Austenland to be a Film

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Well, they snuck this one by us! Several Alert Janeites wrote to let us know that Shannon Hale’s book Austenland will be adapted into a film, which begins shooting this week. This is apparently not a drill. The film will be directed by Jerusha Hess (who wrote the screenplay for Napoleon Dynamite and co-wrote this screenplay with Hale) and the cast includes Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie (FIGWIT!), Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, Rupert Vansittart, and James Callis. Casting demonstrates high Hottie Quotient, so should be popular with the rank and file. (AND FIGWIT!)

We know lots of people are excited about this, but we weren’t that crazy about the book and, while this certainly is better than the Zombie Apocalypse, we can think of several other Austen-related adaptations we’d rather see before this.

Much of the attention this is getting seems to be from the fact that Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight novels, is one of the producers. (Good thing JJ’s there to take care of any sparkly vampyres who might wander in. *cough*) According to IndieWire, Meyer’s blurb on the book said, “Adorable! This is the best tribute to obsessed Austen freaks (like me) that I’ve ever read.”

Um, no. It’s been a while, but one of the things that made us not like the book very much is that the so-called Austen fans in the book didn’t behave like any Austen fans we know. Hiding DVDs in the potted plants in shame? Going to an Austen theme park and flirting with actors hired to pretend to be into Jane Austen, apparently without any accompanying sense of irony? We took some abuse for it at the time (something we’re used to) but our basic opinion is still that Austenland didn’t speak to our experience as an obsessive Austen fan, and therefore was not appealing. It would have been fun to have been able to relax into laughing at ourselves and others, but the author demonstrated zero knowledge of Austen fans in our opinion. We’ll hope that we can like the film better; we’ve been surprised before!

As usual with Austen adaptations, the media starts spreading the manure right from the beginning. MTV’s article about the film says,

Meyer has been a longtime fan of Austen’s work and credited the author’s “Sense and Sensibility” character Mr. Edward Ferrars with the decision to name her leading man Edward. In addition, “Twilight” was inspired by Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” to the point that main character Bella is reading the novel during the story and often compares her relationship with Edward to Elizabeth Bennet’s relationship with Mr. Darcy.

Oh, now wait just a Ferrarsing minute. Ms. Meyer perhaps confused Jane Austen with Charlotte Brontë. She wouldn’t be the first.

Edward Cullen:

  • Manly beauty
  • Countenance compared to marble carving
  • Cold kisses
  • Creepy, controlling behavior towards woman he wants to marry

St. John Rivers (a character in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre):

  • Manly beauty
  • Countenance compared to marble carving
  • Cold kisses
  • Creepy, controlling behavior towards woman he wants to marry

The inspiration seems pretty plain to us.