The Jane Austen Centre Online Magazine

I’m excited to see my three posts on PBS’s Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV, Parts 1 to 3) have been selected for publication in the March issue of  The Jane Austen Centre Online Magazine

The posts have been combined into a single article. Magazine editor Laura Boyle has given it a new name “Pride and Prejudice Revisited”.  If you go to the Magazine’s home page, it can be found under the category of Jane Austen’s Work: Jane Austen’s Books and Characters .  You can also click here to go directly to my article.

While you’re there, browse through the many interesting and informative articles on topics relating to Jane and the Regency world, including fashion, recipes, histories, Jane’s work, media reviews, biographies, hands-on crafts and projects, and a short story mystery featuring Northanger Abbey characters entitled ‘There Must Be Murder’.

The Jane Austen Centre

I visited the Jane Austen Centre in Bath last December.  It’s located a few doors from Jane’s second residence in that Georgian City at 40 Gay Street.  The Centre houses a permanent exhibition, a gift shop, tea rooms, and sponsors walking tours and an annual Jane Austen Festival.  

For pictures of my Bath visit, here are my posts Jane Austen’s Bath and Bath in December.

Jane Making The List of Best Movies Ever Made

With January to April being Jane Austen Season on PBS where The Complete Jane Austen is being aired on Masterpiece, it’s just refreshing to know that three Austen movies made it to the list of 1,000 Best Movies mentioned in my last post. I’m sure Janeites do not need anybody’s approval, but it’s good to have it just the same.

Again, here’s the link to New York Times’ The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. It should be noted that the list is based on the second edition of the book The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made which was published in 2004. The New York Times on-line edition still have the icon and link for readers to click even as recent as March 3, 2008, apparently they have not updated the list since the publication of the book.

The following are the three Jane Austen movie adaptations that made the list.

Persuasion (1995)Persuasion (1995) with Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth. Here’s a little excerpt from the NY Times:

Of course, Austen’s protagonists are never dumb, but Anne, being somewhat older, is also a good deal wiser, and the characters around her accordingly take on greater dimension and subtlety. Naturally, this being an Austen story, all ends well, but the path is somewhat less straightforward than in other films adapted from her work.

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Pride and Prejudice 1940

Pride and Prejudice (1940) with Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. The New York Times had this tidbit about the classic adaptation:

Though Austen’s novel was set in 1813, the year of its publication, the film version takes place in 1835, reportedly so as to take advantage of the more attractive costume designs of that period.

*****

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Sense and Sensibility (1995) with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. New York Times critic Janet Maslin summed it up:

We need no further proof that this material is ageless.

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It’s interesting to note that a modern version of Emma also gets a nod from the critics. Thus begins the review of Clueless (1995) on the NY Times:

“Jane Austen might never have imagined that her 1816 novel Emma could be turned into a fresh and satirical look at ultra-rich teenagers in a Beverly Hills high school.”

              Clueless (1995)

Jane Austen’s novels are indeed timeless.

Pride and Prejudice (Part 3): Ideals Universally Acknowledged

I have watched this miniseries countless times, but I still wanted to see it again last Sunday night, the finale of Pride and Prejudice (1995) on PBS’s Masterpiece. I knew I was partaking in a communal experience shared by kindred spirits across North America. Every time I watch it, I glean some new insights, and I cherish the story all over again.

This time, I look into the characters convinced that Jane Austen has depicted the ideal woman and the ideal man in Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Ideal, not perfect. While they have virtues of their own, they have character flaws that if remain unchecked and unaltered, could well lead to a downfall like a tragic hero. Elizabeth, biased by her confidence in her own judgment, initially found Darcy to be utterly despicable. And Darcy, acting according to his own hubris, only fuels the very prejudice held by the one he admires. In circumstances like this, the ideal scenario is for the characters to change, to transform themselves into a better person in order to earn requited love. And that is exactly what Austen has done, and I think it is one of the main reasons why we love her story. She has put together two flawed characters and placed them in an ideal scenario wherein they strive to improve themselves, and turned into a better person for the sake of the other…Well, maybe more on the part of Darcy, and we love him for that. I like the title Pride and Prejudice more than Jane’s original First Impressions. It gives a bit more depth and sets readers out searching for the universal shortfall in us all. Often our own prejudgment and overconfidence in our myopic view confine us squarely inside the box, unable to see the world beyond.

The portrayal of such transformation is vividly and sensitively acted in the miniseries. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle effectively help us envision such an ideal scenario, satisfying our quest for the good, the wholesome, universal ideal of love hidden in us all. Kudos to Andrew Davis. I think he has written an ideal screen adaptation of Austen’s novel. Because of its loyalty to the original and still keeping the integrity of the work even when Davis presents to us imagined visions arise from his own interpretation, I believe this miniseries is the definitive version of Pride and Prejudice on screen.

Again, I have several favorite scenes. Which heart will not melt by that burning gaze of Darcy ardently holding Elizabeth as she rescues his disturbed sister in Pemberley upon the malicious mention of the name Wickham by Ms. Bingley? (BTW, this is Andrew Davis’ favorite scene in all of his Austen adaptations!) Who will not rejoice in Elizabeth’s assertive and eloquent rebuttal against the diatribe of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and her calm refusal to promise never to enter into any engagement with Darcy? Whose heart will not stir as a restrained yet passionate Darcy extends his second marriage proposal to Elizabeth?

Elizabeth has demonstrated time and again that she has the autonomy to make her own choices, yet Austen has also poignantly shown us that while Elizabeth can choose who to love, she cannot force the other to choose her, especially after her family’s reputation has been ruined by Lydia’s elopement. Darcy learns this lesson much earlier, in a most traumatic and humiliating manner, as he realizes that wealth and social standing, or even his own declaration of love cannot force another person to accept him. Here lies the paradox of love, one can choose who to love but cannot demand requited love. Choosing one’s love manifests the autonomy of self, but having to earn and wait for the other to choose you is a most humbling discipline. Maybe the ideal thing to do in such a circumstance is just to become a lovable person. That could well create the best chance of gaining love.

In the end, it is heart-warming to see both Darcy and Elizabeth, even having decided on each other, yet still quietly pines and waits for the other to declare his/her choice. A sense of uncertainty is what keeps us humble and instills in us the virtue of hope.

“It taught me to hope as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before.”

Knowing our innermost yearning, Jane Austen brings her characters together in the most humbling circumstance, with their mutual admission of wrongs and weaknesses while esteeming the other higher than him/herself, fulfilling the ideal state of love.

“Do not repeat what I said then…I have long been most heartily ashamed of it.”

“As a child… I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit… and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth!”

Through such mutual respect and admiration, our beloved author delivers the ideal ending to the love story of two imperfect persons…and sets us up for another round of watching and reading.

The Ideal Ending

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Click to go back to Pride and Prejudice Part 1 and Part 2.

If you have enjoyed reading this article, you might like to click on “Jane Austen” in the category cloud on the side bar for more Austen articles here in Arti’s Ripple Effects.

Several of Arti’s articles have also been published in the Jane Austen Centre Online Magazine.  To read more about Jane and the Regency Period, just click on the link highlighted.

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Pride and Prejudice (Part 2): My Favorite Scenes

Unexpected encounter with Mr. Darcy

The second installment of Pride and Prejudice aired on PBS carries some of my favorite scenes in the whole miniseries. The ‘wet shirt’ episode, the favorite of many, is naturally one of them. Thousands have already talked about it, but allow me to add one small voice here. I find the surprise and embarrassing encounter of Elizabeth with the dripping wet Darcy to be an ingenious creation by Andrew Davies, an imaginary addition easily forgiven by many Jane Austen purists, I suppose. My reason for adoring this scene can be summed up in one word: vulnerability.

Both are caught unprepared and their vulnerability makes them equal. The inhibition of Elizabeth’s fondness of the place and her bewilderment of Darcy’s character based on the housekeeper’s compliments are well matched by Darcy’s eagerness to make a good impression but alas, while being caught in the most uncouth manner. Both clumsily and comically try to regain composure and maintain some form of civility. In the spontaneity of the moment, pride is laid aside and prejudice banished. And Darcy, stripped of his usual formal attire, presents his dripping and humble self in the most unguarded manner. Colin Firth has so vividly shown us that genuine and dishevelled appearances can be utterly appealing.

Another favorite scene of mine comes shortly after this chance encounter. As Elizabeth is driven away in the open carriage, she looks back at Darcy in a distance, wearing the fulfilled and satisfied smile on her face, while the camera, from her point of view, captures the handsomely poised Darcy seeing her off, his tall and slender physique growing smaller and smaller in the distance as the carriage is being pulled slowly away…how much tenderness can a camera shot elicit?

But before this beautiful departure at Pemberley, there is the duel of words. The scene I like most in this Part 2 of Pride and Prejudice is probably the first marriage proposal in Hunsford parsonage. Darcy’s words have but achieved one function: confirming every single prejudice Elizabeth might have held towards him. Through Elizabeth, Jane Austen has eloquently delivered her social commentary on the female predicament of her time. While love can be the most attractive reason for marriage for idealistic Lizzy, her better, rational self challenges the form, the motive, and the consequence of love. Would she be satisfied with the kind of love that is condescending, unequally bestowed, that is based on feelings ‘despite of’ and not admiration ‘because of’? Austen has articulated her critique on marrying for financial gains, even for the common good of securing the future of one’s whole family. A condescending relationship, despite the appearance of fondness and love, does not warrant the sacrifice of one’s dignity and value. Elizabeth has demonstrated clearly she has a choice, and she exercises her freedom to reject despite of the lure of wealth, status, and security. Just this scene is reason enough for me to admire Jane Austen.

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Click here to go directly to The Finale, Pride and Prejudice Part 3.

Click here to go back to Part 1.

Arti’s three posts on Pride and Prejudice (1995) have been combined into one article and published on the Jane Austen Centre Online Magazine.  To read that and other interesting articles about Jane and the Regency Period, click here.

Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV)

Colin Firth and Jennifer EhleIs it coincidental that PBS has chosen, of all the six Jane Austen adaptations, to air Pride and Prejudice the Sunday before Valentine’s Day? I think they must have strategically placed it there, knowing that this novel is one of the most-loved books in literature, as the results in recent polls have shown. They must have known that Pride and Prejudice is ranked the third most reread books in Britain, and first in a poll on books that people in the British nation can’t live without.

Other surveys reveal similar results. In a 2003 BBC poll, Pride and Prejudice ranked second as UK’s favorite book. In 2007, it ranked first.

Only in Britain, you might say…but it seems like this is a phenomenon across countries.

In Australia, Austenmania and Janespotting are the common terms to describe this unprecedented occurrence since the mid 1990’s. The Pride and Prejudice miniseries (1995) broke TV ratings, books and sales records.

Jane Austen takes an international stance as it goes multicultural. In Bride and Prejudice (2004), the best-loved Austen novel received a dashing Bollywood makeover. Which country doesn’t have its own class system and prejudice? The movie has also put Aishwarya Rai (with Colin Firth in The Last Legion, 2007) on the world map.

Most recently, Venezuelan director Fina Torres is getting ready to film Sense and Sensibilidad, with screenplay by Mexican Luis Alfaro. Locations of filming will be in Mexico and East L.A., and to be released at the end of 2008. If Jane is around she would be much gratified and amused to see her books gaining such a multi-cultural following.

Just last Friday, the February 8th issue of the Taiwan-based (North American East Edition) Chinese Newspaper World Journal has a full-page coverage on Jane Austen and her many movie and television adaptations.

In the cyberworld, as recent as this past week, Project Gutenberg ranks Jane Austen as the third most downloaded author in the past 30 days after Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, while Pride and Prejudice is the most downloaded Austen books.

But of course, statistics are irrelevant when it comes to matter of the heart.

We who love Austen’s works and in particular, for me, Pride and Prejudice, will continue to reread the book and rewatch this TV miniseries regardless of what the polls show. Different people might find different reasons for its appeal. But I, for one, feel that Austen has created through Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy the ideal (note: not perfect) woman and the ideal man. I see in them the essential ingredients of relationships, with oneself, and with others: respect, compassion, kindness, generosity, hope, and grace, but above all, the willingness to change and be transformed for the better. I’m much grounded to expect perfection in the human world, but through Austen’s depiction I can cherish and admire the ideal.

With Valentine’s Day drawing near, and with our world unfolding as it is, cherishing the ideal could well be the key to help us build a more beautiful tomorrow.

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Click here to go directly to Pride and Prejudice: Part 2.

Click here to go to Part 3, The Finale of Pride and Prejudice (1995 TV).

Lacock Village: Popular Film Location

From Bath, I took a 4-hour afternoon excursion out to the Stonehenge and Lacock Village on a Mad Max Tour. Stonehenge, I’ve always wanted to see, but Lacock is a serendipity. I joined a small group of 9 other visitors in a mini-bus parked across the Bath Abbey. As soon as he stepped into the bus, our guide and driver Charles clarified that he wasn’t Mad Max. The Bath family-run tour company was named after owner Maddy and her dog Max. On top of this piece of crucial local tidbit, Charles was most helpful in furnishing us with all sorts of information we ever wanted to know and ask about the Cotswold area and our destinations.

I’m debating whether I should post pictures up here because any picture of the Stonehenge would seem like a visual cliche, for it’s probably one of the most recognizable stone arrangements in the world. However, mine are different, I thought, not for artistic value, but mainly because they are taken by me personally, and not from any postcards, or downloads from the Internet. So here they are, Arti’s contribution to the photo world, two more pictures of the Stonehenge.

the-stonehenge.jpg

the-stonehenge-1.jpg

The ride out to the Stonehenge from Bath was about 60 minutes. The day was December 2, 2007. It was very, very windy and cold that day out in the open field where the Stonehenge was situated. Fortunately the rain let up a bit as we stepped out the mini-bus, giving me the chance to walk around the mysterious arrangements, in time to take about 20 pictures as I circumvented the site a couple of times. The audio guide was most helpful, but as I was confronted by the very sight, the sound seemed to fade into the background. I was busy taking my pictures, fighting against the fierce gale and the imminent threat of pouring rain. The what, the how, and the why of the Stonehenge remain a mystery to this day.

After an hour’s stay at the site, we hopped back onto the bus for our next destination: Lacock Village. Before the tour, I had not heard of this place. It was a serendipitous find…and a pleasant surprise indeed.

From Charles, we learned that Lacock, a National Trust medieval village preserved for its historical elements, is a popular spot for film productions. But before I give away all the films that has been made here, and actually, only a particualr one that I was most interested in, first here are a few shots of the Village. As we arrived, it was around 4 pm, but dusk had already set in. In the rain and cold wind, I was only able to take a few shots as I grabbed my umbrella under my arm. Looking at them now, they correspond closely to the time of day where the actual scene appears in the film. To enhance their visibility, I’ve lightened them a bit here.

Recognize these buildings? Imagine there were no cars and the road was not paved…

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lacock-meryton-night-of-the-ball.jpg

the-red-lion-meryton-ball.jpg

Yes, they were shots of Meryton in the BBC (1995) made for TV miniseries Pride And Prejudice…the ‘wet shirt’ version with Colin Firth, as Charles expertly informed us. Yes I know the version, I told him, my favorite. The Red Lion in the third picture was used as the exterior shot of the assembly room where the Meryton Ball took place in the beginning of the movie. That was when Darcy, Bingley, his sisters and Mr. Hurst got off the carriage to attend the country Ball in the evening, eyeing haughtily at their surroundings (except Bingley of course).

Other than Pride And Prejudice, Lacock was also the film location for Emma (BBC 1996), the Harry Potter movies, and most recently the new Harry Potter production (2008 ) by Warner Bros. on another street. But the Village of Lacock probably won’t be easily recogized in that movie because the facade of the buildings there had been changed for the filming. The 1995 BBC Pride And Prejudice production used the authentic buildings as they appear in the above photos. I recognized them as soon as I turned into the street that late afternoon,…adding a serendipitous Austen touch to my Mad Max excursion.

The photos you see in this post are taken by Arti of www.rippleeffects.wordpress.com. December, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

If you see them and/or any parts of the texts in a site other than Ripple Effects, then you know they have been copied without permission. I thank my readers for alerting me in the past, and I continue to appreciate their watchful eyes in the future.

Pride and Prejudice on my BlackBerry

For a more updated post on eReading, CLICK HERE to go to “The Great Gatsby On My iPhone”.

 

pride and prejudice book cover

How do you keep in touch with the Classics in this techno-postmodern age?  Just like you can listen to Bach’s Goldberg Variations on your iPod, you can also read up on the Bennet vs. Darcy saga on your BlackBerry.  That’s what I’ve been doing this past month.  Everyday, I receive through my email in serial, one of the total 149 parts of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice sent to me by Daily Lit, an on-line elibrary… So, wherever I may be, whenever I can grab a moment, I’m accessible to news from Longbourn and Pemberley just by pressing a couple of buttons on my cellphone…oh the conveniences of modern technology, making time-travel easy.

But of course, if you’re reading the book the first couple of times, I don’t recommend you do it this way.  Nothing can replace holding a real book in your hands, lying in the couch or in bed, turning the actual pages of an Austen classic as you savor every word Elizabeth has to say in response to Darcy’s marriage proposal.  But if it’s your fourth or fifth reading, there’s no harm getting it electronically just to touch base.  It’s pure convenience…no books to carry with me; actually, I’ve more than one book sent to me this way.  Daily Lit carries most of the well known classics, including works by Austen, Balzac, Conrad, Dostoyevsky, Eliot, Flaubert,…oh, you name it.

Exciting?  Just imagine reading a section of Moby Dick while waiting for your favorite sushi in a restaurant.  Or, catching up on War and Peace during half-time between the Oilers and the Flames (I’m writing from Alberta after all).  Or how about Taming of the Shrew while anticipating the bride to walk down the aisle in a wedding?  Wouldn’t it be a great use of your idling time in the frenzy of urban living?

…Oh yes, the other book I’m reading on my BlackBerry?  … The First Book of the Bible, Genesis.

 

CLICK HERE to go to my three-part review of Pride and Prejudice (1995, BBC Production).