Wednesday 2 September 2009

Period drama drama

You have two choices with bank holidays I think- get out and mingle with the crowds or stay local and enjoy some food, drinks and seeing friends. I went for a mixture and by Monday I was ready to do not very much at all.

It being a bank holiday the TV wanted to serve me up some period dramas- and I wanted to watch them, because I always want to watch them.

Yesterday was like Bronte-vision with the whole of the recent Jane Eyre being shown back to back during the day and the second part of ITV’s new Wuthering Heights on in the evening.

I think the Jane Eyre is absolutely wonderful and I enjoyed Wuthering Heights but never having read the book (I know, terrible isn’t it?) I don’t feel I can judge so well. Certain things about Wuthering Heights cannot be denied, that the Yorkshire moors looked as bewitching and beguiling as they possibly could and that Tom Hardy looked the same- and is a wonderful actor. The story felt rushed to me and there didn’t seem to be time to just let the characters be but that is something I would say about a lot of television and is probably the reason I should read the book.

Anyway the reason for my post is the watching of the dramas and the discussions of books we had and hadn’t read through up a difference of opinion in my friends and I. On my side there was the hopeless romantic who thought it didn’t matter that Mr. Rochester was disfigured and blinded when he and Jane Eyre were reunited because they had each other. On the other side of the room I found the question why do you like something so depressing? Something where people can only find love after terrible things have happened to them or where life is such a struggle.

It’s certainly true that the Brontes are different to Jane Austen who is the other bank holiday stalwart. However for all that Austen can seem lighter and the stories end happily for most of her characters they are stories about people being disinherited, shunned for being too poor or bearing seemingly unrequited love.

It’s also true that these great love stories are written by spinsters, should that matter? It doesn’t matter to me, in fact sometimes those who go without something can feel it more keenly when it’s found, or lost, or unreturned and perhaps have the time or inclination to articulate how that feels.

Ultimately it’s about if we want a story to be happy or sad, but I think also realistic. Life isn’t always happy and I like to see that in some of the books I read and films or TV I watch. That doesn’t mean I am seeking misery- I enjoy a Sandra Bullock film more it’s cool to admit too but they aren’t like real life- neither is Wuthering Heights I suppose though. Perhaps in the end whether you love something or not just depends on whether the story resonates with you or not.

Wuthering Heights picture courtesy of The Guardian.


Marie said...

I can't say I've read either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, or been particularly tempted to, mostly tempted because I feel like I ought rather than I want to.

I thought you spinster comment very interesting, and agree, that just because they were spinsters it doesn't mean that they can't have felt love and know what it means.

Hmm, you've got me thinking now! Thanks :)

vicki archer said...

The beauty of watching films or television and reading books is that it comes in all forms. I love Bronte and I love Austen, both resonate not only for the language but for the romantic in me, xv.

Rose said...

Hi Marie, well I adore Jane Eyree. We started it when I was about thriteen at school in an English lesson just before the end of the day- I was so engrossed I went home and I read it cover to cover. I don't know why I haven't tried Wuthering Heights except that I suppose it sounds so unbearbly sad.

The spinster (hate that word but it's what they'd have been called!) issue hadn't occured to me either but it's interesting isn't it. Still isn't interesting that some of the heavy eight literary greats who were women were single all their lives, perhaps that's how they were able to write.

Vicki, yes I am a die hard romantic, it's the best way to be!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

I love staying home and watching a period drama. I always have some recorded on my dvr for just the right day... preferably cold outside and with a roaring fire inside. Right now, however, it is dreadfully hot still in California so I will have to wait a few months :) Glad you had a great weekend xo

Tania said...

Oh, I loved that version of Jane Eyre! (Am I the only person who thinks Toby Stephens is rather handsome, as well as a good actor?)

But the Heights wasn't so good, for me anyway. A reviewer said that although Hardy conveyed the cruelty of Heathcliff well, his passion for Cathy seemed to be missing. I tend to agree. (He looked great, though. What a face that man has). I missed the passion.

And I didn't like the actress playing Cathy. To be blunt, she was cross-eyed from some angles, and had a mouth rather like a shark. Good casting of Burn Gorman as Hindley, though, as they both have the same too-wide mouth!
Oh, listen to me, Ms Grumpypants here.... I promise, I am usually a sucker for romantic period drama. ;-) Maybe that's why I don't like it when they aren't good enough to sweep me away?

Anyway, in the end I was more annoyed than moved by Cathy and Heathcliff's storm-tossed love, and I felt sorry for Hindley, Edgar and Isabella, getting caught up in their shenanigans.

Rose said...

Daily- it's true a period drama is quite a wintery thing- I think it's because they are best with hot drinks and or red wine and blankets. Roll on winter for TV anyway.

Hi Tania- No! I agree Toby Stephens is very lovely as well as being wonderful. I have been a fan since Cambridge Spies. I didn't like the Cathy either, but not having read the book I feel can't make a terribly accurate assessment. I thought Tom Hardy was wonderful and not just because he's wonderful but the length seemed to be causing damage to the characters and story.