Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part One

About a year ago for my previous birthday, my mum purchased me a six dvd set of mostly old BBC adaptations of the main Jane Austen novels.  Given that my lappy lacks a dvd player and I am not someone who watches tv all that much, none of the adaptations are ones that I am familiar with, but it happened that on a fairly lazy Sunday (namely today), my mum and our hostess expressed an interest in watching one of the dvds, so we chose to watch the dvd for Pride & Prejudice.  Given my occasional efforts at liveblogging, here goes.

3:22PM:  It’s nice to see BBC pluggings its American affiliate.

3:24PM:  Let’s get started, with some classy cartoon drawings.  And we’re watching a stout 1980’s vintage impression of Longbourn, with some well-dressed ut not very athletic actresses running across a lawn.

3:25PM:  It’s interesting that Charlotte Lucas is getting the opening lines.  Lizzy and Charlotte are talking about marriage, giving their opinions, before Mr. and Mrs. Bennet discuss the “designs” of Mr. Bingley.  Mr. Bennet looks less old and a bit less drily humorous than usual, and Charlotte less plain than one would expect, but Lizzy and Mrs. Bennet are pretty much what one would expect.

3:29PM:  The adaptation fills in a lot of the gaps, showing Mr. Bennet visit Mr. Bingley, and showing the somewhat tiresome nature of how these aristocratic women spend their time.  It is clear that the lighting budget is a bit low, as a contemporary adaptation would not have the sort of shadows that one sees on the walls here.  Kitty’s coughing is on point though.  Mary is definitely sufficiently dowdy in an inspired casting choice, although her hair is a bit short.

3:32PM:  Mr. Bennet has a lot of good lines, but he laughs a bit too much at them.  Lydia is surprisingly pretty, even if she is definitely young, and Kitty is painted as quite attractive as well.  Kitty and Lydia are certainly silly.  The girls show themselves as attempting to spy out the way that neighbors look from upstairs windows.  Jane is rather serious; definitely lovely but surprisingly serious.  Mary looks to be cast out of the 1900’s than out of the 1800’s.  The hairstylist didn’t do her any favors with her modish cut.

3:35PM:  We finally get to meet Mrs. Lucas, who looks like she has had plenty of experience with the local Meryton dentist.  All of the Bennet girls are lovely and well-dressed, except for Mary.  It’s time for the assembly, where we see some fine string players working on their Playel [2] and Haydn while the usual dancing goes forth.  These town people are definitely plain, that’s for sure.  The extras were not hired for their attractiveness, to be sure.  This adaptation wasn’t done with an eye towards getting the most glamorous cast, and there is a lot of gossiping to be found here.

3:39PM:  Nice to see lots of dissing of Darcy for being proud early on here from Mrs. Bennet.  There are plenty of words here to be forgotten and re-imagined later.

3:40PM:  It’s interesting to see that the harsh comments directed against Mr. Darcy began before his ungentlemanly comment about Elizabeth not being handsome enough to tempt him, a comment he definitely regretted later on.  The dancing here is competent, but not professional.

3:41PM:  How odd it is to have Mrs. Bennet contradict herself in the span of thirty seconds.  Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s dialogue here is quite humorous, though if I was Mr. Bennet I would likely have hidden away in a library myself.  Elizabeth and Jane have a somewhat less witty but more mutually enjoyable conversation, at least.  Here the screenwriters had some interesting ideas about matters of class.  The transitions are excellent here, as the movie movies to a conversation between Darcy and Bingley about the assembly, where Bingley’s sisters add their own snobbery to that of Darcy and the dull Mr. Hurst.

3:46PM:  Here we have some more gossip.  Indeed, this adaptation is really strong in gossip, showing it at nearly every turn.  Once again Mary gets the worst lines and looks like a suffragette out of time–is this some sort of intentional effort on the part of the costume designers?

3:47PM:  And it’s already time for another one of those elegant drawing rooms where there are lots of witty comments, especially from Lizzy and Darcy.  The transitions here are very quick, even though there is some time spent for silence as well, matters that would likely be different in a more contemporary film.  The singing of Lizzy’s character in a song set to the Welsh heathen anthem “Ash Grove” is quite good–she appears overly modest about her singing abilities.  It’s not even pitchy, and Simon Cowell would certainly approve and sign her up for a recording contract.

3:50PM:  Here goes Mary, who is not nearly as good as Lizzy.  Darcy looks very Simon Cowellesque at this performance.  It looks like Mary isn’t getting a golden ticket for Hollywood.  Mr. Lucas is dressed a bit fancy.  Darcy and Lizzy have a spirited conversation, and Miss Bingley is in fine form.

3:53PM:  A quick transaction moves us to a conversation between Charlotte and Lizzy, as they argue over whose parents are the worst.  Charlotte Lucas speaks of being an old maid but is definitely one of the more attractive non-Bennet girls here in this circle.

3:55PM:  We’re already at the point where Jane is invited to Netherfield.  Mrs. Bennet misjudges Elizabeth’s singing skill and shows off her occult skills at weather prediction as Jane gets herself caught in the rain storm and catches a chill as Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet play.  Elizabeth’s walk is more rainy than one would expect, and Mary makes a terrible walking partner, leaving partway through the trip as Elizabeth trudges on through water that looks like the Lake District.

3:59PM:  Elizabeth and Jane have a conversation and the look of the Netherfield party upon Elizabeth’s arrival is set as a mock horror scene, and quite humorous.  Mr. Hurst and Miss Bingley are quite clueless, and the conversation of accomplishments has a certain degree of skill in moving from one character to another, and the facial expressions are well done as well, and the cut scenes between the two sisters upstairs and the Netherfield party are cleverly done.

4:04PM:  The interview between Mrs. Bennet and two of her younger daughters and the Netherfield party.  Elizabeth is certainly clever, as is Mr. Darcy, and Mrs. Bennet is completely clueless.  The younger girls are still silly, though.  They would be rather tiresome very quickly.

4:07PM:  Miss Bingley’s snoggery is in full form here before Mrs. Hurst plays an elegant song with some competence on the pianoforte and Mr. Darcy writes so evenly, as Miss Bingley notes in a fashion that is almost as clueless as Mrs. Bennet.  Elizabeth’s impertinence in refusing opportunities to dance with Mr. Darcy is quite excellence, and the tete-a-tete between Elizabeth and Darcy is quite excellently done.

4:15PM:  The silliness of the Bennet household is truly striking, and very closely drawn, and here the elder two sisters have some silent longing looks to express their own interior depths of emotion.  There is a nice transition here to the longing looks from the Netherfield party.  And so ends Episode One of the miniseries.  None of these actors and actresses are familiar to me, but the casting is mostly good at least.

4:18PM:  Episode two is beginning, and Mrs. Bennet is spending her time railing on Charlotte Lucas, really underestimating her.  Mr. Bennet’s pained looks are very pleasant.  Now it is time for Mr. Collins to visit.  This should be entertaining, as are the expressions of Mrs. Bennet’s nerves.  Now we have a discussion of entails and Mr. Lucas’ letter.

4:22PM:  Mr. Collins is cast here well as well, with the proper superciliousness that one would expect from that stout and clueless clergyman.  Watching Lizzy roll her eyes is worth the price of admission here and the clarinet music is well chosen in the score.  Mr. Lucas’ attempts to appraise the wealth of Longbourn is certainly quite entertaining.

4:26PM:  Mr. Lucas’ folly is well-matched in conversation with Mrs. Bennet, although the adaptation cuts some of the witty lines directed at Mr. Lucas.  Mr. Bennet’s insistence at having the use of his library forces Elizabeth to spend time with someone she despises.  Meryton looks a bit plain with its samish looking rows of brick buildings.  Elizabeth’s prophesies about the silliness of the scene certainly come true.  We finally meet Mr. Wrong here in Mr. Wickham, and he is his oily and charming self.

4:34PM:  Mr. Wickham and Elizabeth have a conversation full of untruths on the part of Wickham and everything Mr. Collins says is ridiculous and humorous, which makes for interesting cut scenes back and forth.

4:39PM:  Now we are listening to people talk about the Netherfield ball and the promise of future enjoyment and the general silliness of the family as a whole.  Now it’s time for complaining about the rain.

4:41PM:  And now it’s time for the Netherfield ball with the misunderstandings and the dances and gossip, the conversations and the fierceness between different people.  One can witness the failure and folly of the Bennet folly in the various short conversations between dances, as it appears that the movie has chosen to focus on dancing and complex conversations rather than the scenes specified in the novel.

4:46PM:  It’s now time for the disastrous marriage proposal of Mr. Collins towards Lizzy.  That was a quick transition.  This is a particularly awkward and cringey interaction.  I hope it doesn’t sound this terrifying when I speak of matters of love and intimacy with others.  With all of Mr. Collin’s folly, his comment about Elizabeth’s elegance in refusing the proposal from someone one secretly wishes to marry certainly applies to Elizabeth’s relationship with Darcy, and so one cannot disregard the wisdom that takes place even from the mouths of the most foolish characters in Jane Austen’s fiction.

4:53PM:  Immediately after this there is notice of the Bingleys and company leaving Netherfield to spend the winter in town.  Too bad Miss Bingley’s writing is so insincere and so catty.  If she were any catty she would have whiskers and a flicking tail.

4:57PM:  Mr. Collin’s slyness in leaving Longbourn to go to Lucas Lodge to woo Miss Lucas is admirable.  Poor Mr. Collins is such a terrible wooer, and Miss Lucas’ request to tell Elizabeth first about the engagement is a wise and thoughtful one.  One almost wishes that Jane Austen had given Charlotte the motive of being bitten by a zombie in order to accept such an obviously prudential marriage.  The Bennet family’s reaction to the news is rather entertaining.

5:04PM:  Now we see a witty conversation between Elizabeth and Wickham where he gives more lies to her, something which is rather frustrating.  Now we see the sensible Mrs. Gardiner and her London fashions.  With the warning not to elope with Wickham episode two ends.

5:14PM:  We’re pausing a bit to let our hostess cook up some chicken.  Time to write the rest of my other book review.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part One

  1. Pingback: Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part Two | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part Four | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part Five | Edge Induced Cohesion

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