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Archive for January 2nd, 2014

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Downton-Abbey-Complete-Script-Season2

There are … unique possibilities of fluidity, suggestiveness, and emotional scoring in the screenplay — all related of course to the demands of motion pictures … the film play merely avails itself of the novel’s freely shifting background. What is unique is the flexible alteration of scenes of varying duration, of contrasting shortness and length for emphasis, of suggestion and symbolization … Seemingly unrelated ‘shots’ of objects in quick succession superimposed on each other or dissolving into each other … poetry of sensation or relations is often achieved by this kind of composition, for which the technical word is montage … speech can be shuttled back and forth … an art of sound devices now parallels the art of camera devices … films habituate us to freedom of movement in time and space … [so a screenplay] is a new form of dramatic literature — John Gassner

Dear friends and readers,

This is to hope for all my readers a good year to come, solvent, productive, happy, choose what adjective you will, and to express my hope for what will come when I’ve finally finished my close reading of Austen’s letters (with the aid and companionship of many people on Janeites and Austen-l), begun more than 3 years ago. We have less than 20 left.

My Valancourt edition of Smith’s Ethelinde is at a standstill for now. My windows computer crashed and neither my daughter or I can find where in the Macbook Pro software that is attached to the printer we may copy the facsimile text of the 1st edition I’ve been using onto Word or OpenOffice.org whereupon I’ve been correcting and editing typescript. All we can manage to produce are copies that are pictures (jogs) or texts (pdfs) that are not changeable: they are pictures not text documents susceptible of alteration. Of course I could simply type the last volume and a half. I’ve not come to accept that arduous job as yet, am still hoping the new Windows computer I should have in say 3 weeks will enable me to return to my task — but it will be belated. It may be I shall have to type it; if so, I’ll use a strict time schedule and the larger work of an edition (introduction, commentary, notes) will be put off for some time.

Similarly I am cut off from my website until I get new Windows computer: apparently Macbook Pro has no filezilla or notepad +- which I need to add, change, take away from the website. I also dare not trust to my ability to keep up work on the website so will not add any more large new works to it, just small reviews and in the case of the Austen timelines and the use of Tuesdays in her novels only necessary corrections. So I won’t go on to revise the Emma calendar as yet, and probably when I do will not make it the complete kind of transformation I did for Austen’s first three novels. It will take more strength and know-how than I have simply to keep my husband’s legacy, this website up, rather than add to it in any major way.

I am glad I did the Winston Graham and foremother women poets pages in time.

So what I am thinking is when I finish the letters, go on a journey through the Austen films. I will gradually return to revising the five chapters I’ve written as A Place of Refuge: the Sense and Sensibility Films in the context of the whole corpus of Austen films. It’s what I’ve wanted to do all along — not to go into detail on all of them, but to have a wider perspective. I do have trouble lifting myself from my micro-analyses, or narrow part of a set of trees to see the whole wood.

I have a multi-system, multi-region Pioneer DVD player so I can watch them all in full size for the first time. I’m trying to think of some new interesting angle to look at them as a body of work from. I found myself fascinated by the underlying scripts of each I studied thoroughly, in several cases taking them down word-for-word in stenography (in my notebooks) when there was (as for most movies there is not) no published screenplay: these include Baron’s Sense and Sensibility (1981); Constanduros’s Sense and Sensibility (1971) and his Emma (1972); Davies’s Sense and Sensibility (2009); Hughes’s Miss Austen Regrets (2008); Menon’s I Have Found It (2000); Taylor’s Mansfield Park (1983); Weldon’s Pride and Prejudice (1979). I’ve more spotty versions of Davies’s Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Northanger Abbey (2007).

It’s relevant to mention that (well timed), Julian Fellowes has just released a book of the (now polished) scripts of Season 2 of Downton Abbey, held back in the US until this past week. For those interested in this mini-series, which many lovers of Austen’s books are (if the Jane Austen Society facebook or listservs are any measure) these are far more central to appreciating and enjoying the films than the expensive luxury art-paper Worlds, Chronicles, and Scenes from DA books. The 2nd season is much fatter than the first season of scripts, not only because they have moved from 7 episodes (or plays) to 9 (including the long Christmas one), but because he has put much more commentary and notes and his fellow producers and director are now quoted by him (I assume with their full concurrence). Again he reveals his own Toryism and fatuities all over the place, and also is insightful about what he’s doing filmically, for the characers, plot-design, serial drama. It has more stills too and this time all in color. I hope he produces a book for each season of scripts.

My view is that while the acting and filmic techniques, muse-en-scene, music, shooting styles of the movies make the experience, the script writers ought to publish the scripts: — Julian Fellowes has been doing this and far from hurting his career (no one can plagiarize these thing, they are too public), it’s helped sales and spread knowledge of Fellowes’s abilities as a script-writer. You can get Fellowes’s Vanity Fair and Gosford Park, for the first complete with many stills, diaries and discussions with the producer & director, Mira Nair. There was an attempt to publish screenplays in the early 1950s as anthologies when film studies first entered the academy, but the books did not sell so it was given up. I have three invaluable anthologies of great screenplays of great famous movies from the 1940s.

I’ll of course use the films to shed light on the books and vice versa. So there’s the plan for some kind of continuous material for this blog, interspersed with blogs on women’s art, the 18th century and any and all things having to do with Austen.

A list of screenplays of Austen films in print (that I own)

Davies’s Emma (1996) (proper published book)
Dear’s Persuasion (1995)
Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail (1998)(proper published book)
Heckerling’s Clueless (an on-line version 1995)
Hood’s Becoming Jane (2007)
Moggach’s Pride and Prejudice (revisions by Thompson) (2005)
Nunez’s Ruby in Paradise (1993)
Rozema’s Mansfield Park (1999) (proper published book)
Stillman’s Metropolitan (1990) (proper published book)
Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility (1995) (proper published book)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never is but always to be blest …

Scan 7

Ellen

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