"And to this purpose"

"If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it." (In other words: rambling analyses, opinions, ideas, views, and comments from an English major, Essay/paper-writing enthusiastic, Austen-loving Master Librarian on, well, Jane Austen...and a whole lot of other things, too.)

"Celebrated Passages are Quoted"

Heidi's favorite quotes

"What is it really like to be engaged?" asked Anne curiously. "Well, that all depends on who you're engaged to," answered Diana, with that maddening air of superior wisdom always assumed by those who are engaged over those who are not."— L.M. Montgomery

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My P&P Movie Book Club Answers

1. For many people, P&P is their favorite Austen novel/movie. Why do you think that’s true? Is that true for you? Why after 200 years, is this story still so popular? Did you like seeing “updated” versions (ie: P&P: A Latter-day Comedy, Bride & Prejudice)?

I think it’s a favorite because it’s one that is most relatable—misunderstanding and misjudging people. Getting second chances. Being around silly people. A lot.

It isn’t my favorite book, but we are quite close because it was my first Austen. I do wonder if I would have continued on reading Austen if I had encountered a different novel for my first one.

I think the story is still so popular for the same reason it is a favorite for people—people can relate to it.

I love seeing modern adaptations (no matter how odd or annoying) because I love how universal some of the themes are in the book, and I like seeing the cleverness of others.

2. The 2003 movie version is set in a modern LDS society. Discuss the parallels between LDS culture and the P&P 1813 English culture.

Ha ha! What a question! Well, there’s the whole importance of marriage,. And being chaste before marriage and faithful after it. Large families were not as rare. The desperation of some women (and men!) to get married!

3. In the book, Jane is described as being the most beautiful of the Bennet sisters. Did the movie versions you watched stay true to that description? How important is it to you that Charlotte Lucas’ character be “plain-looking”? Was she “plain” in the movie versions you watched?

She’s fine in the spin-off version (LDS and Bride). I think she very well fits in the ’05 version. I think she’s beautiful! In the ’95, I think she could have been, but they put her in the most unflattering dresses and hairstyles—she looked sickly an awkward. Not my image of Jane. I like the one in the 80s version. Not quite what I’d had in mind, but still quite lovely. And she has dark curly hair—YAY1 I can’t remember what she looks like in the Greer Garson version.

I actually hate the whole “plain-looking” part because it makes mankind seem so shallow then. But we still see it today, and often too often. So then it just hurts. But I guess it could be important to show how different she is from the Bennet girls, and how she knows she won’t have many chances at marriage. I think they did a good job in the movies at making her plain (except LDS—Carmen Rasmussen?!), either in looks, or in a gentle, quieter personality that some would think plain compared to a vivacious Bennet with obvious beauty. I think the ’05 and ’95 did very well in their versions of Charlotte.

4. Discuss and compare the portrayals of Mr. Bingley and Caroline Bingley.

Mr. Bingley in all versions (except Bride) make him seem so goofy, clueless, silly, and a bit dumb. I never thought he was like that. I’d have to admit that I much more preferred the one in Bride. Not bad looking either. OK. So I thought the one in ’05 was cute, too, and loved that the actor and actress really did date, but he was just so...airheady! I think the one in the 80s version was all right. Can’t remember the Greer Garson version. (I was in the same singles ward as the LDS Bingley!)

Caroline is always interesting to see how she is portrayed. I liked that in Bride she was slightly more likeable—more real to what I might find in my life. The other Carolines are just over the top and I can’t remember meeting any girl who was that coveting and devious toward me concerning a mutual interest. The Caroline in ’05 seems more of a snob than anything, and I was disappointed that they took away her sister aspect. The ’95 was an excellent example of nouveaux riches and he sneer is classic. But I believe the one I most want to slap is the LDS one.

5. What were your thoughts of the 1940 version (starring Lawrence Olivier)? It gets very mixed reviews.

Well, I love Greer. Always will. She could have been a much better Elizabeth if they’d given her room. And I think Olivier could have been a better Darcy with better material. But re-writing the story in such a way!?!?! Absolutely not!!!! The Lady Catherine opposition is key. You can’t take that away! And what’s with the whole Civil War setting?

6. Most Austen fans adamantly feel that Colin Firth’s 1995 portrayal as Mr. Darcy is the best. Do you? Why or why not? Is he a difficult character to portray? Why? Do you think that the length of the 1995 version (5 hours) has anything to do with that assessment?

In many ways, yes. But I do very much enjoy some thinks that Matthew Macfayden did with him. I saw more of a struggle in him,. And he didn’t need to dive into a pond before I started to like him. It was not until I read an interview of Colin Firth about playing Darcy that I began to understand what he was doing at certain parts of the movie.

I think he can be difficult to portray, because there is so much he has to incorporate, and he’s given so little to do it in. Plus he has to act in a way that you see him as Elizabeth—so you dislike him to begin with and later come to love him. It’s nice to have the 5 hours to watch all that needs to be seen to give you a fuller view of Darcy. But Macfayden did well for a 2-hour version. And, well, I just fall in love with Orlando Seale’s curls! And profession. And accent. And....

7. Is Mrs. Bennet more or less likable onscreen compared to in the book? Which way do you like her most?

I think it depends on the movie version. She is ever so obnoxious in the ’95 version--which I did not get from the book, but still got some great laughs at. Even worse in the Greer Garson version. More endurable in the 80s version. Much more understandable in Bride and ’05. In fact, I love her in Bride because you can see how Mr. Bennet did come to marry her, and that she truly loves all her daughters and does want the very best for them and the family. Some silliness, yes, but not too much. That is the problem with the ’95 version—it takes each character’s flaw(s) and over-magnifies them WAY too much.

8. In your opinion, which movie version is most like the book? Which individual actors best fit their character in age, appearance and disposition? Are there any other additional actors whom you would like to see play those parts? Should only British actors be “allowed” to play Austen characters?

As far as what happens in the book and such, that would be the ’95 version. I know because one assignment in my Austen class was to watch it while following along in the book. (Only time I did not thoroughly enjoy watching the movie.) As far as character portrayals, see previous answer. I think Lizzie is the best in ’95. The worst in ’05. Mr. Bennet in 80s version is most like the one in the book. Many of the characters in the ’05 version were more like how I’d imagined them—in age, disposition, and appearance. They seemed too old in the ’95 version. 80s version was pretty close, too. Greer Garson version was so off.

9. Would Mary have married Mr. Collins had he thought to ask her? Would they make a better match? Think of the different ways that the movies portrayed Mr. Collins shifting his affections from Jane to Lizzie; which one did the best job?

I’ve answered this before with the book questions. I like the LDS version putting the two together. But I still don’t know if he would have thought to ask her. Or if Mary was that interested in marriage. She didn’t seem disappointed that it never came her away. Too wrapped up in her own exhibitions. But then, we don’t really get her side.

I think the ’95 transfer of affections is the funniest. The 80s version most repulsing (as far as him actually transferring and now being interested. I just pity her so much). I think the ’05 version portrayed it best.

10. Discuss the title(s). Who in the story embodies pride and/or prejudice? Which movie is the best at showing these qualities in the characters? Discuss the original title First Impressions and the importance of them in the story.

For most of this answer, I would say see my answers to the book questions. As for the movie portion, I think actually the LDS version shows the best in hurt pride and developed prejudice that is held on to. But ’95 of course is very good, and closer to the book. 80s version did well, too.

11. Which movie version is your favorite? Which version was the first one you ever saw? After watching more than one version, did that opinion change?

I love 3 of them for differing reasons. But overall, I guess I’d have to say the ’95 version.

The first I saw was the 80s version, and I loved it and was loyal to it...because I didn’t know anything else existed! The ’95 had been out for over a year, but I hadn’t been introduced to any post 1990 British period dramas, yet. (So glad I have been now!) I can still remember seeing it. The first time (though now common for me) I ever watched a movie in the kitchen while I cooked.

I was still hesistant about the ’95 version because I did not like Darcy when I first saw it. But then, I saw the first 3 tapes, and was not able to finish watching it until almost an entire year later. So once I saw it all the way through, of course I loved it! I laugh to watch the 80s version and remember how much I had loved it and thought it the best thing ever.

Too much history and connection with the LDS version to not love it. And I was shocked to find myself love the ’05 version as much as I do. If only we could add the music and scenery of ’05 to the ’95. And some of the costumes, too. And, sorry to the loyal ones, but I think Matthew Macfayden is better looking than Colin. He’s more along my kind of looks. Actually, Orlando Seale is. :-)


Sara Lyn said...

Wow, I'd have to say I mostly agree with you in almost everything. Especially with not thinking Colin Firth is the be-all, end-all to Darcy. Oh, brother. I think he did a good job, but I enjoyed other portrayals just as much or better. And the whole lake scene? Give me a break. Nuf said. So enjoyable to hear your opinions on these things. I'm dying to go back and rewatch all versions now. :)

Que and Brittany are Adopting! said...

Sorry about the repeats on some of the questions. Some of my book club members really wanted to discuss that stuff and they couldn't come to the book meeting.