What’s the Jane Austen News this week? Costume Dramas!
Historical Accuracy Vs. Diversity
We love costumes dramas. Some of our favourite recent viewings have been the hit costume dramas shown over Christmas. We had the sumptuous The Miniaturist, we had a new three-part adaptation of Little Women, and we’ve had a Call The Midwife Christmas special. Over the past few years we’ve had Downton Abbey, The Crown, Lark Rise to Candleford, Cranford, War and Peace… We could go on.
However, while we’ve very much enjoyed these, in an interview about being based in Britain, actress Thandie Newton has highlighted a problem about having a dominance of costume dramas in the British entertainment industry.
I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call The Midwife … there just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour.
Part of the problem is that if every costume drama is adapted from a book which only features upper-class white characters, then that’s all there will be on TV. Historical accuracy is one thing, but should it come at the cost of diversity within the acting world? Some within the television and film industry are calling for script writers to write scripts which allow for a more diverse range of actors to be represented within the cast. Afterall, if Maxine Peake can play the male role of Hamlet at the National Theatre, why can’t an actor like Idris Alba play Colonel Brandon?
What are your thoughts?
Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 101
Is Pride and Prejudice primarily a Cinderella story? How you answer that question may well determine whether you enjoy or detest the 2005 Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen film. When spending quality time with Jane Austen’s novel, gentle reader, do you imagine paint peeling from the Bennet family home or picture Longbourn’s back garden as a filthy barnyard? Does Mr. Bennet potter about the house unwashed, unshorn and unshaven? Does his beloved library resemble the leftovers of a jumble sale? One might assume that the Bennets could do better with an estate that is lawfully their own and two thousand a year. However, this appears to be Director Joe Wright’s interpretation of the novel as “social realist drama.” Dear me! And what would Jane Austen make of that? The poverty, grime and crumbling gentility adds what Wright refers to as “a bit more street,” if this is considered desirable. But what is “street” about Mr. Darcy trudging through a foggy field, white shirt front agape, looking for all the world like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights? Or was it an attempt to offer up Matthew Macfadyen as a wet shirted substitute for Colin Firth? Other choices seem to defy any analysis. Why turn Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) into a giggling idiot, someone not safe to be let out unattended? Why would Darcy befriend such a man, and what could possibly induce Jane Bennet (Rosamund Pike) to shackle herself to him for life? Charlotte Lucas (Claudie Blakley) appears fortunate by comparison. Charlotte’s fear of (more…)