Monday, February 23, 2015

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries leading ladies

Gentle readers, I have something pretty special to share with you all today.

Four words: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I discovered the series my freshmen year of college when one of my friends (ahem, Veronica) told me that I had to watch it if I liked Pride and Prejudice. I was mildly intrigued, and started watching the first couple of episodes on YouTube here

Then I was hooked. 

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern day multimedia storytelling of Pride and Prejudice. They posted new three to six minute episodes every Monday and Thursday for a year, so the characters and story were developed in real time. All of the characters had active twitter accounts as well, and they interacted with each other and the fans. Mondays became one of my favorite days of the week simply because I knew whenever I got back from my 11a.m. class, there would be an update from Lizzie Bennet of what had happened to her over the weekend, and the crazy shenanigans that were happening in her life. 

Lizzie and Jane impersonating Darcy and Wickham in costume theater

What made this award winning series so special was the genius modern update of the plot. They were very faithful to the events that happened in the book, but they tweaked them enough to be entirely believable in a modern context. The actors were also top notch. I was skeptical because it was a web series, but these actors embodied their characters so well that I laughed, cried and cheered with them every step of the way. I may have sobbed for a while after the series ended.

This web series is modern, fresh, and laugh out loud funny. I can't tell you the number of times when I fell out of my chair because I was laughing so hard at one of the costume theater productions (pictured above), Lydia's crazy antics, or Lizzie's hilarious descriptions of the people around her. I was also extremely impressed by the excellent storytelling methods they used to help move the plot along. 

It won an Emmy. You have to watch it now.

I highly recommend everybody watch this series! I have heard from many people that after watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it makes reading Pride and Prejudice that much easier. So if you struggle reading Jane Austen, this may be the help you need. Even if you are just looking for a good laugh and a study break, this series can provide it. Trust me, this is one show you do not want to miss. 

*WARNING* There is a good chance that you will get sucked in and won't resurface for two weeks. Now you can't say I didn't forewarn you.

Have you all ever watched web series? What did you think? Have any of you ever seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries before? What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Thoughts on Death Comes to Pemberley

As a rule, I generally don't like period Jane Austen fan fiction, sequels, what ifs, etc.

However, that doesn't mean I won't ever read or watch them; I'm just selective. I feel like the characters belong to the author and therefore should be treated with the utmost care. I suppose I am a bit of a purist.

Consequently, I wasn't expecting to like Death Comes to Pemberley, a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. When I saw the TV series would be on PBS last fall, I was skeptical but willing to give it a try. I never could say no to a period costume drama.

Here is a short synopsis *without spoilers* of the plot for those of you who need it:
Elizabeth and Darcy are happily married at Pemberley six years after the events of Pride and Prejudice.   They are planning to host a ball, but everything is disrupted when a murder is committed in the Pemberley woods, and the notorious Wickham is discovered at the scene of the crime, claiming he is innocent. Darcy and Elizabeth must overcome the crisis and solve the mystery in order to save Pemberley, their family, and their relationship.

Kinda corny and silly, right? That's what I thought.

I could not have been more surprised.

I was blown away by the beautiful locations, tight plot, intriguing mystery, and (mostly) believable portrayal of the characters I have come to know and love for years. Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys did a fantastic job showing what Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship could be like after six years. There was a real and comfortable love that grew with the series. At first I thought they both looked a bit old for their roles, but I grew to appreciate both of them because of their superior acting abilities. Jenna Coleman stole the show as hysteric Lydia; her somewhat sympathetic portrayal of the character may be my favorite ever. I was not expecting to like the new characters who were added, but a few of them became some of my favorites in the series. They did change some of the canon characters from the original, which I didn't like, but I suppose nothing can be perfect.

I would highly encourage everybody to watch it; I believe it is currently on Netflix and a few other video streaming sites. However, if you are a newbie to Jane Austen, make sure you watch or read Pride and Prejudice before you indulge yourself.

I have not read the novel by P.D. James which the TV series is based from, but be assured that it is on my very long Must Read List. Have any of you read it? How does it compare to the TV series? Also, what are your thoughts on fan fiction? Yay, nay, or ehh?

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Formal Introduction

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a girl in possession of a project, blog and twitter, must be in want of an audience.

A little introduction about me: I'm an English and Education double major at a small college in Missouri. I watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice when I was 12, read the classic book immediately after, and never looked back. Now you could say I'm simply obsessed with Jane Austen.

My hope for this blog is to share the genius of Jane Austen and to have fun while doing it.

So, to begin this blog correctly, let's talk about Jane Austen movie adaptations.

Since Valentine's Day is this next weekend, what better way to celebrate than to watch a Jane Austen adaptation? Whether it's with your significant other, or with your girlfriends, you just can't beat the wit and heart of Jane Austen and her characters.

Here are three suggestions for this weekend, in no particular order:

1. Pride and Prejudice (2005): This movie is beautiful, lush and intelligent. It's also under two hours. Fair warning, this movie did trigger my Jane Austen obsession. I may or may not have pretended I was Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet for a couple of days afterward.

2. Emma, BBC miniseries (2010): This is by far the best adaptation of what I think of as Austen's most well written work. Romola Garai personifies silly yet clever Emma Woodhouse, and Jonny Lee Miller and Michael Gambon contribute strongly to this hilarious and fresh miniseries.

3. Persuasion (2007): This movie is vibrant, deep, and emotional. Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones capture the longing and heartache of lovers wanting a second chance. Have tissues ready for this one.

What other Jane Austen adaptations would you like to watch this coming weekend?