January 15, 2008
PBS's presentation of Persuasion was a strange piece of television, wasn't it? In the promos it looked like a typical costume drama. And bits of it were: The costumes, the locations. The actors, the script. However, the camera clearly wanted nothing to do with so expected and static a project, and it roamed and reared about, with an extreme close-up here and a showoff-y long take there. All in all, a surprising way for a camera to act when bonnets and broughams are present.
Since watching it, I've been wondering off and on how that filming style was decided on. Generally, the camera seems to have been charged with acting out everything the stifled heroine Anne Elliot cannot. To be not just an observer, but a confidante and proxy. It's an interesting method for getting around a restrained and introverted heroine, to have the camera compensate for her.
(That, or someone wanted to show off all the tricks he or she learned in film school.)
The end result was distracting at times, nicely moody in others, and not entirely unsuccessful (how's that for a British construction?). I liked actress Sally Hawkin's toothiness and her full Duchess of Cleves face. Besides, the more Jane Austen adaptations I see, the more I admire how durable Austen's novels are in their DNA. They can hold up to all sorts of knocks and indignities.
PBS's Jane Austen series continues through April. Next Sunday is Northanger Abbey.
Posted January 15, 2008 12:00 PM