Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:25 am by M. in , ,    No comments
The Times publishes an article about the Brontë movies in the making and includes a first picture of Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre. Credits: Laurie Sparham. Picture Source.
In 1847 a pair of extraordinary novels appeared two months apart, apparently written by brothers.
Jane Eyre proved an immediate success while Wuthering Heights was sneered at as “wild, confused, disjointed and improbable”. Today both are among the classics of English literature.(...)
Alison Owen, the producer of Jane Eyre (and mother of the singer Lily Allen), said: “There is something about the current situation that the world finds itself in where the Brontës more suit the mood of the moment [than Austen]. Jane Austen is a lighter cut than the Brontës, who are much more brooding and bleak.” (...)
Owen said she believed that Fukunaga can pull off the same trick that the Indian director Shekhar Kapur managed with her 1998 film Elizabeth. “He is someone who is outside the culture, so he can shake it up, [meaning] we don’t get the chocolate-box version that everyone is familiar with.”
Andrea Arnold, who is directing Wuthering Heights, is a former children’s TV presenter who is one of arthouse cinema’s favourite new auteurs. (...)
Although the directors are certain to bring an idiosyncratic vision to the novels, Brontë enthusiasts should not be alarmed just yet. Fukunaga told The Times: “We are not reinventing the wheel here.” Both projects are expected to stick faithfully to the books and have sent out early statements of intent by casting actors of roughly the right age to play the heroines, in contrast to many previous screen versions. (...)
Christine Langan, the head of BBC Films, acknowledged that revisiting classics is a fraught business. “There will be people saying, ‘Why the hell are they doing that all over again?’.” But the film industry is an uncertain place at the best of times and more than ever the search is on for stories with which audiences feel a familiar connection.
Six years ago 400 prominent women were asked which books had made the greatest difference to their lives. Wuthering Heights came second — just behind Jane Eyre. (Ben Hoyle)
The Times also makes a very interesting (and pertinent) comment on these new more 'social' approaches to the Brontë novels:
Philip Larkin said that he wrote poetry out of an impulse to preserve. Those who care about preserving English literature may feel apprehension at the prospect of film adaptations of the two best-known novels of the Brontë sisters. But while the directors may seem unlikely, a quiet anticipation of their interpretations would be justified.
Cary Fukunaga, who has directed a film about the travails of Mexican immigrants to the US, is to tackle Charlotte’s Jane Eyre for BBC Films. Andrea Arnold, who has made two films set on deprived housing estates, will direct Emily’s Wuthering Heights for Film4. Purists will note that Fukunaga had not read the book when he was approached to do the film, but admires the script.
Social realism and kitchen sink drama are movements distinctively of the 20th rather than the 19th century. But they are a legitimate prism through which to understand the Brontës’ work. Novels of the 18th and 19th centuries, especially those by women, have suffered from popular perception that they are primarily costume dramas about more refined times. Yet George Eliot wrote of the clash between country and industrialisation, and faith and scepticism. Jane Austen used irony to show how her heroines’ sensibilities became more ordered. And the Brontë sisters both exemplified and superseded the spirit of the Romantic movement.
Jane Eyre is torn by her wish for emotional fulfilment and her sense of spiritual obligation. Both Brontë novels are unusual for their times, in resisting an easy moralism and questioning what is expected of women. Great literature demands continual reinterpretation. Directors who come to the works afresh are amply qualified for the task.
Concerning Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights production, the UK Film Council has awarded the production £300,000 Lottery funding:
The UK Film Council is pleased to continue to support Andrea's inspirational career as one of Britain's most exciting female directors, after backing her previous award-winning filmsWasp, Red Road and Fish Tank. Wuthering Heights has received £300,000 Lottery funding from the UK Film Council, and is co-financed by Film4, Goldcrest and Screen Yorkshire. Artificial Eye acquired UK rights from HanWay Films who are responsible for worldwide sales.
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