Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thomas Hardy Meets Jane Austen

In recent years Thomas Hardy has been making his way into Jane Austen movie adaptations. My question is why? Hardy is well for lack of a better word: hard. His characters face hardships and poverty is openly seen. Austen is different. Her world is a world of manners and social situations. The Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice has the girls feeding chickens and shows the muck and the mire of Regency England. Jane and Elizabeth even share not only a room, but a bed. The thing is, Mr. Bennet's estate is worth around 2000 pounds a year. This may make him poor because of the entailment and having no sons, but he by no means needs to use his daughters to help run the farm. Plus the actual farm would be away from the main house.

The Kate Beckinsale version of Emma also shows the poverty and the muck and the mire. This is why I prefer the Gwenyth Paltrow version. Besides Jeremy Northam just looks yummy in Regency clothing.

It's not that the movies are bad, it's just that they aren't Jane Austen. In today's world we seem to want reality in our historical dramas. While it's historically accurate that's not the point of Austen's books. They're character studies, not poverty studies. So give me my genteel world.

1 comment:

  1. From zombies to aliens! Go, Jane Austen.

    Thought you'd like to read that if you hadn't heard.