Book Meme: Mel’s Day Nineteen

Book Meme Challenge:

Favorite Book Turned Into a Movie

Does this mean that I love the movie similarly to the book?

Well, first of all, let me state my objections to this particular challenge. Movies and books are completely different mediums, and treating them as though a narrative can be interchanged between them is a danger to the artistic integrity of each.

Some books should not be made into movies as it would change the entire structure and impact of – and interaction with – the work.

Some movies are exquisite in their own right and need not have a “book version”.

It is fair enough when movies makes changes to the book stories, because they are trying to fit them into a new narrative style. The movie version of “Howl’s Moving Castle” does this quite well and without much injury to the book.

However, sometimes a movie can take a book line for line and be all the better for it. And when it manages to bring faithful, loving homage to a book that I adore . . .  then that movie is a keeper.

 Jane Austen’s Persuasion

Strangely enough, the cover for the movie is much more provocative than anything in the movie itself. At least, physically speaking.

I love this book. It is easily my favorite Austen tale. It gives more hope and patience and long-loving humanity than any of her other works. (And I do love her other work. I am even taking an entire class on Austen this coming Fall. Hurrah!!!!)

I love the Heroine and Hero. I love their flaws and virtues. I love their romance.

Anne Elliot might be the most exemplary of Austen women. She is patient, kind, thoughtful, smart, and able to stand up for herself when she needs to do so. This might not seem like the most attractive attributes, as she seemingly allows her family to use and abuse her. And she can be seen as terribly sensible, which is rarely sexy.

But she is not perfect. She is susceptible to the workings of the emotions. She does suffer, and long for, and hurt. She does not see through the facade of her cousin and suitor Mr. Elliot. She has to learn to refuse the socially-selfish demands of her father and sister.

But she is the oldest of the Austen heroines, and has already matured a great deal. She honestly puts others before herself, not because she has low self-esteem but because she really cares about other people. Her ability to organize and clearly think through situations might not be as immediately attractive as being the life of the party, but it is a much more needed skill. She has an inward self-possession and beauty that sets her apart from the sparkling Elizabeth or the bright Emma. All her activity is interior.

Anne is a grown woman, not the girl that most Austen ladies begin as. But she does have both an understanding and enjoyment of life that the others lack. She has a spirit and character that makes me admire her and want to be friends with her.

And then there is Wentworth.

Captain Wentworth is petty, quick-tempered, clueless, conniving, resentful, sometimes mean, and acts without thought of consequences.

All of which are of use to his naval career, but have not been particularly helpful to his love life.

He is also instinctively caring, resolute in purpose, willing to admit fault, charming as a companion, and absolutely passionate. For instance, he writes a love letter so full of passion that it make the composed, sensible Anne nearly swoon.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. 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. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in

F. W.

Even though Anne – through her shocked haze – can see the logical fallacies and inconsistencies and ridiculous assumptions that the Captain makes in this letter, it is enough to sway her and renew her hope.

Captain Wentworth makes many very silly mistakes: he is imprudent in his social interactions, he allows his hurt pride to rule him, and moves out of instinct rather than thought which is very confusing to the women around him.

But when these mistakes are forced upon his consciousness, he is capable of taking a step back and reassessing.

His deep hurt comes from his deep and continuing love for Anne. He is willing to risk a hurried and stumbling confession of love.

While he does not see himself clearly – how could Anne have possibly assumed that he was thinking and planning for her alone? – he does give his all. He does commit whole-heartedly to whatever he is doing, be that commanding a ship or caring for his lady. And he shows the potential for growth and self-knowledge. Especially if the over-thoughtful, interiorly centered Anne is by his side. He is a bit hyperbolic in his effusions, but that can be forgiven in a man as tormented as he.

Anne and the Captain complete each other. They are most beautiful, most themselves when they are together. And you can see it in every line, every look, every interaction.

Mr. Darcy is the most swooned-over Austen hero, but his cold demeanor and melancholic temperament do not impress me. We might be friends, but nothing more.

Captain Wentworth, on the other hand, moves me. He is probably the most obviously flawed of the Austen men, but he is willing to learn and eager to change. He is a faithful, loving, strong, humble, proud, sweet-without-being saccharine, great man.

The movie takes all of this, and gives physical form to the ideas and words on the page.  Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds are some of the best actors I have ever seen. (Starting the movie I was a tad nonplussed by their lack of Hollywood beauty, but five minutes in and that was forgotten. They have charisma!)

I do not even need to comment on the art of the movie because it was so strongly just . . . the book. It lives. It breathes. It is excellent.

( I speak only the 1995 movie, not the others. Not the 2007 one. That one was just okay, until the very last scene where it bungled the letter, made Anne run through streets pointlessly for at least 3 minutes of footage – ugly footage – which felt more like 10 minutes, and then has what might be the worst and most awkward kiss in the history of cinema. Don’t believe me? Look it up!)

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One thought on “Book Meme: Mel’s Day Nineteen

  1. Pingback: Epic Manly Men of Fiction « Egotist's Club

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