Thursday, April 13, 2006

Movies, books, and music...

On second thought, how about just Movies. There's simply too much to discuss. Remind me later that I promised a books post and a music post.

So I've been having a proxy argument through my boss with my boss's wife. She recently became addicted--seriously--to Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightlely and Judy Dench. And some other people.

When my boss first told me how much she liked this movie, I recommended the BBC miniseries (somewhere between 5 and 6 hours of Jane Austen Heaven!) starring Colin Firth. Need I say more?

They watched it and she pronounced it a "sucky" movie. Bah. Clearly she misunderstands Austen.

So, aside from the perfection of Colin Firth, what didn't I like about the "new" P&P? Oh, I'll tell you.

First *Everything* was much too shabby. Excepting Judy Dench. Mr. Darcy would never be caught with stubble, especially at church! Come on. Elizabeth's hair was... oh, just deplorable! Ugh. The Bennet girls are supposed to be quite beautiful, and yet they all dressed like scullery maids. Mr. Bennet looked like some kind of back-woods creep. Seriously, I'm sure it had something to do with the casting... but razors are not a new invention!

Okay. So, done with the shabby. How about we examine Mr. Darcy more carefully. He simply went too quickly from pronouncing Elizabeth barely tolerable to asking her to dance, which is a thing we know he detests. A few hours! I know, there was so little time to cover everything as it should be covered, but really, this is important. Darcy's admiration of Elizabeth is slow-blooming. Additionally, you may recall, Darcy on first glance was quickly considered more handsome and well-groomed than Bingley (who was also disappointing, but we don't care quite so much about him), and could have been the favorite if it weren't for his manners. In this movie, he dresses like a vicar...his cravat is not impressive, all black is rather severe... his hair... well, I digress. Shabby. Anyway, rather than simply behaving like he's better than everyone, this Darcy appeared not bored, but angry and depressed. Like, who died, Mr. Darcy? Also, he became much too cheerful much too quickly. I felt he began to make it quite obvious to Elizabeth that he admired her from that first time they danced... which, of course, should not have preceded Jane's illness at Netherfield. Anyway... all too fast, all not quite in character. He was too proud to appear so eager so soon.

I was also disappointed in the handling of the Wickham/Lydia affair. In the BBC version, when you all of a sudden see Darcy stand up at the wedding... knowing he forced it and financed it... your heart just melts! Oh, Darcy, what a hero! You have saved the family from utter ruin, and for so undeserving a couple, and a man who injured you most heinously. In this one, you hear about it from Lydia, but it has no where near the power. On the other hand, who needs that power... things are so far progressed by this point in the movie, it makes no sense that Elizabeth turned him down in the first place... or little sense, anyway. Additionally, I don't think the impression of how terrible this would be for the family was well conveyed. Yes, Elizabeth threw her fit (which seemed a little over the top), but it didn't really make it clear how real and serious the issue was.

Mr. Collins wasn't nearly as awful... and Mr. Collins must be awful.

What did I like? I really thought some of the cinematography was great... there were simply some beautiful scenes. The bit at the assembly when Darcy and Elizabeth are dancing and all of a sudden it's only the two of them, that's great! The morning fog scene, just before and when Darcy renews his offer. beautiful. There are others as well. If it weren't for the shabbiness, I would have to say that the production was better, if only slightly.

I thought the casting of Wickham was better. This guy never came across as creepy, which I think is important in making his past believable (that he hoodwinked the late Mr. Darcy and Miss Darcy too). I could see how Lydia (and Elizabeth) could go for this guy. Oh! But paying for fripperies? Highly improper! Elizabeth would have been shocked.

Judy Dench was just fabulous. Nothing better. She far surpasses the casting in the BBC version. I also liked that her visit to Eliza Bennet occurred at night...unbelievable, but very striking.

No other casting struck me as improved, and Bingley, Darcy, and Mr. Bennet were decidedly worse.

As for the final scene, I liked it. Even though it's a bit of license, I like it indeed.

So, there you go. Now that that's out of the way.

If you like Pride and Prejudice, you will certainly LOVE the BBC version. If you are eternally attached to the new one, look at the BBC version as an expansion, it's very close to the book. Other P&P treatments: Bride and Prejudice, the delightful Bollywood musical, which Sayid from Lost playing the Bingley role. :) And Bridget Jones's Diary (the book is wonderful, and the movie very good too).

That's enough from me for now. I really should get some work done. Next time, I'll discuss another movie I finally saw.

Catch ya' later!