Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010 3:20 pm by Cristina in , , , , ,    No comments
USA Today has an article on how the Brontës are 'back into the Hollywood frame', including a new picture of Jane Eyre 2011 (Credits: Laurie Sparham, Focus Features). You may know some of the people mentioned in the article, actually.
Move along, Jane Austen. Hollywood is hot for the Brontës again.
Filmmakers' long affair with the divine Miss Austen is finally waning, after two decades of movies made from her elegant novels with their well-mannered characters, placid plots and witty repartee.
But enough with the endless circling of the Pump Room at Bath — time to get hearts racing! Time to bring back those wildly Romantic Brontë characters — plain Jane Eyre and moody Mr. Rochester, doomed Cathy Earnshaw and vengeful Heathcliff — to rend their garments, wail disconsolately and stagger across windswept moors.
Now that's Hollywood. Or Hollywood-on-the-Thames. British filmmakers are at work on new versions of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, to be released next year.
"Austen's characters achieve their greatness through a kind of sideways movement toward happiness, (while) the Brontës hurtle themselves headlong into the maelstrom of emotions and situations," says James Schamus, head of Focus Features, the artsy studio that made Austen's Pride and Prejudice and now is making Jane Eyre (with BBC Films) with hot young director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre). (...)
The sisters Brontë get a chance to star
The Brontë biopic has been in the works since 2007 and has a director, Charles Sturridge [not anymore, though] (Brideshead Revisited), but no cast. Brontë will tell the story of the sisters themselves (the third sister was Anne Brontë, author of the less-well-known The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), whose collective life story is as dramatic and tragic as their classic novels.
"It's an astonishing story, endlessly fascinating," says Lynn Voskuil, an English professor who teaches Victorian-era fiction at the University of Houston. "You have reclusive but incredibly gifted children, child prodigies, creating fantastic worlds" in an isolated parsonage in the north of England. (...)
Beloved books
First published in the mid-19th century, Jane and Heights have never been out of print and continue to occupy prime positions in the Western literary canon, routinely studied in high-school and college literature classes. In fact, the Brontës are the inspiration for a clutch of recent and forthcoming novels, such as The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan, Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James.
"Jane can be read as a feminist manifesto or as a romantic story or as a Gothic tale, to name but a few examples. Heights is different, because the novel is so timeless in its conception of love, passion, revenge and hate that it appeals directly to the subconscious," say M. and Cristina, fans who run BrontëBlog and eagerly await the new movies. (...)
Film production teams have made the requisite pilgrimage to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, the family home that was already a tourist destination even before Charlotte, the last surviving sister, died in 1855. It has been a museum and home of the Brontë Society since the late 19th century.
"The Brontës have proved to be more adaptable to film than virtually any other writers," says Andrew McCarthy, director of the museum. "They seem to come to the fore in times of difficulty, while Jane Austen adaptations seem to thrive during periods of economic calm. There's a harsher feel to the Brontës. They are books that contain difficult, extreme emotions — and (maybe) they feel more appropriate in times of economic strife." (Maria Puente)
The Keighley News has good news for those travelling to Brontë Country in the coming months and planning on using public transport.
The annual Brontë country bus service is back on the road and will run every Sunday until August 30.
The Brontë Scenic Tour connects the railway station at Haworth with the Brontë Parsonage, Sladen Bridge, Scar Top and Stanbury.
The bus, which takes in moorland roads and hamlets, will also run on Bank Holiday Mondays.
The regular driver will be Keith Renshaw, who for the rest of the week drives routine services for Keighley bus operator Transdev.
Keith has been the Scenic Tour driver for the past six years and revels in the role.
He said: “Most of my passengers are holidaymakers and they’re not in a hurry to get to work so there’s a nice, friendly atmosphere on board.
“I carry people from all over the world but, in particular, a lot of Japanese visitors.” [...]
Transdev marketing director Nigel Eggleton said: “It’s an ideal way of getting around the area without worrying about car parking or the steep roads.
“The bus is also very useful for walkers who can plan an interesting walk using the bus to get to their starting point and pick them up from another location without having to retrace their steps."
The 812 service is run in conjunction with the Worth Valley Joint Transport Committee. Copies of the 812 Brontë Scenic Tour timetable are available from the travel information centre in Keighley Bus Station, from tourist information centres or online at keighleybus.co.uk then click on Times.
The first bus leaves Haworth Railway Station at 10.50am each Sunday. (David Knights)
What with the clamper and all, we really do encourage future visitors to use public transport, which is quite good. Besides, a bit of walking around will make you feel so Brontë.
Before they are on screen, though, the Brontës continue to inspire film reviewers. Indie Movies Online says about Manoel de Oliveira's O Estranho Caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica):
Isaac’s descent into obsession is handled almost matter-of-factly, since the director takes it for granted that this desire is explicable to all. It is much like Heathcliffe’s (sic) death by starvation when he is plagued by desire to be with the ghost of Cathy in Wuthering Heights. (Emma Rowley)
The Surrey Mirror reviews the recent After Mrs Rochester performances in Surrey:
Nikki Packham and Emma Bugg melded extraordinarily as the older and younger Jean, with Bugg performing well beyond her years.
Irene Amos made her mark as Jean's mother and Roger Dale as her father, but each contributed to the play's further diverse characters.
Dawn Cato's delightful Tite and Denise Scales' difficult role as Bertha added fun and gravitas respectively and David Love's Mr Rochester and a small team of Jean's lovers were individually characterised.
Rachel Poulloin brought Jean's daughter and Jane Eyre to life.
Mike Millsted's static set design transformed itself into wherever the story took it and Karen Murray's wardrobe was crucial to the plot.
Howard Davidson's music totally enhanced a production of which the strong cast and director can be inordinately proud.
The Surrey Comet announces new performances of this production:
Kingston College drama students will present a fortnight of productions at the college’s Arthur Cotterell Theatre, from Tuesday, May 18. (...)
Then on Saturday, May 22, and Monday, May 24, Polly Teale’s After Mrs Rochester will take place.
It is a dramatic exploration of the eventful life of Jean Rhys, which deals with the first wife of Jane Eyre’s Mr Rochester.
A couple of Top Tens which include the Brontës today. The Guardian has author Lesley Glaister pick her 'top 10 books about incarceration':
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Like many children, I found the idea of being an orphan extremely appealing and identified to a ridiculous degree with poor orphaned Jane Eyre, who as a child is bullied by her cousin until she retaliates. Her punishment for this is to be locked into the "red-room" in which her uncle, Mr Reed, recently died. She tries to be brave, but as it gets dark thinks she sees her uncle's ghost, panics, screams and faints. (And, of course, as an adult, Jane is brought into opposition with another incarcerated female, the tragic and frightening Bertha, Rochester's first – mad – wife, secretly imprisoned in the attic.)
And The Tyee has the '10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers'. The Brontës don't make it to the actual top 10, but they are 'dangerous' anyway:
The good but dangerous books are a different matter. They have a powerful effect on us, but only gross incompetents would be dumb enough to try to imitate them.
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre launched countless romance novels and family sagas, but the Brontës were at an extreme of talent; their successors have regressed to the mean, and then some. (Crawford Kilian)
'The Brontës were at an extreme of talent' - we like that!

The Guardian Books Blog discusses teen fiction:
Moving from primary to secondary school, I remember being encouraged to soak up as much canonical children's fantasy (Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Penelope Lively) as I liked, and to make the salmon-leap to grownup books by reading classic titles – Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, a bit of Steinbeck, a bit of Golding. While I was delighted to find fantasy topping the menu, and didn't object to taking on more challenging adult fiction, I also remember an unvoiced but distinct disapproval – a strong hint of arched eyebrow and indrawn breath – if you were caught reading Judy Blume or Paula Danziger. There was a sense of: "It's all very well, but it's teen fiction." There was even a hint of, "You've taken the easy option there, haven't you?" (Imogen Russell Williams)
On the blogosphere, Victoria Janssen and Paulus Torchus write about Jane Eyre. And English Teacher Guru endorses Laura Joh Rowland's The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë (and don't forget that the second installment is just out!).

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