Do you own the Region 2 DVD of S&S08?

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If so, perhaps you can help us out. Alert Janeite Cinthia spotted a post on the IMDB forum (and the same poster at the PBS forum) in which the poster claimed that certain scenes on the Region 2 DVD are missing on the Region 1 DVD. The missing scenes were described as:

The scenes that I remember are a scene where Colonel Brandon asks Elinor to speak to Edward about offering him a living on his estate. The other is when Marianne is ill, Mrs. Jennings comes in and has a conversation with Elinor.

If our Gentle Readers who own the Region 2 DVD can check if those scenes are on their DVDs, we would be most grateful.

Completion

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Wet Shirt Redux The Complete Jane Austen is now behind us with the broadcast of the second part of Sense and Sensibility. We’ve really run out of things to say, but we’re sure our Gentle Readers will make up for it.

One Minute Book Reviews disputes the perception that Jane Austen’s novels take a rose-colored view of romance. It’s a very short piece so we won’t copy over anything, but check it out and see what you think. Thanks to Alert Janeite Jeannette for the link.

Alert Janeite Laurel Ann sent us a link to Laurie Viera Rigler’s last post in her series on Jane Austen’s novels for About.com’s Classic Literature blog.

I admire that anyone even attempts to brave the minefield of adapting my favorite author. Although it is a truth universally acknowledged that the book is always better than the movie, a good movie often inspires those who haven’t read the book to do so. And the more Austen readers there are out there, the closer we Janeites come to world domination.

Just kidding. But would that be such a bad thing?

These days our own idea is to keep Jane inside a compound surrounded by an electrified fence patrolled by very angry and hungry Dobermans. World domination has its attractions, but it unfortunately involves mingling with the rest of the world. These are the same people who watch reality television and made Paris Hilton a celebrity. This tar-hearted spinster would prefer to keep Jane Austen to herself, but we are just cranky. 🙂

And lastly, Andrew Davies answers your questions about adapting Jane Austen’s novels. Thanks to Alert Janeite I. Miller for the link.

Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: Last Gasps Edition

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Brandon and his Big GunThe Complete Jane Austen begins to wrap up tonight with a two-part presentation of the new-to-us Sense and Sensibility. PBS’ Remotely Connected blog has a review from Laurie Viera Rigler:

Anyway, after I stopped turning cartwheels, a mild feeling of apprehension set in. As an Austen addict whose obsession exceeds even that of the protagonist of my novel, my mind is so full of the text that often I must watch a new film adaptation twice just to see if I like it or not. The first time I watch, my mind is buzzing: Did the screenwriter/director stay true to text? Why did they add this scene or cut that one? Not exactly the uncluttered frame of mind one needs in order to sit back and enjoy the story unfolding on the screen.

But this new Sense and Sensibility? That called for three viewings before I could even see it as a film unto itself. Not only was the novel echoing in my head, but the Oscar-winning Ang Lee/Emma Thompson movie, which is perhaps my favorite of all the Austen-related films, demanded comparisons at every turn.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that I find myself in a state of admiration for the new Sense and Sensibility. A review by Amazon UK’s editorial staff addresses the inevitable comparisons to the Ang Lee/Emma Thompson film by suggesting that “it’s perhaps best [to] see them as companion pieces.” I agree. The luxury of this particular film’s nearly three hours of screen time provides more opportunities to stay true to text, which we devotees of text certainly appreciate. However, this film, like most adaptations, includes expanded and even invented scenes, something I have no objection to, as long as they serve the story and character development.

And the Editrix also had her share in the conversation. Well, actually we had some help from perhaps unexpected sources. 😉 (If you haven’t seen the new film yet, the review might make much more sense after you do.)

PBS also has a minisite dedicated to the film, including some behind the scenes videos.

There are lots of media reviews as well, which is to be expected. The New York Times review by Ginia Bellafante takes an interesting view of the pasted-on “seduction” scene at the beginning.

The PBS adaptations of Austen’s novels have been infused with a certain eroticism, and it should be said that “Sense and Sensibility” introduces itself with a bedroom scene that seems to exist as an admonition against incautious sex. Flesh is anathema to Austen purists, but the murkily filmed scene (baffling until you figure out who the players are much later) animates what is implied if not stated in Austen: that in mindless passion there is no substance at all.

Has someone told Andrew Davies? 😉

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Los Angeles Times, Cleveland.com, USAToday, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette all have rave reviews. Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune thinks Willoughby is too obviously a cad for belief, the Mercury News thinks it’s a little slow, and the Long Beach Press-Telegram thinks it’s not lively enough for Jane Austen.

What did we think? We thought it quite good, definitely the best of the latest set of adaptations, though not quite as good as the 1995 film, although at times we felt more like we were watching a remake of that film than a new adaptation of the novel. We particularly enjoyed Daisy Haggard’s turn as Miss Steele (quel surprise) and thought Hattie Morahan as Elinor was a real bright spot in the production, very much the emotional center of the film and a very strong performance. We liked Dan Stevens a lot as well, though he reminded us more of Henry Tilney than of Edward Ferrars. We found the story rushed and a trifle sloppy in places–why in the world did Marianne call Fanny Dashwood “Aunt?” And then how does Edward, Fanny’s brother, become Elinor’s cousin? We don’t mean to nitpick, but we find such changes confusing, distracting, and most of all unnecessary. And see if you can spot all the lines stolen from P&P, because Jane knows we can’t have an adaptation that doesn’t reference P&P.

That being said, we think our readers will, for the most part, be very pleased with the new series. Let us know what you think.

Jane Austen Film News Roundup: Coming to a Television Near You Edition

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While we’re taking a (probably needed) break from the Complete Jane Austen, a few interesting pieces of news crossed our desk.

According to a column by the president and CPO of Twin Cities Public Television, despite all the Janeite complaints, the ratings for the films have been quite good.

And suggesting that “Masterpiece Theater” has “settled” for an all-Jane Austen format is simply incorrect — “The Complete Jane Austen” drew the highest audiences for the program in more than a decade.

Yep, they might stink, but we watched them like the big Janeite saps we are, and that’s all that matters. Sad but true.

For those of you outside the U.S. and UK, many of you are going to have the chance to see some of the new films, if you haven’t already. The BBC has sold rights to S&S07 and Miss Austen Regrets around the world.

Meanwhile, acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies’ adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility” sold to 11 markets, including Japan, Sweden, Poland, Canada and Korea, and Jane Austen biopic “Miss Austen Regrets” also enjoyed solid sales.

Naturally, if we hear anything we’ll let our Gentle Readers know!

There’s even a tidbit of Becoming Jane news of sorts: a profile of Laurence Fox, whom many of us adored as Mr. Wisley, reveals that he originally was offered another role in the film, but turned it down.

“…With Becoming Jane they wanted me to be another part who was a bit jokey and buff but I didn’t have any interest in it. I quite liked the concept of going, ‘Maybe there is an alternative for everybody. Here is this shy guy who’d like to be able to express himself but can’t.’ Which is probably more like me anyway.”

Soooooo, who was it? Jokey and buff? Henry Austen, perhaps? Or–dare we say–Tom Lefroy himself? Because who else COULD it be?

Crudely tattooed on his left wrist is “Mrs Fox 31-12-07”, a memento of their honeymoon in Mexico. “Drunken moment in Playa del Carmen. And she’s got ‘Mr Fox’. But don’t tell the agent.”

Just how Fanny and Edmund would have spent their honeymoon, eh?

Lastly, a lot of viewers seemed to really like the music video that PBS put together for the Complete Jane Austen set to the music of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” It’s on YouTube now, so you can rewind to your heart’s content. (And a PBS representative told us about it, so the self-appointed Jane Austen Copyright Police can go have a cup of tea or something.)

S&S08 to be broadcast in the Netherlands beginning February 11

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Alert Janeite Franka was surprised and delighted to learn that S&S08 will be broadcast on Dutch television beginning next Monday, February 11! Franka reports it will be aired by the NCRV at 20.55. The second and third episodes will air on subsequent Mondays. Franka said the episodes will only be 50 minutes long…welcome to Deletedscenesland! *rolls eyes*

The Complete Jane Austen News Roundup: In The Doldrums Edition

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So, three down, four to go, counting Miss Austen Regrets. We’re actually rather excited about this one. We just have a gut feeling that it’s not going to completely stink. But then we’re a glass-half-full kind of blog, if you haven’t noticed. 😛

Mopping up the post-mortem for MP08, Alert Janeites Christiane and Lisa sent us this review from the Boston Globe.

Tomorrow night, Piper takes on Fanny Price, the shy, morally sound heroine of Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.” And Piper wins, big-time, as she pulls poor, pious Fanny over onto the Billie Piper side of life. In this third adaptation in PBS’s Austen “Masterpiece” season, our pre-Victorian introvert is a ravishing wild child who recalls Madonna in a Herb Ritts video, or a stoned hippie chick in “Woodstock,” more than a polite teen in a bonnet and frock. In “Mansfield Park,” tomorrow at 9 p.m. on Channel 2, Fanny’s rather rockin’.

Now, there’s an interesting take–Fanny as the rock-n-roll wild child. Not sure about it, but there you go.

Ultimately, this “Mansfield Park” makes Patricia Rozema’s excellent 1999 version (in which Fanny is made into an Austen-like writer) seem stubbornly loyal to the author.

As Christiane said, he had us up to the “excellent 1999 version.” Huh?

AP, via the San Francisco Chronicle, has an article that combines local and international interest, along with some anecdotes from the set of S&S08.

Dominic Cooper recalled the hash he made initially of one of the novel’s most romantic moments — when his character, the “uncommonly handsome” Willoughby, rescues Marianne Dashwood after she slips and twists her ankle running down a hill.

The torrential rain “did make it quite difficult picking her up from a 90-degree angle on a wet, greasy, green hill and turning back to walk up the hill with a very long, wet coat on,” Cooper recalls. “When I kind of squatted down, the jacket got caught. I fell over immediately and put her head in a ditch.”

Ha!

We found a blogsite dedicated to Miss Austen Regrets. It seems a bit sploggy but we think it’s in earnest. (A hint to the proprietors: To make it seem LESS sploggy, try writing some original content.)

The Jane Austen’s House Museum has seen visitors rise from past productions, and is seeing a surge of interest due to That Made Up Film last year and S&S this year. Also, for our UK readers who are feeling a bit left out of the Complete Jane Austen excitement, there will be an exhibition of costumes from S&S08 at the museum starting in March. If you go, send us a report!

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.