Happy Birthday, Jane!

Since I first discovered the works of Jane Austen, I have felt a kinship with her, as all Janeites do. I had just returned from a trip abroad, where I had felt that sensation of going home when I saw England for the first time, and the film Sense and Sensibility was coming to theaters. I am not being dramatic when I say it changed my life.

I empathized most with Eleanor, the elder sister, who like me, had to keep the family together after a dramatic event. The Dashwood girls lose their father, leaving them, and their mother, fairly destitute. Our family returned home from the trip to learn my stepfather had been having an affair, and when things fell apart, I took care of my younger siblings.

While I have great love for Pride and Prejudice, it is Sense and Sensibility that still resonates with me most. I, of course, have lost count of how many times I’ve watched it at this point. I used to watch it whenever I felt the least bit sad, or was hormonal, or just needed my Austen fix. Goodness. That could mean it’s upwards of a few hundred viewings. ((insert surprised face emoji))

From that point on, I watched every film based on her work I could get my hands on. I bought her books. I researched the time period, which in turn began to filter into my own writing. I have a screenplay set in her time period in Bath, where she spent a great deal of time.

While writing that screenplay I made an intriguing discovery. The time periods I am most fascinated by are all separated by 200 years, roughly – the Victorian era, the time of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, Medieval times – and Jane and I were born 200 years apart. I was born in 1975, she in 1775. It was a strange sort of mind bending feeling when I realized this, so the protagonist in that script has a connection to a certain number, which I explore.

When people jokingly ask, “Who is your spirit animal?”, my answer is Jane Austen. I just get her. I mean read some of her quotes:

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it.

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them.

Jane Austen

It’s like she’s reading my mind.

So Happy Birthday, Jane! Your life may have been short, but you made a big impact. Not only have you given me something to strive for, delighting and entertaining readers/viewers for centuries, you also remind us to take advantage of the time given to us, to not settle, and to follow our dreams.

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Death Comes to Pemberley

DeathPemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley recently popped up on Netflix, and as a Jane Austen enthusiast, I was excited to see they had picked it up.  I had been seeing articles, set photos, etc. for some months, so I made the effort to watch it almost immediately.  If you are wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, it’s because we haven’t paid for television in over 3 years.  So yes, I’m fairly out of the loop on most things.

Based on the novel of the same name from 2011 by P.D. James, I have to say I have been less inclined to read any of what is basically fan fiction of one of the most famous love stories in all of literature.  This is not a judgement in any regard.  I love fan fiction, I write some myself, but what I have discovered in some of the reading I have done is that it lacks the…hmm, what’s a good word…magic?

Jane Austen ran in the circles she was writing about.  Modern day writers can only emulate what they’ve studied, read, and seen because we have not lived it first hand, and again, by no mean is this a shortcoming.  I love period pieces, and if we only wrote about what we “know”, we wouldn’t have the wide range of diversity we do in any medium.  As writers, we each have a voice, and when it comes to something as widely beloved as Pride and Prejudice, you have to get it just right.

So here is my quick review.  Twoandhalfstars

The film was broken up into three parts.  I’m pretty sure it could’ve been told in two.  Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys play our leads, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in their sixth year of marriage planning their annual ball when tragedy strikes.  A murder.  Because of the people involved, a wedge is slowly driven between the couple and we are given a glimpse as to the repercussions of following one’s heart instead of one’s head – or at least in the minds of these characters.

The actors are both very good, but I felt Elizabeth was cast incorrectly.  She was not the same spirited woman I have come to love and this is where I blame the writing.  She seemed weak, and that spark that had attracted Darcy to her in the first place was replaced by insecurity and she was kind of dull.  Darcy was too distant, even from the beginning of the film, and because so little is really known of him from the original material beyond those honorable traits we know and love, he too came off a bit dull.

Now, I haven’t been married, so maybe after six years of marriage in this world, they’re a little bored of each other, but when we leave them at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s not that I expect the permanent happily ever after, because it is based in “reality”, but I expect more than this.  Of course there will be hard times, etc., but I also expect that the challenge they presented to one another would carry over.  They should have spirited debates, and still have some spark…well, I think so anyway, and that was missing entirely from this tale.

I didn’t feel/see any spark between these characters, and I almost felt like the obligatory “romantic”, oh, let’s call it what it was, the sex scene was meant to reassure us that they did indeed have “something”, but that doesn’t happen in Jane Austen’s stories, so I know it was meant specifically for modern day audiences, and for me it felt out of place.

There’s an odd side story involving Wickham, played by Matthew Goode, and that does have some bearing on the story overall, but in the vein of a mystery, it was still rather convoluted.  The other failing was the absence of Jane and Bingley, the two people dearest to our main characters.  I think there were two scenes with Jane, and they didn’t amount to much.

I love the idea of seeing more of two of my favorite characters, as I’m sure does every Janeite, but I would almost prefer to imagine their fates as an open-ended tale without any real knowledge of what happened.  Looking back on what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound that promising of a film, but it had its moments, and I was glad to have the opportunity to watch it.  If I were flipping channels and it was on, I’d most likely leave it for a bit, but it’s lack of overall charm doesn’t compel me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Well, that’s my take anyway.

Happy Sunday!

Open to Suggestion

Hi all!

suggestion_box_icon

I am calling on my fellow bloggers – Who or what blogs do you recommend?  Offer up to me some of your favorite writing, screenwriting, geek culture, sci-fi/fantasy, history, something for an Anglophile, or anything that piques your interest blogs…I am open to suggestion.

Feel free to promote yourself! 😉

Thanks!
xx, Rach

The Jane Austen Syndrome

JASilhouetteI was recently introduced to virtual strangers as a “great admirer” of Jane Austen, as if that were almost an excuse, an apology, or a warning…I’m not sure which.  I do not deny my Jane Austen obsession.  I am joined by legions of (mostly) women who refer to themselves as Janeites and celebrate the author and her work in any way they can.  Why?  You might ask.  There are several reasons; likeable characters, restrained romantic encounters, great dialogue, lush landscapes, great houses, etc. but this is not to be some treatise on the literary constructs, but a few of the reasons why a girl from Sin City found refuge in a faraway land set hundreds of years ago, that started a chain of events that I will refer to as the Jane Austen Syndrome.

First off, when I was 19* I visited England for the first time.  That was it for me.  I was home.  And I’ve been trying to get back there ever since, having achieved success only once more (so far).  I always felt a little out of place in my hometown, and finding this sense of “home” was intriguing and compelling.  So, upon my return home I started to devour all things English.  It was later that year when Sense & Sensibility was released.  (*Oh gracious, don’t do the math.)  My literary education had never included Jane Austen.  This was my first introduction, and the first domino.

Sense & Sensibility, where to start.  I have a much younger sister, and for many years I had to maintain a certain Eleanor appearance in regards to keeping emotions in check.  So that rang true for me personally.  The men were dashing and handsome, but there was more to it than that.  The lifestyle, the manners, the propriety, the rules…all of this was fairly new to me and I loved it all.

FirthasDarcyFrom there I discovered the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth (whom I still love to this day) and Jennifer Ehle, which is the basis for all boy meets girl romantic comedies.  It was official.  I now understood.  I was a Janeite.  At this point I started to watch any version of any Jane Austen film made to date, but had yet to pick up a novel.  Once that happened, it was just another stepping stone in my love affair with England.  It is on this topic I could write a treatise.

I discovered that through certain films, I was introduced to time periods that affected not only me but my writing greatly.  Which, hopefully, you’ll see when my screenplays come to the big screen.  *Fingers crossed.  I dream(ed) of the Mr. Darcy and the gentlemanly ways of a time gone by.  Today you’re lucky if a man will hold the door for you (this is a generalization, albeit a fairly accurate generalization.  Sorry guys, but you should know that you will win more favor with a few kind acts, and that most women would love to be treated like a lady.  And let me add a side note, women should act like they deserve to be treated as ladies, this is the Janeite in me.).  There were manners and standards.  And this is a side effect of “the syndrome”.  Once immersed in a world we’d prefer still existed in some regard, most things pale in comparison.  It was this introduction that has led to my Anglophile status – why I swoon at an English accent, love high tea, developed a passion for history, have dressed in Victorian garb on more than one occasion, will watch any English period piece, have a fondness for the Queen, want to join the Society of Creative Anachronism, and desire to settle in an adorable manor in the English countryside…Jane, what have you done to me?!

EnglishManorNow I shall go immerse myself in some history in my own script, so I suppose a “Thank you, Jane” is in order as well.  🙂

Have a great week everyone!

Romantically Challenged

Pride&PrejudiceI know it’s a phase, but I’m in a rut.  I’m in the middle of a major rewrite and I find myself lacking emotionally as I’ve had a lot of negative things weighing on me recently, my romantic sensibilities have been sapped.  As I write love stories (in part), the lack of emotion is a bit of an impediment, so I’ve been looking pretty much everywhere in order to be inspired; music, movies, video games, pictures/artwork, and yes, quotes.  I thought I’d share a few things and hopefully, in a few days, I’ll get the love back.Theberge-Romance

I’ve read so many times that as a writer you should write every day, and I agree, to an extent.  Depending on what you’re working on, your emotional state could have either a positive or negative influence.  In my current frame of mind I should be writing something angry, sarcastic, and dark.  And I don’t write that kind of stuff.  So, until this mood passes, I will continue the rewrite from a technical stand point, and continue to stare at these in an effort to lighten the mood — maybe I just need a hug…as writers we spend a lot of time alone, so maybe I just need to be around some people.  I will test this theory and get back to you.

“I love it when I catch you looking at me, then you smile and look away.”

“Kiss me as if it were the last time.”

Mermaidw:Man

And a few of my favorite book quotes —

“Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan.”   Persuasion by Jane Austen

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad!  Only do not leave me in this abyss where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!”  —  Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you – especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land some broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.”  — Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 

BlueCouplew:Diamonds*First image is Romance by Claude Theberge.  Second image is of Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen of Pride & Prejudice.  The others I came across while searching the internet.  I do not own these works.