Three Favorite Jane Austen Screen Adaptations

July 18, 2017, marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, my favorite (deceased) author.

JASNA Truth Universally Acknowledged Book Always Better

To honor her work, we rewatched all of the screen adaptations that we could easily get our hands on.

Jane Austen Rewatch Owned Adaptations

Here, in short, are three of my absolute favorites. (For links to the complete reviews, visit my post A Jane Austen Rewatch Project for the 200th Anniversary of Her Passing.)

Sense and Sensibility (anonymously published in 1811) is by far my favorite Austen novel, and my favorite adaptation is the Andrew Davies miniseries (directed by John Alexander; 2008). It stars Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield as Elinor and Marianne. Both were new to me, but I was familiar with the significant male actors: Dan Stevens (Mr. Edward Ferrars) is in the first few seasons of Downton Abbey, David Morrissey (Colonel Brandon) portrays the confused faux-Doctor in the Doctor Who Christmas special “The Next Doctor”, and Dominic Cooper (Mr. Willoughby) as young Howard Stark scratches science to see if it bleeds in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter (and rules as King Llane Wrynn in the Warcraft movie).

It was a gutsy choice of Davies to begin the series with Willoughby’s explicit seduction of a 15-year-old girl, an event which happens very much off-screen in the novel and most adaptations, but becomes the crux of the plot.

The series does have some issues. For example, the Devonshire “cottage” that the financially strained Dashwood ladies had to accept was turned into a literal cottage instead of a good, solid house from the novel. The events are condensed, sure, but their pace doesn’t feel rushed like in the movie versions. Most of the writing, acting, propping, and costuming are solid to excellent.

Jane Austen Rewatch Three Favorites

Emma (1815) was the fourth and last of Austen’s works to be published during her lifetime, and the Emma miniseries from 2009 (adapted by Sandy Welch, directed by Jim O’Hanlon) outshines the other adaptations. (Unsuprisingly, the miniseries format serves Austen’s nuance much better than the movie length.)

The version has several strengths, starting with excellent casting. Romola Garai stars as Emma Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller (who has more recently – and deservedly – starred as Sherlock Holmes in the series Elementary) as Mr. Knightley. Miller’s is by far the most enjoyable Mr. Knightley performance I’ve seen. Mr. Knightley is often played as rather curt and strict, which I find not just offputting but a mistake.

All major characters are introduced at the beginning of episode 1, which helps people new to Austen. Moreover, this version does the epilogue clearly and succinctly, without massive infodumping. In addition, I immensely enjoy the music, the set dressing, costuming and propping, and other visuals. It’s a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable Emma. In fact, if the same team were to make other Austen adaptations, I’d go to great lenghts to see them.

Finally, Persuasion is a novel of pressures, choices, and second chances, posthumously published in 1817. The 1995 movie version of Persuasion is excellent. The screenplay is by Nick Dear, and Roger Mitchell directed Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I really like Root’s understated and considerate version of Anne; Hinds works well enough even if a few scenes tend towards hammy.

Although the picture quality is grainy, the soundtrack is nice and there are subtitles (not a given on older DVDs). The props, locations, and costuming are also great. This is my favorite version so far—in an ideal world, of course, we would be due another adaptation.

For links to the complete mini-reviews of these and all of the other adaptations, visit my post A Jane Austen Rewatch Project for the 200th Anniversary of Her Passing.

Images: Book is always better screencap from JASNA website. Both DVD images by Eppu Jensen.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

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Flashback Friday: AFR 115: Don’t Die So Close to Me

In the morning, my logic brain was busy blocking the day and arranging my To-Do list, when the art brain suddenly burst out with “Don’t stand– Don’t stand in– Don’t stand in the fire!”

AFR115

The joke comes from Erik’s previous online comic, Away from Reality. AFR is a World of Warcraft fan comic, and this one, number 115, is called “Don’t Die So Close to Me”.

Of course, having been jolted out of my multitasking-while-not-realising-it state, I had to sing the whole thing. Multiple times. 🙂

“Young warrior, the subject of mob abilities.

He’s tanking so badly, he doesn’t even see.

He got too distracted. He full of rage inside.

He should have been moving–

Instead he stood and died.

 

Don’t stand– Don’t stand in– Don’t stand in the fire!

Don’t stand– Don’t stand in– Don’t stand in the fire!”

(The tune is “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police.)

While my To-Do list probably would be in a better state had I finished it at one go, my day was definitely made. Thank you, art brain. 😀

Image: Away from Reality #115: “Don’t Die So Close to Me” by Erik Jensen

Some things are just too silly not to share!

Annihilation Teaser Trailer

The opening volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation, will hit the big screens in February 2018. The teaser trailer looks wonderful:

Annihilation (2018) – Teaser Trailer – Paramount Pictures

Writer / director Alex Garland seems to be doing a good job on the basis of the little we see. Certainly the effects and scenery are breathtaking. And the cast looks so awesome!

I’ve read the trilogy, but since it leans more towards horror than I’d like my speculative fiction to be, I’m not sure I want to see the movies. I do applaud VanderMeer’s mindfulness, though: he donates part of his royalties from the novels to environmental causes.

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Octavia Butler to Be Adapted for TV

I missed this when it was first announced, but here it is nevertheless: Octavia Butler’s novel Dawn is to be adapted for tv!

Dawn (originally published in 1987) opens the Xenogenesis trilogy (also known as Lilith’s Brood), where the Earth is mostly uninhabitable and humanity almost extinct until the alien Oankali intervene. Writer / producer / director Ava DuVernay and Charles D. King (Macro Ventures) are slated for executive producer posts, and writer / director Victoria Mahoney for the adaptation itself.

I first read the trilogy in the early 1990s in Finnish translation. The books have stayed with me, although over the years it became clear I’d forgotten quite a bit. Some 20 years later, I got my own omnibus in English to (re)read, and the trilogy was just as excellent as I remembered.

Looking forward to seeing what the team makes of Dawn! (Also, note to self: read more Butler!)

Star Trek: Discovery Poster & Trailers

A whole slew of tidbits and sneak peeks for the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery were unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con, including this GORGEOUS poster:

Tor com SDCC star-trek-discovery-poster

The official trailer was also released at the con:

Star Trek: Discovery – Official Trailer by Star Trek

It adds nicely to the first teaser trailer:

Star Trek: Discovery – First Look Trailer by Star Trek

I am getting chills every time I see either—definitely looking forward to Discovery! Who knows, it may even replace Deep Space Nine as my favorite Star Trek franchise.

Image: CBS via Tor.com

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Major Roman Roads Subway Map Style

A very, very cool map of major Roman roads done in subway map style:

Shasha Trubetskoy roman_roads_24_jun

Made by Sasha Trubetskoy, statistics major and designer, artist, and geography and data nerd.

Really fascinating! I know there were also some Roman roadworks running at least partially across the land from east to west along Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, but I don’t know whether there ever was a complete major road there.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.

Disney’s Hercules Made into a Dress Mimicking Ancient Greek Pottery

Hercules and Hercules: Hero to Zero, Disney’s animated stories based on the Heracles myth, are now available to wear. Sort of.

HotTopic Hercules Dress1
Disney Hercules Pottery Dress from HotTopic

“You’ve probably heard of Disney’s Hercules… he’s kind of a big deal. This fun pottery montage design dress includes Hercules performing various feats of strength. The pottery banner reads ‘From Zero to Hero’ around the skirt.”

HotTopic Hercules Dress2
Disney Hercules Pottery Dress from HotTopic

I don’t typically care for merchandise based on superheroes or animated characters. This dress is kinda neat, though, as far as the print design goes. The material, however, disappoints: 95% polyester and 5% spandex. Wearing what’s essentially a plastic bag has no appeal to me at all.

Found via Fashionably Geek.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Mistaken Identity: No Female Dwarf Love in Warcraft: The Beginning

I mentioned that we re-watched Warcraft: The Beginning, the movie based on the MMORPG World of Warcraft. I had forgotten that in a council scene in Stormwind, there’s a short glimpse of a woman who looks like she might be a Dwarf. Here’s a screencap:

Warcraft The Beginning Council Scene Sm

She’s at the right hand of the screen, walking towards Anduin Lothar (the prominent man in the middle). And with a DVD, you can of course stop and check out details you miss at the theater. Who knows, I thought, it might lead to cosplay in real life or a transmog in game!

I was pretty excited, because female Dwarves are my absolute favorite race / gender combo to play in WoW. (I love female Dwarf cosplay and fan art, too!)

Anyway, the WTB DVD has a few extras including deleted and extended scenes, among them this council scene. The woman in question even has a few lines. Hooray! Here’s a screencap from the extended scene:

Warcraft The Beginning Council Scene Extras Sm

Alas, I was triply disappointed. As it turns out, not only is she unnamed, she’s a human woman, not a Dwarf. Adding injury to insult, they had to go and cut her speech.

While it was great to see additional female faces (because the, shall we say politely, scant amount of women in the movie is frustrating), it’s getting really, really tiresome to witness women’s performances end up on the cutting room floor in favor of another 30 seconds of impersonal, wood-faced clones of tin soldiers whacking at each other en masse.

Here there be opinions!

Wonder Woman Theme Bagpipe / Metal Cover

This irresistible version of the Wonder Woman theme is played on a bagpipe and an electric guitar and backed up by a heavy metal drum track:

Wonder Woman Theme Bagpipe Cover | Metal Version | The Snake Charmer by TheSnakeCharmer

Produced and guitar by Karan Katiyar, bagpipes by Archy J / The Snake Charmer.

I was wondering how on earth it might work, but it did and so, so well: the hair on my arms stood up within the first five seconds—surefire way to know a piece of music is really great!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Texts from Wonder Woman: Weaknesses

One of the brilliant takes among The Best Wonder Woman Texts From Superheroes (No Movie Spoilers):

Texts from Wonder Woman Weaknesses

  • Batman: So what are your weaknesses?
  • Wonder Woman: What do you mean?
  • Batman: I’m just making a list. Green Lantern can’t affect yellow, Superman is hurt by Kryptonite, Flash is bad with cold. What about you?
  • Wonder Woman: Put down nothing.
  • Batman: You’re saying you don’t have any weaknesses?
  • Wonder Woman: I’m saying if I did I wouldn’t be dumb enough to tell people what they are.

Go and read more!

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.