Pride and Prejudice (1980) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my fifth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.

My Review:

I have been blogging about Jane Austen here at Austenprose for over five years and I have reviewed many books and movies, yet I have held off writing about the one that really turned me into a Jane Austen disciple—the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice. When something is close to our hearts we want to keep it in a special place, so my personal impressions of Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel has remained my own. In this bicentenary year, I think it is time for me to share.

It first aired in five (55) minute episodes on the BBC in the UK in 1979, and on US television on Masterpiece Theatre between October 26 and November 23, 1980. I was a great fan of Masterpiece and period drama and remember being quite excited to watch the new series. I was not disappointed in the first episode—in fact I was mesmerized—and watched the episode again when it aired again that week on PBS. Considering that in 1980 disco music was all the rage and Magnum P.I. and Three’s Company were the most popular television shows, you might understand why this anglophile was entranced by a series set in Regency England with beautiful costumes, country houses, sharp dialogue and swoon worthy romance. I was totally hooked and started reading the novel for the first time while the series aired. Continue reading

Follow Friday: Masterpiece Classic PBS

Pride and Prejudice (1980) Masterpiece Theatre PBS PosterThis year marks the 40th anniversary of Masterpiece Theatre, now with a new name of Masterpiece Classic under the umbrella of Masterpiece: which includes the trifecta of presentations in the Classic, Mystery and Contemporary categories. This television show premiered in 1971 and is produced by WGBH in Boston. It airs on PBS in the US and is now the longest running prime-time drama series on the air. Over the years they have presented many British dramas, comedies and mysteries based on classic novels and new material.

Masterpiece has been very good to Jane Austen fans bringing us movies and miniseries of her novels starting with Fay Weldon’s 1980 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice staring David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie. Since then we have been treated to Northanger Abbey (1986 & 2007), Persuasion (1996 & 2007), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Sense and Sensibility (2008), Mansfield Park (2007), Emma (1996 & 2010) and Miss Austen Regrets (2008).

Masterpiece has a wonderful website listing the current season lineup and an extensive archive. You can follow them on Twitter as @MasterpiecePBS, on Facebook as MASTERPIECE | PBS (Masterpiece Theatre) and watch videos of their current production at PBS Video.

Be sure to watch the last episode of the continuation of Upstairs Downstairs this Sunday, April 24th at 9:00pm ET on PBS.  You can catch up by watching part one and part two online at PBS video until May 24, 2011. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of © MASTERPIECE

PBS to Connect Jane Austen Community

Illustration by Miroot Puttapipat, “Boxhill Picnic”, Emma, Chapter 44CONNECTION 

I congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with all my heart. This is an attachment which a woman may well feel pride in creating. This is a connection which offers nothing but good. It will give you every thing that you want — consideration, independence, a proper home — it will fix you in the centre of all your real friends, close to Hartfield and to me, and confirm our intimacy for ever. This, Harriet, is an alliance which can never raise a blush in either of us.” Emma Woodhouse, Emma, Chapter 9 

In Jane Austen’s 18th-century society, personal alliances fueled the social strata, connecting families in marriage, and in business. And so it continues today, as PBS reaches out to the Jane Austen community to promote its upcoming series The Complete Jane Austen, through its online guest blogger project Remotely Connected.

Eight Austen enthusiasts and authorities from the online community have been invited to write about each of the upcoming Jane Austen adaptations and a new biography being presented by Masterpiece Classic, beginning Sunday, January 13th with Persuasion, and concluding in April with Sense & Sensibility.

Uniting these eight unique Austen resources brings together a talented and diverse group of Janeites, who have created the most informative and lively web sites and blogs on the internet to honor and discuss their favorite author. Here is a list of the accomplished writers in order of their contribution to Remotely Connected, and their online entities.

Image of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, PBS presentation of Persuasion (2008)Victoire Sanborn (Ms. Place) of Jane Austen’s World: This blog brings Jane Austen and the Regency Period alive through food, dress, social customs, and other 19th-century historical details. Enjoy thoroughly researched and enlightening posts about everything from netting a reticule to Jane Austen’s timeless insights. Her other blog Jane Austen Today explores how we see Jane Austen today through movies, print, sequels, web sites and modern day media. The talented and knowledgeable Ms. Place will be writing about Persuasion, which airs on Sunday, January 13, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Felicity Jones s Catherine Morland, Persuasion (2007)Heather Laurence of Solitary Elegance: This web site is a collection of educational and research resources relating to Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s often overlooked and underrated work. It also prominently features a beautiful collection of watercolor illustrations from all of Jane Austen’s novels by the renowned artist, C.E. Brock. Heather also shares her unique sense of humor, Jane Austen passions, and family exploits on her clever Gimletblog, (more fun than a poke in the eye with a stick). The accomplished and elegant Heather will be writing about her favorite novel, Northanger Abbey, which airs on Sunday, January 20, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Billie Pier as Fanny Price, Mansfield Park (2007)Lori Smith of Jane Austen Quote of the Day: This blog features daily wit and inspiration from Austen through quotes from her novels and letters, with such gems as “I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible” and “Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.”. Lori is a freelance writer and recent author of the lovely and favorably reviewed book, A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love and Faith. You can read the latest news about its release on her other blog, Following Austen. Lori’s sensitive and patience nature will serve her well when she writes about Mansfield Park, which airs on Sunday, January 27, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Olivia Williams as Jane Austen, in Miss Austen Regrets, (2008)Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose: My blog is a daily celebration of the brilliance of Jane Austen’s writing, including passages and quotes from her novels and letters, and focusing on her ability to write of the society in 19th-century rural England with keen observation, irony and wit. Also featured are vintage and contemporary illustrations from her novels. I am a life-long Austen devotee who now augments my passion by introducing others to the delights of Miss Austen as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I also co-blog with Ms. Place at Jane Austen Today. I will be writing about the new biopic, Miss Austen Regrets, which airs on Sunday, February 3, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride & Prejudice, (1995)Myretta Robens of The Republic of Pemberley: As the co-creator of the pre-eminent Jane Austen site on the web, Myretta has an acclaimed and established history as an authority of our authoress, and  online communities. Author of two Regency era novels, Just Say Yes, and Once Upon A Sofa, you can read further about her accomplishments at her web site: Myretta Robens, Regency Romance. Myretta will be writing about her favorite novel Pride & Prejudice (1995), staring Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth, which airs on three consecutive Sundays, February 10, 17 & 24, at 9:00 pm

Image of Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse, in Emma, (1996)Jessica Emerson (Janefan) of Austen-tatious: A Jane Austen fan blog, “marked by, or fond of, conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display of all things related to Jane Austen“, that is always light, entertaining and filled with news and personal insights about movies, books, print media and news around the web concerning Jane Austen. Jessica is a professional writer in the communications industry and an avid reader. Visit her other blog, The Bookworms Hideout, for her perspective on current book publications and the classics. Jessica will be writing about the adaptation of Emma (1996), staring Kate Beckinsale & Mark Strong, which airs on Sunday, March 23, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Charity Wakefield as Marianne Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Laurie Vera Rigler of A Great Deal of Conversation: The Blog & Forum: Calling all Austen addicts, be prepared to (almost) satisfy your obsession at Laurie’s beautiful web site and blog, featuring conversation (blog & forum), passions (links), many charming views (videos) and information about her latest book, The Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Laurie is a freelance book editor who teaches writing workshops, and is a popular guest blogger. Her vibrant comedic style and high energy will serve her well when she writes about Sense & Sensibility, one of Austen’s most moving and humorous novels, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

Image of Hattie Morhan as Elinor Dashwood, in Sense & Sensibility, (2008)Margaret Sullivan (Mags) of AustenBlog: A compendium of news about Jane Austen in popular culture, because (as she should be) …”She’s everywhere.” Mags’ unique wit and waggish voice will keep you laughing and shaking your head at the foibles of the news media, writers and movie makers who attempt to interpret Austen in their ‘own’ light. Her recent book, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Simple Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, received high praise within the industry and Austen community. Her other online accomplishments include web sites Mollands and Tilneys and Trap-doors. Mags will be writing about Sense & Sensibility, airing on two consecutive Sundays, March 30 & April 6, at 9:00 pm.

I am sure that you will join me in congratulating each of these talented and devoted Janeites, visit their sites and blogs, and bookmark the PBS blog Remotely Connected to have your share of the conversation after each adaptation airs.

(Post Script) Did you notice that each of the ladies personalities match the heroine of the novel/adaptation that they are writing about? Hah! I did. Present writer excluded since saying I was like Jane Austen would, – – like be so totally fer sure not true babe,  – – as if!

*Illustration by Niroot Puttapipat, “Pardon me – but will you be limited as to number – only three at once”, page 336, Folio Society, London, (2007)

Persuasion: You may perhaps like the heroine

Image of the title page of Persuasion, by Jane Austen, Frank S. Holby, (1906)

Do not be surprised at finding Uncle Henry acquainted with my having another ready for publication. I could not say No when he asked me, but he knows nothing more of it. You will not like it, so you need not be impatient. You may perhaps like the heroine, as she is almost too good for me. Letter to niece Fanny Knight, 23 March 1817, The Letters of Jane Austen

In this letter to Fanny Knight, the daughter of her brother Edward (Austen) Knight, Jane Austen refers to “having another ready for publication”, which is her last completed novel, Persuasion. It was written between 8 August 1815 and 16 July 1816, with final chapter revisions in August 1816. The novel would be published posthumously after her death, bound together with the novel Northanger Abbey in 1818.

Jane Austen’s coyness in diverting her niece’s interest in reading her new work by foretelling her reaction is typical of the banter she exercised with her family and friends regarding her view of the quality and importance of her work. Modest? I think not. Her next remark regarding her further prediction of Fanny’s reaction to liking the heroine Anne Elliot, “for she is almost to good for me”, surely qualifies as a sideways complement to herself. For what writer who has ever created a character does not find a bit of themselves fashioned into their nature? And – – Anne Elliot exemplifies some of the finest and amiable qualities of any of Jane Austen’s creation.

It is interesting to note that the working title for the novel was The Elliot’s, and was later changed after her death by her brother Henry Austen to Persuasion. In this instance, I must agree with his choice. The novel is not so much about the Elliot family, as it is about the life choices we make, and in particular how others can influence us. Anne Elliot’s choice to be persuaded by her family friend Lady Russell to decline an offer of marriage by Captain Wentworth will take her on a journey of loss, patience and faith; – – not unlike Jane Austen herself. You can read more about Persuasion’s plot and characters at these fine links.

Image of Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot, PBS presentation of Persuasion (2008)Be sure to mark your calendars and set your watches for the premiere of the Masterpiece Theatre presentation of The Complete Jane Austen, on Sunday the 13th of January at 9:00pm. The first adaptation will be Persuasion, staring Sally Hawkins as our heroine Anne Elliot. You can read further details on the series in my post, An Austen New Year awaits.

*Image of the title page of Persuasion, published by Frank S. Holby, New York (1906)

©  2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

An Austen New Year awaits

Image of banner of The Complete Jane Austen PBS (2008)

PBS TO AIR ALL SIX JANE AUSTEN

 ADAPATIONS IN THE NEW YEAR

 

I am all anticipation of the new Masterpiece Theatre presentation, Sundays with Jane: The Complete Jane Austen, which airs on PBS starting January 13th at 9:00 pm. It will include four new adaptations of the Jane Austen novels Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility, two previously aired productions of Emma (1997) and Pride & Prejudice (1995), and a new biography entitled Miss Austen Regrets based on the letters of Jane Austen. Better and better!

Image of the Masterpiece Theatre Jane Austen Promo

I dare say that such an inclusive Austen presentation has hitherto yet been televised. The closest event of such grandeur was from the now defunct Romance Channel’s 1999 airing penned Austen Power, which included four BBC Austen adaptations from the 1970’s & 1980’s; Mansfield Park (1983), Sense & Sensibility (1981), Emma (1972) and Pride & Prejudice(1980). This stroll through Austenland was only a teaser in comparison to what is in store for us from the good people at Masterpiece Theatre.

Image of Fanny Price and her court, Mansfield Park, PBS, (2008)          Image of the Dashwood family, Sense & Sensibility, PBS, (2008)  

In the PBS press announcement of The Complete Jane Austen this past summer, the Austen extravaganza was revealed in detail…

How many ways can a young woman find true love amid the dinner parties, balls, carriage rides, picnics and other picturesque opportunities to meet the opposite sex in turn-of-the-19th-century England? There are six transcendentally satisfying scenarios, as told in a half-dozen enchanting novels by Jane Austen – one of the most beloved writers in all of literature.

Well this is perky prologue! Read on…

Austen fans can now sit down to a weekly feast of all of her immortal plots, presented by MASTERPIECE ® THEATRE over the course of four months in beautifully acted, lavishly set and gorgeously costumed adaptations.

Four months IS an extravaganza. We shall have ample time to view, absorb and dissect every tidbit and nuance of the charms of her characters, plots and language; — swoon over the newest heartthrob and tear apart the ladies bonnets.

As a bonus, viewers will be treated to a new drama based on Austen’s own bittersweet love life, Miss Austen Regrets.

Image fo Becoming Jane poster (2007)Ok, that makes me nervous. After last summer’s fiasco Becoming Jane, I admit to being leery of liberal statements about Jane Austen’s love life. Let us hope that the writer and producer of Miss Austen Regrets did not opportune to be inspired by such openhanded tag lines from that movie such as “Jane Austen’s greatest love story was her own“, and “Her own life is her greatest inspiration“.  I shudder the thought.

The productions will be between 90 minutes to 5 hours in length, totaling 917 minutes of pure, or as may-hap be, almost Jane Austen for your viewing enjoyment!

  • Persuasion: 13 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Northanger Abbey: 20 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Mansfield Park: 27 January 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Miss Austen Regrets: 03 February 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Pride & Prejudice: 10, 17 & 24 February 2008, 9-11:00 pm
  • Emma: 23 March 2008, 9-10:30 pm
  • Sense & Sensibility: 30 March & 06 April 2008, 9-10:30 

Image of The Elliot family, Persuasion, PBS, (2008)The airings of the new productions have been a highly anticipated event in the Austen community since the advance publicity in Great Britian, where the new adaptations were produced and aired in 2007 and 2008. Not wanting to post any spoilers … we shall bite our tongue and withhold any opines until after viewing. If you can’t wait, you might be amused by some of the dish and banter about on the net-o-sphere which I have linked below. Be forewarned. Janeites are protective of their authoress, and vociferous on the topic of diversion from, and embellishment to the plots!

And … be sure to have your share of the conversation at the PBS on-line community blog, Remotely Connected, where during the week of each adaptation, a guest blogger will comment on each of the productions in the series starting with Persuasion, on the 13th. of January.