Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monsterpiece Theater

Couldn't resist. One of my favorite segments in Sesame Street was Alistair Cookie.
Ever since I was pretty young and the only one in house who knew how to operate a VCR, I've been taping and watching the adaptations of classic novels (romantic ones, yes). It infinitely beats reading them, in many cases. 

Often there will be new adaptations every few years, but not all are the same.

Every girl knows of the sacred 1996 version of P&P with Colin Firth, so it has an honorary mention.
Persuasion (1996) starring Amanda Root and Ciarin Hindes. A perfect adaptation;
Emma (2009) starring Romola Garai. Ms. Austen was not intending a likable character in Emma, but one forgives this  Emma nearly everything. The last minute or two is rather saccharine, but it'll do;
Daniel Deronda (written by George Elliot). There is a Jewish angle that makes it a must-see. Visually gorgeous, but be aware that it is not for young viewers;
Wives & Daughters (written by Elizabeth Gaskell). With a lovable protagonist, an enjoyable watch;
Sense & Sensibility (2008) starring Hatty Morahan and Charity Wakefield. While no one can outdo Kate Winslet's Marianne or Greg Wise's Willoughby, this version possesses more detail and accuracy (A 36-year-old Eleanor? That's how old Colonel Brandon is supposed to be, not 50!) The only "raunchy" scene is the opening 60 seconds;
And last, but certainly not least: 

North & South (written by Elizabeth Gaskell) Frankly, I think this outdoes even P&P for me. There were times that I stopped breathing. I purchased it based on the rave reviews on Amazon, and boy, does it deliver.
I do not have any Charles Dickens recommendations, as I stopped bothering with his books/adaptations since they are based in misery and, once I got used to his style, I'm now able to guess the ending (girl with unknown parentage is walking down the street. She bumps into a man who really takes his time apologizing. Guess what? It's Daddy!)

Jane Eyre I didn't review as there are numerous versions, and I really can't get myself to understand the plot at all. I can't stand suicidal heroines; wandering along the moors without a destination in mind seems like a stupid thing to do.  



iTripped said...

Loooove Monsterpiece theater. I wrote a post about it recently.

I was also the "VCR expert" in my house... I think the older generation has a mental block when it comes to operating technology. We have a massive collection of recorded movies that no one watches any more- P&P was about 3 videos long, but now it's much easier to watch the DVD version! (My Mom finally figured out how to operate the VCR. Now she complains that DVDs are way too complicated.)

Primum Non Nocere said...

I may be sticking my neck out here, but are there other guys out there with an appreciation for Jane Austen's writing? :-P

Primum Non Nocere: "It's Not Me, It's You"

Princess Lea said...

iTripped: Never mind parents, my siblings didn't know how to operate timers! Now I got a couple of DVD recorders and I tape TCM movies for my grandmother.

Of course I have the VHS hoard; although with this recorder I can transfer them onto DVD.

With "Emma," I didn't realize there was a part 4 so I ended up buying it on Amazon. Even though I knew the ending.

PNN: No man I know will admit it. But you are brave, good sir.

Primum Non Nocere said...

There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity. :) Yet one more thing I can blame on having been heavily outnumbered by sisters.

Princess Lea said...

As I can blame a sci-fi fetish on my brother. Siblings are a blessing.

ZP said...

As you know, we both have a fascination with Jane Austen and I'm so impressed that you know/like Elizabeth Gaskell! Most people, even those that read Classics, have never heard of her. North & South is one of my favorite novels (it is tied with P&P and Persuasion). To a certain extent, I like Mr. Thornton more than Mr. Darcy. Mr. Thornton was always virtuous--Margaret just didn't see it. Mr. Darcy changed but he did it all of Elizabeth, and as we all know, changing for someone else is not the best thing...

Wives & Daughters was err okay. The 2009 version of Emma was great! I enjoyed it more than the others one. However, the 1996 version of Persuasion was NOT one of my favorites. The characters just weren't what I had pictured. I never saw Daniel Derona but I started the novel and didn't like it. George Elliot--I don't know what it is but there is something about her writing that I don't really like.

You didn't put Northanger Abbey! I like it much more than Sense & Sensibility! (I fear this post wasn't so coherent, I only had a minute to respond but I LOVE classics so I had to comment!)

@PNN: I'm flabbergasted! A guy that appreciates Jane Austen's genius? Those are few in between! A guy actually told me once on a first date that he was reading Jane Austen--of course that earned him like 10 pts lol

ZP said...

p.s. Jane Erye is great! What I love about these novels is that they are social commentary hidden behind the veil of a "fluffy novel". One of my favorite quotes from Jane Erye is when Helen Burns is dying--some very profound thoughts. (Though in general, the Bronte sisters were very depressing. Wuthering Heights was one of the most disturbing books I've ever read, actually its prob. tied with Catcher in the Rye)

Joshua Josephs said...

Ive got to second the comments that Wuthering Heights is a great choice for viewing pleasure as there are a wide variety of good versions.

@ PNN As a fellow medical student maybe there is something about medical school that makes as us like these novels?

Anonymous said...

Jane Eyre is magnificent, and she is NOT suicidal. Also, she only wanders the moors for two days at most. You could be confusing Jane Eyre with Wuthering Heights, wherein the heroine is decidedly more unhinged.

Princess Lea said...

I've never read any of the Brontes since, yeah, they're depressing. I don't do depressing. Movies are supposed to be pleasant escapism.

ZP: I didn't put in Northanger Abbey because I haven't yet seen an adaptation I like. I didn't like the most recent one.

Anonymous: Does the the novel ever clarify WHY she wanders to begin with? Then there is that whole Dickenian convenience that the man who saves her happens to be her cousin (of all the moors in England . . .) The only one I really saw was the 2006 Masterpiece version. I liked it as a movie, but I just don't get Jane. Ah well.

May the men read on! Ye give us ladies hope.

Sefardi Gal said...

I'm a huge fan of period dramas. Great list, Princess Lea!
I feel like I'm so involved in the story lines...but when they don't end up together (like in Washington Square), I get really annoyed.
The best version (by FAR) of Jane Eyre is the most recent one. With Toby Stephens...superb acting, and he's quite attractive :P

Princess Lea said...

Supposedly I have had critics complain when Rochester is too good looking. But I'm the one watching it, thank you very much, and I want something pleasant to look at.

I can't STAND pointless endings. Like when they spend an 8 hour mini series, only to have him go to war and her become a nun or something, then I get really mad. 8 hours of my life gone.

Princess Lea said...

I'm sorry, I meant "Supposedly the critics complain."