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Welcome to the September meeting of the JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB!

You need to no Almack’s voucher to join the club. In fact, there’s no club to join! We’re very non-exclusive here. Welcoming. Common, even! (Well, some of us are. I am.)

And the first Tuesday of every month, anyone who cares to stop by Risky Regencies (“the friendliest Regency site in cyberspace, guaranteed, or your money back”) can say any clever or inane thing about the current month’s choice of Jane Austen adaptation.

We’ve had a lot of interesting discussion in our first two meetings (PERSUASION (1995) and EMMA (1996)) — and a lot of fun, too! (Or, at least, I had fun. Which is really all that matters, if you think about it.)

Now on to today’s adaptation: the 1995 feature film SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.

I have put cast info and other details below, in case they aid the discussion. Feel free, of course, to discuss any aspect of the film that you please!

Director: ANG LEE

Screenwriter: EMMA THOMPSON


Emma Thompson: Elinor Dashwood

Kate Winslet: Marianne Dashwood

Hugh Grant: Edward Ferrars

Alan Rickman: Colonel Brandon

Greg Wise: Willoughby

Gemma Jones: Mrs. Dashwood

Emilie François: Margaret Dashwood

James Fleet: John Dashwood

Tom Wilkinson: Mr. Dashwood

Harriet Walter: Fanny Dashwood

Elizabeth Spriggs: Mrs. Jennings

Robert Hardy: Sir John Middleton

Imelda Staunton: Charlotte Jennings Palmer

Hugh Laurie: Mr. Palmer

Imogen Stubbs: Lucy Steele

If you want ideas for discussion questions to get you started, here are a few:

Which character do you most resemble?

Do you think this was one of the better Austen adaptations you’ve seen? Why or why not?

What do you think of Emma Thompson’s screenplay?

Did you think the interpretations of Marianne, Edward, and Colonel Brandon were true to Austen’s book? If not, do you think this was a problem?

Do you think Willoughby was a complete villain from the start, or did Marianne have a chance of saving him from himself?

Or, of course, ask or answer any question of your choosing.

All comments are welcome. Let the discussion begin!

Cara King, author of My Lady Gamester and firm despiser of flannel waistcoats. Except when it’s cold.

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Welcome to the August meeting of the JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB!

This is the place to discuss, debate, detail, decry, deride, deplore, defend, delight in, or decree to be divine a different Jane Austen film or television adaptation the first Tuesday of every month.

This month’s topic: the 1996 feature film of EMMA (a.k.a. “the one with Gwyneth Paltrow.”)

Whether you’ve seen this adaptation recently, or watched it once years ago, please join in!

I’ll throw out some ideas to help the discussion get started, but feel free to leave a comment on any aspect of the film you wish.

A few possible questions:

Did you think this version was funny? Romantic? Thought-provoking? Beautiful to look at?

What did you think of the casting? (Cast list below.)

In particular, what did you think of Paltrow? Or her accent?

How about Ewan McGregor? His hair? His lack of light saber?

How about Alan Cumming? Juliet Stevenson? Sophie Thompson? Toni Collette? Jeremy Northam?

Did you think this film captured the essence of Austen’s novel? The essence of Emma’s character?

Was this adaptation too clean and pretty for you?

Did you love (or hate) the gowns?

Here are some credits, to aid in the discussion:

Directed by: Douglas McGrath

Screenplay: Douglas McGrath


Gwyneth Paltrow … Emma Woodhouse

Denys Hawthorne … Mr. Woodhouse

Jeremy Northam … Mr. Knightley

Toni Collette … Harriet Smith

James Cosmo … Mr. Weston

Greta Scacchi … Mrs. Weston

Alan Cumming … Mr. Elton

Sophie Thompson … Miss Bates

Phyllida Law … Mrs. Bates

Polly Walker … Jane Fairfax

Ewan McGregor … Frank Churchill

Juliet Stevenson… Mrs. Elton

All opinions welcome!

So…let the discussion begin!

(And if you have any suggestions for what our movie next month should be, suggest away!)

Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER,
starring Ultimate Atalanta and her annoying sidekick Tom

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Welcome to the first meeting of the JANE AUSTEN MOVIE CLUB!

The first Tuesday of each month, we’ll be discussing a different Jane Austen film or TV adaptation.

This month: the 1995 version of PERSUASION.

If you’ve ever seen it, please join in the discussion!

As this is our first meeting, I’ll start by saying a few words about how this will work.

After gathering suggestions, I’ll announce each forthcoming selection a month ahead of time.

On the day of the meeting, I’ll put useful and pertinent info in my post to help the discussion (such as cast lists, etc, so we don’t have to go searching for names.)

I may also suggest topics to discuss — but if I do, these will just be suggestions! So please, discuss whatever aspects you wish.

So: this month’s film: 1995’s PERSUASION.

Tidbit: although this was shown first as a television movie in the UK, it was released in movie theatres in the US.


Director: Roger Michell

Screenwriter: Nick Dear


Anne Elliot: Amanda Root

Wentworth: Ciaran Hinds

Tidbit: Ciaran Hinds played Rochester in the 1997 Jane Eyre

Lady Russell: Susan Fleetwood

Sir Walter: Corin Redgrave

Elizabeth Elliot: Phoebe Nicholls

Mrs. Clay: Felicity Dean

Mary Musgrove: Sophie Thompson

Tidbit: Sophie Thompson had a role in another Austen adaptation — she played Miss Bates in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma. She is also the sister of Emma Thompson, who played Elinor (and wrote the screenplay) for the 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Charles Musgrove: Simon Russell Beale

Louisa Musgrove: Emma Roberts

Henrietta Musgrove: Victoria Hamilton

Mrs. Musgrove: Judy Cornwell

Mr. Musgrove: Roger Hammond

Captain Harville: Robert Glenister

Captain Benwick: Richard McCabe

Tidbit: Actor Richard McCabe had a role in Notting Hill, also directed by Roger Michell

Mrs. Harville: Sally George

Admiral Croft: John Woodvine

Mrs. Croft: Fiona Shaw

Mr. Elliot: Samuel West

Tidbit: Samuel West also appeared in one installment of the recent Hornblower series, as St. John Rivers in the 1996 Jane Eyre, and as the poet Southey in the 2000 film Pandaemonium

Nurse Rook: Jane Wood

Mrs. Smith: Helen Schlesinger

As I said before, please discuss any aspect of the movie that you wish!

But if you don’t know where to start, here are a few ideas:

Did any of the actors seem to you to be perfect for their roles?

Did you think any of the actors were miscast?

If you’ve read the book, what did you think of the screenplay? Did you think any of the characters were changed in a way that weakened the story? Did you think the right things were cut or shortened?

If you haven’t read the book, did you find the movie easy to follow? Was it confusing in places? Could you keep all the characters straight?

How did the low lighting in nighttime scenes work for you?

How about the long wordless passages?

Overall, how well did you like the movie?

Anyway, those are just a few questions that may spark answers! Answer any or none, answer other questions, or pose your own.

And one more question: do you have a suggestion for what adaptation we should discuss at the next meeting of the Jane Austen Movie Club, which will meet the first Tuesday of August?

Cara King, author of My Lady Gamester, and Austen movie nut

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I had a lot of fun here last Tuesday, discussing the upcoming batch of Jane Austen adaptations. (Upcoming in the US, anyway — most of them have already aired in the UK!)

As you all can tell, my interest in movies and my interest in Jane Austen intersect to make me a semi-obsessive Austen movie nut.

I may not love every adaptation.

I may not love every casting choice.

I may not love the decision to have Keira Knightley running around, sans bonnet, her hair straggling down her back.

But I’m still going to see every adaptation I can get my hands on.

And once I see them, I love to dissect them, talk about them, praise them and make fun of them!

And I know that a lot of you feel the same way I do.

So… I had a thought. How about a Risky Regencies Jane Austen movie club?

Here’s how my idea looks, in its current form: The first Tuesday of every month, anyone who’s interested can stop by the Risky Regencies blog to discuss a particular Austen adaptation. (And, of course, the discussion can continue as long as people are interested!)

People can talk about their memories of the last time they saw the particular adaptation, even if it was years ago — or they can watch it again (or for the first time) especially for the discussion, and have all the details fresh in mind.

So — would any of you be interested? Are you likely to participate?

If your answer is “maybe,” is there anything that would turn your answer to a “yes”?

Do you have any alterations that you think would improve the stated plan?

Which adaptations do you think would be most fun to discuss?

If I think there’s enough interest, we can go ahead and do this on Tuesday, July 3, and see how it goes! (And if it doesn’t go well, it will have been a fun experiment!)

Long live Jane Austen!

Cara King: Regency Author, Movie Nut, and Austen Groupie

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Jane Austen Alert!

Masterpiece Theatre in the United States just announced that, beginning January 2008, they will present “The Complete Jane Austen.”

This will include new adaptations of Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, plus the popular Andrew Davies-scripted adaptations of Emma (the one starring Kate Beckinsale) and Pride and Prejudice (the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth version.)

Two of the new adaptations will also be written by Andrew Davies (the new ITV Northanger Abbey and the new BBC Sense and Sensibility.)

I admit I was sadly disappointed by the 1986 “Peter Firth As A Creepy Tilney” version of Northanger Abbey, so I’m really hoping Davies and director Jon Jones give us a great interpretation of one of my favorite Austen novels.

This one stars lovely young Felicity Jones as Catherine (pictured here, on the cover of the British DVD release!)

By the way, I love Austen movie synchronicity — that is, finding that actors in one Austen (or Regency-interest) movie appear in another — and so I will point out that this Mrs. Allen is played by Sylvestra Le Touzel, who played Fanny in the 1983 Mansfield Park, and also appeared in the recent Amazing Grace.

My biggest worry with Northanger Abbey is that it was filmed entirely in Ireland. We’ve rolled our eyes at that before at Risky Regencies, but I think it’s worth doing again..

Northanger Abbey? Not at all filmed at Bath? The best Bath novel in the world, with the Pump Room and the Lower Rooms and the Upper Rooms and Milsom Street and Pulteney Street and everything else? The novel is practically a guide-book, or at least a high-brow advertisement, for Bath — so how can they make it without Bath?.

Okay, enough eye-rolling. Ironically enough, the only part of the earlier Northanger Abbey adaptation that I thoroughly liked was the gorgeous Bath backdrops.

Next up, perhaps the adaptation that has me worried most of all: Mansfield Park.

So: why does this have me worried, you ask? To begin with, look at the photo (courtesy of another UK DVD release.)

What is she wearing?

And why is her hair like that?

This actress, for those of you who haven’t already shouted “I know WHO she is!” (sorry, bad joke) is Billie Piper, famous for being the female sidekick of Dr. Who in the last few seasons. And her hair in Dr. Who is surprisingly similar to her hair here…

My second worry: the entire Mansfield Park is all of two hours long, including commercials.

(Plus, I confess I peeked at bits that were uploaded to YouTube, and I’m not terribly impressed.)

But I should give it the benefit of the doubt…right?

Here are some more pics.

They worry me too.

Mostly, it’s the hair.

And Fanny’s constant sulky/sexy expression.

Interestingly enough, the script for this adaptation was written by Maggie Wadey, who wrote the 1986 Northanger Abbey (the one you may have already noticed I don’t much care for. Then again, Peter Firth would not have been her fault.)

My piece of Austen/Regency (okay, not Regency, but Georgian, anyway) synchronicity here: Tom is played by James D’Arcy, who played Blifil in the lovely 1997 Tom Jones.

The third ITV Austen movie will be Persuasion.

Now you may be thinking just what I am: how could anyone improve on the sublime 1995 Roger Michell/Nick Dear version, which starred Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds?

It was short, but near perfection. And it had an amazing supporting cast: Simon Russell Beale, Fiona Shaw, Sophia Thompson, Sam West — and such camerawork, gorgeous Bath backdrops, a subtle script… And Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds were both divine.

(Can you tell I liked it?)

This new version is written by Simon Burke, who scripted some Cadfaels and also the 1997 Tom Jones. Our new Anne is Sally Hawkins, whose synchronicity credit came when she played Mary Shelley in the 2003 BBC Byron (starring Jonny Lee Miller).

More synchronicity (okay, this is post-Regency, but I don’t care) comes with Rupert Penry-Jones, who plays Wentworth. In the Ciaran Hinds Jane Eyre, he played St John Rivers. Plus, Alice Krige (who was La Marquesa in Sharpe’s Honour, Mary Godwin in Haunted Summer, and is best known as Star Trek’s Borg Queen) plays Lady Russell.

The piece of casting, though, that many will find hardest to take, is Anthony Stewart Head as Sir Walter. Many who know him as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are crossing their fingers that they’ll buy him in this very different role. (I hope so — how rotten for an actor to be forever typecast!)

Good news: the earlier rumor that this Persuasion was also to be filmed entirely in Ireland was quite untrue; scenes were filmed in the Bath Assembly Rooms, at #1 Royal Crescent, and at other locations in Bath.

The last of the new adaptations, the Andrew Davies-scripted Sense and Sensibility, has not yet debuted in the UK, so I know little about it.

What I do know: as opposed to the other three new Austen adaptations, all of which aired on ITV and had running times of two hours (including commercials), Sense and Sensibility is a BBC production, and will run three hours (which I think is a good idea!)

It stars Hattie Morahan (pictured above left) as Elinor, and Dominic Cooper (right) as Willoughby. (Those of you who saw History Boys will recognize Cooper as the rakish heart-breaker Dakin.)

So…what do you think? Which Jane Austen adaptation are you most looking forward to? Most worried about?

Do you think I’m being too negative about certain things? Should I have a more open mind? Or are you, too, leery about some of these choices?

What do you think of Austen adaptations in general?

All opinions welcome!

Cara King, author of MY LADY GAMESTER and obsessive Austen-adaptation fan

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