Movies vs Books

I recently saw a movie that I found quite charming.  Austenland is about a woman who’s so enamored of all things Austen (and Mr. Darcy especially), that she spends a vacation at a Jane Austen-themed retreat, hoping to find love.

Colin-Firth-Wallpapers-Now, I’ve never been a fan of Jane Austen’s books–though, in truth, I’ve only tried to read one–but for some reason, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed movies made out of her works.  I own the version of Emma that stars Gwyneth Paltrow and love it, as well as the updated remake, Clueless.  I thought Sense and Sensibility was delightful, and while I thought the original BBC production of Pride and Prejudice went on WAY too long, I can’t say that I liked the more recent, shorter version of it either.  Of course, maybe that’s because I’ve got a HUGE crush on Colin Firth and nobody else will ever be as good a Mr. Darcy as he was.  Oh, and I LOVED the adaptation of that novel in Bridget Jones’ Diary (Colin again . . . YUM!).

Since I’m not normally one who likes movie adaptations of novels, I find it curious that I feel exactly the opposite when it comes to Ms. Austen’s work.

I think it might be because I’m not someone who enjoys reading overly flowery writing.  When an author spends a lot of time describing a knot in a tree (ahem, Mr. Tolkien), or the fashion of the day, or even events that are honestly nothing more than tangents to the actual story, I grow very bored, very quickly.  If I’ve decided to plod my way through the entire book, I often wind up skimming over much of it just to get to the “good” parts, which I did during the middle third of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.  And that book was MUCH longer than anything I’ve seen written by Ms. Austen.  How I made it through the whole of Monte Cristo, I honestly don’t know.

But there have been several times that I just can’t get past the tangential writing and will often put the book down before I’m even a quarter of the way into the story.  This has happened with Tolkien (due to the tree knot listed above), Charles Dickens (twice), Ms. Austen, and maybe Victor Hugo (I’m currently trying to read Hunchback of Notre Dame, but nearing the end of my patience with the 30-plus pages of tangents before we’re even introduced to Quasimodo or Esmerelda).

But back to the adaptations of Jane’s works.  Maybe I’m more of a visual person, so when her books are adapted into film, all the detail that she puts into them help make the movie feel more luscious and vibrant.  And once you understand the dated dialogue (sometimes only after multiple viewings), the subtleties of the language can be lovely, scathing, or humorous, depending on the situation.

Or maybe I just don’t have a lot of patience for reading slower, more involved books.  I’ve already admitted to not having much patience in certain cases, so that’s a very real possibility.  Or maybe it’s a combination of lack of patience and being a visual person.

Whatever the case, I did enjoy Austenland.  And yes, I realize it wasn’t written by Jane Austen, but since much of the movie happens in a place that could’ve been lifted right out of her books, it’s practically the same thing.

So if you like Ms. Austen’s works, I think you might be entertained by Austenland.  It’s no Sense and Sensibility, but it’s still a nice way to spend a couple of hours.


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