Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hurray for Jane

My name is Anya, and I’m a Jane Austin fan.

There, I’ve said it.

In a world where everyone and their grandmother will jump on any bandwagon rolling by, I’ve kept my adoration of JA close to my chest. There are so many reasons to love her, including her wit and style, her characters and ability to pull you into a time and place so you feel you are there, the laugh-out-loud moments. All of these, and so many others, make her novels worthwhile reads. I read both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility as a teenager. Not even having S&S as one of my final examination books could spoil the pleasure.

I’m also generally speaking, a purist. Movie adaptations generally leave me cold. I’d rather read the book.


...Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the A&E adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Need I say more?

There is one particular scene I absolutely adore, and when I get to a point in my career where I can successfully get a moment like that on to paper, I’ll probably run screaming down the street in glee. Hopefully I’ll not have been writing commando at the time.

Scene: In the withdrawing room, at Pemberley. Elizabeth Bennett has just finished playing and singing, and sits at the pianoforte speaking to Mr. Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. Elizabeth compliments Miss Darcy on the fineness of the instrument, and is told it was a gift from her brother; a gift she is quite sure she does not deserve. Elizabeth reassures her on that point, saying she is quite sure if Mr. Darcy deemed her deserving of such a fine present, it must be so, for,
“...as you know, he is never wrong.”

At that moment, Mr. Darcy looks across the room, only to find himself the focus of the two young ladies attention. He freezes, his eyes flicker from one to the other, and in his face can be seen a sensation we all have, at one time or another, felt.

They are obviously talking about him. What are they saying?

You can see his lack of confidence, only marginally tempered by hope.

In the film the moment is fleeting. If you take a sip of your drink you will miss it. To the story itself, it is a major turning point. Darcy is portrayed as all that is proud, a man supremely confident of his place in the world. In that one swift moment, we see the transformation of his character to a humbler place more clearly than any soliloquy could have told.

I love it, and for me there can only be one film Darcy...just watching him walk away from Elizabeth in the garden at Pemberley is enough to make me sigh. Of course, his prior dip in the pond is artistic license at its height, since it doesn’t appear in the book and Jane Austin probably rolled in her grave when they added it in. But even a purist like me can appreciate, greatly, Colin Firth in a wet linen shirt, breeches and riding boots!

(To see a really nice shot of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, entitled “IBM, Ideal Breeding Material” click here.)

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