Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: Jane Eyre (2006)

DVD Box Art
I know, the last review I did was for Jane Eyre (2011) (granted, a long time ago), so you're getting two Jane Eyre reviews in a row. But I had been curious about this version despite its content issues. This one was not available on Netflix, but it was uploaded on YouTube, so I watched it there. This would be Jane Eyre Version #5 that I've seen, so I have plenty of other adaptations to compare to, which can be both a good and a bad thing. On the upside, there is plenty to compare to and any unique aspects of this miniseries would be easily recognizable. The bad side: I already have ideas on how adaptations of Jane Eyre should be (but not that's ever stopped me before). From reading around on other period drama blogs, the impression I had of this version before viewing it all the way through was that the major objection to this version was the content, but that the rest was pretty good, so I tried to keep an eye out for scenes that might have content issues (which did detract from my enjoyment of the miniseries, to be honest) but at the same time watch and see how this adaptation presented the story.

(Synopsis taken from my review of Jane Eyre (1983) )
Young Jane Eyre, an orphan, lives with her rich but cruel Aunt, Mrs. Reed and her cousins at Gateshead Hall until Mrs. Reed sends her away to Lowood School to be educated and be rid of her. Ten years after receiving an education and without connections, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall to young Adele Varens, the ward of Thornfield's master, Mr. Edward Rochester. Thornfield itself holds many secrets and Mr. Rochester is very mysterious and strange, but Jane eventually falls in love with him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Meme: Bad Luck Edith

So, I've come up with a new meme...

You've all seen the "Bad Luck Brian" memes, right? You know, where it's a school picture gone wrong and how nothing goes right for this kid?

Well, I've taken this meme in a whole new a period drama direction...specifically to Downton Abbey.

Brace yourselves: who on Downton is known for having the worst luck ever? Lady Edith Crawley. Yes, poor Edith cannot seem to catch a break, and rumor has it that things will not be getting better for her in Series 5. So, with Photoshop and a little bit of time, I have created:

Bad Luck Edith

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jane Austen Giveaway at Old-Fashioned Charm!

My dear blogging friend, Miss Laurie of Old-Fashioned Charm, is holding a giveaway that is sure to please all of you! Miss Laurie will be giving away some of her Jane Austen related books to her fellow Janeites to love for years to come. There are six books in total:

All very good books in good condition! You can enter in this giveaway up to five times and you even get a first and second choice for the books.

This will be my first giveaway and I am very excited! So, what are you all waiting for? Head over Old-Fashioned Charm and enter the giveaway!

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

DVD Box Art
Ah, Netflix. What would I do without you? I was a bit curious about the "new" version of Jane Eyre for some time, but I didn't really want to go out and buy it or rent it. For one thing, Jane Eyre isn't my favorite story, and plus the PG-13 rating put me off (mostly because I thought, "What on earth could they put in there for a PG-13 rating?", but more on that later). I hadn't heard great things about this adaptation, but I hadn't heard anything really bad either (in other words, I hadn't heard of people absolutely raving about it, but I didn't hear much of anything bad either). With this being my fourth version of Jane Eyre that I've seen all the way through and having read the book years ago, I'm fairly familiar with the story line and did have some preconceived notions on how the story should pan out. That being said, here is my review of it.

After nearly collapsing, Jane Eyre (assuming the name Jane Elliot) is taken in by the Rivers family and nursed back to health. As the Rivers family learns about her harsh childhood and education at Lowood School, Jane reflects on her time at Thornfield Hall,how she fell in love with its owner, Mr. Rochester, and how she came into the care of the River family.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jane Austen and Clergymen (Or When Assumptions Are Made in High School English)

Mr. Collins in the 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice.
It's been a long time since doing a post like this. I've been in a bit of a state of writer's block (and suggestions for posts are welcome!), but then this popped into my head and I thought it would make a great post!

So, one day, I recalled my junior year British Literature class in high school. We were reading Pride and Prejudice (something which I had already done, so I needn't worry -- I aced all my pop quizzes with little trouble) and we came upon the subject of Mr. Collins and how, interestingly enough, Jane Austen's own father was a clergyman. One of the students remarked that because of the representation of clergymen in Mr. Collins, Jane Austen must not have had a very good opinion of the profession.

I didn't say anything.

I probably could have. Should I have? Maybe. But nevertheless, I didn't. How could someone make an assumption on Jane Austen's opinion of clergymen based upon one character in one of her books? That would be like throwing out a notebook because of of the pages is ripped, right?

Clerical Observations
While we can't ask Jane herself what her opinion of clergymen was exactly, we can speculate what it could be. If you delve into Jane Austen's life a little bit, you will find that she was close to her father (a clergyman), attended Church regularly, and even wrote prayers. From this information, we can deduce that she was religious and followed the teachings of the Anglican Church, something that probably wouldn't happen if she didn't respect her father or his occupation. And through her father, she probably would have seen plenty of his colleagues (other clergymen) and, as she did with everyone, observed their behaviors, both good and bad. It's possible these good and bad observations made it into her books as various characters who are apart of the clergy.

Clergymen in Austen's Novels
Mr Elton in the 2009 miniseries of Emma.
Now, if we go beyond Pride and Prejudice, Jane had other clergymen characters in her other books. Aside from Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, there is Mr. Elton from Emma, Dr. Grant and Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park, Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey, and aspiring clergyman Edward Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility. If you are familiar with Jane's other works, you will see that Mr. Collins isn't the only "bad" clergyman in the list:

  • Mr. Elton is a fortune hunter and spiteful. He certainly isn't friendly with Emma after she rejected his marriage proposal, and let's not forget at the Highbury ball when purposely and obviously snubbed Harriet Smith for a dance as a way to humiliate both Harriet and Emma; not the actions of a gentleman to be sure.
  • Dr. Grant is glutton (ironically, one of the seven deadly sins) who argues with his wife a lot (leaving his half-sister-in-law, Mary Crawford, to gain a bad opinion of clergymen altogether). 
So, certainly, any fan of Jane Austen cannot claim that Mr. Collins was a fluke and that he was the only "bad" clergyman in all of Jane Austen's novels because he certainly was not. But never fear: there are also "good" clergymen in Jane Austen's novels who are often ignored.
Henry Tilney in the 2007 TV Movie Northanger Abbey

  • Edmund Bertram, despite his faults and the fact that he tends to be an unpopular hero, is a decent, moral, and honorable man. He was kind to his cousin, Fanny, when she first came to Mansfield Park when no one else was. 
  • Henry Tilney has a good sense of humor, was witty and a good brother, and is kind to Catherine. 
  • And Edward Ferrars, despite his faults as well, was still an honorable man. Even though he fell in love with Elinor and was no longer in love with Lucy Steele, he still kept his promise to Lucy. Even though he wasn't a clergyman until the epilogue, I'm going to include him in this list.
So, while there are some "bad" clergymen in Jane Austen's books, she does include a fair amount of "good clergymen" as well. What Jane Austen gave us was a wide range of clergymen: some to show what a clergyman should be and others to show what a clergyman should not be.

How Did We Get Here?
The Mr. Collins Wave
So how did this perception of Jane Austen and clergymen come about? My opinion is that it's due to the Austen books that are popular. Look at Jane's most popular books: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion (although Sense and Sensibility might also tie with Persuasion). Persuasion doesn't really have prominent characters that are clergymen (I almost want to say Captain Wentworth's brother and Charles Hayter were clergymen, but I'm not entirely sure -- but either way, they weren't big enough characters to form a decent opinion on). So, focusing on the top two popular Austen books -- Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Both Pride and Prejudice and Emma feature prominent characters who are clergymen that fall short of what a clergyman should be. The average reader/watcher of Jane Austen doesn't usually know about Henry Tilney or Edmund Bertram because the average reader/watcher has either not read or not heard of Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park. And although there's Edward Ferrars is in Sense and Sensibility, another popular Austen novel, he isn't a clergyman for most of the book and his aspirations to the clergy are a small detail that, at the very least, movie watchers don't usually pick up on.

What do you think? Do you think the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Emma are what leads casual Jane Austen fans to think Jane had a low opinion of clergymen? Or is there another issue? Have you noticed similar sentiments about Jane Austen's view of clergymen? Leave comments!

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: The Paradise -- Series 2 (2013)

Okay, so I watched Series 2 of The Paradise after I finished watching the first series and intended to review the second series almost right after watching it. Then school happened (like I've said before, it was a brutal semester), so this review got pushed aside along with everything else. But here it is! As you might have noticed, Series 2 has not been released in America yet, but I caught it online and watched it. I really liked Series 1 and, since there was the wedding cliffhanger at the end, I was curious to see what was going to happen next. So, when I found Series 2 online, I simply couldn't resist! So, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see what happened immediately when Katherine got jilted at the altar... Or what Lord Glendenning said to Moray about the whole thing... But still! The story continued and there was more drama to come!

Note: This review will contain spoilers from Series 1. If you do not want to read about Series 1 spoilers, I suggest watching Series 1 before reading this review. Here is my review for Series 1 if you are interested.

Region 2 DVD Box Art

After being stripped of his store and sent away to Paris, Mr. Moray returns to The Paradise as a manager determined to buy his store back. The Paradise is now owned by Tom Weston, a former soldier and the new husband of Moray's ex-fiancee, Katherine (née Glendenning), who inherited the store from her father who has, since Series 1, passed on. Meanwhile, Denise and Moray have become engaged and are working together to win The Paradise back. However, this proves to be difficult as Tom Weston is not a man to be trifled with.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Mr. Selfridge -- Series 2 (2014)

When I watched Mr. Selfridge a year ago, I was not all that fond of it. I said that I was going to watch the next series because Series 1 ended on a cliffhanger and I wanted to know what happened next, but I didn't have high hopes for it. It was a lackluster show in which I could relate to none of the characters and where nearly all the characters had loose morals. But when this year came and I didn't hear any word on the new series, I was wondering if it was still going? But then PBS announced it and after Downton Abbey ran its course (which I still watched even though I had already seen it), I watched Series 2 of Mr. Selfridge as it aired on PBS. Were my suspicions correct? Or was I pleasantly surprised? Well, read on and find out!

Note: This review will contain spoilers from Series 1. If you do not want to read about Series 1 spoilers, I suggest watching Series 1 before reading this review. Here is my review for Series 1 if you are interested.

DVD Box Art

After living in America for five years after leaving England, Rose Selfridge returns to London for the fifth anniversary of Selfridge's. While Harry tries to reconcile with his wife, Rose still resents his philandering and keeps her distance from him. Meanwhile, Rose has befriended Delphine Day, the owner of a night club with a scandalous past (of which she writes about publicly). Meanwhile, Agnes Towler returns to Selfridge's as head of departmental displays after training in Paris and develops a rivalry with Mr. Thackeray, the new head of fashion. Lady Mae Loxley's life is turned upside down with the arrival of her husband, Lord Loxley, who has taken a sudden interest in parliament. All of this is occurring with World War I in the near future, and Selfridge's sees the toll of the war on the store.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Austenland (2013)

Is Austenland strictly a period drama? No: it takes place in today's time. But is it like a modern movie like we've all seen before? Not quite: there's a lot of dress up and talk about Regency times. Austenland is in a weird state of limbo: not quite a period drama, but not modern enough for a regular movie. So why am I reviewing it? Well, it does have a lot to do with Jane Austen and Regency times even though it doesn't take place in the Regency Era.
DVD Box Art

Jane Hayes, a single, thirty-something American woman who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice, spends all her savings to take a trip to Austenland, a resort devoted to Jane Austen and the Regency era to find the perfect Regency gentleman. Becoming Miss Jane Erstwhile, an orphan of no fortune (due to the bronze package she purchased), Jane begins to butt heads with Mr. Henry Nobley, an arrogant man of good fortune, befriends Miss Elizabeth Charming (another American at the resort), and falls in love with groundskeeper Martin. Throughout her trip, Jane realizes that life in Regency England isn't all that she hoped it was.