Archive for the 'dastardly verbalizations' Category

Will they ever learn?

First this and now that… I’m so ashamed, I could cry.

PS: Yes Thomas – I wrote this in English… everybody should know how bad it is “down there”.

if only…

… this would have been my idea!


Jane – at last!

jane-eyre-2006-avatar.pngThree cheers for BBC’s new production, Jane Eyre – on (at the very least) for every broadcasted episode so far. Well, that might be a bit far fetched as I couldn’t really warm up for anything in episode one (was very tempted to call i a major let-down) but the next two episodes made up for that flaws of the first… big time! I wouldn’ go as far as to call it my favourite ever (since the novel isn’t one of my favs either) but it’s definitely getting close (btw: the picture on the right is not yours. Do not claim it as such.).

***SPOILERS*** (stop reading here in case you haven’t watched the adaption/read the novel):
The rushed childhood might be called a first lapse but to be honest, I never cared about that part of the novel anyway. I rather considered it be a smart approach to a not so attractive part of the novel. Nevertheless, every good thing was missing and especially Jane’s relationship with Helen was reduced so much that some parts of her character later in life and even the naming of Helen later on seems out of the blue, I think. Plus: Was that an altar she was lying on? But then, Thornfield – at last. It took me quite a while to adapt to both, Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens – her mouth reminded me just too much of a guy (!) I went to school with and his flirty-girty appearance was just over the top. Another reason for my dislike was the sheer overkill of hand-held shots. It’s great that they tried a more modern approach to filming a periode movie but thought it overdone for the most time and distracting rather than intruiging. It seemed a bit film-student trying to be innovative and reminded of Dogma95 movies.

Then part 2 came, I had made my peace with RW’s face and TS’s smiles and *PANG!* – I was lost. Especially RW’s performance was simply great and even if I will never seriously fancy the man so do I still have to admit that TD’s Rochester is growing on me. The only scene I wasn’t happy with in this episode was the money-for-the-journey scene – it’s one of my all time favourite moments in literature (together with the letter from Persuasion, the funeral from Holly and others) and I lovelovelove it in the ZC/TD adaption and this adaption lacked all the spark, I found. I so missed Timothy Dalton shouting “you shall walk up the pyramides of Egypt!…. you little niggard!” – Wonderful! Even if I can understand why they changed a lot of the original lines, to exclude these lines sure was a blunder! Click here to see how RW and TS managed this scene.

Now finally, episode 3 was aired last night and I can’t help the big huge grin Mr Lovedrunk has planted onto my face… Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it and TS was too cute. I was giggling all the way through their getting together, the first kisses, the hand in the carriage, the “that child knows you better than I do” – lovely! TS starts filling Rochester’s larger-than-life pants and I’m thrilled to watch him doing so. As for RW, I can’t think of anything more to say that she just might have pushed ZC off the little thrown I’ve had built in her honour… there’s never been a more genuine portrayal of JE than hers. I laugh with her and suffer with her and can’t wait to see her struggle next time – Click here for a clip of the crucial scene in this episode. What a pity that they seem to have chosen to skip the taking-off scene! We’ll have to do without it then… if only it’d be Sunday already! Alas, there’s still a lot to rewatch (for instance a clip from the final episode) and rediscuss on C19 and reread on Penny For Your Dream and Brontëana.

Waiting for Jane!

JE-2006Yes, it’s sad but true. Whilst my British friends and whoever else who is as fortunate as to receive BBC One cherrished a merry Sunday evening watching the new Jane Eyre adaption (which I mentioned in a previous post), was I sitting in my Scandinavian living-room, cursing the day we decided not to buy a TV-set. Oh – by the by, did I mention already that I’m insandly jealous? Well, there’s one thing to look forward to: The release of the DVD… next February for crying out loud – *Insert teeth grinding* – Thank you.


Gee – it’s been quite a while since my last English post… and it’s not even because nothing’s going on. Rather the opposite. I don’t know where to start. The master and I have decided to get up from our cozy chairs and move our backsides downtown more often. But before I just recite a list of what we did the last couple of weeks, I’d better just pick one event and say something more about it – Dans!
Dans! (yes, the exclamation mark IS important!) is Aarhus Theater‘s new production. It started as part of Aarhus Festuge earlier this month but will be played until the end of September. In the official Festuge program they used “Vi kan stadig danse sammen – vi har bare glemt, hvordan man gør, og hvor godt det føles.” as the headline and it’s pretty much to the point: We can still dance together – we’ve just forgotten how to do it and how it feels.
Dans!It’s a wordless recital of moments past, a trip through memories, starting with an old man who remembers dancing with he’s (probably) deceased wife, goes back to his youth days after WWII and takes the audience from there through decades of music and fashion and social historic steps in all the different directions time chose to take us until it finally ends where it started – with the old man dancing with his sweet heart… I dare to say that everyone sitting in the theater was most definitely reminded of how it felt to dance. Or was it just me whose feet were practising steps while sitting at my desk the next day?

Costume Drama Review – part III

Oh my… has it really been more than a week? Well well, who can I blame? The weather? Nope, only a lot of rain. The master? Neither, because he’s always innocent. The machine? No, not even that. (oh and PS: Thanks to Arcana Research it runs smootly and quitely!) I guess there’s only one thing left to blame: Our brand new project on C19 to turn our favorite Victorian novel (yes, the first one mentioned below) into an audiobook! An Australian member had the idea and since we’re both members of LibriVox as well, she asked me for helping her with all organisational issues and I guess that’s what has occupied the biggest part of my spare-time lately. It’s so much fun to see how people from all across the world join in – truly amazing!
But back to business:

The first part was about anything Jane Austen, the second about the Brontës – I think it’s time to come to a true gem of a British writer who’s been neglected thus far on here and sadly enough almost everywhere else as well: Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, nee Stevenson. Mrs Gaskell was a minister’s wife, mother of four children who is nowadays probably best known as the writer of Charlotte Brontë’s first biography. She started writing rather late but left the world some extraordinary novels, two of which have been adapted for screen and will be presented in the following.

North & South – 2004 (starring Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinéad Cusack, etc.)

N&S 2004The producers and executives for this production might still be puzzled at the amazing and broadspread success of this adaption: It’s almost been two years since the first broadcasting on TV but the online discussion hasn’t ceased – at all, I’m tempted to say. The messages boards (to start with the best, check out C19) are still filled with surprised confessions of newcomers who where completely caught off guard by this adaption and deeper insights of the older members into every single aspect and layer the adaption can be divided into.
North & South is the story of a Margaret Hale, a parson’s daughter from the South who’s forced to move to Milton, a industrial town in the North of England by her father’s doubts in his ability to meet the requirements of the new bishop and subsequent surrender of this post. Her middle-class world is shaken by the ideals of the hectic and direct ways of the North which for her come down into the person of John Thornton, a cotton mill owner and her father’s pupil. In the course of the novel as well as the book, the two protagonists have to overcome their prejudices and learn to see the flaws in their own points of view to appreciate the other. I have read the novel as soon as I found out that an adaption was announced and have to admit that nobody could have played Mr Thornton more to the point of my mental image than Richard Armitage did – he truly amazed me… and tons of other women, as sides like the Armitage Army are undeniable proof of! It took me somewhat longer to get over the differences between Daniela Denby-Ashe’s appearance and the Margaret as described by Mrs Gaskell in her book, but once you see past that you’ll see an astounding portrayal of a young woman’s growth. Despite what everyone else said: The train station scene might be incredibly sweet and romantic but it’s not Gaskell – I’d much rather have the “That man”/”that woman” scene (and know come running after me :P ).

Wives and Daughters – 1999 (starring Justine Waddell, Keeley Hawes, Anthony Howell, etc.)

W&D1999This is an adaption of Gaskell’s last and unfinished (it was finished later by her editor – and very likely the way she intended it to end) novel. I have to admit to my own abashment that I haven’t read the novel – just yet, I would like to add because it’s been on my “want to read next”-list for ages and I still believe that I will able to do so in time. My judgement is hence only in reference to the adaption – and no matter how much I liked it (just rewatched it this weekend for the sole purpose to freshen-up my memory for this review ;) ), it will never even come close to the afore mentioned story. Molly is no Margaret (Justine Waddell is a great actress for period drama though) and Roger is definitely no Thornton (not Howell’s fault though – I think he was great) but some of the supporting characters are priceless: First and foremost Squire Hamley (could he possibly go more convincly through more emotional extrems?) and Mrs Gibson (she’s a hoot!).
But there is one character that I’m absolutely not sure what to think of: Is it really the Cynthia as Mrs Gaskell wanted her or is it Keeley Hawes that I would like to slap in at least half the scenes she’s in? I guess the first is true but could anybody please explain me why I had the same urge when watching Our Mutual Friend (which will be review in part IV if I ever get to that)? Let’s focus on something diffrent to critizes: What about Tom Hollander? Yes, the Mr Collins from P&P2005 is playing Osborne Hamely – the handsome son! The mere thought of it sounds like a joke and even though I appreciate his passionate portrayal of poor Osbourne, I still think he’s lacking the looks everybody is appraising all the time. Well, one could argument that I didn’t bother Timothy Dalton’s way too good looks in Jane Eyre and maybe I am that shallow but I can’t help it here.
To sum up and end this post: I liked this adaption – despite all short-comings stated here (which am sure are all because I haven’t read the novel) – and I don’t mind that there was no kiss in the desert.

Costume Drama Review – part II

After the posted the first part, I came to think that even though it was Jane Austen that initiated my “craving” for periode dramas and literature adaptions, the piece I probably adore the most was written by another author – Charlotte Brontë. The two writers have never met (Austen died a year before Brontë was born) and were really different in their writing styles but I dare to state that their choice of character for their heroines wasn’t that different. Both choose women that in the first place didn’t fulfill the bill of a proper lady of the time but who’s genuine authenticity eventually lead to succeed whatever obstacles came along their way. But now, without further ado, my hitlist of my favorite Jane – Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (if you want to brush up on the plot check here for a rather short summary):

Jane Eyre – 1983 BBC (starring Zelah Clarke, Timothy Dalton, etc.)

JE 1983 BBCWho could have forseen that Mr Bond, James Bond would be able to portray Rochester in a way that flooded my gates? Blimey the man is over 60 and I found myself captivated by the twinkle in his eyes as he calls out “You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!” in pretended agitation. Zelah Clarke on the other hand is knownd to have said that JE was the end of her career – which I’m sorry for but I’m still glad that she did it anyway.
Many people might object about this statement but both of them were uncannily true to my mental picture of these characters while I read the book that I’m henceforth doomed to judge any other portrayals by theirs. The humor and kindness of this Rochester combined with sensibility and frankness of this Jane – plus a score that makes me singalong everytime (simliar to the one from Pride and Prejudice 1995) – bring a spirit to the adaption that many other versions lack. The only thing I would change is poor ZC’s hairdresser.

*****(highly recommended)

Jane Eyre – 1944 (starring Joan Fontaine, Orson Wells, etc.)

Jane Eyre - 1944
It’s difficult to choose the version that I like second best. I guess I would have to go with the oldest I know. I like it because it’s b/w, because Orson Wells is probably the darkest and most mysterious Rochester I’ve seen and because its Adele is my favorite of all the versions I know and because this version reminds me of an old adaption of a novel of another Brontë sister (I’ll talk about this later) and I liked it inspite of the fact that I have only ever seen the French dubbed version (btw: Mental Note to myself: Write post about the crime that is dubbing!). I’d love to see the original and enjoy OW’s dark timbre.
The only real downside of this version is Joan Fontaine – she’s annoying which is not an adjective suitable for the character she’s portraying. Wonder how Olivia de Havilland would have mastered the part. Well, now that I think of it, OW was perhaps a bit young too to be Rochester… especially besides JF who looked too old for her part.

*****(highly recommended – even in French)

Jane Eyre – 1973 BBC (starring Sorcha Cusack, Michael Jayston, etc.)

JE 1973 BBCThis version is widely known as the best – or at least (and in this I agree) as the most faithfull to the book. Nevertheless I’d say that its greatest disadvantage would be the lack of charme that makes this version seem way longer than the first named one which is actually about half an hour longer. I think it rather dry and stiff and the characters (especially Rochester who didn’t impress me to say the least) so disagreeable that I couldn’t comprehend what Jane could possible see in him – unless she was having serious masochistic issues – and that again would interfer with my understanding of the novel. Once you come to see this as a stage production set in beautiful landscape, you learn to appreciate it. Now come and slap me for saying this… okok: I rewatch it and try to come up with a review better worth the high standard of the production *yawn*

**** (of course it’s recommended – ask anyone (but me))

Jane Eyre – 1970 USTV
(starring Susannah York, George C. Scott, etc.)

Jane Eyre - 1944What bugged me most in this version was Jane’s lack of passion – she didn’t just look quakerish (which she should) but behaved like that at about any point in the film (which she should not). I missed spirit in Susannah Yorks performance. On another level, I would have to mention that the actors seemed way to old for their parts (especially George C. Scott who in fact was only 43 but appeared to be a good deal older) as a major flaw. Minor flaws were the melodramatic feel to it and the anachronism concerning the clothing (I found that actually quite funny). But apart from that, I enjoyed this version and especially the portrayal of Rochester (this time more haughty than TD’s approach but with a warm quality to him) and – of course – John Williams’ score.

***(ok – others are better though)

Jane Eyre – 1996 (starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, William Hurt, etc.)

JE 1973 BBCThis was the first adaption I’ve seen – I borrowed the DVD from the university library – and when I think back, it seems strange that I ever watched another since I disliked it so much. But maybe that was exactly the reason why I began collecting as many adaptions as possible: So that I could find one that would suit my expectations.
The reasons why I didn’t like this version by Zeffirelli was that it was far and foremost obscure and melancholic (I wonder why they chose such a light poster as I can scarcely recall any light in the film) and that was not how I understood the novel to be. William Hurt was by far the ugliest Rochester I’ve seen – he almost scared me. I liked the performane by Charlotte Gainsbourg though: She was apart her height quite the picture of Jane that I had in mind – and I liked the obstinante expression on her face when she disagreed with something without uttering her discontent. My memories are fading, so maybe I should watch it again to compare it with the other adaptions.

**(lacking anything but murk)

Jane Eyre – 2006 BBC (starring Ruth Wilson, Toby Stevens)

There is not that much to say about this version – apart from that it was filmed at the same locations as the Zeffirelli version and is in postproduction now. This blog has more information about the production than most of the websites I have found.

By all this talk of the work of one Brontë sister, I wouldn´t want to forget another one, Emily. She was Charlotte’s junior by two years and wrote only one novel – Wuthering Heights. I’ve only ever seen one adaption of the novel but I love it very much… I should really pull myself together and finally read the novel (*turns crimson in shame*). For others that haven’t read the book it yet either: The text is in the Public Domain and freely accessible online at various places Click here for a summary.

Wuthering Heights – 1939 (starring Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, etc.)

Jane Eyre - 1944It was pure coincidence that I switched to that channel about a year ago – and I’m so glad that I was that lucky. Everybody who’s read thus far might have recognised a pattern/a certain tendency when it comes to b/w adaptions: I can’t help it. I just love them. But this one even more as it brings a certrain dark and passionate aura to the film which I think is priceless… especially in combination with Laurence Olivier’s smouldering look – LO most certrainly is Heathcliff (and the mere thought of Johnny Depp having a go at the character – which rumour has he will later this year or next year alongside Angelina Jolie *cringe* – sends a cold shiver of horror down my back… why would they always try and destroy something pretty much perfect for publicity reasons? Well, I might have answered that question while I asked it.). I can’t really explain why but I can connect to Heathcliff’s pain and the expression on LO’s face, his stare, his eyes filled with anguish and dispair make me wanna cry (yeah – I’m a romantic. Is that really news to you?). I loved Merle Oberon as well for her great performance as a girl trying to appear hoity-toity while she’s fighting her most natural instinct to give in to her true feelings. My mood towards her swang back and forth between urge to slap her for hurting poor Heathcliff and the equally strong wish to encourage her to be true to herself… probably exactly what Emily Brontë would have wanted. Hmmm – I guess I just convinced myself to go check my fav DVD-seller whether they have it in stock and order it… along with the Timothy Dalton version from 1970.

*****(highly recommended – of course)

Costume Drama Review – part I

A look into my DVD drawer proved what I didn’t dare saying out loud: I actually DO own an alarming amount of period dramas – too late to call it a silent passion: It’s crying out loud. Since my esteemed Master has kind of lost track with them, I decided to catalogue them on here and write a (very) short summary for each one. This way I can tell him to go and read about it on here, instead of asking me which of “those” movies I’m talking about. :)

In this first part I’ll describe the adaptions I have of Jane Austen’s novels – they are ordered according to my preference:

Persuasion – 1995 (starring Amanda Root, Ciarán Hinds, Susan Fleetwood, etc.)

JA-P On a superficial level, one might remember the finale scene for the use of clips from The Bounty. But that might be overviewed as unimportant.

This film is a true gem. A little production with a lot of heart. It’s the only version of this novel I know and it’s eleven years old, but the actors (especially AR and CH) inhabit the characters and I really couldn’t imagine my favorite JA and especially the most beautiful letter-scene in literature history better played on screen than by this Anne and this Wentworth. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope… the first time I heard these words, I got almost hit by a car because I just stopped in the middle of a road, completely captured by my audio book – I am that daft – to see these lines brought so sensible on screen has me in tears every time. A true work of art.

*****(highly recommended)

Pride & Prejudice – 1995 (starring Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, David Bamber, etc.)

JA-PP95 Probably the most popular period drama – ever! Best remembered is Mr Darcy’s jump in the pont, the most oily Mr Collins and that they first kissed after they got married.

I adore this version as it shows that trueness to the novel and entertainment are possible – even if it takes a good six hours to do so. The view content related changes shall be forgiven as they match in perfectly and show important aspects that can be argued as missing in the novel (Darcy’s transformation/softer side for instance). I think the chemistry between Elizabeth and Darcy was great… the discourse while dancing is priceless. The supporting cast were top notch too – Mrs Bennet’s voice is still ringing in my ears, Jane lovely as could be, Bingley was sensitive and kind-hearted, not a fool, Caroline as mean as she should – the whole production leaves you extremely satisfied – no matter whether you’ve read the book beforehand.

*****(highly recommended)

Sense and Sensibility – 1995 (starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, etc.)

JA-SS I read somewhere that Emma Thompson didn’t want to play her part and only serve as writer for the screenplay (for which she got an Academy Award and a Golden Globe – if you have the DVD, go and check out her speech there… it’s too hilarious!) but got nagged into it by the producers… and I’m eternally thankful that they succeded. She may be a tad old enough for the role, but nobody could play Elinor’s sense with more sensibility than her. *bows deeply* Another bow is for Kate Winslet who pretended to be 18 in order to get the role – her recital of Shakespeare’s sonnet CXVI brought tears to my eyes… you were right, Marianne: It’s tempest, not storm!

****(enjoyable – indeed)

Emma – 1996(starring Kate Beckinsale, Mark Strong, Raymond Coulthard, etc.)

Emma – 1996(starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Northam, Ewan McGregor, etc.)

Emma-TV and JA-E-GP

1996 was the year of the Emmas. The first version (dark-haired Emma) was truer to the spirit book and shorter and to be honest, I liked Mark Strong better. The blonde Emma on the other side was pretty much Hollywood-ized in babypink and babyblue and a bit too one-dimensional characters (the whole Harriet business spings to mind). But then again, I loved/hated Mrs Elton in this so much that the she alone made it worthwhile.

****(enjoyable – for both)

Pride and Prejudice – 1940 (starring Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Mary Boland, etc.)

JA-PP40 This is the oldest version I have seen and I love it. It’s nowhere even near to historically accurate and I’m sure I will get called ambivalent for judging exactly this as a fault in other costume dramas but I can’t help it: I forgive this version anything. It’s so charming. Other versions might have had better Lizzies, one might think Mrs Bennet over the top and Marie too simper but I love Bruce Lester as Bingley – so very endearing! The scence with him behind that folding-screen is my fav in this version that besides the ludicrous Victorian setting and the major storyline changes (e.g. the Catherine de Burgh character and the rushed ending) showes some surprisingly close characterisations and is basically just a lot of fun to watch… and yes, I’m a sucker for b/w movies.

***(*)(the last in brackets because of the inaccuracy)

JA-MPMansfield Park – 1999 (starring Francis O’Connor, Jonny Lee Miller, Alessandro Nivola, etc.)

One of the adaptions that missed to draw me in. Truth to be told, I couldn’t care less whether Edmond and Fanny found each other or not. The only time I was touched was my Tom’s hideous sketches – I virtually gasped. Other than that, I found the film as such mediocre (which is very much what I think of FOC) and lacking Austen’s sparkle.

***(too much time at hand)

JA-NANorthanger Abbey – 1986 (starring Katharine Schlesinger, Peter Firth, Cassie Stuart, etc.)

Ok, my judgement of this adaption can’t be called unprejudiced as I don’t really like the novel as such but still (and I know people that will come hollering after me), I don’t like it. The main reason is the KS – I cringed everytime she appeared on screen: Her eyes fill half the screen and that numptie expression in those huge hollow holes. Why would PF care?

**(rather take a nap)

Pride & Prejudice – 2005 (starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, etc.)

JA-PP05 The reason why this adaption is on the very bottom of this post has nothing to do with it being the newest: I don’t think that there was ever another adaption (not even Mansfield Park – that was just plain boring) that disappointed me more… so now. I don’t own a copy of it. I went to see it the night it came out – went there with high hopes that KK after Bend it like Beckham would surprise me, that Brenda Blethyn would rock my world as she did in Secrets & Lies, that Judy Dench would be brilliant as she was in Mrs Brown, that all the unknown names would turn out as fresh wind and that MM (who I didn’t know then) would simply blow me away… well, my hopes were clearly way too high but that they tried to turn JA into that must have made the poor woman spin in her box. Ok, she is said to have agreed that her only regret about P&P was that it was too light but she surely didn’t have boars walking through the kitchen in mind! It wasn’t just the conditions (like the Bennets as farmers, all the dirty clothes and untidy hair, young men in sick lady’s room, the entering of rooms without being presented by a servant, the middle-of-the-night appearance of Lady Catherine, … I could go on and on) but the sheer misapprehension of those beloved characters that gave me the creeps. Seriously: Lydia and Kitty are silly, Lizzie is NOT. All that giggling (don’t get me started on her huge teeth) and her yelling at Mr Collins – where’s the intelligent, witty young heroine so many readers have loved for generations? And as for Mr Darcy: He’s not supposed to be a weak twit! Some people think he showed a softer, more sensible side of him… Excuse me. But that didn’t appeal to me… especially not in combination with all that cheesy 3rd class soap opera dialog. Why, oh why did they change the text at all? I’d rather stop her before I get sued for libel *insert mean laughter here*

*(run for cover)

Natural-Party Faculty

Last night’s task was to get out and become acquainted with the ways of the natives and so, I ended up attending my very first official Danish university event. It was the facutly of science’s annual event (watch out, the website is in Danish only) and it was kinda fun… at least more fun than a similar event in my homecountry would have been… especially the mutual singing in between the dinner courses was a whole new experience for me. The lyrics were dealt out and a pianist played along as the people sang old folksongs about summer and butterflies and the like… the secretaries of the department of computer science had even prepared their own lyrics for such a tune and one of the verses goes like this:

PhDér, ræsonnerer,
løber panden mod en mur,
flyder rundt i svømmeveste,
og ser Gud som en filur.

- needless to say that the two PhD students I came with had a good laugh at that. :) – Skål!