Pride and Prejudice: Anybody for some humble-pie?

*Just to clarify: I have NOT watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I do plan on watching it at some stage, but for the moment I have too many TV series taking up my precious screen time.

Since coming to university, I have realised that I am not particularly in love with Jane Austen’s literature. I’ve read most of her books and there is something about the slow tempo of her novels, combined with the mixture of frock-ridden drags, old crocs, and rich snobs that makes me want to gag slightly. Poor feisty girl meets “I sat on a pinecone and liked it” Darcy and in the end they all live happily ever after.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I am an unrealistic idealist in the sense that I like happy endings. There is something lacking, however, in Austen’s stories. The laborious description of her characters and their surroundings, combined with the not-so-subtle social disparities of characters like Darcy and Lady Catherine all culminate in a rather tiring reading experience. The love between Jane and Bingley is so mild it reminds me of very milky, tepid tea (urgh)!

The romance between pompous Darcy and Elizabeth is about the only thing that endeared me to the book. Elizabeth had just enough spark and sarcasm to make me endure the stifling pace of the storyline. Darcy, on the other hand, was arrogant, haughty, and broody to the point of being interesting. His disdain had a bitter edge to it, but it at least had some flavour. If there is one thing that irritates me in a book, and this is purely my own sense of preference, it is a lack of passion between people in love. It would be unfair of me, however, to label Pride and Prejudice as a dispassionate romance because it is not. The passion in the book is merely restrained to the point of suffocation by the social requirements of the times. The characters noticeably bear the burden of ‘propriety’ and it just about kills all the depths of emotion that are apparent in characters like Elizabeth and Darcy.

Those are some of my own thoughts and concerns with the book. Feel free to disagree with me. I suppose I should conclude my feelings toward this novel as somewhat confused. I love it in a restrained way. 😉

What then do I think of Joe Wright’s film adaption of Pride and Prejudice? I absolutely and unequivocally love this movie! Kiera Knightley was a perfect choice for the character of Elizabeth Bennet. She was brazen enough without being improper, and she stayed true to the character. Dame Judi Dench, as Lady Catherine De Bourg, was utterly electrifying. I was completely engaged and thought that she nailed the regality of her role down to a tee. Those two actresses really stood out to me, but all in all I thought the movie was well-cast.

It was a beautiful film. The English countryside, the soundtrack and the clothing all screamed period piece, which I loved! There were obviously changes that were made to the storyline, but they were effective in creating a visually coherent counterpart to the book. There was just something about watching the movie adaption of Austen’s novel that made it more charming to the eye. My only critique of the movie was that it failed to bring across some of the wit in the dialogue of the book, which was slightly disappointing. All in all, however, the movie was like a breath of fresh air, and this was because it didn’t stick to the dusty verbatim of the book- an enlivening experience to say the least.

See! Who said a movie could never beat its book? I certainly didn’t!

Interesting Quick Fact: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was published in 2009 and written by Seth Grahame-Smith. It is a mash up of Austen’s novel with elements of modern zombie fiction. I have not read this book but if I ever come across it I will definitely give it go. It looks kind of funny, haha, anybody else read it? Opinions?

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Matilda: Danny did you proud

‘Agatha. This is Magnus. Give my bumblebee her house and her money. Then get out of town. If you don’t, I will get you. I will get you like you got me. That is a promise.’ (Matilda Quote)

‘DeVito. This is Rebecca. Give my fav Dahl book a good movie with a good cast. Stay true to the book. If you don’t, I will write terrible things about you. I will get you like you got (but obviously didn’t get) this book. That is a promise.’ (Imagine the creepy chant of little children).

In case you’re starting to wonder if I’ve gone psycho on all of you- don’t worry! As you can see, I just tweaked that famous line a little. If only I had telekinesis for effect! Luckily for DeVito, who directed Matilda in 1996, the movie was everything that it should have been.

I was especially impressed with Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the movie. That kid was a real treat. She seems to have become a part of the dusty catalogue of child-stars who fade into insignificance. But like Simon said on American Idol: “It’s like a mouse taking on an elephant.” Babies shouldn’t be trying to make it in Hollywood; it’s a tough world out there. Anyway, she made a fabulous Matilda. The end.

The cast for this movie was perfect. There was an inversion with her parents that I found quite hysterical. In the book the mom is short and fat and the dad is tall and thin. In the movie, well, DeVito plays the dad so he’s the short and tubby one and the mom is tall and thin.

Let’s not forget darling Miss Trunchbull, played by Pam Ferris (a fierce name for a fierce gal). A principal to be feared, this character has it all. Her vindictive nature has real punch and if you don’t toe the line: off to the chokey. You can’t help but love Dahl, there is always some cruel comic twist and he tells the truth, no scales, nothing. Life’s hard; he doesn’t spare you because you’re too young. But he does provide you with decent escapism to help you through! Again, the casting for this character was fan-Dan-tastic!

I must mention Miss Honey, played by Embeth Davidz. I have subsequently seen this actress in some other films (Bridget Jones’ Diary) and that soft, gentle look she has is a real act. She made a great Miss Honey, however, and so we’ll forget the other characters she has played subsequently- for now.

I’m still amazed by this movie. It was exactly like the book and that’s what made it perfect. Careful thought, and consideration went into this project and Danny DeVito deserves a standing ovation (it’s not like he won a Grammy for it). Thanks to him, my favourite childhood book was made into a really good film; leaving me with no criticisms for it.

Down the Rabbit Hole (Warning: Spoiler Alert)

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was very different to Disney’s animated version of the story. Having read both of Lewis Carroll’s books (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) I think that I can say that this movie is both like and unlike the books. It takes Alice’s story to a deeper, darker level- curiouser and curiouser- to the point.

Tim Burton likes the darker side to life typically, so I’m not surprised that Alice mistakenly calls it Wonderland when in the movie’s version it is actually called Underland. It has an interesting parallel between the light and the dark, the white queen and the red queen.

The movie is visually stunning and I have always loved Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s partnership in Burton’s movies. Mia Wasikowska as Alice was also a brilliant choice on Burton’s part. She is definitely an Alice- whether she is the real Alice… well, one can only speculate. Rumor has it that Burton actually wanted Anne Hathaway to play Alice and have Nigella Lawson play the White Queen because she was his inspiration for the character. True Story.

The film is truly based on the books but cannot be watched with the expectation that it will follow the books’ storyline in any way. Perhaps that is why I actually enjoyed the movie, because I was viewing it as a completely unique version of Carroll’s stories. It has a different take on Wonderland… Wonderland is all trippy and delicious whereas Underland is all dark and quirky. Both the movie and the books take you down the rabbit hole on an adventure that is scary and nonsensical at the same time.

The March Hare for me was absolutely hysterical! That rabbit looked as if he had survived being strapped to dynamite- brilliant, totally brilliant! The Red Queen and her massive head also had me in stitches. I was slightly disappointed with Anne Hathaway’s performance however. She looked stunning but I was waiting for some talent and grand acting. I just got looks. She was a poser in the movie, not an actress. Her role was completely overshadowed by the fantastically wondrous White Palace and the faithful hound.

In my mind I wanted Alice and the Mad Hatter to end up together. My friend Robyn gave me the idea while I was reading her blog post on the movie and I completely agree with her. Why did Alice leave wonderland? She could have stayed and her and the Hatter could have had weirdly wonderful babies and had a tea filled, hat making, rabbit chasing rest of their lives together. On the other hand I liked it that Alice didn’t end up with anyone. This may sound like women championing, feminist fluff but I don’t care. Alice didn’t need a man to end her story. She asserted her independence from that stereotype and went into a business venture instead- sailing off into the distance in style!

All in all I liked what Burton did in his movie but I also recommend that people read Carroll’s books. My friend Robyn said that Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland was full of mean people and I see her point. The flowers called Alice a weed, the caterpillar had an anger problem, and the queen was out to get her head. Disney didn’t let poor Alice catch a break! I love them all.. I can’t choose! Anyone that can take me down the rabbit hole has automatically won me over because it is there, in that fantastic Wonder-under-land, that I never fail to have an absolute blast!