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Dear friends and readers,

Two novels of two sisters, P&P, written first, about 2 sisters holding a shared life apart from others (with others nearly unbearable), S&S, second, about 2 sisters sharply dissonant from one another. 



Understanding, passing time together



Discord, I do not understand you, Marianne aggressive, I must be very dull, Elinor's reply

The same Jane Austen autobiography from different angles.  What Davies puts before us, with Jane & Elinor the same presence which accepts & endures.  Elizabeth empathizes but kicks hard, Marianne not able to comprehend, escapes, just, "the worst."

 
How worried and grated upon Elizabeth looks in that muddy walk:

Elinor walking too, enduring:



 It's easily noticeable how much similar (and appropriate) language Davies gives Elinor Dashwood and Jane Bennet ("I am perfectly content ... " as she moves on in grief, containing it) and how the second set of sisters (for S&S was written completely up as a full probably epistolary novel after P&P) are at loggerheads, but in both must turn to one another, for this enables them to endure life.

Over the past four days I've been rewatching Davies-Langton-Birtwistle's 6 hour P&P and have found I missed out on an important element in it in my first blog:  A Spectacular, Extraordinary Film, one and others have felt there at the time, but was hard to apprehend more than impressionistically unless you study the movement-images in the film -- this is the new angle Julianna Pidduck uses to such perceptive brilliant effect in her Contemporary Costume Film and I've begun to follow in my last three chapters (of the book I'm working on).

If you study or explore Davies's P&P from the plot of view of plot-arrangement, how he present hinge-points, character development that alters Austen's (or even stays with it), you come out with an Oedipal story: Mr Darcy becomes the central character, his story the one we are concerned to watch as he reforms and in so doing earns Elizabeth's love; he is paralleled to Mr Bennet who has been an inadequate father (against a hopelessly dense mother).

But handy dandy, turn your kaleidoscope and instead study the movement images of the film, look at how many scenes say occur between major characters, how they are developed and presented visually, verbally and metaphorically, how linked in symbolic and other ways and you emerge with a story about two sisters deeply attached to one another, and Jane Bennet's loss of Mr Bingley and her coping with it becomes a parallel and contrast to Elizabeth's loss of Wickham, justified rejection of the comic slime Mr Collins and rejection of that noble misunderstood soul Darcy.

Studying the film this way I found no less than 20 effective scenes, many of them occurring the girls' bedroom (so made memorable by the repeating place) and several sandwiching pivotal points in the plot:

An outline (using the divisions in the DVD):

Part 1:

Episode1: 

1) in Jane's bedroom they talk at length before mirror; then after a little sweep of house and Mr Bennet at bills, Elizabeth alone before her mirror -- this is Jane's bedroom. I'll call it the double mirror scene as much is seen through a double mirror:




The "treat" is Jennifer Ehle seen in and of herself not through the mirror

Episode 3:

2) two girls talk at length in garden about part at Lucas's lodge -- tracking shot, middle length:


Elizabeth parodies Mr Darcy

Episode 4: 

2) Elizabeth arrived, we see her in Jane's bedroom, a silent scene between two. This is preceded by a twinned scene:  Jane miserable, mortified riding in the rain; Elizabeth shamed and frustrated with parents by fire watching rain; Jane snubbed and patronized at useless meal with Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst; Elizabeth defying her mother that she will go:


Jane shamed


Elizabeth worried as she looks at her

Episode 5: 

3) Alternating with men shooting, they are in Jane's bedroom, teasing kindly scene Elizabeth reluctant to go downstairs:




Then close, Episode 6: 

4) Jane and Elizabeth in carriage going home, few words, striking still

Part 2

Episode 7: 

5) they have a tete-a-tete in the garden while others are talking, playing - but it's so fleeting and kept from us it's hard to see if one should number it, but I do as a visual memory



Episode 8:

6) Jane and Elizabeth discuss Wickham after card-evening party at Mrs Philips --- this a Jane's bedroom scene, talk at length scene:



Part 3:

Episode 13: 

7) Jane and Elizabeth discuss Charlotte's acceptance of Mr Collins, and then Caroline's letter comes and they discuss that



8) Moving scene upstairs between Jane and Elizabeth in bedroom after Wickham's visit (not dramatized) and painful scene downstairs; Jane really a kind of Elinor in this scene and gets a mature response (which Marianne not capable of)



Jane's words closely like those Davies gives Elinor Dashwood in 08 S&S



Again Elizabeth doesn't believe it

Episode 14: 

9) Jane's letters to Elizabeth so they are communing, it emerges from time-passing sequence



Episode 17: 

10): Elizabeth writing to Jane after piano scene at Rosings, Jennifer Ehle voice-over, followed by Eliza's distress before she encounters Colonel Fitzwilliam:


Eliza's distress for Jane after letter writing scene

Part 4:

Episode 3:  11) 9th scene literally of two of them, fourth Jane's bedroom scene: immediately home from Huntsford Eliza confides some of what happened


Eliza confides proposal by Darcy, and what Wickham is said to be

12) A garden scene at first Jane and Elizabeth, then mother comes and then Lydia: the language so like that of Elinor: I shall be perfectly content ... I shall be myself again ....



Part 5:

Episode 8: 

13) Dreadful news: if you count the letter scene Elizabeth and Jane communing


Jane's letter: many subjectivized flashbacsk

Episode 9:  14) Elizabeth and Jane by the door -- they turn to one another:



15) by the window they discuss Lydia's letter and there are flashbacks:



15) they are now in Elizabeth's bedroom, at length again; mirror too (holding hands before us scene -- no one will want them now)



Episode 12: 

16) now in Jane's bedroom and Elizabeth wishes Darcy had not known, fears his despising her, intense with stress (Jane drying hair scene, ends with Darcy envisioned with Tristan and Isolde notes)




Elizabeth very fretful, Jane drying hair, all common sense

Part 6

Episode 15: 

17) scene with plants, Jane says she not bothered, in control, Elizabeth smiling



18) Jane and Elizabeth walking and talking after Bingley and Darcy's first new visit -- she is in danger of making him as much in love with her as ever



19) Jane and Elizabeth walking in after Mr Bingley leaves having proposed and been accepted and we get the first version of Elinor's coda remark to Marianne; I shall have to find myself a Colonel; I may in time meet with another Mr Collins is in Austen



Episode 18: 

20) Final, now Elizabeth's bedroom and she has to persuade, mixture of teasing and earnestness: in words it's short and it's not that lengthy either


Double mirrors open this scene and intersperse and end scenes




People often commend Samantha Harker's performance but then do not go on to prove why it's so good. It's in the many silent scenes she and Cristin Bonham Carter (probably related to Helena) enact pantomime-style while the front part of a frame is devoted to articilated matter; her brilliance in conveying her own bitterness and disappointment in other scenes with her mother, Collins (his ugly visit replacing his letter after Lydia runs away)

This underlying grid of continual images of the women is backed by the often noticed meditative sequences of Ehle as Elizabeth walking. She loves to walk outdoors and I cannot but believe this is Davies's tribute to an aspect of Austen he likes.  These are among my favorite stills in all the Austen films.  I've included one above of Elizabeth distressed (replacing the scene it follows of Elizabeth writing to Jane).  These are so familiar to me (and I suppose others) that I shall include only the lesser known ones.

Walking scenes:  Elizabeth is seen walking or in the open, or contemplative outside alone again and again:

Part 1,
Episode 1, she sees see the men on the horseback; on the way to the first scene (tracking shot);
Episode 2: she meets Lydia, Kitty and Mary walking and hears of Lucas party;
Episode 3, she walks to Netherfield in mud to reach Jane;
Episode 5: Elizabeth downstairs playing with dog while Darcy baths in tub, runs into,
Episode 5:  Elizabeth with dog, Darcy in tub.

Part 2,
Episode 7: she is walking high above house, contemplative, voice over of father about Collins.

Part 3: 
Episode 14: Elizabeth walking in early spring (after winter montage and Jane's letter), meets unexpectedly Mr Wickham and forgives him:


Episode 16: walking with Charlotte, but walking moment; both love to walk;
Episode 17: one of the loveliest of the walk scenes, she encounters Darcy; walking alone after talking with Darcy, in a second after just before Fitzwilliam meets her darkness turns to light -- one of few unreal moments, dream moment:



Part 4:

Episode 2:  Elizabeth's walk revelling (running) in landscape stressed before Darcy gives her his letter
Episode 4: Summer travels, includes piece where she climbs alone on a rocky peake and looks down

 

The learning Davies did here goes into the 2008 S&S which unfortunately had to be just 3 not 6 hours so the movement images and sister-scenes curtailed and shortened, but they are just as surely there and central too. I will just include a summary here, with only one still for each. Now what is striking is that in most of these scenes the sisters are semi-quarrelling; there is no meeting of the minds until the end because Marianne cannot rise to understand in the way Elizabeth could Jane.  They are made much less baiting than in book, and are the most harmonious of the 5 films. The scenes of Elinor alone deeply moving; she is not contemplative, but often grieving; the scenes of Marianne archetypally, romantically expressive. 

Elinor a darker version of Elizabeth?  but also contains in her Jane. All four heroines types of JA and Cassandra when young.

The 2008 S&S:


Getting into bed together at Barton cottage at night in attic room, the first night

Elinor and Marianne (Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield) in paired scenes, often in attic or bedroom:

Part 1:
Part 1, Episode 2,
Scene 12:  Two girls in Norland bedroom:
Part 1, Episode 3,
Scene 28: Under Tree: 
Part 1, Episode 5: 
Scene 43; Attic 1:  The cold and dark and settling in together. 
Part 2, Episode 1
Scene 6, Attic two:   After dancing and set-to of Brandon and Willoughby; a sharp scene
Part 2,
Episode 1:
Scene 9:   sharp quarrel in front of mother in cottage front room, although in front of someone part of ongoing presentation of relationship. 
Part 2, Episode 3:
Scene 19, Attic 3, after Allenham and accusatory defensive soup scene.  Ends cloying again: I'll hope for you; oh Ellie I do love him (yuk). 
Part 2, Episode 4,
Scene 31: two girls walking in meadow, brief but revealing:  I cannot understand what it's like to be you; very dull; the talk is about how they fit as a family
Scene 38  This one where they discuss whose hair in Edward's ring.  JA: "there is an awful lot of these bedroom scenes in this episode.
Part 2, Episode 5:
Scene 42:  Girls in attic again: "what was that long conversation with Lucy Steele about". "Nothing of consequence." Her hopes and dreams for the future."  Marianne is dismissive, but of herself she would say such things important.  Very moving music at last moment with her eyes so big and then into cave. 
Scene 45:  Again attic bedroom, now packing, no understanding of what's happening in Marianne nor what Elinor is thinking or feeling, between Elinor and Marianne; a dialogue: we'll see W and E ... perhaps perhaps not
Scene 48:  after Mrs Jenning leaves the room we see them alone, Marianne writing, Elinor turns, hesitates, says nothing, turns away
Scene 49: split second up on balcony Marianne so sure that Willoughby will come; it's dramatized clearly that the letter written intended to make him come quickly
Scene 60: Marianne flippant in bed that Brandon's great defect he's not Willoughby: Elinor is true sensibility in this scene
Part 3
Episode 1, Scene 2:  the interstices of the scene of Marianne and Elinor as Marianne writes that morning; does become a scene about male hatred, also connects to Elizas (Brandon and Williams) through Brandon's fierce hatred; Elinor's head laying sideways in covers again
Episode 1, scene 4: Marianne reading the letter in deep pain; this scene occurs in all four transpositions.  Resonant music; turns on Marianne lashing out at Elinor
Episode 2, Scene 7: one line, I'm so sorry Marianne, 3 stills (Marianne's face, whole bed with Elinor next to her, then Marianne, then switch to waves crashing on sea as leading into mother writing next to Margaret with her comments about women).   HM: there has not been an order as well there used to be a scene under the sheet which is now moved to a different place ... [do men regard women as toys, placed as part of Cleveland, after they arrive and before sickness sequence see Episode 4, Scene 24 below] 
Episode 3, scene 22: upstairs bedroom, now Marianne knows terrifically moving; how much should Elinor cry was debated:
Episode 4:
Scene 24: scene alone in carriage with Brandon as escort:  carriage shots one of each girl after one of Brandon by carriage and then shot of them coming up to house with warm welcome
Scene 27, at Cleveland, both faces lying down, after a scene with baby (now cut), what do men want of us?
Scene 37:  Elinor comes in with shawl, perceives Marianne very illl.
Scene 41:  Elinor weeping over Marianne: silent but full of meaning, stress not so much on her not coping but equally on her concern for Marianne (Thompson's Elinor altogether a more ego-centered character).
Episode 5:
Dawn Scene 44: Big shot of dawn and then she is better: Oh Marianne ..."
Scene 44:   Inside, bedroom, Elinor sleeping, sees Marianne looking peaceful, goes over, Elinor grasps her hands and kisses them, feel of flesh, and Marianne speaks: "Elinor!"  Elinor:  "Oh! Marianne."  Crisis weathered.
Scene 45: glimpsed Elinor reading to Marianne
Scene 52: the travelling back to Devon was originally conceived of as an Elinor Marianne scene that occurred earlier;
Scene 56: Elinor and Marianne by seaside
Part 3,
Episode 5
Scene 62/3:  Elinor insisting to Marianne that the news of Edward's marriage hasn't changed anything;
Scene 67:  last attic scene:  Marianne in love and Elinor happy for her if she really loves Brandon's; she may hope to encounter a Colonel one day too.

Elinor her grief expressive in nature



Part 1,
Episode 2,
Scene 15:   Library: Elinor with papers and remembering father
Scene 16:  Beating carpet scene; Elinor for a moment there alone to beat the carpet
Melded love-montage scenes 21 (22, 23, 24, 25, 26):  Here we have a movement from frame to frame (for scene to scene) like turning a page ... Elinor trying clothes turning away from mirror ...
Episode 3
Scene 32:   Establishment shot is Elinor's drawing of Norland, taken down from library wall,
Episode 4: 
Scene 35:  Carriage at night, mother & Margaret sleeping, Marianne, Elinor looks at her present
Scene 43:  Vast shot of seascape, Elinor putting up picture of Norland at Barton
Part 2,
Episode 1
Scene 7:  On the meadow/heath, Elinor walking, looking into present of book, distressed (juxtaposed to above self-control)
Scene 11:  Out of doors, Elinor in mist with bucket, as she walks down stream we see Margaret's shells
Episode 3
Scene 30:  Inside Barton cottage: Elinor finds mother writing a letter to Edward
Episode 4
Scene 1:   Elinor realizes it's Edward, sustained alone
Scene 36:  Outside Barton cottage, women saying goodbye to Edward, very sad, dark melancholy music -- last shot of Elinor sustained
Episode 5
Scene 43:  Cave by sea, woman grieving silently:  Elinor, silhouette
Part 3,
Episode 3,
Scene 21:  Mrs Jennings's drawing room, begins with close up of Elinor's face,
Episode 4,
Scene 31:  Outside in the front:  Elinor runs to front and with cape over her head looks just as she did when she gazed at Edward chopping wood.
Scene 37:  Close up to Marianne's flesh, face, very sick, Elinor in shawl, harsh chords, Elinor sees her very sick, tone of surprize, puzzle, "Marianne?" breathing hard
Scene 41:  Elinor by Marianne's side, cold compresses, this the equivalent of Emma Thompson's great scene: here very moving, she cries remarkably brilliantly,  wiping her eyes and face
Episode 5
Scene 44:   Inside, bedroom, Elinor sleeping, sees Marianne looking peaceful, goes over, Elinor grasps her hands and kisses them, feel of flesh, and Marianne speaks: "Elinor!"  Elinor:  "Oh! Marianne."  Crisis weathered.
Episode 6,
Scenes 62, 63, 64, connected by music as subjective, feel retrospective:  Elinor by seascape sketching, holding back tears in silhouette (Oenone); seen buying fish, pier turns into cobb (a quotation and reference to Persuasion); replacing picture of Norland with one of Barton cottage (this is home now)
Scene 66: Climax the one from the paratext: she is seen backwards looking out at sea, blurry, facing she will be alone, eating it ...

Marianne Alone:


Marianne -- the girl with the statue goes back to '87 NA and is most recently seen in '08 Miss Austen Regrets

Part 1,
Episode 2,
Melded love-montage scenes 21 (22, 23, 24, 25, 26):  Here we have a movement from frame to frame (for scene to scene) like turning a page, with Marianne at her music ... for passing time: Elinor trying clothes before mirror ...
Episode 5,
Melded scenes 44 (45, 46, 47):  Barton cottage, Marianne seen through doorframe playing ...   Marianne playing again at Barton park
Scene 57:  Rushing seascape and her ecstatic standing there turns into fall
Part 2,
Episode 3,
Scene 28:  Barton cottage as in 95 film (and also the misty cottage of 81 film), Marianne in ravine, holding bridal veil
Scene 29:  Inside Barton cottage:  Mrs Dashwood measuring Margaret for dress; Marianne waiting at window
Episode 5,
Scene 49:  Mrs Jennings's London house, upper floor corridor by columns, odd angle from below, and Marianne gives letter to Foot,
Episode 6,
Scene 61:   Mrs Jennings's London House, upstairs, Marianne chases Foot but there is nothing ...
Scene 62:  Outside the London shop, Marianne looking around, not he
Scene 63:  Mrs Jennings's London house, upper floor corridor with columns, from up top or odd angle, and again no message
Scene 66:  Inside ball, Marianne runs ahead, gasps,
Part 3,
Episode 1,
Scene 2:  Daring back-and-forth between duel and Marianne's dawn letter writing ...
Episode 2,
Scene 12:   Mrs Jennings's London house, a reception room, cut to Marianne playing piano,
Episode 4,
Scene 28:  Cleveland house seen from distance, emphasizing neuroticism of clipped cone hedges, storm coming up; satyr like statue, walks through hedge, half mad, tracking her, glimpses through columns, trees, up to temple, running high on hill with flashbacks of memories (stills of Willoughby at Allenham), choral music, idea is she has lost all perspective ...
Episode 5,
Scene 48: ... upstairs balcony:  Marianne caught by camera from odd angle listening, then his and Elinor's close faces, facing off (she's "glad" he has "lost her sister's love forever," W:  "You despise me"), and she walks off, and camera up to Marianne who looks appalled, horrified, at last sees him
Scene 58:  Library, door opens, fruit on table, he walks slowly in, at this point the characters seem to walk slowly rather like a dream; she finds piano and sits and plays and this leads to Marianne's dream?
Scene 59/60: Montage of Brandon letting hawk loose, while Marianne playing inside, and looks up and we see that bird, then back to Brandon, it comes back to his hand, and she is standing there, and he says come, and she smiles, but we are back to her at piano:  was she dreaming it?, closure as camera moves to see her framed and ends on fruit dish: little aria of images, collage, montage

Curious truth: in book we are told Marianne goes off alone a lot, Elinor is for being with others, but in the 2008 film we see Elinor alone at least equally to Marianne and in the 1995 film it's Elizabeth we see alone, though we are given enough glimpses to see that Jane spends a lot of time in contemplation too.

Ellen

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Aug. 1st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
Students watching the 1995 P&P (1)
On another note in regard to the 1995 A&E P&P:

In my brief four week Pride and Prejudice course this summer, I had students read aloud the infamous proposal scene, and then watch three movie renditions of it. And I did the same for the scene in which Darcy visits the inn right after Elizabeth finds out about Lydia and Wickham, and also for the Lady Catherine visits Elizabeth scene (though I didn't dare waste time showing the latter scene in the terrible so 40ish 1940s version. If you haven't seen it though, you must.....just so you can enjoy being appalled by the massacre of the storyline and characters).

Anyway, one of the main conclusions that my students (and I) drew was that on-screen Darcy (esp. Firth ) was much more severe than book- Darcy especially in the Wickham/Lydia revelation scene. He is at first very concerned and caring, but then after Elizabeth tells him about Wickham's seduction and blames herself, he withdraws, and quite coolly leaves. This is not the impression readers get from the book. (We who've read the book in the past can't read it as a first-time reader would, but three of my students - two of them high school honor students assigned P&P for summer reading and attending class with their mothers - had never read P&P or seen any of the films and were able to give their impressions from the book before watching a dramatization of it).

Because Austen does not elaborately describe the emotional expression of many of her characters (let's not think about Marianne of S&S for the moment!), readers are often free to interpret exactly how a character comes across on a feeling level. And what I find interesting is that those in my class reading the book for the first time all envisioned the scenes differently than they were portrayed.

Here is the passage from the end of the Lydia/Wickham scene:

"Oh yes. Be so kind as to apologize for us to Miss Darcy. Say that urgent business calls us home immediately. Conceal the unhappy truth as long as it is possible. -- I know it cannot be long."

He readily assured her of his secrecy, again expressed his sorrow for her distress, wished it a happier conclusion than there was at present reason to hope, and leaving his compliments for her relations, with only one serious, parting look, went away.

As he quitted the room, Elizabeth felt how improbable it was that they should ever see each other again on such terms of cordiality as had marked their several meetings in Derbyshire; and as she threw a retrospective glance over the whole of their acquaintance, so full of contradictions and varieties, sighed at the perverseness of those feelings which would now have promoted its continuance, and would formerly have rejoiced in its termination.


Note that Austen wrote "he again expressed his sorrow for her distress, wished it a happier conclusion than there was a present to hope, and leaving his compliments for her relations........" Now Darcy could have expressed himself here quite warmly, and Elizabeth could have still concluded that she probably wouldn't see him again, not because of his manner but because of the scandalous circumstances.

Colin Firth however plays Darcy as turning cold and withdrawn and taking leave of Elizabeth as if he wants nothing more than to be out of her sight and have nothing to do with her again. He even says that she probably wants him gone, but in a way that comes across as unresponsive to her but rather as if he meant to say "*I* want to be gone." Granted, Firth all along plays a very stern Darcy, as does David Rintoul (neither are true to the book, nor are the horribly miscast Orson Welles or Matthew McFadyen who are both less stern but lacking Darcy's presence and dignity).

Now we can surmise that Darcy is preoccupied, reflecting about his own part in asking for Elizabeth's secrecy in regard to Wickham, and is blaming himself and starting to plan a course of action. But I wonder if Firth and/or director Davies were also aware that contemporary audiences wouldn't "get" just how impactful the scandal would be upon Elizabeth's future, and therefore wanted us to believe that all hope might be lost with Darcy at least as much because of his behavior when he left her.

Tracy Marks

Edited at 2010-11-26 07:17 pm (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Aug. 1st, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
Students watching the 1995 P&P (2)
And on a related note:

So many women sigh over Darcy, and how loving he is toward Elizabeth. But it seems to me that there are a variety of ways of expressing love, some active (TAKING ACTION in behalf of the loved one) and some responsive (RESPONDING to the feelings/emotional needs of the loved one). Darcy is definitely loving and giving in regard to action, but as he is portrayed by all the actors who play him (especially Firth), he is NOT at all responsive when he takes his leave of Elizabeth. He at first has the empathy to respond to her tears, but once he learns what has happened, he is preoccupied with his own thoughts and unaware of the impact his behavior might have upon her (though of course he's unsure that she really cares what he thinks of her at this point).

Some of you might say that, well, this is typical male behavior. And probably it is for many men, though fortunately not the ones with whom I choose to associate. But it leads me to reflect upon how preoccupied Darcy was with his own feelings when he initially proposed, and how oblivious he was to what her feelings and needs might be. And therefore I wonder - how much has he really changed, apart from gaining more humility and being more capable of seeing himself from an outsiders viewpoint and altering his behavior? Granted, people don't change their basic psychological temperament much in an entire lifetime, so we can't expect Darcy's ability to imagine and empathize with the feelings of others when they're not apparent to him to have changed substantially in six month's time, especially if he's overcome by shock and guilt after Elizabeth's revelation.

But I don't believe that Austen meant us to assume that Elizabeth felt she'd never see Darcy again in part because of the way he responded to her and left her at the inn. The impression I get from the book was that he was very caring throughout his visit, and that Elizabeth assumed she'd never see him again because of the scandal.......which was a very reasonable assumption given her social milieu and the times.

And finally on a related note: Every single one of my students saw problems ahead for the Darcy/Elizabeth marriage, certainly in part because they both were used to having their own way and not particularly aware of the impact of their behavior upon others. I'd be REALLY curious to know exactly how you all might imagine the first year of their marriage - the ways in which they would get along and the nature of the conflicts that would emerge.

Tracy Marks
misssylviadrake
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:18 am (UTC)
More on Darcy (1)
From Sylwia:

I don't think that Darcy has ever had any problems with emphasising with the feelings of others. But, I'd say that the main difference between book and movie is that there's no escaping showing things in the latter. As much as
Austen could avoid descriptions and let us read things twice to see them differently each time, a film director has to decide on something. If Darcy was shown as more empathetic, the angst would be gone.

In regard to the book, I wouldn't say that Darcy was oblivious to Elizabeth's feelings and needs at the moment, but how actually should he have behaved? They weren't engaged, and it was a very bad moment to propose and take her in his arms, no? Among others he says:

"I am afraid you have been long desiring my absence, nor have I any thing to plead in excuse of my stay, but real, though unavailing, concern."

So he shows her that he really cares, but he also knows that he stood there longer than proper, and he really needs some excuse or encouragement from her to know that he's not imposing on her. After all even people madly in love sometimes need a moment to oneself, and Lizzy certainly is a person who needs her half-hours to compose her thoughts. Likely, Darcy understands that much. She doesn't give him any encouragement this time, which isn't surprising either. After all it's not a proper moment for her to show more
concern over their relationship than Lydia's fate.

Then Darcy says:

"Would to heaven that any thing could be either said or done on my part, that might offer consolation to such distress! -- But I will not torment you with vain wishes, which may seem purposely to ask for your thanks."

That, to me, always meant, even on my first reading, that he'll do whatever in his power to find Lydia, but he doesn't want to give empty promises, which is only fair. We can imagine that he would take her in his arms after all, and whisper all the words she wanted to hear at the moment, but a man like Darcy would also consider the opposite. If she still didn't want to marry him it'd be an unfeeling and rude imposition on his part.

But, it'd be silly to assume that once they're married he'll again behave as if they were not.

I'd say he gave her reasons to hope and he was very warm and empathic. That she didn't choose to hold on to them is natural. This girl was just mentally buying her wedding gown when the bad news arrived. It's better to prepare
oneself for the worst than to set one's hopes too high.

On the other hand, we really don't know all of her thoughts. We know that she spent a sleepless night thinking of him, but we don't know what she was thinking.

I concur with this:

It was simply a safer, more rational assumption to make, and so she did. But it doesn't mean that she didn't repeat in her thoughts every sentence he uttered throughout the visit, silently hoping for more. Elizabeth often thinks what she's determined to think. She tries to manipulate herself and push her feelings away.

"I'm sure there will be some conflicts. It'd be weird if there were none. But I think that E&D are destined by Austen to be her happiest couple. That's because of how she construed the characters. While we can say that Elinor and Marianne are a couple in S&S, in P&P it's E&D. They complete each other, because that's how they're designed.

JA gives us some glimpses from their engagement and marriage and they're very happy. Indeed, it doesn't seem that Austen envisioned any storms for them in future."



Edited at 2010-08-02 05:19 am (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
More on Darcy (2)
From Sylwia:

However, I do think that each of them has a difficult character, and that each would be miserable with another person. The fact that they like to have their own way and are very outspoken about it is a good thing rather than
not. If Darcy married such a person like Jane, who can empathise strongly but is timid, he'd likely be bored to death and make her miserable. She'd suffer quietly to make him happy and explain his behaviour away instead of taking care of her own needs. Elizabeth, on the other hand, really needs someone who'll set the standards high. If she married a man like Wickham her vanity would be quickly fed and her interest gone.

One important thing here is that they really care of each other. We see Mr. Bennet who is very astute, but turns out not to know his favourite daughter at all. It's because he cares of himself more than of her or anyone else. That will not happen to E&D because they both put the other and their common good above one self. Indeed, I'd say that by the end of the novel Darcy knows Mr. Bennet's daughter much better than the father does.

The initial problem of the novel isn't so much that E&D are not aware of the impact of their own behaviour on others, but that they don't know one self i.e. they don't know what they want. Darcy wants Elizabeth, so he assumes that he must want to turn her off. He does it consciously and he succeeds.

Elizabeth shows a great interest in Darcy throughout the novel, and he's not wrong in seeing it. She is determined to hate him, it doesn't mean she succeeds. But she's not wrong in seeing that he wants to turn her off, just as he's not wrong in seeing that she's interested.

What is really surprising, to each of them, is when Darcy finds out that he prefers to follow his feelings rather than what he thought he should have wanted, and when Elizabeth finds out that her opinion of Darcy is imaginary,
based on what she wanted to think rather than on his real behaviour or her positive feelings.

Moreover, each of them, in some aspects, reads the other very well. Darcy is spot on about Elizabeth's character. What he misreads is her ambition, which he assumes is to marry him rather than hate him or not fall in love with
him. She is wrong about his character, but she can read his ambitions or limitations, i.e. his pride, very well.

It'd be wrong to assume that once they're married they'll still do that. Once each of them knows one self there's no turning back. As long as one can't read, one can imagine any story in a book, but once one reads the book its content is known.

We can also see them when they are looking at each other without obstacles. At Pemberley Darcy courts Lizzy and she takes it for what it is. There are no misunderstandings at this point. Likewise, Darcy can take his aunt's story for what it is. He says:

"It taught me to hope as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before."

It doesn't mean that he didn't hope before or didn't see any encouragement
on her part. Rather that he did, but now he was certain of it. He adds:

"I knew enough of your disposition to be certain that, had you been absolutely, irrevocably decided against me, you would have acknowledged it to Lady Catherine, frankly and openly."

So he knows her very well, and he draws very good conclusions from her behaviour. In fact Darcy knows Elizabeth's feelings better than she does, because she's afraid to let them overcome her decisions.

I'd say that, considering the length of the relationship, they are the only couple in Austen's novels that know each other so well. They cannot self-deceive themselves again, or run to wrong assumptions or repeat old mistakes. Those aren't their personalities that changed, but their overall
knowledge and understanding. One cannot take it back, just as one cannot take back one's ability to read.

Sylwia"
misssylviadrake
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
The films and Austen's book compared (1)
IN response to Tracy, Sylwia, and Arnie,

This is getting us into the area of subjective responses and readings of the text and movie. I'll offer my reading.

As to Austen's Darcy in the proposal scene: I take it that Austen's Darcy is not seeing Elizabeth; he is thinking and feeling for and about himself. His whole proposal before she speaks is about what he loses and how much he wants her. Tracy's students are forgetting that Darcy gets incensed; he becomes very angry. Not only is he taken wholly unawares personally, but he is a wealthy, well-connected and (he knows) attractive well-educated man. is this the only answer he is to get? Look what he has offered: himself at great cost (all he could have had in another higher placed woman). He is first stung out of that first white anger when she tells him she would have had more concern for the bluntness of her response had he spoken like a gentleman. Then he flinches (all three Darcys flinch: Rintoul, Finch and MacFadyen). He shows his strong reason and self-control and training in courtesy when he apologizes at the conclusion (albeit briefly) and gets out of there as quickly as he can. All three Elizabeths begin in great distress over Jane: they are all reading Jane's letter or have just done just as Darcy enters; they are all thinking of Fitzwilliam's speech.

Austen's Darcy's letter may be read as showing his emotions evolving. He begins in anger; he ends (as Austen's Elizabeth sees eventually) in charity partly because he realizes while writing how wrong he has been about Jane. IN Austen's letter Jane is treated first and then Wickham; the 1995 movie reverses this in order to emphasize the jealousy angle (both of Elizabeth as a woman he wants and of Wickham as an ex-semi-brother rival for his father's affections) and to make that charitable ending (as he should feel guilty about Jane now that he realizes she has been badly hurt)t makes ready sense. People (and realistic characters) are inconsistent and jump about so the letter clearly works whichever part comes first.

I see him in Austen's scene where he learns of Lydia's running away as feeling terrible himself, guilty over his pride (once again) and (yes) still self-involved. He's not a socializing kind of person and not going to change that much, and while very kind and thinking Elizabeth realizes that (not seeing her fully again), he goes off with the idea in his mind of doing something. We do not realize this until much later.

As to the marriage, we are told this will as happy a union as people can have: two utterly congenial people with lots of money and the ability to retreat when they want to. It's not perfect; their temperaments fit that's all. WE are told a few of the troubles they have: Mr Bennet perhaps visits too often, certainly Lydia's requests for money are to be kept out of Mr Darcy's sight (he would not like to think perhaps this marriage he concocted is not going well though would not expect it to). The book ends on that last paragraph so we know no more. Period. Unlike the later books, Austen gave no hints to her relatives about how she thought about them later beyond we have in the book (though she did of Mary) ....

Ellen

misssylviadrake
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
The films and Austen's book compared (2)
On the interpretations of the actors: Rintoul played Darcy imperiously; on his way to propose we see in his behavior to his dog a man who is arrogant and thinks he will just get an immediate yes; he is rigid with anger and hurt when he leaves. The same gap as occurs in the book occurs in the 79 movie; we are to assume offstage he had an evolution but he is still the upper class powerful man and knows it and knows what he has to offer; he is seeing Elizabeth for the first time, and Rintoul in the scene where the two go over Lydia's letter is warm with Garvey abject with grief; Rintoul is stunned (she is now ruined unless something is done, this is terrible). In 1979 Lydia as ruined was not quite as obsolete an idea as it was nearly 2 decades later.

Firth (I think) played Darcy very warmly, emotionally, as someone if not "very shy" as the problem (Macfadyan says that how he sees him and he does not play him as superproud at all, but rather personally shrinking from social contact with people he cannot like) and I don't think he was cold when he walked out. Angry but not as angry as Rintoul because not as high and mighty in the first place. The sense of distance between the two in 1995 has lessened from 1979. Also there is some comedy in Firth's walking back and forth; he conveys the sense he is making a fool of himself somewhat and knows it, but does not know how to break the "ice." I find him warm and touching in his tones at the inn over Lydia's letter: he must snatch her back but not stunned and Elizabeth while distressed not abject and traumatized in the way of Garvey. I find his acting the most supple of all three because he manages a more psychologized evolution because he has a script which allows this (the long flashback) so when we see him again he has the advantage of having shown us the inner man more by his good deeds and at the same time Davies keeps an awful lot of the original Austen language.

The proposal scene in the 2005 movie is perhaps the most convincing of all three. I know that will go down hard because the film is farthest from the book in many ways -- and meant to be. Wright does not like Austen. But in his willingness to look at her book without hagiographical eyes, I do think he makes that proposal into a real clash, very angry, and the language (rewritten by Emma Thompson as is Charlotte's moving defense speech) is very effective. The wrath of both comes out strongly as well as erotic desire. The Jane part suffers.

The 2005 film moves very swiftly over the Lydia/Wickham business in the latter part of the film, they really don't want to go "there" anymore than they have to: what they do is suggest Wickham will be brutal (we see him push her hard) and a nervous and naive Lydia (remember how she throws her handkerchief out as if life were a romantic tournament). The 2005 Lydia is silly and unprotected; she has not acted badly; Darcy to the rescue, but there are limits to what he can do once she is married to Wickham and there are no eyes on them. Lydia in the 1995 film is obnoxious, dense, a bully to Mary; in the 1979 she is catty, needling -- which I take her to be in Austen only she is also more than a little stupid, and simply oblivious to the hurt she causes, somewhat like Mrs Bennet: Austen's Lydia is Mrs Bennet's favorite because the nearest to a repeat of herself.

Each movie reflects its era. Most of us in 2009 are not bothered by the idea someone has sex with someone else outside marriage and the idea the family is lost forever goes nowhere in Wright's movie where the Bennet family does not present a false and performative face to the world (as may be seen in the opening scenes in the house). Wright and Moggach were both candid in their comments that they were determined to reach the modern younger audience. The 1979 movie was intended for a older and probably readers of Austen; the 1995 movie is somewhere in-between.


Ellen


Edited at 2010-11-26 07:22 pm (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Aug. 8th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
On actors playing Darcy
From Tracy Marks:

"Responding to Sylwia and Ellen -

Sylwia wrote:

In regard to the book, I wouldn't say that Darcy was oblivious to Elizabeth's feelings and needs at the moment, but how actually should he have behaved?


My point was not about Darcy in the book - but Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth and David Rintoul.

Ellen wrote:

On the interpretations of the actors: Rintoul played Darcy imperiously; on his way to propose we see in his behavior to his dog a man who is arrogant and thinks he will just get an immediate yes; he is rigid with anger and hurt when he leaves. The same gap as occurs in the book occurs in the '79 movie; we are to assume offstage he had an evolution but he is still the upper class powerful man and knows it and knows what he has to offer; he is seeing Elizabeth for the first time, and Rintoul in the scene where the two go over Lydia's letter ....Rintoul is stunned (she is now ruined unless something is done, this is terrible). In 1979 Lydia as ruined was not quite as obsolete an idea as it was nearly 2 decades later.


Interesting. I had not thought of the differences as pertaining to the times. In 1979 we were still in the sexual revolution, not post-sexual-revolution, with many still influenced by the 50s mentality (as well as the pre-birth control days, in which the sexual code in regard to women was therefore quite rigid)


Firth (I think) played Darcy very warmly, emotionally, as someone if not"very shy" as the problem...


What I think is amazing about Firth is that while Rintoul and MacFadyan and both somewhat flat and one-dimension in their expression of emotion, Firth is able to convey a wide range and depth of feelings in his face and gestures.......so we do really feel his attraction and caring for Elizabeth, as well as his anger, conflict with himself, etc.

(Macfadyan says that how he sees him and he does not play him as superproud at all, but rather personally shrinking from social contact with people he cannot like) and I don't think he was cold when he walked out.


Macfadyan was completely lacking Darcy's self-possession, but he did convey some of Darcy's sensitivity.

Ellen continuing about Firth:

Angry but not as angry as Rintoul because not as high and mighty in the first place. The sense of distance between the two in 1995 has lessened from 1979. Also there is some comedy in Firth's walking back and forth; he conveys the sense he is making a fool of himself somewhat and knows it, but does not know how to break the "ice."


It's very touching to see his vulnerability here....his desire to maintain his dignity while at the same time he is losing it.

I find him warm and touching in his tones at the inn over Lydia's letter: he must snatch her back but not stunned and Elizabeth while distressed not abject and traumatized in the way of Garvey. I find his acting the most supple of all three because he manages a more psychologized evolution because he has a script which allows this (the long flashback) so when we see him again he has the advantage of having shown us the inner man more by his good deeds and Davies keeps an awful lot of the original acting.


I agree, though I do think that Firth is a little too cold/detached than Darcy would have been when he leaves Elizabeth after the Lydia/Wickham revelation - but with a coolness that is necessary to the dramatization of the story in a time in which such a scandal would not taken as seriously.


Each movie reflects its era. Most of us are not bothered by the idea someone has sex with someone else outside marriage and the idea the family is lost forever goes nowhere in a movie where the family is shown to be not
presenting a false and performative face to the world.


That is most obvious in the 1940s P&P with Olivier. Ye Gods - the 1940s hairdos and clothes. There wasn't even an effort to dress the sisters in anything like Regency dresses.

Tracy Marks
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