Sunday, November 13, 2005

Jane and the Trouble with Movie Adaptations

Mensa Barbie and Frederica Mathews-Green both approve of the new Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice, as do some die hard romantics of my aquaintance. I am apprehensive however and wonder if it can possibly measure up to the fabulous version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. For one thing I am a purist, no snogging on the Peaks. Adaptations must not violate the spirit of the book. Even if Lizzie so forgot her head as to liplock, Darcy was much too mindful of propriety. We can forgive Emma Thompson playing an 18 year old in Sense and Sensibility because she never lost the flavor of the character. Marianne and Lydia would smooch, Elanor and Lizzie would not.

Second, so much happens in Pride and Prejudice that I wonder what they cut. The elements traditionally cut, secondary characters and the like are essential to the main romance. Lydia and Wickham must elope, Mr. Collins and Charlotte must marry, Mr. and Mrs Gardiner must visit and Jane and Bingley must dance at Netherfield. To eliminate any of these elements will result in a failure to engineer the circumstances of Lizzie and Darcy's courtship - hence the shortcut of Derbyshire necking. The Ehle - Firth miniseries was the first time the story was captured with a minimal edit of the original.

Why can we not let Pride and Prejudice have a rest? Yes, it is Jane Austen's most famous work but gadzooks she has more to offer. How I long for a quality production of Northhanger Abbey! Miss Austen's sly parody of gothic novels is ripe for adaptation, perhaps as a sly parody of horror movies and the Country House murder mystery.

No comments: