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Archive for July 18th, 2010

Dear friends and readers,

Two novels of two sisters, P&P, written first, about 2 sisters holding a shared life apart from others (with others nearly unbearable), S&S, second, about 2 sisters sharply dissonant from one another. 

Understanding, passing time together

Discord, I do not understand you, Marianne aggressive, I must be very dull, Elinor’s reply

The same Jane Austen autobiography from different angles.  What Davies puts before us, with Jane & Elinor the same presence which accepts & endures.  Elizabeth empathizes but kicks hard, Marianne not able to comprehend, escapes, just, "the worst."

 
How worried and grated upon Elizabeth looks in that muddy walk:

Elinor walking too, enduring:

 It’s easily noticeable how much similar (and appropriate) language Davies gives Elinor Dashwood and Jane Bennet ("I am perfectly content … " as she moves on in grief, containing it) and how the second set of sisters (for S&S was written completely up as a full probably epistolary novel after P&P) are at loggerheads, but in both must turn to one another, for this enables them to endure life.

Over the past four days I’ve been rewatching Davies-Langton-Birtwistle’s 6 hour P&P and have found I missed out on an important element in it in my first blog:  A Spectacular, Extraordinary Film, one and others have felt there at the time, but was hard to apprehend more than impressionistically unless you study the movement-images in the film — this is the new angle Julianna Pidduck uses to such perceptive brilliant effect in her Contemporary Costume Film and I’ve begun to follow in my last three chapters (of the book I’m working on).

If you study or explore Davies’s P&P from the plot of view of plot-arrangement, how he present hinge-points, character development that alters Austen’s (or even stays with it), you come out with an Oedipal story: Mr Darcy becomes the central character, his story the one we are concerned to watch as he reforms and in so doing earns Elizabeth’s love; he is paralleled to Mr Bennet who has been an inadequate father (against a hopelessly dense mother).

But handy dandy, turn your kaleidoscope and instead study the movement images of the film, look at how many scenes say occur between major characters, how they are developed and presented visually, verbally and metaphorically, how linked in symbolic and other ways and you emerge with a story about two sisters deeply attached to one another, and Jane Bennet’s loss of Mr Bingley and her coping with it becomes a parallel and contrast to Elizabeth’s loss of Wickham, justified rejection of the comic slime Mr Collins and rejection of that noble misunderstood soul Darcy.

Studying the film this way I found no less than 20 effective scenes, many of them occurring the girls’ bedroom (so made memorable by the repeating place) and several sandwiching pivotal points in the plot:

An outline (using the divisions in the DVD):

Part 1:

Episode1: 

1) in Jane’s bedroom they talk at length before mirror; then after a little sweep of house and Mr Bennet at bills, Elizabeth alone before her mirror — this is Jane’s bedroom. I’ll call it the double mirror scene as much is seen through a double mirror:


The "treat" is Jennifer Ehle seen in and of herself not through the mirror

Episode 3:

2) two girls talk at length in garden about part at Lucas’s lodge — tracking shot, middle length:


Elizabeth parodies Mr Darcy

Episode 4: 

2) Elizabeth arrived, we see her in Jane’s bedroom, a silent scene between two. This is preceded by a twinned scene:  Jane miserable, mortified riding in the rain; Elizabeth shamed and frustrated with parents by fire watching rain; Jane snubbed and patronized at useless meal with Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst; Elizabeth defying her mother that she will go:


Jane shamed


Elizabeth worried as she looks at her

Episode 5: 

3) Alternating with men shooting, they are in Jane’s bedroom, teasing kindly scene Elizabeth reluctant to go downstairs:

Then close, Episode 6: 

4) Jane and Elizabeth in carriage going home, few words, striking still

Part 2

Episode 7: 

5) they have a tete-a-tete in the garden while others are talking, playing – but it’s so fleeting and kept from us it’s hard to see if one should number it, but I do as a visual memory

Episode 8:

6) Jane and Elizabeth discuss Wickham after card-evening party at Mrs Philips — this a Jane’s bedroom scene, talk at length scene:

Part 3:

Episode 13: 

7) Jane and Elizabeth discuss Charlotte’s acceptance of Mr Collins, and then Caroline’s letter comes and they discuss that

8) Moving scene upstairs between Jane and Elizabeth in bedroom after Wickham’s visit (not dramatized) and painful scene downstairs; Jane really a kind of Elinor in this scene and gets a mature response (which Marianne not capable of)

Jane’s words closely like those Davies gives Elinor Dashwood in 08 S&S

Again Elizabeth doesn’t believe it

Episode 14: 

9) Jane’s letters to Elizabeth so they are communing, it emerges from time-passing sequence

Episode 17: 

10): Elizabeth writing to Jane after piano scene at Rosings, Jennifer Ehle voice-over, followed by Eliza’s distress before she encounters Colonel Fitzwilliam:


Eliza’s distress for Jane after letter writing scene

Part 4:

Episode 3:  11) 9th scene literally of two of them, fourth Jane’s bedroom scene: immediately home from Huntsford Eliza confides some of what happened


Eliza confides proposal by Darcy, and what Wickham is said to be

12) A garden scene at first Jane and Elizabeth, then mother comes and then Lydia: the language so like that of Elinor: I shall be perfectly content … I shall be myself again ….

Part 5:

Episode 8: 

13) Dreadful news: if you count the letter scene Elizabeth and Jane communing


Jane’s letter: many subjectivized flashbacsk

Episode 9:  14) Elizabeth and Jane by the door — they turn to one another:

15) by the window they discuss Lydia’s letter and there are flashbacks:

15) they are now in Elizabeth’s bedroom, at length again; mirror too (holding hands before us scene — no one will want them now)

Episode 12: 

16) now in Jane’s bedroom and Elizabeth wishes Darcy had not known, fears his despising her, intense with stress (Jane drying hair scene, ends with Darcy envisioned with Tristan and Isolde notes)


Elizabeth very fretful, Jane drying hair, all common sense

Part 6

Episode 15: 

17) scene with plants, Jane says she not bothered, in control, Elizabeth smiling

18) Jane and Elizabeth walking and talking after Bingley and Darcy’s first new visit — she is in danger of making him as much in love with her as ever

19) Jane and Elizabeth walking in after Mr Bingley leaves having proposed and been accepted and we get the first version of Elinor’s coda remark to Marianne; I shall have to find myself a Colonel; I may in time meet with another Mr Collins is in Austen

Episode 18: 

20) Final, now Elizabeth’s bedroom and she has to persuade, mixture of teasing and earnestness: in words it’s short and it’s not that lengthy either


Double mirrors open this scene and intersperse and end scenes

People often commend Samantha Harker’s performance but then do not go on to prove why it’s so good. It’s in the many silent scenes she and Cristin Bonham Carter (probably related to Helena) enact pantomime-style while the front part of a frame is devoted to articilated matter; her brilliance in conveying her own bitterness and disappointment in other scenes with her mother, Collins (his ugly visit replacing his letter after Lydia runs away)

This underlying grid of continual images of the women is backed by the often noticed meditative sequences of Ehle as Elizabeth walking. She loves to walk outdoors and I cannot but believe this is Davies’s tribute to an aspect of Austen he likes.  These are among my favorite stills in all the Austen films.  I’ve included one above of Elizabeth distressed (replacing the scene it follows of Elizabeth writing to Jane).  These are so familiar to me (and I suppose others) that I shall include only the lesser known ones.

Walking scenes:  Elizabeth is seen walking or in the open, or contemplative outside alone again and again:

Part 1,
Episode 1, she sees see the men on the horseback; on the way to the first scene (tracking shot);
Episode 2: she meets Lydia, Kitty and Mary walking and hears of Lucas party;
Episode 3, she walks to Netherfield in mud to reach Jane;
Episode 5: Elizabeth downstairs playing with dog while Darcy baths in tub, runs into,
Episode 5:  Elizabeth with dog, Darcy in tub.

Part 2,
Episode 7: she is walking high above house, contemplative, voice over of father about Collins.

Part 3: 
Episode 14: Elizabeth walking in early spring (after winter montage and Jane’s letter), meets unexpectedly Mr Wickham and forgives him:


Episode 16: walking with Charlotte, but walking moment; both love to walk;
Episode 17: one of the loveliest of the walk scenes, she encounters Darcy; walking alone after talking with Darcy, in a second after just before Fitzwilliam meets her darkness turns to light — one of few unreal moments, dream moment:

Part 4:

Episode 2:  Elizabeth’s walk revelling (running) in landscape stressed before Darcy gives her his letter
Episode 4: Summer travels, includes piece where she climbs alone on a rocky peake and looks down

 

The learning Davies did here goes into the 2008 S&S which unfortunately had to be just 3 not 6 hours so the movement images and sister-scenes curtailed and shortened, but they are just as surely there and central too. I will just include a summary here, with only one still for each. Now what is striking is that in most of these scenes the sisters are semi-quarrelling; there is no meeting of the minds until the end because Marianne cannot rise to understand in the way Elizabeth could Jane.  They are made much less baiting than in book, and are the most harmonious of the 5 films. The scenes of Elinor alone deeply moving; she is not contemplative, but often grieving; the scenes of Marianne archetypally, romantically expressive. 

Elinor a darker version of Elizabeth?  but also contains in her Jane. All four heroines types of JA and Cassandra when young.

The 2008 S&S:


Getting into bed together at Barton cottage at night in attic room, the first night

Elinor and Marianne (Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield) in paired scenes, often in attic or bedroom:

Part 1:
Part 1, Episode 2,
Scene 12:  Two girls in Norland bedroom:
Part 1, Episode 3,
Scene 28: Under Tree: 
Part 1, Episode 5: 
Scene 43; Attic 1:  The cold and dark and settling in together. 
Part 2, Episode 1
Scene 6, Attic two:   After dancing and set-to of Brandon and Willoughby; a sharp scene
Part 2,
Episode 1:
Scene 9:   sharp quarrel in front of mother in cottage front room, although in front of someone part of ongoing presentation of relationship. 
Part 2, Episode 3:
Scene 19, Attic 3, after Allenham and accusatory defensive soup scene.  Ends cloying again: I’ll hope for you; oh Ellie I do love him (yuk). 
Part 2, Episode 4,
Scene 31: two girls walking in meadow, brief but revealing:  I cannot understand what it’s like to be you; very dull; the talk is about how they fit as a family
Scene 38  This one where they discuss whose hair in Edward’s ring.  JA: "there is an awful lot of these bedroom scenes in this episode.
Part 2, Episode 5:
Scene 42:  Girls in attic again: "what was that long conversation with Lucy Steele about". "Nothing of consequence." Her hopes and dreams for the future."  Marianne is dismissive, but of herself she would say such things important.  Very moving music at last moment with her eyes so big and then into cave. 
Scene 45:  Again attic bedroom, now packing, no understanding of what’s happening in Marianne nor what Elinor is thinking or feeling, between Elinor and Marianne; a dialogue: we’ll see W and E … perhaps perhaps not
Scene 48:  after Mrs Jenning leaves the room we see them alone, Marianne writing, Elinor turns, hesitates, says nothing, turns away
Scene 49: split second up on balcony Marianne so sure that Willoughby will come; it’s dramatized clearly that the letter written intended to make him come quickly
Scene 60: Marianne flippant in bed that Brandon’s great defect he’s not Willoughby: Elinor is true sensibility in this scene
Part 3
Episode 1, Scene 2:  the interstices of the scene of Marianne and Elinor as Marianne writes that morning; does become a scene about male hatred, also connects to Elizas (Brandon and Williams) through Brandon’s fierce hatred; Elinor’s head laying sideways in covers again
Episode 1, scene 4: Marianne reading the letter in deep pain; this scene occurs in all four transpositions.  Resonant music; turns on Marianne lashing out at Elinor
Episode 2, Scene 7: one line, I’m so sorry Marianne, 3 stills (Marianne’s face, whole bed with Elinor next to her, then Marianne, then switch to waves crashing on sea as leading into mother writing next to Margaret with her comments about women).   HM: there has not been an order as well there used to be a scene under the sheet which is now moved to a different place … [do men regard women as toys, placed as part of Cleveland, after they arrive and before sickness sequence see Episode 4, Scene 24 below] 
Episode 3, scene 22: upstairs bedroom, now Marianne knows terrifically moving; how much should Elinor cry was debated:
Episode 4:
Scene 24: scene alone in carriage with Brandon as escort:  carriage shots one of each girl after one of Brandon by carriage and then shot of them coming up to house with warm welcome
Scene 27, at Cleveland, both faces lying down, after a scene with baby (now cut), what do men want of us?
Scene 37:  Elinor comes in with shawl, perceives Marianne very illl.
Scene 41:  Elinor weeping over Marianne: silent but full of meaning, stress not so much on her not coping but equally on her concern for Marianne (Thompson’s Elinor altogether a more ego-centered character).
Episode 5:
Dawn Scene 44: Big shot of dawn and then she is better: Oh Marianne …"
Scene 44:   Inside, bedroom, Elinor sleeping, sees Marianne looking peaceful, goes over, Elinor grasps her hands and kisses them, feel of flesh, and Marianne speaks: "Elinor!"  Elinor:  "Oh! Marianne."  Crisis weathered.
Scene 45: glimpsed Elinor reading to Marianne
Scene 52: the travelling back to Devon was originally conceived of as an Elinor Marianne scene that occurred earlier;
Scene 56: Elinor and Marianne by seaside
Part 3,
Episode 5
Scene 62/3:  Elinor insisting to Marianne that the news of Edward’s marriage hasn’t changed anything;
Scene 67:  last attic scene:  Marianne in love and Elinor happy for her if she really loves Brandon’s; she may hope to encounter a Colonel one day too.

Elinor her grief expressive in nature

Part 1,
Episode 2,
Scene 15:   Library: Elinor with papers and remembering father
Scene 16:  Beating carpet scene; Elinor for a moment there alone to beat the carpet
Melded love-montage scenes 21 (22, 23, 24, 25, 26):  Here we have a movement from frame to frame (for scene to scene) like turning a page … Elinor trying clothes turning away from mirror …
Episode 3
Scene 32:   Establishment shot is Elinor’s drawing of Norland, taken down from library wall,
Episode 4: 
Scene 35:  Carriage at night, mother & Margaret sleeping, Marianne, Elinor looks at her present
Scene 43:  Vast shot of seascape, Elinor putting up picture of Norland at Barton
Part 2,
Episode 1
Scene 7:  On the meadow/heath, Elinor walking, looking into present of book, distressed (juxtaposed to above self-control)
Scene 11:  Out of doors, Elinor in mist with bucket, as she walks down stream we see Margaret’s shells
Episode 3
Scene 30:  Inside Barton cottage: Elinor finds mother writing a letter to Edward
Episode 4
Scene 1:   Elinor realizes it’s Edward, sustained alone
Scene 36:  Outside Barton cottage, women saying goodbye to Edward, very sad, dark melancholy music — last shot of Elinor sustained
Episode 5
Scene 43:  Cave by sea, woman grieving silently:  Elinor, silhouette
Part 3,
Episode 3,
Scene 21:  Mrs Jennings’s drawing room, begins with close up of Elinor’s face,
Episode 4,
Scene 31:  Outside in the front:  Elinor runs to front and with cape over her head looks just as she did when she gazed at Edward chopping wood.
Scene 37:  Close up to Marianne’s flesh, face, very sick, Elinor in shawl, harsh chords, Elinor sees her very sick, tone of surprize, puzzle, "Marianne?" breathing hard
Scene 41:  Elinor by Marianne’s side, cold compresses, this the equivalent of Emma Thompson’s great scene: here very moving, she cries remarkably brilliantly,  wiping her eyes and face
Episode 5
Scene 44:   Inside, bedroom, Elinor sleeping, sees Marianne looking peaceful, goes over, Elinor grasps her hands and kisses them, feel of flesh, and Marianne speaks: "Elinor!"  Elinor:  "Oh! Marianne."  Crisis weathered.
Episode 6,
Scenes 62, 63, 64, connected by music as subjective, feel retrospective:  Elinor by seascape sketching, holding back tears in silhouette (Oenone); seen buying fish, pier turns into cobb (a quotation and reference to Persuasion); replacing picture of Norland with one of Barton cottage (this is home now)
Scene 66: Climax the one from the paratext: she is seen backwards looking out at sea, blurry, facing she will be alone, eating it …

Marianne Alone:


Marianne — the girl with the statue goes back to ’87 NA and is most recently seen in ’08 Miss Austen Regrets

Part 1,
Episode 2,
Melded love-montage scenes 21 (22, 23, 24, 25, 26):  Here we have a movement from frame to frame (for scene to scene) like turning a page, with Marianne at her music … for passing time: Elinor trying clothes before mirror …
Episode 5,
Melded scenes 44 (45, 46, 47):  Barton cottage, Marianne seen through doorframe playing …   Marianne playing again at Barton park
Scene 57:  Rushing seascape and her ecstatic standing there turns into fall
Part 2,
Episode 3,
Scene 28:  Barton cottage as in 95 film (and also the misty cottage of 81 film), Marianne in ravine, holding bridal veil
Scene 29:  Inside Barton cottage:  Mrs Dashwood measuring Margaret for dress; Marianne waiting at window
Episode 5,
Scene 49:  Mrs Jennings’s London house, upper floor corridor by columns, odd angle from below, and Marianne gives letter to Foot,
Episode 6,
Scene 61:   Mrs Jennings’s London House, upstairs, Marianne chases Foot but there is nothing …
Scene 62:  Outside the London shop, Marianne looking around, not he
Scene 63:  Mrs Jennings’s London house, upper floor corridor with columns, from up top or odd angle, and again no message
Scene 66:  Inside ball, Marianne runs ahead, gasps,
Part 3,
Episode 1,
Scene 2:  Daring back-and-forth between duel and Marianne’s dawn letter writing …
Episode 2,
Scene 12:   Mrs Jennings’s London house, a reception room, cut to Marianne playing piano,
Episode 4,
Scene 28:  Cleveland house seen from distance, emphasizing neuroticism of clipped cone hedges, storm coming up; satyr like statue, walks through hedge, half mad, tracking her, glimpses through columns, trees, up to temple, running high on hill with flashbacks of memories (stills of Willoughby at Allenham), choral music, idea is she has lost all perspective …
Episode 5,
Scene 48: … upstairs balcony:  Marianne caught by camera from odd angle listening, then his and Elinor’s close faces, facing off (she’s "glad" he has "lost her sister’s love forever," W:  "You despise me"), and she walks off, and camera up to Marianne who looks appalled, horrified, at last sees him
Scene 58:  Library, door opens, fruit on table, he walks slowly in, at this point the characters seem to walk slowly rather like a dream; she finds piano and sits and plays and this leads to Marianne’s dream?
Scene 59/60: Montage of Brandon letting hawk loose, while Marianne playing inside, and looks up and we see that bird, then back to Brandon, it comes back to his hand, and she is standing there, and he says come, and she smiles, but we are back to her at piano:  was she dreaming it?, closure as camera moves to see her framed and ends on fruit dish: little aria of images, collage, montage

Curious truth: in book we are told Marianne goes off alone a lot, Elinor is for being with others, but in the 2008 film we see Elinor alone at least equally to Marianne and in the 1995 film it’s Elizabeth we see alone, though we are given enough glimpses to see that Jane spends a lot of time in contemplation too.

Ellen

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