February 19, 2008

Fitzwilliam Darcy + Elizabeth Bennett= <3

Cinecultist feels a little remiss in not blogging about this before but PBS's stalwart Masterpiece Theater has been trying to revive their following with an intensive series of Jane Austen movies. Everybody in TV Land loves a good Jane story, right? Over the last two months, they've been showing new versions of the novels and some of the old favorites, as well as a biopic on Jane and her infamous spinsterhood called Miss Austen Regrets. Though we often enjoy Olivia Williams (she's great in Rushmore), this depiction by her of a flighty and flirty, yet bleakly single 40-year-old Jane bummed CC out. PBS would do better to just stick with enacting the stories she wrote, rather than entertaining idle speculation on her actual life, in our opinion.

Luckily this week's MT installment was part 2 of the totally classic Pride and Prejudice from '96 with Jennifer Ehle and featured that wonderful moment where Colin Firth leaps into the lake partly clothed (see the YouTube below for a refresher. Or for some funny examples of the world-wide obsession over this performance, some of YouTube's passionate clip files devoted to CF. They made us feel a little dirty.)

This series is still some darn good fun, despite the number of times Cinecultist has watched it over the years. All of the actor's performances really revel in the satire's ridiculousness, from the hyperbolic vocal inflections of Mrs. Bennet to the twitchy sidelong glances between the sets of lovers. Particularly in the scene after the lake jump, where Lizzie happens upon a damp Darcy striding up the grass, and they have that wonderfully awkward exchange. She's just been thinking about how great his house is and he's just been thinking about how he really has to get over her and it's clear as day on both of the actor's faces. The tension is deliciously palpable. Ehle and Firth really earn their paychecks with that conversation.

While it's great to revisit these old miniseries friends, Cinecultist has had mixed reactions to some of the other new adaptations. We liked the Persuasion because they made Captain Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones), the aging bachelor who has come back for worthy Anne Elliot, quite virile and attractive. But Northanger Abbey was just so-so, too much riffing on the Gothic novels and Henry Tillney should've been mousier while the vivacious blond Fanny in this Mansfield Park wasn't mousy enough. However we're still watching particularly since the new Sense and Sensibility airing on March 30 and April 6 was directed by Andrew Davies, who did that P&P. We're holding out hope for his interpretation being particularly innovative.

Posted by karen at February 19, 2008 9:00 AM
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