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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen Movies’

Camden Place, Bath. Sir Walter Elliot and his family reading.

Thomas Hope (1769–1831), the style icon of the Regency interior, would have been happy with these images of Sir Walter Elliot’s interior of Camden Place in Persuasion 1995.  Thomas Hope was known for the “decorative details and ornament based on influences from his nearly ten-year Grand Tour, as well as from motifs from ancient Greece and Egypt.”

Camden Place: A view of the Drawing Room

Hope’s startling juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of the French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. Most striking of all was the inventive and exotic furniture that Hope designed specifically for the house. – Exhibition, Thomas Hope, V&A Museum

Camden Place: Dining Room (Anne and Elizabeth Elliot and Mrs. Clay)

From these images it is quite obvious that the set designer of this film chose furniture and draperies that for the Regency era would have been regarded as ultra fashionable. Sir Walter might have moved from Kellynch Hall to reduce his expenses, but his tastes remain expensive and he shows no inclination to follow the rules of economy.

More on the Topic

Thomas Hope: Regency Designer

Like designers of his day, Sir Thomas Hope drew his planned room design ahead of time. Witness the following whole room design:
Design of a room, 1807, by Sir Thomas Hope

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pollReading Twitter, some people are turned off by the modern approach to Emma 2009. Curious minds want to know what you thought of the first installment of this new Jane Austen novel adaptation with Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller and Michael Gambon. These are your choices:  a yawner, meh, loved it, and will have to wait and see. If you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment. Do you love the new film? Do you like it? Or are you sitting on the fence, waiting to see how the series will develop? Here’s my review of the film.

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It is ironic that a novel filled with clues similar to those found in a good mystery tale can spin off a film whose clues stand out like a red cape in front of a bull. Jane Austen deftly sprinkled hints about Jane Fairfax’s relationship with Frank Churchill throughout Emma. One has to read the novel twice to find her subtle inferences, and even then one might miss a few. The 1996 film version of Emma, written by Andrew Davies, leaves no stone unturned and drops its clues with such a heavy hand that midway through the film you want to shout – “enough!” Jane and Frank exchange frequent glances, are seen at the piano together in Mrs. and Miss Bates’ apartment, and argue on the terrace at Donwell Abbey. We even see Jane crying after their tiff as she walks through a field hatless. Tsk. Tsk. At least Mr. Davies did not sex up this particular film adaptation.

While I like this film overall, and gave it a favorable review when it was shown during PBS’s presentation of The Complete Jane Austen earlier this year, it did have a cringe worthy moment. Mr. Knightley, forcefully played by Mark Strong, proposes to Emma and says afterwards: “I held you in my arms when you were three weeks old”. Kate Beckinsale as Emma replies before they kiss: “Do you like me now as well as you did then?” Eww! The unfortunate image these words evoke are not at all what Jane intended. Here is how her Mr. Knightley proposes, which is just as it ought to be:

“My dearest Emma,” said he, “for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour’s conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma—tell me at once. Say ‘No,’ if it is to be said.”—She could really say nothing.—”You are silent,” he cried, with great animation; “absolutely silent! at present I ask no more.”

Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:”—he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—”If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

Jane DID bring up the differences in ages, but earlier in her novel, when 21-year-old Emma and 37-year-old Mr. Knightley attended a family gathering soon after Mr. & Mrs. John Knightley arrive for a visit. The conversation occurs some time after Mr. Knightley had chastised Emma for influencing Harriet in declining Mr. Martin’s marriage proposal. In this scene, Emma and Mr. Knightley speak as long-standing friends and as relations through marriage:

Emma: “What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our nephews and nieces. As to men and women, our opinions are sometimes very different; but with regard to these children, I observe we never disagree.”

Mr. Knightley: “If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of men and women, and as little under the power of fancy and whim in your dealings with them, as you are where these children are concerned, we might always think alike.”

Emma: “To be sure—our discordancies must always arise from my being in the wrong.”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes,” said he, smiling—”and reason good. I was sixteen years old when you were born.”

Emma: “A material difference then,” she replied—”and no doubt you were much my superior in judgment at that period of our lives; but does not the lapse of one-and-twenty years bring our understandings a good deal nearer?”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes—a good deal nearer.”

Emma: “But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being right, if we think differently.”

Mr. Knightley: “I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years’ experience, and by not being a pretty young woman and a spoiled child. Come, my dear Emma, let us be friends and say no more about it. Tell your aunt, little Emma, that she ought to set you a better example than to be renewing old grievances, and that if she were not wrong before, she is now.” – Emma, Chapter 7, Volume One

Since watching this film adaptation, I have often wondered why Mr. Davies inserted those words about Emma as a baby into the script at what should have been a supremely romantic moment. Thankfully the Harvest Ball almost made up for his faux pas, almost, but not quite. Although the scene ends the movie on a perfect note, Jane never wrote it for her novel.
Score: Jane Austen, 100; Andrew Davies, Good try.

For more posts about Emma, 1996, click on the links below:

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Antiques and Vintage Dress Gallery features beautiful close up photographs of a riding costume designed for Mansfield Park, 1999. “The jumper gown can be worn buttoned up at the sides as you see, or just unbutton to wear straight. The jacket has violet-blue velvet collar, cuffs and buttons”. Francis O’Connor, who played Fanny Price, did not wear this costume. Click on the link to see 15 images of the gown.

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Six months. Six novels. Six members. The Jane Austen Book Club takes reading the classics to new heights of passion in this romantic comedy featuring an all-star cast.

Three years ago when The Jane Austen Book Club made the best seller lists, a friend and I started a Jane Austen book club of our own. This is how it began: I was bemoaning the tepid and forgettable books my book club had been choosing. In turn, my friend summarized her book club’s last choice – The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Our conversation lasted over an hour, in which we reminisced about reading Pride and Prejudice in our teens, and how we had both reread Jane’s books over the years. We resolved to form our own Janeite book group. The first meeting consisted of three women eager to explore all things Jane Austen. We talked loudly and interrupted each other constantly as we polished off two bottles of champagne, a pint of strawberries, and a brick of truffle pate. Needless to say, we had a rollicking good time.

Nearly three years later, our Janeite book club has grown to include 6 members ranging from 25 to 65 years in age. One of them is a man. Sound familiar? Which brings me to The Jane Austen Book Club DVD. The video, which has been out since January, should have been released early enough for gift giving during the holidays. However, not all is lost. If they missed the opportunity on Valentine’s Day, our significant others can still place the DVD in our collective Easter Baskets or under the Blarney Stone.

The movie is better than the novel, and I rarely say that. As one Janeite friend said about the book, “I wanted less back story and more book club. There wasn’t enough talk about Jane’s novels.” While the movie isn’t exactly about Jane, it does emphasize the book club meetings. Some of the scenes, such as the first conversation in Starbuck’s, lasted well over 20 minutes. Each club member speaks their mind, no matter how outrageous their thoughts about Jane’s characters, or how vehemently the other members might disagree with another’s assessment. Grigg, the sole male member, became so excited with his book choice of Northanger Abbey that he read the Mysteries of Udolpho. What a nice touch. In fact, each of the main scenes opens with the title of Jane’s book the club plans to discuss, and shots of the actors reading the novels. These transitions work to unify the film’s scenes.

Hugh Dancy (Grigg) is yummy and adorable as Maria Bello’s (Josselyn’s) younger love interest. Amy Brenneman (Sylvia) and Jimmy Smits (Daniel )play their roles as a divorcing couple with just the right notes of sadness, anger, and regret. Kathy Bates is the perfect, quirky ringleader for the group, and I simply fell in love with Maggie Grace from ‘Lost’. The one jarring element in the film is Emily Blunt’s performance as Prudie. Her accent is too broad and not quite American, and her performance is too dour for this light, frothy fluff of a film. Prudie’s constant whining, and moaning about her husband – a man who clearly loves and adores her – is misplaced in this story. After seeing Emily’s sparkling performance in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, I was frankly disappointed with her one-dimensional, mouth-quivering, teary eyed interpretation of Prudie. In addition, the script emphasizes Prudie’s crush on one of her students. I felt uncomfortable watching scenes of a mature high school teacher falling for a kid. Sorry, but her moves on this boy reminded me too much of a bad Nancy Grace special on MSNBC. In this one instance, I liked the character more in the novel than on the screen. Prudie was much more complex and believable in print. But I place too much emphasis on Emily Blunt, whose performance is my only complaint about the film.

I loved how Robin Swicord, the director and script writer, wove the characters in with the book club meetings, their own lives, and their observations about Jane’s novels. During the commentary, one of the DVD’s many extras, one is privy to the friendship that developed among the cast and that has lasted beyond the shoot. Ms. Swicord deftly adapted the novel to the screen, slicing away most of the back story and tightening the book club scenes. Most of the actors were perfect for their parts, and my guess is that for anyone purchasing the DVD, it will be a keeper.

  • Interview with director, Robin Swicord, on Jane Austen Today, Part 1 and Part 2

    DVD Bonus Features Include:

    • Cast and Crew Commentary
    • Making of “The Jane Austen Book Club”
    • “The Life of Jane Austen” Featurette
    • “Character Deconstruction” Featurette
    • Seven Deleted Scenes

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    You can download a podcast of Jonathan Bing’s audio interview with Joe Wright, director of Pride and Prejudice 2005, and Donald Sutherland, who played Mr. Bennet (left). Or you can click on the link and simply listen to it from your computer. This podcast is part of the LA Variety Screening Series of 2005.

    As an interesting aside, Annie Coleman, a reader for Librivox, offers her recording of Pride and Prejudice on her website. Click here to listen to the book or to download the podcasts, which are free. You can also listen to her other podcasts, such as Anne of Green Gables and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

    Joe Wright and Keira Knightley

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    Our blogs are gearing up in anticipation of PBS’s airing of Emma two weeks from now.

    Laurel Ann wrote a wonderful post on Austenprose about Jane Austen, Stella Gibbons, and Kate Beckinsale . Kate fans know that one of her major movie roles early in her career was as Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm. In fact, Flora was Emma’s equal in setting herself up as a matchmaker and putting peoples’ lives to right, and the very young Kate played that part to perfection.

    Jane Austen Today published two Emma posts this weekend: one about the darkly handsome Mark Strong, who played Mr. Knightley, and the other on Andrew Davies’ role in writing the script for the A&E version of Emma.

    For those who can’t wait to see this movie, which came out just after the theatrical release of Emma directed by Diarmuid Lawrence, you can purchase the DVD at WGBH Shop.

    • Learn more particulars about Emma on IMDb.

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    The PBS Masterpiece Classic airing of the three installments of Pride and Prejudice 1995 is over, and Emma (with Kate Beckinsale) won’t be shown until March 23rd. For those of you experiencing Jane Austen viewer withdrawal symptoms, visit the Jane Austen blog from KCTS 9 to catch up with their insights. Or you may choose to compare the 1995 P&P version with the 2005 movie. Screen captures and movie clips sit below.


    Pride and Prejudice, 2005: Click here to view a series of lovely screenshots of Longbourn, Meryton, Netherfield Park, and Pemberley, and see music videos as well. Then view the YouTube clips of some of the movie scenes below:

    Was Keira Knightley perfect for the role of Lizzy? Click here to read a perspective that states she was too glamorous for the role.

    This six-minute YouTube interview with Keira Knightley is about P&P and Mr. Darcy.

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    Illustration from Modes et Manieres Du Jour, 1798 – 1808

    I have changed my mind, & changed the trimmings on my Cap this morning, they are now much as you suggested, – I felt as if I should not prosper if I strayed from your directions, & I think it makes me look more like Lady Conyngham now than it did before, which is all that one lives for now. Jane Austen to Cassandra, December 18-19, 1798

    Women during the Regency period wore headdresses outdoors as a matter of course. When a woman married, or if she was a spinster in her late twenties, she would also take to wearing a cap indoors. This image from Wikipedia shows Mme. Seriziat wearing a bergere, or shepherdess-style straw bonnet over a cap, as was the custom back then. When her child was a baby, he might have worn a simple bonnet, as infants still do today.

    Aside from sheltering delicate skin from the sun or hair from the elements, or protecting one’s head in drafty rooms, headdresses took on many other functions. They denoted class and economic status, as well as fashion sense and one’s marital state. Hats were also worn as a sign of respect, inside a church, for instance, and this custom remained widely popular until well into the 20th-century.

    Lace caps, mob caps, or draped caps, were made of lace, white linen or delicate muslin, and trimmed with ribbon. They could be ruffled, embroidered, or plain, depending on who wore them and their status. A housekeeper, for example, would wear a more elaborate cap than a scullery maid, whose mob cap was simple by comparison. In Pride and Prejudice 1995, Mrs. Bennet wore such frilly caps with so many ruffles and trimmings that they complimented her image as a silly woman. One can imagine how much fancier her caps were than her maid’s!

    Trimming and redecorating old bonnets provided a topic of conversation for women of all ages and social strata. In her novels and letters, Jane Austen frequently mentioned trimming new hats and making over old bonnets as a female activity. According to Penelope Byrde in A Frivolous Distinction, it was quite the fad during the last decade of the 18th century to adorn hats and bonnets with artificial fruits and flowers. As Jane Austen wrote Cassandra in June, 1799 (tongue in cheek we suspect):

    Flowers are very much worn, & Fruit is still more the thing – Eliz: has a bunch of Strawberries, & I have seen Grapes, Cherries, Plumbs & Apricots – There are likewise Almonds& raisins, french plums & Tamarinds at the Grocers, but I have never seen any of them in hats.

    In addition to professional milliners and modistes, there was quite a large cottage industry for making caps, hats, and turbans from home, which provided a meager salary for women who needed the income. The materials used in making headdresses were as varied as their styles: straw (chip or strip), beaver, velvet, silk, crape, satin, muslin or cloth (Byrde, p 6). Trims included ribbons, the above mentioned artificial fruits and flowers, veils, net, lace, or feathers, and even beads, pins, and brooches.

    For a more detailed explanation of the headdresses worn during this era and to view additional illustrations, please click on the following links.

    • Hats and Bonnets, Victoriana: Scroll to the bottom of this page to see illustrations from 1811 and 1812.
    • Fileblogs, Regency Caps, Linore Rose Burkhart: Linore describes the various hat styles in this link, along with materials and trims.

    For people interested in ordering their own Regency caps, or in trying their hand at making a bonnet, the following links will lead you to patterns, suppliers, and resources:

    • Louise MacDonald Millinery (link suggested by Laurel Ann, see above image). Louise created the caps for Pride & Prejudice 1995, and describes making them for the movie.

    Byrde, Penelope, A Frivolous Distinction: Fashion and Needlework in the works of Jane Austen, Bath City Council, 1979.

    Four Hundred Years of Fashion, Victoria and Albert Museum, edited by Natalie Rothstein, V&A Publications, 1984.

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    One of my favorite blogs on the blogosphere is ::Surroundings:: by interior designer Linda Merrill. Linda, who is a fan of the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, has been hard at work finding scrumptious pieces of furniture and objects d’art that would fit perfectly inside Netherfield Park, Longbourn, and Pemberley. Click on the following links to view her interior shots of these fabulous houses and some of the objects you can order today.

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    When 20-year-old Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) meets up with the roguish Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), sparks begin to fly. Initially repelled by his arrogance, the emerging writer slowly realizes that she has finally found a man who appreciates her intellect as well as her beauty. As her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) arrange a wealthy, aristocratic husband for her, Jane begins a clandestine romance with Lefroy. The young man proposes marriage, but his wealthy guardian, who holds his purse strings, disapproves of Jane’s outspoken manner and ambition to be a writer, and threatens to cut Tom off. In a world where marriage determines a woman’s fate, will they risk everything, including family and friends, for the sake of romance?

    The wonderful surprise about the new Becoming Jane DVD, also available in Blu-Ray, is the intelligent commentary about the film between Director Julian Jarrold, Writer Kevin Hood, and Producer Robert Bernstein. I was able to activate the pop-up footnotes at the same time, doubling the annotations to this breezy movie about Jane Austen’s life. In addition, the author of Jane Austen for Dummies and past president of the Jane Austen Society of America, Joan Klingel Ray, contributes her insights to the bonus feature, ‘Discovering the Real Jane Austen.’ The combination of these added features, with their rich array of facts about Jane’s life and the regency era, greatly enriched my experience of this DVD. We find out, for example, that Anne Hathaway, a Vassar graduate, learned to play the piano for the role. During the opening scene when she wakes her family up, the piano did not work. We also learn that Tom and Jane’s elopement would have cost them approximately 10 pounds per person, or around £340 in today’s terms. They would also have had to tip the coachman and the guard. These small but intriguing bits of information kept my eyes glued to the screen for the next footnote balloon.

    I was not an admirer of this film when it hit the theaters in the U.S. last summer. And I still think of it as being more a fairytale treatment of Jane’s life as a young woman, than an accurate biography. I found it doubly interesting to view this DVD so shortly after PBS’s airing of Miss Austen Regrets, the second filmed Jane Austen biography to come out this year. While Becoming Jane is about Jane Austen as a young woman just before she writes First Impressions, the first title of Pride and Prejudice, the more somber Miss Austen Regrets follows Jane in the last two years of her life, when she is at the peak of her writing powers. The contrast in tone and style between the two movies couldn’t be greater, yet both are lushly produced and beautifully filmed. Becoming Jane starts out with youthful optimism, and although Jane encounters disappointments and setbacks, the film never quite loses its breezy tone. Indeed, here’s what The Oregonian says about the DVD:

    LOVE AND/OR MARRIAGE: In “Becoming Jane” — aka this week’s Jane Austen-themed movie — Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada”) plays the author as a young woman. In the spirit of countless adaptations of Austen’s novels, Jane here is torn between marrying for love or money. The script embroiders some of the few known facts about Austen’s romantic life, but with dreamy James McAvoy (“Atonement”) along for the ride as Jane’s love interest, we can forgive a bit of poetic license, can we not?

    If you missed watching this film in theaters, the DVD will be widely available today either for sale or rent.

    To preview some of the clips and features, click on the following links:

    DVD Specs

    DVD Available : February 12, 2008
    Feature run time: 120 minutes
    Rated: PG

    Bonus Features

    • Discovering the Real Jane Austen – The best known author of her era, she continues to sell books and inspire films almost two hundred years after her death, but what do we really know about Jane Austen? Find out some surprising truths in this fascinating featurette.
    • Becoming Jane Pop-Up Facts & Footnotes – Interactive insights
    • Audio Commentary with director Julian Jarrold, writer Kevin Hood and producer Robert Bernstein
    • 13 Deleted Scenes

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    I wrote a half hearted review about this movie, based largely on the somber tone of the film, which sometimes belied the beautiful words Olivia Williams as Jane spoke.

    But not everyone felt as I did. Kay Daycus wrote a beautiful response to the film just after she saw it. And Laurel Ann on Remotely Connected also thought it was wonderful, saying:
    “When she dies tragically at age forty-one, we feel the incredible loss of a dear daughter, sister, aunt and friend, whose ultimate writing potential will never be known.”

    Arti wonders if the title should have been changed to “Miss Austen Regrets?” Like me, she thought Jane would have felt more fulfillment than the movie depicted.

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