Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship” (review coming soon on Ripples) opens up a whole new world of Jane Austen for modern day readers and viewers. All we’ve been familiar with are Austen’s six novels, with 60 plus adaptations of full features and TV series according to IMDb.
Based on Austen’s novella Lady Susan written likely when she was only 18 or 19, “Love & Friendship” is a first time movie adaptation of this lesser-known work. Director Stillman got the name from one of Austen’s short stories with one major alteration: &. The film was a big hit. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival this January to critical acclaims. Everywhere since, “Love & Friendship” has left audience fully entertained for 90 minutes. Surprising, or not, for it’s Whit Stillman’s work that’s a long time coming. A specialist in comedy of manners in our modern time, Stillman wrote the screenplay himself, even has it published as a new novel together with Austen’s original work, 2 in 1. Now that’s a must read. And as Stillman said in an interview :”I vastly prefer the kind of collaboration I had with Jane Austen to those living authors… She has no complaints! I can assure you she has no complaints. I know that for a fact.”
After the world was awakened to this relatively ‘unknown’ Austen work being brought to the big screen, now comes another one: “Sanditon”, Austen’s unfinished novel when she died in 1817. So much the better, with an unfinished novel, a screenwriter and director can have the freedom to use their creative flair to boundless possibilities. (Note: in 1975, a ‘completed Sanditon’ was published, authored by ‘Another Lady’, a writer who chose to follow Jane’s step of anonymity.) This upcoming film adaptation, however, is written by a known name, British playwright / producer/ director Simon Reade, who has many titles adapted on the British stage. Of note is his adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, a sell out run at The Regents Park Open Air Theatre. Oscar nominated Charlotte Rampling will play dowager Lady Denham in a production helmed by Jim O’Hanlon, who directed the 2009 BBC TV version of Emma.
If Lady Susan and Sanditon can be adapted to the big screen, lots more can come. A treasure trove of unfilmed works await in Austen’s bibliography. The Watsons, short stories, even letters can be put into good use as movie ideas. Lots of prospects lining up:
Frederic and Elfrida
Jack and Alice
Edgar and Emma
Henry and Eliza
Love and Friendship
A History of England
The Three Sisters
Catherine, or the Bower
“Love & Friendship” could be kicking off a Jane Austen revival in the coming years.
Just posted a new list of Books to Movie Adaptations coming out this year or in development on Shiny New Books Issue #10. CLICK HERE to read.
18 thoughts on “Love and Friendship and Other Prospects”
It seems as though fans of Austen will have plenty of delights to keep them happy in upcoming years. The thought of a work based on her letters is most intriguing to me — I’ll keep an eye out to see if that happens.
Yes, there’s a great repertoire to tap into for a filmmakers and screenwriters. I’ll definitely keep you informed if Jane’s letters are used for movie ideas. 😉 As a matter of fact, there’s a film called ‘Becoming Jane’ a few years back was partly based on her life as revealed in her letters to her sister.
Ugh. I hate it when the server connection fails as I hit send! I’m so very eager for this one — it sounds wonderfully witty, but then why wouldn’t it? Hope it sticks around another few days so I don’t miss it.
The thing I wonder about all this Jane stuff is “why?” Or maybe to be more accurate, “Why Now?” It isn’t as though she was undiscovered. Even had quite the run of it during the P&P, S&S era. PBS’ complete Jane Austen. Perhaps it is evolving to fill the Downton void of graceful women, the quick cutting remark, the lovely costumes and beautiful setting. Does it matter? Not to me — I’m just glad Jane is back again!
I think it’s Stillman’s film bringing out Austen’s wit and intelligence that makes this one different. Also the production is the first time adaptation of Lady Susan, so basically it’s a fresh, new story, relatively unknown to many. If it’s one of her six well publicized novels, I’m sure it won’t be as enthusiastically embraced. I’m excited that filmmakers are exploring Jane’s lesser known works, even if they are unfinished. The more the merrier to celebrate the genius of Jane Austen. Can you imagine an 18 year-old writing Lady Susan? I’ve just finished reading it a second time and just have to marvel at her skill and observation and general understanding of human nature and foibles, and of course, her humour and sarcasm.
Haha, Arti, my group here is hanging out for this. We do wonder why they’ve titled it with the name of another of her Juvenilia pieces rather than with its own name. Very confusing. But, we’ll forgive them that if it’s fun. The trailer looks entertaining.
Oh, and that last unfinished one is not Sandition BUT Sanditon. It traps many people. I read that completion by “Another Lady” back when it came out but I don’t recollect much about it now. I’d heard there was a movie coming out. Austenites have all sorts of views about where it was heading to it will be interesting to see where they take it!
Of course! Thanks for correcting me. Yes, Sanditon. And oh how I’d love to hang out there Downunder with you all for the showing of L&F! It’s opening tomorrow here and I’ve been waiting for months for this. Have you seen any of Whit Stillman’s films? You’d enjoy Metropolitan. It’s very Austenesque. You must see it. It has been compared to Mansfield Park but with NYC as backdrop. Ingenious.
No. I haven’t Arti. Haven’t even heard of them. Will keep an eye out.
I must admit, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this newest Austen adaptation, but your post has piqued my interest! And it’s very exciting to see filmmakers beginning to experiment a little more with the Austen oeuvre, rather than just sticking to the same six novels.
You’re right. Jane was much more prolific than just the six novels with which we are familiar. Her juvenilia and even letters can be adapted and new stories written to present them. Lots of potentials for movie making. Thanks for stopping by Ripples and hope to hear from you again. 🙂
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I didn’t realize Whit Stillman directed this. A must see, in that case!
Yes Linnet, this is a must-see. Whit Stillman at his best. 🙂
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I see there is a book too! On my list 🙂
I have been holding my interest in reserve for this one waiting to hear whether or not it is any good and now you have me looking forward to it! 🙂
If you have time, Stefanie, reading JA’s epistolary novella first then see the movie will be the best combo since both are entertaining. This is the one of the best case scenarios where the book is good although could be much better presented, and the film shows how it can be done, with more colors, sights and sounds and excellent performance by the actors. Beautiful set and costume too. Very well executed.
Thanks for the tip! I’ve read the book before but it has been a few years so a refresher couldn’t hurt! 🙂
O and that’s not all, Stefanie. After watching the film, go read Whit Stillman’s novel which he wrote based on the movie, Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated. Don’t you just love the title? 😉
I’m always fascinated with the age some writers and performers create such works of art.
Jane Austen was prodigious. Writing Lady Susan before she turned 20 was quite something. The novella is nuanced, sarcastic, humorous, and presents a keen observation of both societal norms, limitations and expectations, but also of human nature, warts and all. It’s a good read on its own; Whit Stillman’s film adaptation taking the liberty to finish it off and elaborating it’s plot and colorful characters making it even more entertaining. You must see it. It was screened in the UK even before it arrived on this side of the Atlantic. Do check it out where you are. Hope it’s still running there.
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