.

Northanger Abbey, another Masterpiece Theatre piece, was the first of Austen’s novels to be published.

WRONG!

From a modest family, Catherine’s interactions with the group, coupled with her increasing jump into a fantasy land, make it an interesting concept but a flawed story.

As we were saying…

It shows all the hallmark of a writer struggling to find her voice, and the film reflects it.

Uh, no. The narrator in Northanger Abbey is confident and knows exactly what she is doing. Don’t blame Jane Austen for bad rewrites of her work.

Despite all evidence, we’re still looking forward to Miss Austen Regrets this weekend, not having heard any real evil of it (and the producers having presumably learnt from the experience of Becoming Jane to not attempt to dress up a Made Up Story in truth’s clothing and shine on the Janeites with it)…though the reviews are not exactly promising.

Laurel Ann Nattress has written a review for PBS’ Remotely Connected blog:

I admire how the story succeeds in interweaving moments that parallel scenes or lines from Jane Austen’s novels, or is it scenes or lines from her life that make it into her novels? Art imitating life and it is believable. We see Jane represented honestly and with integrity as a strong woman who made a decision to write instead of marrying without love. Her choices would be against the norms of society, disappointing her family and adding pressure and financial stress in her life. How could anyone not regret the outcome of such adversity?

Ms. Place doesn’t hate it, but is dissatisfied.

I won’t review the entire film for you. Just suffice it to say that if I had been the director of this tale, I would have emphasized that single women do find fulfillment in pursuing their talents, in nurturing family relationships, and in being true to their vision. I wish the plot had dwelled more on the creative, talented side of Jane, instead of her constant worry for money.

And Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune thinks it’s a mess.

Far from shedding light on what made Austen a peerless examiner of the human condition, “Miss Austen Regrets” is an irritating, poorly paced misfire.

Ouch! But this part made us happy:

scenes of Jane ruthlessly, even cruelly, satirizing well-meaning clerics and clerks behind their backs.

HA HA! Can’t wait! What was that about Miss Jane Austen would find sarcasm the lowest form of wit again? 😛

A public service announcement of the Janeite Broadcasting Network

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We want to clear up a few rumors and misapprehensions we’ve seen bandied about the Intartubes the past couple of weeks.

1. Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park were two hours long when they were broadcast in the UK and only 90 minutes on the Masterpiece broadcast and Region 1 DVDs!

Those three films were all broadcast at 92-93 minutes (this is according to the Region 2 DVD cases). They were never two hours long. Ever. Even in script version. (We shall comment on that presently.)

1b. They would be so much better if we could see the whole thing!

From someone who has seen the “uncut” versions: Afraid not. Really. 🙂

2. Andrew Davies did a hack job on Mansfield Park and Persuasion!

Andrew Davies had nothing to do with writing the scripts for those two films. He also had nothing to do with Miss Austen Regrets, which has yet to be broadcast. The PBS press releases were confusing; we had previously corresponded with one journalist who claimed in an article that he wrote the scripts for “the four new films,” so we made bold to write her a friendly note correcting her error. She wrote back insisting, “That’s what the press release said.” It didn’t, but she thought it did. So there’s a lot of confusion on this point.

Don’t blame Masterpiece for the first three films only being 90-some minutes long. That’s what they bought. Blame ITV. Though why anyone thought 90 minutes was sufficient time for any of these is beyond us, and why limit the running time of a TV movie anyway? Why not make it a two-parter? Two 60-minute episodes? We can speculate, a little bit. We have a copy of the original script of NA, which is 89 pages long. The generally assumption is one page of script equals one minute of running time. The script that we have is nearly the one that was shot; minus one scene in which Catherine walks in on Henry while he is bathing and plus the visit to Woodston, such as it was. The apple-picking scene was not in the script, but there is a similar “montage of General-free fun at NA” sort of thing in there. But generally it is the same.

Cub Reporter Heather L. has a good history of the long journey from page to screen of this particular production in her NA review at Remotely Connected. The script came into our possession while it was owned by Miramax and seemed dead in the water. (Our understanding is that it was being seeded around the Internet to raise interest amongst Janeites. We’ve been complaining about it ever since. 😉 ) There were a few false starts, but nothing really positive until after the success of P&P05 and the resulting resurgence in interest, at least among the entertainment Powers That Be, in Jane Austen.

So we’re not sure why the script was written to be 90 minutes. It could be that Andrew Davies felt that the best length for the film. It could be that was the length he was originally given by London Weekend Television. In that case, one could hardly “blame” Mr. Davies for the length of the film. However, if he was unhappy with that length, why wouldn’t he then rewrite it to be, say, two 60-minute episodes? So we presume it’s exactly the length he thought it should be.

Further speculating (we stress that this is SPECULATION, but it makes an awful lot of sense): ITV bought one script at 90 minutes. It therefore would make sense that it would contract for the other two films in its planned series to be approximately the same length.

We also have comments on record from Mr. Davies that the BBC originally wanted his new version of Sense and Sensibility (which is getting good reviews, but many thought was a little too short for a TV series) to be four 60 minute episodes, but he thought three was better. Why? When Pride and Prejudice, a novel of similar length, required 6 50-minute episodes, or five hours? And even his Emma was 107 minutes, which is a little better (but still too short–the theatrical film is 120 minutes).

So, while we can’t place direct blame on Mr. Davies for Persuasion and Mansfield Park, it is clear that there is a pattern with him of contracting Jane Austen’s novels to short films–perhaps shorter than they should be–and we can speculate that the length of his script for NA dictated the length of MP and Persuasion, all of which, it is generally agreed, would be improved with at least an extra half-hour. One of the selling points of the ITV “Jane Austen Season” was that “each generation deserves its own Jane Austen adaptations.” Too bad this generation gets the short-attention-span versions.