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How much does historical accuracy matter to you?

I ranted a bit on the subject yesterday…but now I’m calmer, and I’d like to know what everyone else thinks.

At the Austen movie exhibition at the Museum of Costume in Bath, they argued about the EMMA costume shown here, “Gwyneth Paltrow’s green and white dress, with its large, chocolate bow on the bodice, has none of the subtlety of the fabrics that other designers have used… In a way, the pattern looks more like a textile design from the 1970’s… This is just what Hollywood requires: simple dresses, simple messages.” So: does this dress bother you? Is it too anachronistic, or do you like the way it captures Emma’s “princess” role in her community? How accurate do you think fabric and cut need to be? Is having an accurate outline enough?

Or how about hair, and bonnets? Does it bother you that Emma goes outside throughout the movie with the hairstyle shown above, and no hat or bonnet? Or how about Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet, who skips a bonnet, and also has her hair down? Is that too ahistorical for you?

How about Greer Garson, in the 1940 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE movie? It is commonly said that in this film, they gave the men Regency styles, and the women the styles of a decade or two later….but doesn’t this dress also look very 20th century? Does it bother you that the women aren’t wearing dresses that are remotely Regency? And does Garson’s non-period hair bother you?

Here we have two shots of Embeth Davidtz playing Mary Crawford in the recent movie of MANSFIELD PARK. This, in my opinion, is the most anachronistic dress of all, but it does convey Mary Crawford’s slinkiness, and sophistication. Does this dress drive you bats? (I wish I could also find a photo of Miss Bingley’s sleeveless dress — I don’t believe one exists on the internet! But here’s her other dress, which is less wrong, but still odd.)

How about accuracy in books? When Heyer talks about the Little Season during the Regency, though it didn’t yet exist, does that annoy you? When another author’s hero runs away at eighteen and purchases a commission in the navy, do you shout at the book? When Sir William is also Sir Barton, and Lord Brighton is also Lord George, do you throw the book against the wall? Or are all of these annoyances minor to you (if indeed you notice them at all)?

What kind of inaccuracies bother you most? Easily checked facts, such as title, distances between towns, how fast a carriage could go? Or the mindset of the times? Or the rules of society?

Please share!

Cara King,
MY LADY GAMESTER — Signet Regency, out now!!!

I saw the new PRIDE AND PREJUDICE movie — and I really liked it! There were some historical anachronisms, I admit, but I think they did an amazing job distilling the story of the long novel down to just slightly more than two hours — and without cutting out one of the sisters, at the previous movie did! 🙂 (Though in the sense of full disclosure, I’ll concede they did cut out Mr and Mrs Hurst, and for some reason turned Fitzwilliam into Darcy’s friend rather than cousin.)

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to see it yet, here are some of my thoughts and impressions.

MacFadyen as Darcy is definitely a Heathcliff type here — but I thought it worked. Every P&P needn’t be the same. He was very intense, very sexy, and he and Keira Knightley had great chemistry together. She did a great Elizabeth, I thought — full of spirit and humor, and very fierce. I felt the two characters were well matched, and would have a great future together — very passionate, both with fighting and with….er…passion.

I love Colin Firth, and I also liked Olivier’s Darcy a lot (though he’s not the dreamiest in my book), but I liked MacFadyen very much — a lot more than I expected. In the preview I saw, I thought he didn’t look impressive, but he’s much better in the whole thing (without his lines being all chopped up!)

Of course, most of the characters didn’t get much time, so we don’t know the younger sisters, or the Bingleys, or Lady Catherine, or (particularly) Wickham they way we do in the BBC miniseries. But still, who can fault Judi Dench’s Lady Catherine?

Little things I loved: Lydia actually looked fifteen, and it even looked like she had acne. Jane was gorgeous — no wonder why everything thought she was the handsomest girl in the room!

A few things really bothered me — like Miss Bingley’s sleeveless dresses (the one shown here is the more normal one — there’s one she wears later for which the bodice looks like a bathing suit!) Also, what is it with the girls’ hair? I don’t recall girls wearing side ponytails of sausage curls in the 1790’s…or did I miss it? And why was Elizabeth (as well as others) wearing her hair down so much? Do they think modern movie viewers are so small-minded that they can’t like a woman with her hair up?

And yes, there might have been more wearing of gloves and bonnets (and, um, clothes) for my taste — but I understand why many of these choices were made. The important thing is the story — telling the story, and getting across the basics of a LOT of characters, all in two hours. Sometimes shorthand methods are the only way. (No glove pun intended!)

So, anyone else who’s seen it — what did you think? If you haven’t seen it, are you looking forward to it? (With fear or with anticipation?) 🙂 Please share!

Cara King,
MY LADY GAMESTER — Signet Regency, out now!!!

Time to take a poll! Please answer any or all of these three questions, about the pictured film and television portrayals of Austen characters at the end of this post! (Or you can pick someone who’s not pictured!)

1) Which of these Austen characters, as played by the specific actor, do you think has the most of what Janet calls “essential hotness”?

2) Which would you find it easiest to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with?

3) Which would you most like to marry? (This of course takes into account your answers to questions 1 and 2, but also practical matters — like who your in-laws will be, and just how disgustingly wealthy he is.) 🙂

Just put your answers in a comment — you can explain your choices if you like! I’ll keep tabs on how voting goes, and soon we will know who are the hottest, the dreamiest, and the most marriageable cinematic Austen heroes!

If any gentlemen are here, you can vote on which hero you’d most like to be! And yes, you may take into account who you would get to marry, just how disgustingly wealthy you would be, and whether or not you have to have Lady Catherine de Bourgh as your aunt!

Cara King, MY LADY GAMESTER, Signet Regency 11/05
more Jane Austen movie info at!

I thought I’d mention how I’m looking forward to the upcoming PRIDE AND PREJUDICE movie! I hear it has a (tentative) release date of November 18.
Does anyone want to talk about it? (Yes, I know it’s ridiculously early to talk about it, but why not!) 🙂

What I’m excited about:

Judi Dench as Lady Catherine De Bourgh! (Okay, I’d be excited seeing Judi Dench as anyone or anything — I adore her! Did I ever mention I once saw her star in a RNT revival of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC?) And she’s perfect for Lady Catherine! (Though I’d also love to see her do Northanger Abbey’s Mrs. Allen some day too!)

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennett. Too, too perfect!!!!

Rosamund Pike as Jane. I think RP is breathtakingly beautiful and
conveys serenity so well — perfect for Jane.

Okay, those are three reasons I’m looking forward to it! Anyone else?

Cara King, MY LADY GAMESTER, Signet Regency 11/05
check out more movie info on my website!

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