Tuesday, 13 October 2009

BBC Emma, Episode 2, and Pride and Prejudice Question 13

On Sunday I watched the second episode of the new production of Emma, staring Ramola Garai. I have to say it's growing on me. The first episode grated. It took such a long time to introduce the characters and set the background (including Emma's mother in a coffin) that I found it difficult to get involved in it.

(Blake Ritson)
This second episode, however, shows a great deal of promise. Two characters in particular stand out. Blake Ritson as Mr Elton provides such a wonderful mix of smooth sensuality (he can certainly use his voice to good effect!) and creepy calculation that I'm beginning to think he's the best Mr Elton so far. And Mr Woodhouse's fretfulness, which I usually find quite irritating, is so well done that I find him adorable. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the next episode.

As for yesterday's question, high scores for those of you who answered yesterday, for originality at the very least. JaneGS, I love your comparison of Pride and Prejudice with Beauty and the Beast. You were careful, of course, not to imply that Mr Darcy was at all ugly, but your argument about his transformation, and Elizabeth's role in it, was convincing. Very nice indeed. Tracygrrl, you're determined to bring up the most outrageous things! Mrs Bennet as a fairy godmother?  I love the idea that Elizabeth, instead of being a Cinderella who depends on the fairy godmother's help, is actually strong enough to turn her away and say: "I'll do this my way, thank you very much!" And janj, I liked the idea of pride and prejudice as the obstacles that the fairy tale characters much overcome to reach their goal.
The new Pride and Prejudice Question today is meant for those who have watched any production of Pride and Prejudice. If you've watched more than one, please feel free to compare.

Jane Austen is quite particular about giving us details about the financial and social standing of the main characters in her novel. This is sometimes difficult to translate onto the screen, especially since we don't really know the subtleties of class and status at the time, but one way that we can understand it visually is through the main characters' homes.

Pride and Prejudice Question of the Day 13


In any of the productions of Pride and Prejudice that you've seen, what is Elizabeth's home, Longbourn, like? What does it tell us about the Bennet family and about Elizabeth? How does it compare to Netherfield, the Bingley's home?

15 comments:

  1. Hi Monica! It is just not fair that we here in the US must wait until 2010 to see the new Emma. :(

    But, onto Longbourne. In the newer P & P (Matthew McFadyen), Longbourne is shown to be a fine, old house, but in a state of neglect. The interior is rather untidy, which shows Mrs. Bennett to be a scattered-brained housewife. The scene where the women do a quick cleanup upon Bingley and Darcy arriving unexpectedly is hilarious.

    I found Mr. Bennet portrayed as rather unkempt, too. (Did anyone in this production own a comb? It was annoying.) Mr. Bennett kept to his books and his orchids. He didn't seem to care what the house or grounds looked like. It was more of a working farm to him. The scene where a large hog is walked through the house best expresses this.

    Netherfield is shown to be a great and well-cared for property. This begins with the huge staff that Bingley has and the richly appointed rooms. My favorite scene is Lizzie's arrival during breakfast. Here are Darcy, Bingley and Caroline at this table set in the middle of this large breakfast room. It can only be described as picturesque!

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  2. 2010?! Sick and wrong! (No wonder I haven't been able to find the new Emma on Tivo--thanks for the clarity, jnaj!) It's great to get an early take on it--looking forward to seeing the new Mr. Elton. The thing that always struck me when watching any version of P&P is that while Longbourne looks like a fairly large, nice home from the outside, the rooms are a bit dark and there's a more claustrophobic feel to the rooms than Netherfield. Netherfield always feels like it has so much more air--higher ceilings, much larger windows, and bright ornamentation on the walls. That's taken to an even bigger extreme in Pemberley, where you almost want to crane your own neck to look at the ceilings, while Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle are looking around. And the grounds have a museum-like quality around Netherfield, whereas you can almost always see signs of working farm, as jnaj points out, at Longbourne.

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  3. PBS website says "early 2010". This could mean January or during the March fundraising season, who can tell. By then, we will have a full account of how good it is (or not)! Are you on Goodreads, Tracygrrrl?

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  4. I totally adore Blake Ritson, he is amazing actor. And he is so gorgeous. I just cannot see him as Elton because while reading the book I see Elton as this disgusting character. During the 1st episode I just kept wishing that Emma could fall in love with Elton. :D

    In my favorite P&P Adaptation, the one with Colin Firth, Longbourn looks like a fine house. For myself it looks like a huge house (In Finland we just don't have houses that big). Netherfield is probably 3 times bigger than Longbourn. It has more rooms and bigger dancing rooms etc. I don't think that Lougbourn would be suitable for entertaining huge amounts of guests because it does not have large sitting/dancing rooms and I think that it is the main difference between the two households. There the difference of the economical levels can be seen. Also Netherfield has bigger parks and more servants.

    milkavainamo@lyseo.edu.ouka.fi

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  5. Milka: yes, I will admit to wanting Emma to fall in love with Elton, too ;) glad to see someone else was thinking that.

    Sorry US viewers! The good thing is, though, you know what to expect. Going into the new Emma blind really throws you off. I have the feeling you'll enjoy it a lot me than we do.

    Now I must leave you, as I don't want to take over my own blog! And if I don't moderate, who will?

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  6. Monica & Milka -- you'll have to start a side-blog about Emma. I'll have to reread the book to see where my sympathies lie regarding an Elton/Emma match. :)

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  8. Great question! I'd like to talk about the 1940 and 2005 interpretation of Longbourn. Both times the Bennet family is depicted as chaoitic, busy, and often times noisy. There is always something going on and everyone is always in such a bustle.

    I imagine you can hear Mrs. Bennet's voice a few rooms away, Mary playing her scales, and the younger sisters running from room to room. There is much laughter and confusion! Other homes like Netherfield Park and Rosings Park are quieter and calmer, and I think that also describes the people who live in these homes.

    The Bennets seem lively, happy, and able to function in their chaos, and we see a closer familial bond between them because of it. I for one would love a big loud family to surround me, yet I probably would need to step outside and go on one of Lizzy's long walks to keep my sanity! LOL! Hey! Perhaps this why Lizzy became so fond of walking?!?

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  9. From what I can remember, Longbourn was an upper-middle class home, but nothing in comparison to Netherfield, which was much more upscale and upper class. Lizzie's home provided everything they needed, and they seemed well off enough to afford servants. In the 2005 P&P with Keira Knightley, I seem to remember various farm animals traipsing through parts of the house. So while it was a respectable home, it was also very salt-of-the-earth. It seemed like a nice place to grow up, for sure.

    Netherfield, on the other hand, is almost palatial and grand, but not as grand as Pemberley. If I lived there, it would feel like living in a museum, where nothing is to be touched or soiled. On the other hand, it's incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring. Certainly what dreams are made of for many people. It's amazing that this wasn't the Bingley's only home.

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  10. Longbourn is a home, rather unkempt with a rowdy family. It is always protrayed as good size, but nothing in comparison to Netherfield hall. Netherfield, is larger, with many more servants, and much fancier decor. It seem more like a house that is for decoration, rather than a home a family would live in.

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  11. BTW - I am more than a little jealous. I really want to watch Emma, but sadly have to wait until 2010 when it comes to the States. It's hard to believe it's been 13 years since the last two Emma movies.

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  12. Hi Laura's Reviews: 2010 isn't that far away, and you'll all have much cleverer things to say than I do, since you'll all have been primed and prepared!

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  13. Dear Monica
    I felt the second episode of Emma was much better than the first - and I agree Mr Elton was very good - this is a tricky character to portray. If only the scriptwriter would use more of Austen's dialogue to move the story along!

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  14. I'm going to go with the 2005 movie version, since that's the version I remember best.

    Longbourn in that movie is large, but the chickens are running about the lawn, in the house, and the pigs do the same. Her mother is in the kitchen with the cook, and it generally has a lower class feeling to it than Netherfield, which doesn't have livestock running around in the house and near it and looks regal and less rustic.

    What the homes say is that the Bennets may have a large home, but it is not well kept and regal, which signifies a lack of fortune...at least a lack of significant fortune, particularly for a family with so many daughters.

    Netherfield, on the other hand, screams I have money, especially since it is "let" out to Bingley and his sister. I wish I had money for a rental of that magnitude.

    Beyond that, the Bennet home is always bustling with noise and activity, whereas the Netherfield and Rosings are quieter...almost stiff.

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