Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Movie Madness

Good morning everyone. As you know, I'm a sucker for Jane Austen and the Regency. I have several different movie versions of P&P, S&S, Emma, and Persuasion. I love seeing how the directors and actors take these timely characters and make them their own. However, in writing this new book, I've found I need to see more of that life. I can read all I want, but with movies, I'm transported by the settings and costumes and dialogue that I can't readily see in my head. Black and white research sucks. Pages are not three dimensional. Well, neither is the tv screen but you know what I mean.

Anyway, due to a rare occurence in extra cash flow recently, I treated myself to some movies.

The Duchess -- starring Kiera Knightly and Ralph Fiennes.

Jane Eyre -- starring Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds.

Vanity Fair -- Starring Reese Witherspoon and Gabriel Byrne.

The Other Boleyn Girl -- starring Natalie Portman and Eric Bana.

And lastly -- Becoming Jane -- starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy.

Now, all of these are not Regency based, but the costumes and settings were fantastic. The dialogue in some was not how it was spoken truly, but you can't really expect an audience to follow the proper English prose as it sounds.

My favorite, favorite, favorite, was Becoming Jane. Could you tell? I cried my eyes out at the end. Now, SHE lived a true romantic life. (I wont' spoil it for you by telling you what I thought and why.) Sad, sure. But romantic, OMG, it broke my heart. Broke. My. Heart.

The other that I fell almost as wildly in love with was Jane Eyre. I wasn't really crazy about the lack of definition in the characters, (they were kind of flat in my opinion) but Ciaran Hinds as Mr. Rochester -- let's just say YUM and leave it at that.

The Duchess, about the Duchess of Devonshire, was dazzling with its story, but that also left me kind of flat. I was disappointed with the last 3 quartes of the film but the ending left me speechless. I loved Ralph Fiennes portrayal of the Duke, (He was such a JERK) and that movie too, left me weeping. The inconsideration of some men! UGH!

I'm trying to lay my hands on a copy of Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. I need to see the Prince Regent at work and Hugh Bonneville is one of my favorite actors. Also, I think this movie, set as it was right at the beginning of the Regency will just give me the oomph I need to flesh out the rest of my story as it pertains to George. I'm putting a different spin on him than what's written in the history books.

So, how do you feel about watching movies for historical research instead of reading?
Does it impede your process, mess you up, or does it help?

(And I know, reading far outweighs movies because one directors version is not what the author intended when they wrote it.)


Sarah Ahiers said...

i remember being disappointed about Vanity Fair.
I think i was also disappointed by The Duchess, but loved the "real life' portrayal of it all, that sometimes, people aren't happy. If that makes sense.

Laura Pauling said...

I think it's great. You can get a close up look at costumes and settings and absorb it into your subconscious. I also love the history channel for research too. I don't love those type of movies but Becoming Jane looks good.

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- Vanity Fair was a disappoint to me, inasmuch as I thought the ending should have been better. But alas, I am not a screenwriter. The Duchess struck me the same way. I thought Kiera Knightly should have looked more haggard and old.

And yes, in real life, people aren't always happy.

Laura -- I wish we had cable for the History channel. But then I would only sit around and watch tv all day. Becoming Jane was very good.

Anne R. Allen said...

I have the Duchess in my Netflix queue. Maybe I'll skip it. Thanks for the warning. Although I might watch it anyway for Ralph Fiennes.

I love immersing myself in a period. Contemporary historical films or BBC productions are usually are pretty accurate, so I think you can call it research. When I was trying to write a historical long ago, I spent so much time reading old encyclopedias and costume books, I got bored with my story.

So I'd say you're doing just the right thing. Besides, a great movie is inspiring on a lot of levels. LOVE that version of Jane Eyre. Becoming Jane, too, although I've read it wasn't terribly accurate about her life. Made a great story, though.

Unknown said...

I've watched movies for research--got no problem with that. Glad you enjoyed yours!

Linda G. said...

I think movies complement books in a lot of ways. You can't beat a good book, of course, but sometimes it's nice to just sink into a movie and let the atmosphere flow into you subliminally. There's something to be said for those visuals.

Anne Gallagher said...

Anne -- I think The Duchess touched on a lot of what she went through, although much more was left out, I'm sure due to a two hour movie limit. Ralph Fiennes was wonderful but watch the commentaries first before you watch the film. So much more was revealed, I think you will find the film better for doing so.

Miss Austen Regrets is another look at Jane's life, and I think is the more accurate version. Becoming Jane was a fine movie, on its own, if only for the settings and costumes. I watched the commentaries as well.

Elle -- I'm in the middle of Persuasion right now, although have seen the film 100 times. The book is SOOOO different. As most books are.

Linda -- That's it, the atmosphere is subliminal and I think that's the key. I can HEAR the English accents and the dialogue in which it was spoken. That's the key for me right now. The dialogue.

Bish Denham said...

I've never thought of studying movies for research, nice thought if I were writing historical or such.

My favorite Jane Eyre is the 1983 mini-series with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton. Timothy might be a bit too pretty as Mr. R. but the sparks do fly between him and Zelah. It's very nicely done.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Oh wow, fun fun fun! I can smell the buttered popcorn now. These are wonderful films!

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- I saw that one. Timothy, as you say is a little too pretty but yes, the sparks were flying. Which is what I missed in the version I have. Samantha Morton was good, but not great.

Karen -- C'mon over. We'll have movie madness night at my place. I'll get a new box of Kleenex too.

Aleeza said...

I LOVED Becoming Jane. Anne Hathaway + James McAvoy + Regency Romance = awesomesauce. i watched it SO long ago that i dont even remember the ending, except for that it was really quite sad :(

The Words Crafter said...

Hey, any excuse to watch a movie works for me! Especially of that time period. I love P & P and S & S!!! I saw the end of Becoming, I have to see the rest of it.

I'm really, really, really wanting to read what it is you're writing!!!!

Anne Gallagher said...

Aleeza -- Truly a great flick. And yes, very sad at the end.

Becky -- I'll send you something.

Liza said...

Can I come visit and watch movies?

Anne Gallagher said...

Liza -- Anytime. The more the merrier.

Unknown said...

I recently watched a bunch of period pieces myself. I too watched Becoming Jane (for a second time). I love James McAvoy. I was also inspired by her dedication to herself and how that is what enabled her to become the writer we all love. I saw the theme of the female writer as unable to do it all as most sad but also most true.

I have also seen the others and could go on at length. It was my valentine present to myself to watch a few good British periods - and my husband just had to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Totally different genre, but I found myself watching a show called "Pretty Little Liars" to get inside the heads of teenage girls for my YA novel. I don't know if it worked, it was so painful to watch. Are girls today that shallow?

Great post!


Anne Spollen said...

I love the original Jane Eyre with Elizabeth Taylor as the young girl in the orphanage. Such a great movie for a rainy, winter's day.

I love movies for research; it helps so much with the visual aspects of writing.

Anne Gallagher said...

Ariel -- Women were so put upon back then, it's hard to understand sometimes. Marriage or pretty much nothing. It's a horrible choice.

Nikki -- I don't know about girls where you are but here they start early. I believe it's because of what they see on TV. Which is why I don't have one. I don't need my daughter turning into Brittney or Myley.

Anne -- Never knew Liz made the movie. I'll have to look for it. Even if the visuals are wrong, it still helps.

Hannah said...

I loved Becoming Jane as well!! I love watching Masterpiece Classic and getting my fill of historical dramas. I was most recently addicted to Downton Alley. So so good.

Paul C said...

I, too, like Jane Austin, her books...and the movies...I shed more tears as I grow older watching movies as you describe so well.

jane eyre books said...

The Jane Eyre books is my favorite from Charlotte Bronte. Villette and Shiley are must-read from her as well. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Hannah -- I began Downton Abby but it's on Sunday night, so I watched the first one but that was it. I can't keep my eyes open on a school night.

Paul -- I've been crying for years.

Jane Eyre Books -- Thanks for stopping by. I'll have to read them all now.