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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Live-Blogging PBS' "Jane Austen Season" Sense and Sensibility Installment TWO

SO I've been thinking about the idea of the two film versions as "companion" pieces, each picking up on a different aspect of the novel. Ang/Emma's version (S&S95) riffs on Austen's satire of Marianne's out-of-whack romanticism and her infatuation with Willoughby, and also plays up on the differences between the sisters ("I compare my behavior to what it ought have been. I compare it to yours!"). Davies version picks up on the precarious situation of women in the time down to the house perched vulnerably on the edge of cliffs/crashing waves, which is obviously one of Austen's favorite themes, and it's treated particularly strongly in this novel. Even the darker hues and music fit into it...here goes.


9:01 pm-- Why is Gillian "Lily Bart" Anderson talking about Tom LeFroy? What does this fave to do with anything? Enough of this crap, bring on Elinor and Marianne!

9:04--Elinor says there must be "some explanation" for Edward's not visiting. Turns out, she's right, cause she's Elinor and she has so much sense.

9:05--Marianne recites some poem and talks like Cathy in Wuthering Heights. 'He is in me! He is with me all the time...I am Heathcliff!"

9:07--They talk about whether money can buy happiness. Elinor prosaic, Marianne poetic. Edward utterly tortured, dying to speak words unspoken, to utter sentiments un-uttered.

9:09--The famed, oft-discussed Edward WOOD-CHOPPING in the rain scene. Less sexy than sticky. No Darcy in the lake, that's for sure.

9:12--Still, it has affected Elinor; she lies sleepless and troubled.

9:13--BREAK from live-blogging while I devour my Vietnamese noodles and watch the screen uninterrupted.
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9:30--And I'm back. Just in time for the misty-morning DUEL?? Huh? Is this a fantasy scene or what? Oh, I get it. They're dueling over Eliza. That's what they did back then.

9:31--In the interim, there have been some wonderful scenes... but a lot of them are just like S&S 95. Stopcomparingstopcomparing.

9:35--Marianne: "Happy Elinor, you have no idea of what I suffer?"
Um, yes she does you selfish, overly "sensible" girl! She just has the "sense" to hide it.

9:37--Brandon tells Eliza's tale of woe to Elinor. Like I said, the theme of the social situation of women is everywhere--but doesn't the duel undercut it a bit? Precarious women, yeah, but who cares when they could be defended by manly men with their swords?

9:40--Margaret delivers an abridged version of Anne's speech at the end of "Persuasion." "Girls must sit around and wait for things to happen. Men ride about the country!"

9:41--Oh sheeet, Brandon visits Eliza's daughter and her infant. Isn't it kind of f'ed up that he's Eliza's "father" figure and she's the same age as Marianne, whom he wants to bone?

Ouch, he tells her about Willoughby's engagement.

9:43--Fanny Ferrars calls Marianne "damaged goods." John Dashwood says Marianne has "lost her bloom" and urges Elinor to "try for Colonel Brandon." Mrs. Ferrars the elder is reincarnated as Lady Catherine de Bourgh from P&P '95 and gets into a staring contest with Marianne.
In short, they suck.
But this dinner party scene is awesome. Virginia Woolf should write a stream-of-consciousness narration detailing everyone's feelings.

9:46-- Oof, oof, oof, the scenes between Elinor and Miss Steele, and Edward and Elior and Miss Steele, are so painful. And so perfect. The longing in his face, and in Elinor's, is beautifully rendered.

9:51--Anne spills the beans. The defendants stand trial at the course of the elder Mrs. Ferrars. So much glaring!

9:53--I just love this portrayal of Edward.. even more than that of H-h-hugh Grant... his pain is so apparent, and he's seen as so much more an upright man than just a doddering fool.

9:55--Elinor's big scene: "Let me assure you, I have been very unhappy."

9:56--This scene is both derivative of S&S '95 AND P&P '95, what with the silhouettes against the windows. But yes, it's really sad. Poor Elinor. Losing your man to Lucy Steele... it doesn't get worse than this.

9:59--Elinor and Marianne talk about the menz. "Perhaps they see us not as people but as playthings, Elinor," says Marianne.

10:01--Marianne fantasizes in the rain about kissing Willoughby. Brandon comes riding up to her rescue, unlike in the book--it does feel like Ang Lee's version has become dogma, like as Mags said, this film is as much a remake of that one as it is of the book.

10:03--Colonel Brandon holds Marianne's hand. Pedophile alert! Naw, jk, it's mad sexy. He's a sweet, stern not-really-old man.

10:07--Willoughby's "confession." He's just a whiny emo-schoolboy here. No Greg Wise, I repeat. And Elinor gives it to him good--no sign of the pity she feels in the novel.

10:11--Marianne talks about how Colonel Brandon is a true Romantic for keeping faith with Eliza throughout the years. "It is not what we say... but what we do." This explaines the connection between Brandon and Marianne, and why Brandon loves her instead of Elinor, who seems to be a better match.

10:12--OK Davies, why follow up that great speech with comparing women to horses who need to be tamed? Or is Elinor just being deeply ironic?


Another break while I watch the end and savor it.

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10:31--So the ending was wonderful, I even choked up a bit, but I have to wonder why again Elinor started sobbing convulsively just like Emma Thompson did. The book describes it as Elinor " burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease. " Does it follow that they must be hiccoughing tears? Ah, well. Maybe it does! It does feel wonderful to see Elinor release her feelings. It's so cathartic.

But showing the evolution of the Marianne-Brandon relationship and the talk between the sisters on the beach were all well-done.

Companion pieces. I have to see the two films as companion pieces. Must stop comparing!

Well, it's been a wonderful Jane Austen season. See you next time there are six Jane Austen movies in the same year. Probably in 2012 or even sooner, sigh ;)

4 comments:

  1. Excellent by play of an excellent program. Just loved this adaptation.

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  2. OK Davies, why follow up that great speech with comparing women to horses who need to be tamed? Or is Elinor just being deeply ironic?

    Oh, I KNOW! He was doing so well! He totally got why Marianne finally came around on Brandon--that he's as romantic as she is, just has learned to control it. And then with the horse thing--which was REALLY insulting, ironic or no--and the hawk thing--meaning he's going to keep her tamed and on a leash? She'll come back as long as he dangles raw meat? WTFerrars? I think the metaphor he was going for there was "Brandon taming Wild Marianne" but hello, SHE TAMED HERSELF. She learned to control her emotions, because her previous behavior had not served her well. Had to go through a life-threatening illness to do it, too. It's not like Jane made it easy on the poor girl. Give her some credit. She didn't need the maaaaaaaaaan to "tame" her.

    I like the Brandon-carrying-Marianne-through-the-rain in both films, and I even forgive the copying here, as from a visual standpoint it bookends nicely with Willoughby carrying her the first time, and telegraphs to the viewer that Marianne's feelings will change. Though one feels a bit like Mr. Bennet: "The last time a man carried her through the rain she fell in love with him and he was a jerk! I won't be so taken in again!" ;-)

    Verification word: lelwl. Is that like some new LiveJournal version of lol?

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  3. I was, once again, ready to be underwhelmed by this redo, and ended up getting all teary at the end as usual. Davies is heavy-handed as ever with the symbolism, but it's kind of adorable at this point.

    So after a whole season of Jane, I have been given a delicious Mr. Tilney AND a delectable Edward Ferrars. Not bad. Not bad at all.

    Neither of them quite compares to my favorite Edward, the brooding emo king of Thornfield, but then who does?

    That's a different Jane, for a different time. :)

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  4. Anonymous11:38 PM

    Davies FAIL. good thing little dorrit is better.

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