Tuesday, March 28, 2006

ETC: Flock of Bingley, or Darcy Dobler

I finally saw Pride and Prejudice -- sorry, Pride & Prejudice (ooh, how that ampersand galls me) -- this past weekend, and I don't think I've enjoyed a Jane Austen movie adaptation this much since Persuasion.

The cinematography was great, the story was as faithful to the original as one could pessimistically hope, and even I, nitpicky moviegoer that I am, thought the casting was okey-dokey. I didn't have expectations good or bad of
Kiera Knightley, so I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that she charmed me with her portrayal -- part sweetie-pie and part sharp-tongued minx -- of Elizabeth Bennet. And while I've heard criticisms of the male characters being flat, anyone who says such a thing has never read the book, because the male characters ARE kind of flat. I mean, at best, Darcy's a sort of brooding Heathcliff Lite. And Bingley's a bit of a doofus. And Mr. Bennet is kind of charming, but still remote. And Mr. Collins was great, even if he did remind me of Mr. Bean.

Watching the movie with
Rusty was a hoot. As an occasionally dutiful former English major, he's read his share of Austen, but that was a long while ago. I, on the other hand, who dream of crawling inside an Austen novel and never coming out, have the book pretty much memorized. So there were many, many moments when, anticipating some horrifically vicariously embarrassing scene involving Mrs. Bennet and the younger Bennet sisters, I covered my face with a pillow minutes in advance, causing Rusty -- who is ten times more sensitive to such things than I -- to ask anxiously, "What? What? WHAT?"

And then there was this amusing bit of sofa dialogue:
"Hey! Someone should make a contemporary version of this movie. It'd be really good."
"Mmm... a little-known film called
Bridget Jones's Diary... perhaps you've heard of it?"
One thing I noticed, though -- and perhaps those of you who've also seen the movie observed the same thing -- were all the subtle references to '80s teen movies. I mean, I know the film's tagline is "A romance ahead of its time," but props to the filmmakers for identifying the story's correct temporal setting as the mid-1980s.

To wit:

Does anyone else see a certain
Flock of Seagulls quality in Bingley's 'do?

And did anyone else have Lloyd Dobler-fuelled déjà vü
during the scene where Darcy walks across the heath -- or field or meadow or whatever you want to call it -- near the end of the movie?

And I can't find a movie still, but surely I can't have been the only person who watched the (somewhat gratuitous) final scene and yelled
"Sixteen Candles!" at the screen?


Anonymous said...

Oh no! Which ending did you watch? I have the DVD (because I loooooved it) and on it there was an "alternate American ending" and OY. I liked the version with no kissing in!

Speaking of, I'm just reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I know. But, in my defence, having to study A Christmas Carol in great detail really put me off "classics" for years. It's the oldest books I've read in ages. I think the previous oldest book I'd read was The Time-Machine. Shameful.

OOH Doppelganger (and others), what would you recommend next for a person who is only just getting into older stuff but who loves P & P? I was looking at other Austen, but honestly, I've only just got over this... prejudice. HA.

Anonymous said...

By the way, is there any more gorgeous than that Mr Bingley? Honestly.

Anonymous said...

I liked the movie more than I expected even though I adore the BBC miniseries. (I wore out my VHS version, and it was the first DVD I bought.) I like Colin Firth's Darcy MUCH better, but on the whole really enjoyed it. BUT I hated the kissing at the end--that was almost as sinful as changing the ending.

Alice said...

I didn't realize there were two endings - how weird. I saw the UK version in the theatre and really loved it, although I was annoyed by how much time Elizabeth spent talking to people in her pj's. Does the girl have no modesty?

Now I'll have to rent the DVD to check out this mysterious "kiss ending". And the first three sites that came up when I googled "Pride & Prejudice American ending" all mentioned Sixteen Candles, so you're not alone there.

Anonymous said...

I know! I first saw the new P&P in the UK too, and was mystified when it opened in the states and the Janeites were complaining about "the kiss." When I saw the US DVD, I wasn't bothered by the kissing, but the 1600 candles by the pond thing I thought pretty dopey. People, it's COLD at night in England, even in the summer! And picky readers will note that Jane and Elizabeth's double wedding takes place in December. Brrrr. (Got that bit of info from the fine if a bit obsessed folks at The Republic of Pemberley -- pemberley.com)

Veronica said...

Anna - read Jane Eyre. Run, don't walk. It is so good.

Anonymous said...

I'm another one who liked the movie more than I expected to (not least because Colin Firth will always be my Mr. Darcy), and haaaaaaaaaated The Kiss and the whole stupid, insulting "American ending."

I thought Mr. Bingley at least was actually less flat in the movie than in the book, but in a way that was completely consistent with the book. In the book, he's just sort of a nice guy who loves Jane, apparently because she is also... nice. In the movie, he's so adorably silly and shy and yes, a little dumb, but in such an endearing way. So it makes sense that shy, sweet Jane would in fact find him adorable, and that he would absolutely blossom at being adored that way for who he is, rather than for his money.

Anna: Yes, Jane Eyre, Exxie is quite right. Also, of course, there is always more Austen: Emma, Sense and Sensibility, etc.

Maya said...

I did love the movie - but most especially the footage of Darcy's house - the internal shots were mostly in this inCREDIble English country manor called Burleigh House. (Now veering off into complete nerd-dom)

The entire thing is covered in these incredibly realistic murals, floor to 30-foot ceiling. I almost died of pure pleasure at seeing K.K.'s Elizabeth descend the famous "Hell Staircase."

Now back on-topic (sorta) Has anyone watched Bride and Prejudice? Its directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) with the beautiful Aishwarya Rai and Naveen Andrews from Lost - its silly but pretty and entertaining - a nice new twist on a classic.

Tammy said...

I second Exxie. I've read Jane Eyre more times than I can count.

If you want to ease into more Austen, I'd suggest Emma next. It's a fun story, and Emma is charmingly overbearing. I love her. After that, I'd mix things up and read Persuasion, whose heroine, Anne, is much more subtly winning. After that... hmm... maybe Sense and Sensibility, which shows Austen's meeker and more passionate characters rubbing up against each other more, and makes for an interesting study in contrasts. And then I'd say you're ready for Mansfield Park, probably the most challenging of Austen's works. I think having an education in the spectrum of Austen's female characters is necessary to appreciate Fanny Price.

How's that for specific? Heh.

Joie de Vivre said...

What! What? I haven't seen it. What's the Sixteen Candles reference? Does he almost put his hand in a flaming birthday cake to kiss her?

Lady M said...

Thanks for the preview! I have both P&P and Bride and Prejudice on my Netflix list.

Annette said...

I was equally surprised to enjoy this version of it too. Though nothing will ever compare to the BBC series which I own and have watched more times than I've read the book even.

I enjoyed 'Bride and prejudice' too. It was fun and silly, and who doesn't enjoy a little random song and dance thrown in.

Gwen said...

I was glad they kissed at the end in the American version. It always pissed me off that they didn't kiss at the end of the book, and all those close-ups of smoldering looks needed a pay-off, in my opinion. They did it in a cheesy way, yes... but I don't think it's an unforgivable sin that they kissed.

Tammy said...

Yeah, the kiss didn't bother me, either, and even the cheesiness wasn't that off-putting. But did anyone else see the clear homage to Sixteen Candles? I mean, the lighting, the way they were sitting, the way the movie ends on the last frame of them kissing... that can't have been just a coincidence, can it?

that mckim girl said...

Thank you for noticing the John Cusack likeness. I will now be able to show your blog to my sister and prove that I am always right.

Carrie K said...

It was fairly faithful to the novel, other than some weird choices - cows practically in the living room? Catherine BigShot coming to their house in the dead of night?

KK was good too. It was the cameraman/director with all those l-o-n-g lingering close ups of her face that drove me mad.

Em said...

Heh. I've been defending this movie good-naturedly for ages against those folks who insist it can't hold a candle to the miniseries. Which is kind of a different medium, at least given that they had six hours to do what these folks did in two. My favourite part is that the Bennet house looked lived in. There was actual girlish filth strewn all about the place, which made loads of sense and seemed a lot better than just having the girls pull their embroidery out of a well-concealed drawer and that's their only prop.
The kiss was fine, but it went on too long. Someone lightly pecking someone else all over the face repeatedly gives me the heebs for some unknown reason.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestions.

It wasn't actually the kissing that bothered me... I think I'm just naturally stuck in the seventeenth century, and like words better than kissing. LAME.

But, I just WISH they'd do the same endings everywhere. Why patronise either Europeans or North Americans/Canadians by changing things over the channel? I don't think they characters of each are THAT far apart.

I wouldn't have minded gentle kissing but the sappiness. I have not a sweet bone in my body. So intolerant.

You know, when I've done Eyre and the Austen ouevre (spelt wrong!) I'm coming back for more suggestions! Thank you!