The Jane Austen Book Club - movie and book

posts from 13 October 2004 to 14 March 2011
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Joined: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 12:53 pm

The Jane Austen Book Club - movie and book

Post by ejm »

A while back, we saw the delightful (though somewhat forgettable) movie, "The Jane Austen Book Club", Surprisingly, it only gets 65% on rotten tomatoes but I suspect (without having read the reviews) the negative reviews may be because those reviewers had read the book and were wondering why the movie strayed so far away from the book.

The movie bears VERY little resemblance to the book. As usual, the book is far superior. (As far as I can remember, the only things the book and the movie had in common are the characters' names and the fact that they started a "Jane Austen" book club.)

In both the movie and the book, I found myself liking all the characters and wanting to be invited to join their book club. I also found myself neeeeeeeeeding to reread Austen's books. But as I read the book, I REALLY wanted to be invited the book club and REALLY neeeeeeeeeeeeed to reread Austen's books.

Even though the book does have a handy section at the back with synopses of each of Austen's books for those of us who have forgotten the details and which characters are featured in each of Austen's books. It also has several reviews of Austen's writing. As you can imagine, many of them are glowing. But here is one of my favourites:
In 1898, Mark Twain wrote:Every time I read "Pride and Prejudice", I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shinbone.
But I do have to wonder if whoever wrote the screenplay for the movie actually read the whole book, judging from the following excerpt:
Spoiler (highlight to read):
Jocelyn turned out to like fiddling about with the original story [in "Mansfield Park"] no better than Prudie did. The great thing about books was the solidity of the written word. You might change and your reading might change as a result, but the book remained whatever it had always been [...] The movies, as everyone knew had no respect for this. All the characters had been altered - Fanny's horrid aunt Mrs. Norris was diminished simply by lack of screen time; her uncle Mr. Bertram, a hero in the book, was now accused of slave-dealing and sexual predations; and all the rest were portrayed in broad strokes or reinvented. [...] It made no sense. -"The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler, pages 96, 97
Which is pretty much what happened to the characters in Fowler's book. For instance, I have no recollection of this wonderful aspect of the characters from the movie. I seem to remember that they all seemed pretty much the same:
Spoiler (highlight to read):
Sylvia was looking uncommonly elegant tonight. [...] Allegra was, as always, vivid. Jocelyn was classic. Grigg was casual - corduroys and a green rugby shirt. Bernadette had already spilled hummus on her yoga pants. [p] The pants were spotted with olive and blue flowers and now there was a hummus-colored spot as well on the ledge of the stomach. You could go a long time without noticing the stain, however. You could go a long time without looking at her pants. This was because she'd broken her glasses sometime after our last meeting and patched then together with a startling great lump of paper clips and masking tape. [p] It was possible they weren't even broken. It was possible she'd merely lost the little screw. -"The Jane Austen Book Club" by Karen Joy Fowler, page 120
I have to admit that a screenplay writer would be hard-pressed to present this aspect of the characters depicted in the above spoiler. And what a shame to miss it!

Don't get me wrong. I love movies! Even movies that are based on books. But remind me to always read the book! Books are invariably much more complete. The Jane Austen Book Club

I did start to reread "Mansfield Park" and was amazed to realize that I wasn't rereading it at all. I was reading it for the first time!
So... have YOU backed up your files lately? And defragged too!?