One of the best things I heard all week was this NPR report (you can listen to it at the link) about how the Jane Austen Society reacted to the new feature film version of Pride and Prejudice when it was screened at a recent gathering of theirs.
While not a rabid, learned Austen devotee, I am proudly and plainly a Jane fan and count Pride and Prejudice among my top five favorite books ever. That said, in my estimation, her incredibly witty love story is sacred ground that should not be carelessly trodden upon by any filmmaker. So when I first rested my eyes upon the new film's trailer as it uncoiled onto the silver screen, I recoiled with as much disgust as Elizabeth did when hearing Mr. Elden's awkward proposal.
First of all, casting the pouty Keira Knightley as Miss Bennett? Hell, no! And if you're going to pick her due to her obvious good looks, could you please not dye her hair a mousy brown, set the blow dryer to "frazzle" and leave her cheeks unpinched of all color? While I didn't catch the lead actor's name, as Mr. Darcy he looked all wrong himself. Not at all exquisitely dashing. And what's up with the drab color palette? I realize the English countryside can have its grey days, but don't suck all the life out of it visually. It all just felt so wrong. As the trailer ended, I knew immediately I would not be setting down my $10.50 to see it. I'd rather suffer through two hours of Domino with KK sticking out her lip and pistol as a bounty hunter than witness her bounding and gagging Austen's nimble masterpiece.
During the NPR report, which awoke me in the a.m. as it played on my clock radio, I was much comforted to hear that many members of the Jane Austen Society reacted as negatively as I did to the film. One member complained that much of the dialogue had been rewritten, and not with period accuracy. Egad! Thank god I was lying down when I heard that! Another said Keira's bent posture and gaped-mouth pout were not that of a Regency lady and that the Bennett girls' hair looked a wreck whether they had just awoken or just turned a charming step at the ball. Another called out that the pigs were penned too close to the house! OK, I can live with some animal husbandry inaccuracies, but tampering with Jane's delightful dialogue?! Tantamount to literary treason! Speaking of pigs being too close for comfort. Pearls before swine! Pearls before swine.
When director Joe Wright was interviewed about the Jane fans' negative feedback during the NPR segment, he said he didn't care. He had made the film for himself and that the Jane Austen Society members who didn't like the movie could go "jump in a lake." Jump in a lake, mind you! How indelicate. Shocking really. Hmpf! I must say, I loathe his prideful, dismissive attitude with such a passion, he might just represent the last-to-be-suspected man of my dreams.