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?