P&P95 Part 2 Postshow Open Thread

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And your stupid opinion would be...?

Don’t pay any attention to Cranky McJerkpants and the Superior Sisters there. Chat away. 🙂

Oh! and we forgot to link to the latest post on the PBS Remotely Connected blog. Seth Cassel discusses Lady Catherine de Bourgh:

While Lady Catherine does have a role in the plot of Pride and Prejudice, her primary function is to give us a better understanding of other characters in the novel. Lady Catherine’s bout with Elizabeth over her relationship with Mr. Darcy is used to reinforce Elizabeth’s character as strong and impertinent. Austen sees Elizabeth’s nature in a positive light and sets her apart from the other women in the novel as a type of heroine, standing up to Lady Catherine by saying “I am only resolved to act in a manner which will… constitute my happiness, without reference to you” (298). Another fascinating use of Lady Catherine is how she is used to spotlight the personality change of Mr. Darcy. Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy have similar amounts of wealth, which puts them fairly close in terms of rank. However, while Lady Catherine disapproves of Elizabeth’s “obstinate, headstrong” nature (296), Mr. Darcy relishes Elizabeth’s character, which the reader observes in her confrontation with Lady Catherine. Mr. Darcy’s differing opinion from Lady Catherine, despite their common rank, helps establish his divergence from the social norm. The juxtaposition of the two characters highlights Mr. Darcy’s change from prideful and conceited, which characterizes Lady Catherine, to not being “selfish and overbearing” (308). A minor use of Lady Catherine is to help establish the character of Mrs. Gardiner as compassionate and understanding, as they are both aunts. Lady Catherine’s interaction with her nephew, Mr. Darcy, can be clearly identified in her antiquated insistence upon an arranged marriage between Mr. Darcy and Miss De Bourgh. This relationship is contrasted with that between Mrs. Gardiner and her niece, Elizabeth. Mrs. Gardiner simply offers suggestions to Elizabeth, such as recommending the “understanding and opinions” of Mr. Darcy (271). The difference in the way the two aunts offer opinions to their relatives makes the caring and nurturing nature of Mrs. Gardiner apparent to the reader.

Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Familiar Territory Edition

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We’re not sure if any of our Gentle Readers has actually never seen P&P95, which begins tonight as a three-part series on Masterpiece Classics, but we’re going along for the ride anyway; because what “Complete Jane Austen” would be complete without P&P?

There doesn’t seem to be much about it in the papers, but the PBS Remotely Connected blog has a review from Myretta Robens, doyenne of the Republic of Pemberley; an appropriate choice, as P&P95 was the inspiration for the founding of the Republic.

By the time this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was first broadcast in 1995, it had been long-anticipated by many Janeites. But it took others by surprise, turning totally unsuspecting people into Jane Austen fanatics. I don’t think any of us of anticipated the visceral response we all experienced. One day we were perfectly normal people going about our business and the next the day we were raving obsessives. I watched the first two episodes, went to the phone and paid $100 (which I really couldn’t afford) for the tapes, because I knew I would want to watch this repeatedly. And, for some reason, we all went to the Internet looking for kindred with whom we could discuss this sudden obsession.

And so it began!

Kathryn Hughes’ article in the Guardian isn’t really about the Complete JA, but we thought it certainly germane.

When the new crop of this winter’s costume dramas was announced by the BBC last October, it spawned a lot of breathless chatter in the press about the return of romance to our screens. Attractive young men and women would soon be circling each other in endless scenes of glorified country dancing (when did Strip the Willow become so sexy – I don’t remember that kind of erotic charge as we lumbered round the school hall when it was too wet for netball?) before surrendering to the inevitable, 10 minutes before the final credits.

As transmission drew nearer, Andrew Davies, responsible for last month’s Sense and Sensibility, was drafted in to explain that the opening scene of his adaptation would comprise a seduction scene that was downright filthy. “Oh, he’s just ‘obsessed’,” we huffed, while making a mental note to be seated with five minutes to spare when January rolled round.

Hee.

But over the past 12 weeks it’s become clear that the romance narrative that lay at the heart of classic BBC drama such as Pride and Prejudice in the mid-90s is signally lacking in the latest batch of Cranford, Sense and Sensibility, and Lark Rise to Candleford. What drives these new stories forward is not true love but economics, the very real business of getting by in a world of dwindling pounds, shillings and pence. The emblematic character on our Sunday evening screens is no longer a man with tight trousers and a sneer, but a woman bending over her account book with a worried frown.

Take Cranford. Never was a novel so devoid of sexual interest – as the narrator, Mary Smith, explains on her opening page, it is a community given over entirely to women. Clearly worried by this, the producers of the recent production clumsily spliced in a tepid romance from another Elizabeth Gaskell short story involving an incoming doctor. The good doctor did what heroes in costume dramas are supposed to do – he galloped up a crunchy gravel drive and managed to get the wrong girl to fall in love with him –

Actually, several! Ha!

but it was hardly this that drove the narrative.

What really mattered was the economic ruin of Miss Matty, a sixtyish spinster who loses her money in a bank failure and ends up having to keep shop, selling posh tea to keep body and soul together. Miss Matty might – and this is the bit that really kept us gripped – even have to leave her prime bit of real estate, otherwise known as a sweet little cottage in the Cheshire vernacular. It was Northern Rock all over again.

Which is interesting since that particular episode isn’t reached until the fourth of five episodes, we believe (it’s been a while since the, er, rogue satellite signals reached AustenBlog World Headquarters–but we can heartily recommend Cranford when it appears on PBS–just have a box of tissues handy for the Gaskell Parade O’Death™). Meanwhile, we get to see a beautifully played romantic story for Miss Matty with overtones of Persuasion. Mrs. Gaskell’s stories are quite similar to Jane Austen’s in many ways, but the social questions are not dealt with as subtly, and leaving them out of a film would be more noticeable. Thus you have in North and South the stories of the mill workers, and in Cranford Miss Matty’s situation. The movies would be much less rich without them; but sometimes we wish more of the adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels pick up the oh-so-subtle undertones rather than just concentrating on the Big Romance. Can’t do that in 90 minutes, though, that’s for sure.

Austen film events in Washington, D.C., New York City, Kansas City, and Denver

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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.

A little behind-the-scenes of P&P95

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We found this little bit of behind-the-scenes stuff from P&P95 rather amusing.

Colin Firth himself. When asked by a French magazine who were the women in his life, he replied: “My mother, my wife and Jane Austen.”