Monday, January 07, 2008

Too Austentacious, Mr. Darcy

It was almost inevitable that the BBC should launch another Jane Austen epic on their public. After all, they must have tons of period costumes and other bric a brac left over from their previous essays into Austenland.
If you happen to be an Austen afficionado this is well and good but for the rest of us it can only be a bit of a beautifully presented bore. Fortunately, the adaptations by Andrew Davies do much to relieve this.
Purist Austenites complain about his tendency toward bodice-ripping but, by gosh, if Jane's works need any enhancing, it's surely in the area of bodice-ripping.
Jane Austen's life was boring and it does tend to be reflected in what I always think of as her one-dimensional outlook on life. The characters move like cardboard cut outs over a pastiche of the period and, although there are flashes of brilliance in the dialogue, they tend to be few and far between. Everything is terribly upper class, as was Jane herself
I suppose I miss the broad characters and humour that Dickens brought to even his most maudlin subjects.
Bleak House, a remarkably successful adaptation, once again by Andrew Davies, was a fine example and to have compressed such an unwieldy novel onto the small screen, was no mean achievement even if inevitably, much had to be discarded.
But it does seem a pity that some of the other authors of the period are neglected.
There were plenty of them such as Charles Kingsley, Daniel Defoe, Emma Orczy, Charlotte Bronte, Henry Fielding, Sir Walter Scott, Elizabeth Gaskell, William Thackeray along with a good many others.
Surely a competent wardrobe department could adapt the costumes from Pride and Prejudice to fit?
Austenmania tends to go in phases, the last outburst was at the end of the 19th. Century followed by a brief Hollywood spasm in the middle of the 20th.
She only wrote six novels, so sooner or later the BBC have got to move on.
But then I suppose there's all the repeats.


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