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09 May 2009 @ 04:28 pm
on the subject on untucked shirts  
I just had a thought that is so blindingly obvious that I can't believe it's taken me this long to have it.

Matthew Macfadyen coming through the grass all un-cravatted and untucked is P&P3's answer to Colin Firth's wet shirt. Which is obvious, yes, but not new. What's new is why it bothers me: it takes what is supposed to be an intensely awkward moment, because both parties are horribly aware of the breach of conventions and are off their guard (it's only at Pemberley, I think, that Darcy *blushes* in text--I may have written a paper about it once? sort of?), and turns it into the fulfillment of the romantic moment by pretending those conventions don't exist. I mean, P&P3 is quite happy to throw convention out the window whenever (maybe my students would like it), but the inhibition scale is quite different. Firth!Darcy dives into a pond because he's alone, and the meeting is accidental. Macfadyen!Darcy is, I don't know, strolling around like he's just escaped Bedlam on purpose to go see Elizabeth. And I know, it's supposed to be all "look how vulnerable and unguarded they are!" but all I can see is "dear lord, why are you people not dressed properly, did you just walk through town like that?"

And it's of a piece with the way that P&P3 reimagines Pride and Prejudice by way of romantic cliche. (Proposals in the rain? Are you all serious?) The point of the pond scene (which has probably gotten lost, a bit) is that very awkwardness, that lack of convention. P&P3, on the other hand, sees romantic love as impossible within convention. Which is... I don't know, kind of impoverished, really.
 
 
 
Constant Reader: emo darcyskirmish_of_wit on May 9th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
And it's of a piece with the way that P&P3 reimagines Pride and Prejudice by way of romantic cliche. (Proposals in the rain? Are you all serious?)

YES. YES YES YES. I called it "the hackneyed Romantic Precipitation Scene (TM)" when I first saw the movie.

And seeing romantic love as "impossible within convention" MISSES THE ENTIRE POINT of pretty much Jane Austen's entire oeuvre. ESPECIALLY Sense and Sensibility, but Pride and Prejudice too. The only couple in P&P that operates outside convention is Lydia and Wickham, and they're hardly a model!

(Yeah, I just edited this to change my icon.)

Edited at 2009-05-09 10:04 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekind: elizabeth bennet is amusedtempestsarekind on May 10th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
Hee! I love the icon! And you're right--that particular trope is common enough to need the trademark.

It really does miss the point in kind of a spectacular way. Why make an Austen film and then go out of your way to undo all the stuff Austen does? (Like conceiving of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as deeply in love with each other, which I remember someone--the screenwriter maybe, or Donald Sutherland--saying. Er, what???)
La Reine Noire: Crystal Balllareinenoire on May 10th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
And I know, it's supposed to be all "look how vulnerable and unguarded they are!" but all I can see is "dear lord, why are you people not dressed properly, did you just walk through town like that?"

YES. That was my reaction too. As skirmish_of_wit pointed out, if you remove the conventions from P&P, you've deviated far enough from the novel that it should not longer rightly be called Pride and Prejudice.
tempestsarekind: austen snark is the best snarktempestsarekind on May 10th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
Once I happened across an HBO special on the making of this film, which I watched because, I don't know, I'm a masochist? And it was all about as tone-deaf as I expected it to be, but one thing that one of the Working Title producers said interested me: that one way to look at their decision to make P&P3 would be to say, "They brought you Four Weddings and a Funeral, they brought you Bridget Jones, and now they're bringing you the story that started it all."

And that was when the penny dropped: they wind up feeding all the cliches that have sprung up around the romantic comedy *since* Jane Austen wrote the novel back into the story. They put in the stuff that people who don't know Austen *think* is in Austen, but isn't--and the result is this odd, dissonant movie.
La Reine Noire: Crystal Balllareinenoire on May 11th, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC)
And that was when the penny dropped: they wind up feeding all the cliches that have sprung up around the romantic comedy *since* Jane Austen wrote the novel back into the story.

I think you've hit it right on the head. One of my friends who does not like Austen saw it and loved it far more than the 1995 adaptation, which she apparently completely disliked. One of the aspects that she liked the most was the attraction between Darcy and Elizabeth from the beginning which isn't in the book at all. I can see why they put it in, and I can even see how, in the context of the film, it worked very well. But it wasn't Pride and Prejudice.

I honestly believe that if they'd given the film a different title, I would have really enjoyed it. Because, as a stand-alone film, it was visually gorgeous, had a reasonable enough story, and have I mentioned the pretty? It just isn't Austen.
tempestsarekind: austentempestsarekind on May 11th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
I suppose I should have known from the tagline: "Sometimes the one person you can't stand is the one person you can't live without" (or something to that effect). It's a pretty traditional romantic comedy staple, the attraction that's immediate to both parties even though they try to fight it or are oblivious to it--but you're right; it isn't Pride and Prejudice.

I went to see the movie once (out of the three [!] times) with someone who'd read the novel but wasn't incredibly familiar with it, and he definitely got lost a few times (particularly with regard to Lydia, I seem to recall; I don't think that plot was telegraphed especially well). So it makes me wonder whether the movie would have worked as a stand-alone film. I don't know.
La Reine Noire: Crystal Balllareinenoire on May 11th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
So it makes me wonder whether the movie would have worked as a stand-alone film. I don't know.

That's a good point -- we're familiar enough with the novel that we just gloss over the bits the film doesn't mention. I don't know if Justin would be willing to watch it for experiment's sake so I could find out...;)
tempestsarekind: elizabeth bennet is amusedtempestsarekind on May 11th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Hee. That seems a bit cruel. :)

There must be people who watched the movie who hadn't read the novel or seen the 1995 miniseries; I wonder if any of them wrote reviews.

My friend was also a bit confused about Caroline Bingley; he wasn't sure what she was *doing* in the film, basically, since she didn't seem to like Darcy all that much. Though that's probably more a question of affect than plot.