Film or Novel, Jane’s Appeal is Universal

Film or Novel, Jane’s Appeal is Universal

In my post from last month I mentioned that my poor, maligned brother doesn’t ‘get’ Jane Austen on any level. Turns out that is not the case. Apparently, he ‘gets’ Sense and Sensibility, according to him – the movie anyway, and this is all thanks to the comely Kate Winslet and her tragic appeal. He swears it’s not just her beauty and fine performance that makes him love the film so much, which I hope is true. In my opinion, there’s much to love about it, including the direction by Ang Lee, Emma Thompson’s wonderful screen adaptation, her perfect portrayal of Elinor, and the charming Hugh Grant as the hapless Edward Ferrars.

Of course, we mustn’t forget the late, great, Allan Rickman, who, while not perhaps my first choice as the ideal Colonel Brandon, many people adore in that role. (I always wish for Colonel Brandon to be a bit sexier for Marianne’s sake; but, that’s the key to the outcome – that he doesn’t have the sex appeal of Willoughby, that’s he’s older and more solid, yet a much better choice for her…not to mention that Willoughby ends up having such obvious flaws. Still, a girl can dream.)

I know some Janeites who get annoyed that certain fans only know Austen’s works through her films, and I may have been one of those staunch proponents of the novels until my brother’s revelations. I mean, I’m a believer in actually reading her books in order to fully understand her genius. But then, not everyone is a big reader. Some people have trouble with the old-fashioned language. Other people, perhaps with challenges like dyslexia or ADD, find reading, in general, challenging. Why shouldn’t those people get to enjoy Austen, even if it’s in the more limited context of the various film and TV adaptations? Though no film or TV version can ever capture the amazing nuances of the books, some of them come pretty close. And besides, it’s not just my brother who is swept away by a pretty, cinematic face. We are all guilty of swooning over the gorgeous Darcys, in particular of the Firth and MacFadyen ilk.

So, I say, any way we can enjoy Austen, or help others to enjoy her, is relevant. I am quite tickled that my brother, whom I thought was a completely hopeless case when it comes to Jane, actually loves one of the film versions of her books, and therefore, by proxy, the book itself. Just when I’d given the poor boy up for lost, he manages to surprise me. Hmmm, I wonder whom we can recruit next?

27 Responses to Film or Novel, Jane’s Appeal is Universal

  1. My husband at least knows the name of my favorite author but I can’t get him or any of my off-spring to watch and love JA like I do. Maybe my granddaughters will oblige me. I did buy them the children’s classic versions.

  2. I’ve given up on trying to convince my spouse to watch the adaptations and he’s not much of a reader so I have never even tried to get him to read the novels. I’m hoping though that my daughter will grow to love both books and film as I would love someone else in the family to share them with.

  3. It is amazing the appeal that Austen does have – I have met lots of people who said they saw an Austen adaptation and fell in love even though they NEVER would have thought it possible. She surpasses all time and place! I can’t get enough of JAFF or Austen.

  4. I love the Sense and Sensibility movie! I adore Allen Rickman! I also think Collin Firth makes a perfect Mr. Darcy. I enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoy the movies based on them.

  5. I think I saw the S&S movie before I read the book. Because I remember reading the book and coming across the part where Marianne was sick and Eleanor thought the approaching carriage was her mother and… instead it was Willoughby. I was so stunned because that was not in the ’95 movie. It was in the earlier 1981 version.

    And… in the ’95 version, I will always love Alan Rickman… oh, my.

  6. I too came to Jane Austen through a BBC series back in the eighties. Surprise, surprise when I mentioned it, my brother told me he had the book, which was P&P and gave it to me to read. Now don’t get excited, seems he had it for english in school. He despised it!!! Said he hadn’t a clue what she was talking about:)
    But I was a goner from the first reading and loved them all since.

  7. My Dear Hubby is a keeper because he: 1) goes to every JA movie with me, and 2) remembers each one and can tell them apart. ??? I will mention.Persuasion (my fav book and movie) and he says “isn’t that the one where she falls off the wall?” No, girls, he’s mine.

    • You are indeed a lucky gal, Teresa! My husband has gotten more into the Austen films over time, but still has trouble reading the books. However, as he is always my first beta-reader, even with my Jaff, he now knows P&P inside and out! Ask him who Lady Catherine is…he knows! Ask him what he thinks of Mr. Collins…he’ll say he’s a jerk. He’s learning!

  8. Nice post. I, too, have noooooo problem with people coming to Austen through the films. Whatever reels them in! From there, I sink the hook with Austen on audio books. Here’s a link for EXCELLENT Audible audio books at 99 cents each (no membership required). By purchasing the specific free Kindle ebook first, the Audible audio book gets a companion-price markdown to 99 cents. It only works if you buy the (free) ebook BEFORE the audio book. Most Austens are on the list.

  9. I completely agree, Georgina. On the other hand, and you can imagine I’m whispering this admission, my first experience with Jane Austen’s work, strange as this may sound, was when some college friends dragged me to Emma. I hadn’t read any Austen. I hadn’t seen any of the other movies or TV shows. At the time, I only watched action films, really. Anyhow, I hated it. I didn’t get that it was supposed to be funny, so I found it annoying. For years after that, until I read the actual books, I was quite sure I did not care for Jane Austen. I didn’t ‘get it’ until I read her actual words, and then it all made sense šŸ™‚ That said, I still very much agree with you that different modes of disseminating her work are a great idea.

  10. Georgina, Thank you for a fun post. I do agree that the most wonderful part of Jane Austen’s writings are that whether they are written or translated to film, they stand the test of time. It’s interesting to learn the different takes on actors playing particular characters,and the subtleties that women may be quicker to pick up on. (Not always, but most of the time.) šŸ™‚

  11. I must agree with Ria’s statement as I,too,think that scene is simply wonderful!

    As for whether we should read all Austen’s books to understand the power of her words and her fantastic talent,I think that whatever medium we choose to access and later love and appreciate her great works,is fine by me.

    Whether it’s an audiobook,student version or indeed a pretty face in a film that whets your appetite for more,then that’s perfectly acceptable to me!

    Her words and gift are exquisite and to be able to read and understand them is not something everyone can do.

    By the way,I,too,loved Alan Rickman in S&S!

  12. I could not let this pass unchallenged…
    How can you say Allan Rickman is not sexy? He is a manly man and I would choose him over a pretty boy any day šŸ˜‰
    I have ADHD…that makes it a challenge to concentrate on boring subjects. However, I have no problem on concentrating on subjects that interests me which my reading of 624 books (mostly P&P variations) the last year and half can attest (I have resently counted).
    Must admit though that my husband is less impressed. He groans when I put on the movie, maybe because it’s the 50th time…

  13. I’m of the opinion that the scene where Edward confesses he did not marry Lucy and Elinor breaks into emotion while the others make a quick exit not knowing what else to do, is one of the best scenes in any movie made at anytime. It is just so well done. I love this adaptation. I like others too but that one scene alone makes this version have a special place in my heart.

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