Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chapter Thirteen, Part 2

Originally published 4/9/2006.

Continued from last time.

"At four o'clock, therefore, we may expect this peace-making gentleman," said Mr. Bennet, as he folded up the letter. "He seems to be a most conscientious and polite young man, upon my word, and I doubt not will prove a valuable acquaintance, especially if Lady Catherine should be so indulgent as to let him come to us again."

I think I detect an enormous amount of sarcasm here. As Lizzy points out, the absurdity of much of this letter makes Mr. Bennet hope that he will get some amusement out of observing the silliness of Mr. Collins.

"There is some sense in what he says about the girls, however, and if he is disposed to make them any amends, I shall not be the person to discourage him."

Mrs. Bennet here. In fact, this is precisely the point about the letter which does not contain any sense, again, as Lizzy points out.

"Though it is difficult," said Jane, "to guess in what way he can mean to make us the atonement he thinks our due, the wish is certainly to his credit."

It's the thought that counts, right? Well, that is truth, but it only goes so far. One has only to look at Uzzah and the ark, or the sons of Aaron offering strange fire, to know that to intend to do the right thing simply isn't enough (though I admit that there could be a good case to make that in both of those examples, there is rebellion going on.)

Elizabeth was chiefly struck by his extraordinary deference for Lady Catherine, and his kind intention of christening, marrying, and burying his parishioners whenever it were required.

"He must be an oddity, I think," said she. "I cannot make him out. There is something very pompous in his style. And what can he mean by apologising for being next in the entail? We cannot suppose he would help it if he could. Could he be a sensible man, sir?"

"No, my dear, I think not. I have great hopes of finding him quite the reverse. There is a mixture of servility and self-importance in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient to see him."

This comment of Mr. Bennet's is almost certainly understood only by Jane and Lizzy. Mary's statement just below indicates she doesn't have a clue what Mr. Bennet just said.

"In point of composition," said Mary, "the letter does not seem defective. The idea of the olive-branch perhaps is not wholly new, yet I think it is well expressed."

Austen does seem to paint a one-sided picture of Mary, doesn't she? Always saying the sort of obvious things that my Mom would call, "Motherhood statements." Things like, "One should have adequate lighting."

To Catherine and Lydia, neither the letter nor its writer were in any degree interesting. It was next to impossible that their cousin should come in a scarlet coat, and it was now some weeks since they had received pleasure from the society of a man in any other colour...

They are not interested in Mr. Collins, but for a bad reason. They, too, are committing ad hominem circumstantial: Mr. Collins is not in the army, therefore he is not as interesting as an officer.

...As for their mother, Mr. Collins's letter had done away much of her ill-will, and she was preparing to see him with a degree of composure which astonished her husband and daughters.

Why is that? I suspect that Mrs. Bennet may actually be one up on her family this time: she may have spotted Mr. Collins's intentions to marry one of her daughters. Since the chief business of her life is to get her daughters married off, she sees everything in that light. And Mr. Collins did drop a hint or two.

Mr. Collins was punctual to his time, and was received with great politeness by the whole family. Mr. Bennet indeed said little; but the ladies were ready enough to talk, and Mr. Collins seemed neither in need of encouragement, nor inclined to be silent himself. He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal. He had not been long seated before he complimented Mrs. Bennet on having so fine a family of daughters; said he had heard much of their beauty, but that in this instance fame had fallen short of the truth; and added, that he did not doubt her seeing them all in due time disposed of in marriage. This gallantry was not much to the taste of some of his hearers;...

He was probably just fine until he got to the marriage bit. Although, the girls might not have liked him to compliment them on their beauty, because of the connotation that he might be interested in them. Since they're none of them interested in him, gallantry on his part might likely be ill-received.

...but Mrs. Bennet, who quarreled with no compliments, answered most readily.

"You are very kind, I am sure; and I wish with all my heart it may prove so, for else they will be destitute enough. Things are settled so oddly."

"You allude, perhaps, to the entail of this estate."

No "perhaps" about it here for Mr. Collins.

"Ah! sir, I do indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. Not that I mean to find fault with you, for such things I know are all chance in this world...

Which is more than she said before. This is much more sensible than she said before. That leads me to believe that if my theory about Mrs. Bennet suspecting Mr. Collins of making a pass at one of her daughters is correct, then her perception has not only smoothed over the breach, but even caused her to think a hair (if only a hair!) more rationally.

...There is no knowing how estates will go when once they come to be entailed."

"I am very sensible, madam, of the hardship to my fair cousins, and could say much on the subject, but that I am cautious of appearing forward and precipitate...

Thus is Mr. Collins appearing forward and precipitate.

...But I can assure the young ladies that I come prepared to admire them. At present I will not say more; but, perhaps, when we are better acquainted-- "

He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other...

Why? Because they see what he is about, and none of them are interested in him.

...They were not the only objects of Mr. Collin's admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet's heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing. But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen...

As we have already seen, cooking is something Mrs. Bennet prides herself on in her household, to the point of disparaging a lower degree of attainment in anyone else. It's rather different these days. I would much more admire a woman who was brought up to cook than not. Being middle-class, and not able to afford a cook, my lifestyle will no doubt exclude such a luxury.

...He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour.

As Wodehouse would say, "Sort of clinching the thing." Here Mr. Collins way overdoes it. It's probably too much for everyone's patience. The BBC version, again, does this quite well. The look on Mrs. Bennet's face is quite apt.


At April 10, 2006 9:38 AM, Blogger Susan said...

Mary seems to follow the school of thought: "If you don't have anything to say, say something obvious."

I think that's the third time that you've quoted the "adequate lighting" line :). Where did that originate? In my family we call obvious utterings "Legolas statements," not after the book character but after Orlando Bloom's portrayal. *rolls eyes* His all-time "duh" line is during the last council when he says, "A diversion!" As Brother Dear said, "Thank you, Captain Obvious!"

Agreed that the BBC's potrayal of Mr. Collins' continued apologies for the cook comment is done well. I love the way they zoom into his teacup then zoom out to show him still apologizing after they have all retired to the parlor. Also Lizzy's prophecy to Jane adds something.

The A&E version is still decidedly better ;), but the BBC version has many good qualities. I very-much like the way Mr. Collins is portrayed in the BBC version, though he is still not to be compared to the A&E Mr. Collins. Father Dear thinks the BBC Mr. Collins is the most convincable as a clergyman. He said the BBC Mr. Collins is the only one (of the three portrayals he has seen) that he can imagine giving a sermon.

At April 13, 2006 4:02 PM, Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

The "adequate lighting" line came from Mom, as you mght expect. When Mom took "Introduction to Teaching I" and "Introduction to Teaching II," the entire course consists of statements like that. Mom did not find the class to be terribly edifying, as most everything there was rather obvious. I couldn't help but laugh at your "Legolas" thingy. Now that I think of it, that is rather a "duh-ism."

Nah, the BBC is better than the A&E. The Lizzy is better, the Mr. Bennet is better, the Mr. Collins is better, the Jane is better. Darcy, maybe, is debatable. But I think the BBC Darcy is more handsome.


In Christ.

At April 13, 2006 10:24 PM, Blogger Susan said...

I quite agree with your mom's assessment of education classes. *painful memories* I almost developed a permanent twitch after hearing the same phrases over and over:

Remember, math doesn't have to have a right or wrong answer.

If you praise Billy for his correct answer but don't praise Jim for his incorrect answer, that's an issue of equity. And I think it's also an ethical issue.

Let's discuss how to make this lesson less teacher-focused and more student-focused.

And the group discussions. . . *rolls eyes* Those got so old. We spent three llloooonnnnggggg class periods reflecting on and discussing a single sequence of dots! First we wrote about it individually, then we talked about it in groups, then we talked as a class, then we watched a related video as a class, then we talked again as a class. It was torture!!!

*breathe, Susan, breathe*

Phew! Sorry, I snapped back into a Math Ed flashback.

*blinks rapidly while recovering awareness of surroundings*

Okay, my family wishes to join me in siding with the A&E version. This is a serious issue, and we question your ability to be a film critic! There is no question that the A&E version is better. We theorize that your family saw the BBC version first, and that is why it is so endearing to you. How else could you make such a claim?

This is normally the point in a disagreement when I would say, "Do you want to arm wrestle over this?", to which my opponent replies, "Okay," and then I retract my offer and resort back to a debate of words :). Or Sister Dear might say at this point, "Do you want to take this outside?" All in good fun, mind you ;).

I will not try to argue your point that the BBC Lizzy is better; I favor the A&E Lizzy slightly, but I've also had more exposure to her. Same with Mr. Collins; the BBC performance was superb, but I barely favor the A&E Mr. Collins, who perfectly encompasses the adjective "odious." *shiver* I am inclined to agree with you on Jane, and I add that the BBC Mr. Bingley is my favorite. I also like Charlotte better in the BBC.

I absolutely disagree about Mr. Bennet and Darcy, though! The A&E Mr. Bennet fits the character to a "T", whereas the BBC Mr. Bennet was very much an awkward actor for the first half of the movie.

And yes, the BBC Darcy. He was stiff as a poker, and just looked like he needed a massage or a loosened tie or something - much like (though far worse than) Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars, but that's another discussion. Colin Firth acted Mr. Darcy with near perfection, and nailed that first proposal, which to me is a pivotal part of the story. David Rintoul didn't seem like he had feelings that could no longer be repressed, and Colin Firth most certainly did. Darcy is such a dynamic character, and Colin Firth really captured his character growth like few can. The fact that he is better looking (which I agree) is a minor point.

I will admit this concerning David Rintoul: he came close to loosening up at Pemberley and he absolutely nailed the second proposal - by far the best second proposal of any version I've seen. He was absolutely wonderful in that scene, nearly atoning for his previously-painful performance. He finally seemed a human with feelings! I think he was trying too hard to play "Mr. Reserved Feelings". All Matthew McFayden had to do was glance at Lizzy with his eyes to show that Darcy had feeling behind his mask.

Mr. Wickam, also a pivotal and complex character was wonderfully played in the A&E version; I could see why Lizzy was so captivated by him and so easily believed the tales he wove. He really did have the appearance of good, was all ease and friendliness, and then perfectly moved into the "wicked Wickam" stage. The BBC Mr. Wickam was okay, but kind of blah, especially in convincing me of his charm and attraction by Lizzy.

Admittedly the BBC script was quite possibly better, though A&E delivered the lines much better.
Unfortunately many of the minor characters in the BBC version were poorly acted; as Father Dear said, In the A&E they seem like real people, but in the BBC [several of them] seem like they were actors reading their scripts. That coupled with the very flat Mr. Darcy performance is just too much to overlook. Mr. Darcy is a primary character, and no P&P adaptation can be really labelled "superb" unless it includes a stellar portrayal of him.

Oh, and the music and architecture in the BBC version was pathetic compared to the grandeur of A&E and especially the majesty of the Keira Knightley version. (While we're on the subject, I will admit that the Keira Knightley version improved immmensely on second viewing, and though not as wonderful as the A&E, my family has decided to give our stamp of approval on it. I will likely be hung by one of my friends - an ardent Janeite and vehement hater of the new film - for admitting this, but so it is.)

*yawn* I should have been in bed long ago, but I felt the need to defend A&E :), and I was encouraged to do so (though not necessarily at this hour. . . ) by Family Dear. Anyway, "To bed!" she said.

At April 16, 2006 4:38 PM, Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

I was rolling whilst reading your last comment. Very amusing, to be sure. A sequence of dots, eh? Did that sequence converge pointwise, uniformly, or did it diverge? ;-)

And I found your comments as to the A&E versus the BBC to be quite interesting as well. *rubs hands gleefully.* A worthy "opponent." May the best man win! (And I use the word "man" covenantally here, of course. ;-))

I still claim the BBC is better. And, although it is true that I saw the BBC long before the A&E, my preference for the BBC is not based on nostalgia. Ah, nostalgia isn't what it used to be. How do I know that? Because my first reaction to the A&E was, "WOW!" I really liked it, and I do still really like it. It has many strengths, indeed. So my conclusions are the result of sober reflection, not mushy, Victorian, sentamentalist sighing and weeping like you seem to think. (Teasing here, of course. Note my deconstruction of your simple statement, "We theorize that your family saw the BBC version first, and that is why it is so endearing to you. How else could you make such a claim?", versus my gross exaggeration of it. ;-))

Uh, yeah, let's, uh, settle this, uh, in the, uh, parking lot.


The problem with the A&E Lizzy is she's just a bit too mellow. I see a bit of feistiness in the book's Lizzy. The BBC Lizzy captures this better. I think Keira Knightley did better even than Elizabeth Garvie in some respects. Incidentally, we need a nice abbreviation for the Keira Knightley / Matthew Macfadyen version. Since Keira Knightley is considerably more well known in the U.S. than Matthew Macfadyen, I propose to abbreviate it as the KKn. I realize it shares its first two letters with a not-so-savory group, but that can't be helped.

What's so great about the BBC Mr. Collins? That superb bass-clarinet motif that he's got. My Dad likes to point out that remarkable facial exercise when the whole party is over at Rosings. Mr. Collins has just said something to Lady Catherine of a silly, flattering nature, as usual. Then Lady Catherine says something to him about his vegetables or something, and adds, "It will not do..." The camera switches to Mr. Collins, and you see his face very gradually change from stupid grin (such a phrase for Mr. Collins is, I know, a redundancy) to a very serious acceptance as he finally realizes he's being reprimanded. It's a fantastic gesture. The BBC Collins is the most portentious, conceited one, which is what the book Collins is.

The BBC Bingley is definitely the best. He really does have the happiest manners, quite in keeping with the book. Sad to say, the KKn completely messed him up. He's unrecognizable as Bingley! I mean, the KKn has him as a bumbling idiot, whereas the book says that "Bingley was by no means deficient" - in intelligence. Makes me wonder why the Rosamund Pike Jane accepts him...

Yes, the BBC Charlotte is quite good. I can't remember the A&E Charlotte, though. I won't comment on that one. I think the KKn Charlotte is a bit over the top in terms of being defensive, especially in the scene where she tells Lizzy that she is engaged. You do still get the friendship aspect, though.

You "absolutely disagree" about Mr. Bennet and Darcy, do you? Well, let me ruminate for a bit on that: if I were to ask you what adjectives come to mind to describe Mr. Bennet in the book, what you say? I know what I'd say: hard, acerbic, sarcastic, elite, disillusioned. The BBC Mr. Bennet does much better at those adjectives than the A&E. The A&E Mr. Bennet is too kind and affectionate relative to the book, a fault also of the KKn Mr. Bennet (though Donald Sutherland is still excellent). I read the book Mr. Bennet as only really having any affection for Lizzy and Jane, though in the end he likes Mr. Bingley well enough, and positively admires Darcy. I never got the impression of the BBC Mr. Bennet as being "awkward." What gives you that impression?

And now, on to Darcy. Darcy is the one character in all of literature with whom I really identify. Now let's not forget the British stoicism, the "stiff upper lip." That is Darcy, though we recognize that he loosens up a bit towards Lizzy near the end. I wouldn't expect the book Mr. Darcy to show much outward feeling; I would expect him to attempt to control his feelings, perhaps with a rod of iron. To do so requires effort, sometimes extreme effort. That effort makes you tense and unyielding. Hence David Rintoul's admitted stiffness seems admirably suited to the character. Yes, let's discuss Hugh Grant, quite an interesting topic, later. As to the first proposal, I think the accuracy of portrayal depends on the interpretation. Is Darcy finally "letting loose" with his emotions there, or is he still really repressing them? I certainly grant you that Rintoul seems like he's still trying to repress them, though his anger certainly does come out. But if the book Mr. Darcy is still repressing his feelings, then Rintoul's portrayal is better. Colin Firth, to my mind, never seems to repress his feelings at all, and I don't think that is the book Darcy. My advice is to read that first proposal in the book, and see what you think, quite apart from any movie images that come to mind.

Ah, Mr. Wickham. I like the BBC Wickham the least, actually. The A&E and KKn Wickhams are both better, though I think the A&E Wickham just edges out the KKn. There's more time in the A&E to develop him, so it's rather natural. In addition, I think his appearance (which is really all-important here, you have to admit) is the most pleasing.

I'll have to see the movies again to recall the quality of the minor characters, so will you grant me leave to defer? Perhaps my comments on the BBC Darcy will make you reconsider whether he is really all that flat. *grins*

Ah, yes, the cinematography. The KKn beats them all, hands down. Then the A&E, then the lowly BBC. The picture quality in the BBC is definitely inferior. In some places, it almost looks like a soap opera in its lighting. Almost seems like there isn't an adequate amount of it. ;-)

So the KKn version improves on you, does it? It does even on me, though I liked it immensely on the first viewing. As a matter of fact, I just watched it yesterday with the feature-length commentary by the director. That was quite interesting, though I definitely disagree with his take on a few things. One thing struck me, though. It's rather obvious now that I think of it. My major complaint about the KKn version was the ending. The dialogue there simply isn't Austen. It seemed too mushy, without the class of Austen. But then I realized something which is probably obvious to the whole world: Darcy and Lizzy are definitely married in that scene. He calls her "Mrs. Darcy." Now, if you recall, in the book it talks of Lizzy's "lively, sportive manner" of talking with Darcy. This it is which causes some alarm on the part of Georgiana. So once I realized that Darcy and Lizzy were married in that scene, and this was the director's version of the "lively and sportive," I was much better reconciled to it.

In summary, here are what I view as the respective strengths of each version:

BBC: Darcy, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Mr. Bingley

A&E: Mr. Wickham, Georgiana, Mrs. Bennet, inclusion of the most number of original Austen lines

KKn: Lizzy, cinematography, general movie-making ability, music (Interestingly, they got Jean-Ives Thibaudet to play the piano, one of the greats). One remarkable achievement of this version: it's only two hours long, it leaves out no major plot elements, and it doesn't feel rushed. I wouldn't have thought that possible, but they managed it.

Not known well enough to compare: Mary, Kitty and Lydia, the Gardiners, the Lucases, the Philipses.

Still, the excellence of the acting in the BBC carries the day, I think. *ahem*

Let me ask you something: are you showing my comments to all your Family Dear the instant you read them? They seem quite as well informed on my comments as you are. Naturally they could be viewing all my stuff just as instantaneously as you, but I somehow doubt that. Not that I'm objecting or anything. Quite the reverse. It's just amusing to me if you happen to be the official "Adrian" channel for the Garrisons.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

In Christ.

At April 17, 2006 7:23 AM, Blogger une_fille_d'Ève said...

Haha, "Susan the official Adrian channel for the Garrisons". :-) That cracked me up. She is that only for father dear, as he never gets on blogs, but mother dear and I read your comments first-hand almost as quickly as she does, you may be assured. :-)
I found it very interesting to read your take on the different versions. I even found myself slightly persuaded in some areas, though definitely still not with Mr. Darcy. I'll admit to having never read the book, so I suppose I have no business saying anything; I'll just leave this debate to you and Susan and enjoy watching. :-)

At April 17, 2006 12:31 PM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

I just have to weigh in here. This is just too much fun.

Sarah and I are agreed that the KKn version is superbly filmed (though there are a few modernistice touches that are just a bit wierd: for instance, the part where Lizzy is twirling on her swing just doesn't advance the plot, I'm sorry). We are also agreed that we hold it in less estimation than the other two versions. In my opinion the major flaw is Bingley. As has already been said in these comments, Bingley is unrecognizable. Considering that the Bingley/Jane motif operates as one of the major factors not just in their own relationship, but also in the Darcy/Lizzy plot, this is a fatal flaw. I thought that Mr. Bennet looked like a decrepit hawk, much like Carc in _The Hobbit_. Sarah (she would!) noticed that the costuming and hairdos were not Austen at all (though they did Jane much better than Lizzy). We did not much like the film, I'm afraid (sorry, Adrian).

As to A&E vs BBC, Sarah likes A&E better, though she is coming to appreciate BBC more. I am actually on the fence now. Maybe that's because I've seen the BBC version so much that I prefer to see A&E now and digest it more thoroughly. I share Adrian's view on Darcy wholeheartedly, while not sharing his view entirely on Mr. Bennet. I think that the BBC Darcy is more convincing as someone _Austen_ would have recognized. We have to remember that we are 21st century commentators looking back on 19th century characters. The courtly reserve and suppression of feelings is _entirely_ English, and _entirely_ upper-class. My friend Alex (a Brit) from Philadelphia once made the extremely comical comparison between a suicidal Englishman and an ecstatic Englishman: they had exactly the same reserved quarter-smile expression! The BBC Darcy clearly has strong emotions, but is able to express them extremely subtlely. I think the classic example is when Mary starts singing "I heard a young maid sing." The extremely slow looking away in disbelief is so subtle that no one else in the room probably noticed. But we do. If you look closer at the face, you will find the emotions there in a much more subtle way than Firth does. Therefore, I find Darcy more in line with what Austen would have recognized. However, I do have to acknowledge that the A&E version is easier. This reminds me of the debate between original instruments and modern instruments in the performance of Baroque music. In this analogy, BBC Darcy is original instruments and A&E Darcy is modern instruments.

The reason I disagree slightly with Adrian on Mr. Bennet is that Mr. Bennet also has a very playful Horatian satire (on the difference between Horatian and Juvenalian satire, see Douglas Wilson's book _The Serrated Edge_) side, which is hardly drawn out at all in the BBC version, but is admirably there in the A&E version. This gives the BBC version a much darker hue. And the sarcasm is still there in the A&E version. Still, I do like the part in the BBC version when Mr. Collins offends Mrs. Bennet by suggesting that one of the daughters cooked the meal, and Lizzy whispers to Mr. Bennet that "he will now apologize for a quarter of an hour," and then Mr. Bennet takes out his watch! This is very subtely done, because the shot is not completed, but cuts out to the drawing room where Mr. Collins is still apologizing.

I think that Mr. Collins in the BBC is head and shoulders better than A&E. The reason is that, though there is a mean streak in Mr. Collins (actually brought out in the BBC version in the letter near the end about not allowing Wickham into Mr. Bennet's house), yet the bumblingly inept social backwardness is much more to the surface in BBC, as is his pomposity. Again, BBC and A&E have two poles on a continuum, with BBC, imo, edging out with a more complete depiction.

The best Lizzy is undoubtedly the BBC, because of her playfulness (though A&E does have this feature: I just think it is a little underdone) and the best Jane is a more complicated question. In terms of looks, the KKn Jane is best. But in terms of acting, both the BBC and A&E are better than KKn, with each having something valuable to offer. I think that the BBC Jane is just a tad softer, while the A&E Jane is just a bit underacted.

At April 17, 2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Hehe, the " official Adrian channel for the Garrisons." You really shouldn't say things like that because stifling my laughter at 10:00 p.m. is hard when the rest of Family Dear is already in bed ;). Hannah is correct that she and Mother Dear read your comments/posts on their own. They like to keep abreast of my online activities :-D and follow me around to various blogs. . . Now, if I happen to read a comment or post first, and find it interesting, I will read it aloud for all to enjoy. Or I may be chortling with laughter and get questioned as to the reason. . .

Hmmm, the dot sequence did none of the above; it was much more boring, really - the dots sequentially made larger and larger "x" shapes - though your comment brings back happy memories of Sequences and Series :-D. For months I had the absolute value of a sub n minus L is less than epsilon running through my head :).

Hmmm, not sure if I feel quite able to accept the title of "worthy opponent" for the BBC/A&E debate - especially after your discussion of the term in your Sportsmanship post - since you've obviously studied the two much more thoroughly, so I hope to not disappoint you too much. . . I admit to having only seen the BBC twice, the KKn twice, and the A&E, well, shall we just say many times?

The BBC improved greatly on second viewing, and as I said, I very much like several aspects of it. I am this close (*holds thumb and pointer finger a distance of 2^-144 cm apart*) to agreeing with you on Mr. Collins and Lizzy simply because they were excellent in the BBC! I just haven't made that jump quite yet, and would need another viewing, perhaps. Oh for infinite time to watch 4-5 hour movies ;).

I agree that the book Lizzy is more feisty than the A&E Lizzy, which is one reason I really do like the BBC Lizzy as an alternative. Keira Knightley was tolerable, I suppose ;), but she really irritated me in the first Darcy proposal scene. Feisty is one thing; snippy, rude, childish, and petty is quite another. It was like a verbal catfight. *shudder*

I hadn't noticed that facial-exercise-thing about the BBC Mr. Collins. Now you're making me want to go back and rewatch that part :). Mother Dear remembers it and thought it perfection. One thing I especially love about the A&E Mr. Collins also deals with his mannerisms when talking with Lady Catherine. Have you noticed that when he is talking and she interrupts, he quickly puts his hand perpendicularly over his mouth. His expression and gesture there is classic, hard to put in words! It's like he's treating himself like a little child by covering his own mouth so as not to interrupt his elder. We all loved it when the BBC Mr. Collins said to Lizzy, What benefit would there be in alteration, Cousin? That was brilliant on the part of the script writers.

Oh, agreed, agreed when it comes to the KKn Bingley! *shudder* I writhe when I think about him, especially his worst moment, when he guffaws at Netherfield during a Miss Bingley/Darcy conversation about the Bennets. His big hair (which thankfully got a little bit more tame as the film progressed) didn't help any, either.

I didn't care for the scene in KKn when Charlotte tells Lizzy about her engagement either. It was rather out of character for her, though it probably did help to clarify her decision to a modern audience without the benefit of historical knowledge to explain her reasoning. That scene (and the first Darcy proposal) were too spirited to fit the book or the rest of the movie.

Speaking of out-of-place scenes, I don't like the last scene in KKn either. It was just so not Jane Austen, but ah well. The first time I watched KKn was with about 12 late-teen-to-mid-20's age girls at a sleepover, and about half of them had already seen it, with very differing conclusions :). One of the girls, who I was sitting next to, hated the last scene, as she murmured to me just before it started. Another girl, who hadn't heard her, exclaimed right after that, in anticipation of the coming scene, Oh, I love this last scene!. It was perfect timing, and we all had a good laugh. . . Funny how such things can inspire such opposing reactions.

Okay, now about Mr. Bennet and Darcy, which I really consider the main issues at stake. First of all, perhaps "absolutely disagree" was too strong for Mr. Bennet, though not for Mr. Darcy.

Darcy is the one character in all of literature with whom you really identify? I definitely see why you identify with him - let's face it, you are eerily like Darcy in some respects. . . - but your exclusive identification surprises me. I can find a character to identify with in nearly ever decent book I read (Lizzy in this one. . . ), though not as many whom I identify extremely closely, which is maybe what you meant. Perhaps that goes back to the discussion on men and women and logic and emotions. Women, I believe, tend to mentally place themselves in another's shoes more readily. But back to Darcy. . .

How can I put this gently? The BBC Darcy is about as human as a robot in most of the movie. It goes beyond stoicism - reserved feelings are one thing, but complete awkwardness or lack of expression is another. Even amongst Bingley and other close friends, where he should be a bit more at ease, he comes across as someone who can't express even the simplest of human emotions. Some subtle expression of feelings is necessary to show his humanity!

Perhaps I failed to explain what I meant concerning the first proposal in the BBC. I don't mean to imply that Darcy should "let loose" all his feelings there - quite the opposite; He is still supposed to be a stoic there, but there should be an indication that he is struggling to keep his feelings surpressed. I looked for that and didn't see it.

*rereading Chapter 34* Darcy enters with agitation (paragraph 4), which supports my insistence that he should show some struggle of surpression of feelings. There is also mention of him "speaking well" (paragraph 5) implying there had to be some sort of eloquence to his speech. Yes, he does so in pride, but he still does so without robotic-stoicism, methinks.

Perhaps Colin Firth should have been a bit more reserved in his portrayal, but I think he (and Matthew McFayden) did a decent job (for most of the movie) of keeping their portrayed feelings subtle, only noticeable to those who are looking for them, or those characters (like Mr. or Miss Bingley) who know Darcy well. I see what you're saying about perhaps showing too much. The BBC Darcy shows considerably too little, though, to the point where you wonder really what Lizzy sees in him (until the last scene, when he loosens up), as Mother Dear said. Reserved is one thing, his surpression of feeling is quite another. Even the way he walks is so stiff and awkward.

It's hard to explain, but the BBC Mr. Bennet (as with several of the minor characters) were hard to get used to. Let me see if I can explain my problem with the BBC acting quality (of some characters) a bit better. There was something in their acting that was just that - acting. A real test of an actor's abilities is whether you even think about their acting abilities, if that makes sense. With the A&E and KKn versions, I felt like I was viewing the Bennets in their daily lives; with the BBC version, I often felt like I was watching a portrayal of the Bennets' daily lives. Does that make sense?

As I said in my previous comment, I thought Mr. Bennet was awkward for the first half of the movie. But at some point I either got used to him or he got used to the role, because he did a decent job with the last half of the film, and I even started forgiving his awkward beginning. I would really have to do a bit more study of the Austen Mr. Bennet v. the movie Mr. Bennets to address your comment. Hmmm. *glances at calendar with frown* My objection to Mr. Bennet was more his acting than his trueness to the book.

That actually brings me to an important point. I think perhaps you are more focusing on the movie portrayals as one who has closely compared them to Austen's own intentions, whereas I admit I have not spent the same amount of time in close analysis, so maybe our whole debate is fruitless until I take the time to do that. After all, I wouldn't want to be an "unworthy" opponent. . . I really only started to closely analyze literature about a year ago, thought I've been a classic literature reader for years, so you are way more practiced in such matters than I am.

Hehe. It took me the third go-round to notice your adequate lighting reference - Mother Dear noticed it right away. That was great. . . I actually think the A&E version has lighting that is too adequate. This is the 1800's, after all, and a ballroom should not be as well-lit as the one at Netherfield was in the A&E version. The cinematography was soap-opera-ish in the BBC, though. The image was just not sharp at all, and the sound was off at times.

Okay, enough for now :-D. *scurries off to get ready to leave for math lab* Now I don't have time to stop at the store for buttons. *pouts*

At April 17, 2006 12:55 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Quickly, I just saw Lane's comment, but haven't read it, so my comment was without reading that. Must go for now!

At April 17, 2006 8:02 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Lane, I agree with Sarah that the costuming in the KKn version is not genuine Regency styling. I noticed that as well - first thing! The clothing style is actually more from the Romantic Period, in fact (not sure the origin of the KKn hairstyles). Have you seen Wives and Daughters? - excellent story, that :). It is based on Elizabeth Gaskell's work of the same name, and takes place in the transient period between the Regency Era and the Victorian Era, called the "Romantic Era." The style of dress (especially the waistlines) in Wives and Daughters seem similar to the dress in KKn. The Regency Era is characterized by very high waistlines and swept-up, curly updos, in imitation of the Greeks and Romans, while the Victorian Era is characterized by natural waistlines in gowns. The Romantic Era is a transient era, with a compromise of waistlines, as shown in the KKn version. I'm not sure why they chose that costuming scheme.

I agree about Mr. Bennet in KKn, though I wouldn't go quite so far in my description of his appearance, but close. I cackled over the "decrepit hawk" :-D. He just seemed like a really tired old man with little energy or vigor. He really shone in the scene between him and Lizzy after Darcy's second proposal, but other than that, I didn't care for him a great deal.

The KKn version has its good and bad points, to be sure. *shrugs* I would never recommend it as a sole representation of Jane Austen's work, but find it an interesting interpretation. It's not comprehensive enough to be labelled extremely good, but it's pretty well done considering the length. It was way better than I anticipated, especially after hearing the rants of a Dear Friend after her first viewing ;).

You two are doing a good job of winning me over concerning Mr. Collins, but I'm having a much harder time with Darcy. I think I really need to observe him again, but I'm not inclined to think myself likely to change my opinion in that quarter. I still say there is a difference between reserve and looking and acting like you've been starched and ironed.

And I got lost with the Baroque analogy and the Horatian and Juvenalian satire bit. . . :) Ah well.

Oh, and Adrian, I never really addressed your comment concerning Wickam from before. While I don't consider appearance to be a great factor in the Darcy debate - as they are both quite good-looking enough for the part - I do agree that looks is definitely an important factor with regards to Wickam. A main part of Wickam's person is his charm and outward appeal, so his appearance (which I agree is best in A&E) is very important here.

At April 18, 2006 10:25 AM, Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

Well, my heresy hunting instincts are now finally resting at peace. ;-)] Everything you say seems fairly reasonable. Except, of course, about Darcy. Well, you just need to see the BBC a few more times. Then you'll see the light.

In the meantime, shall you and I TIOC? By all means, continue with Lane.

In Christ.

At April 18, 2006 10:59 AM, Blogger Mr. Baggins said...

Sorry about leaving you behind wrt Horatian and Juvenalian satire and the Baroque instruments. Let me try again. Horatian satire is urbane, witty, and subtle. Juvenalian satire is pure bludgeon. I think Mr. Bennet is an epitome of Horatian satire, whereas Tom Jones is an example of Juvenalian satire (as is Gulliver's Travels).

Wrt the instruments, there is always this debate going on in musical circles about the best instruments for performing old music. Should we use instruments that they would have used, or do we use modern equivalents? For instance, for keyboard music, do we play it on a harpsichord, or do we perform it on a piano? Those who argue for the former prefer it since that is what Bach (to take one example) would have used. Those who argue for the latter say that Bach was looking for just such an instrument as the piano. Therefore, the piano is the eschatological instrument of Bach's choice. With violins, do we use gut strings or steel strings? There are degrees of these positions as well, since you could use a modern violin with gut strings. I argue that the Darcy of the BBC is more like original instruments, since he is more like what Austen would have recognized as Darcy. A&E is like modern instruments, since he appeals more to how modern people think and feel. Hope this clarifies.

At April 18, 2006 5:24 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Ah, okay, thanks for the clarification, Lane :). I see what you're saying now.

I guess I'll just have to try to retrain my modern mind - ha, that's a new one! I admit that you two seem to be far more schooled in this area, and have clearly thought about this more from an Austenian viewpoint than I have. Until I take the time and effort to Austenize my thinking, any further discussion seems fruitless, though it has been fun :).

I agree, Adrian, that it makes sense to TIOC. I am so glad your "heresy hunting instincts" are "resting at peace" :). You crack me up. Sheesh. As much as I love Jane Austen, I don't get that worked up about it. . . Okay, now I've probably set you off again, but ah well.


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