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24 March 2007

Verbing Jane: a rant.

(if you can have spoilers for a biopic, then there are probably some below)

So last night I went to see the new film about Jane Austen. It's either called Being Jane or Becoming Jane or possibly Boring Jane, I can't remember which (let's just call it VERBing Jane).

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen was a genius. One of the many things that made her a genius, was her ability to weave every single aspect of a story together so closely, that every thread affects every other one (this is why Austen films often fall a little short of the mark - because it's harder to cut stuff out to get it down to 2 hours). VERBing Jane was more a loose tangle of threads. What purpose did the deaf brother play? (yeah, I know she HAD a deaf brother, but she also had three other brothers that weren't in the movie.)

(whoever wrote this film was not a genius. not by a long shot.)

Did I fall asleep and not notice, but what made Lefroy turn from being a boxing, drinking, whoring lout into a Sensitive New Age Guy? I was truly shocked when Mr Insulting and Falling Asleep When Jane Reads Her Work suddenly pushed poor Jane into a bush and declared "I am yours". (and don't tell me it was 'love', because i didn't see him fall in love with her. Sometimes, baby, love just ain't enough.)

And was it just me, or did the film seem to be saying she only wrote P&P? Where were the rest of 'em? I know P&P is the most famous, but all the little nudge-nudge-wink-wink references to it in the film were really grating. Particularly since I couldn't see any similarities between Lefroy and Darcy (apart from the fact that Jane didn't like him very much at first). If he's like any Austen character, it would be Mr Crawford from Mansfield Park. Or even Mr Wickham (the flirting and then the sudden engagement to someone else and then leaving that person to elope?). He showed none of the nobility and responsibility that Darcy had.

Jane Austen had a boring life. She had one marriage proposal which she accepted then refused the next day (I wonder why they changed his name from to Bigg-Wither to Wisley?). She also had a brief 'mutual flirtation' with a young man called Lefroy, which didn't go anywhere.

The thing that makes Jane Austen astonishing and wonderful is her writing. To make a film about her rather uneventful life just feels like a mockery. To frame her life as somehow tragic because she didn't get her man is even more so.

If you want Austen, read Austen. Or watch any of the wonderful screen adaptations.

4 comments:

missv said...

I was thinking I'd probably steer clear of that film, now I'll definitely will. I don't see Anne Hathaway as being a convincing Jane Austen either.

Jellyfish said...

And you even managed to refrain from sticking the boots in to Hathaway, Lili. How restrained of you.

I agree with missv - I was already thinking I'd avoid it, and now I definitely will. Stupid film people.

audrey said...

I also dislike Hathaway. Used to like her, but now she's dead to me.

I'll stay away too. It annoys me when they make movies about women's lives and feel they have to write in a love story. They don't feel that with men's lives, no. Their lives are 'interesting' and 'manly'.

Jerks.

Also, Keira Knightly's Elizabeth Bennett is a bag of dicks as is that ridiculous farce of an adaptation.

TimT said...

Ah, but how the Jane Austen adaptations have changed. Back in the 1980s it used to be only the BBC who would do it, and it would be all about ladies wearing brown muslin gowns and drinking cups of tea. When they finished drinking the cups of tea, the half-hour would be over. In the 90s, all of a sudden it was about heaving tits and bare male bums (as well as the occasional cup of tea) all played out, somewhat inexplicably, to bouncy neo-classical music.