Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, November 28, 2005

This is what I was afraid of

James Bowman has an article taking exception to the new Pride and Prejudice movie on the ground that it totally abandons Austen's morality, and substitutes in its place a modern sensibility. I wa afraid that might be the case from the trailers I saw and the reviews I've already read. I tend to be very stuffy about messing with the classics. One of my least favorite movies ever was Winona Ryder's much touted Little Women. It was a beautifully done movie -- costumes and settings were a delight to the eye. What drove me crazy, though, was how the movie completely abandoned the primary message in the book. Of course, that message isn't very palatable to the modern mind, but it's still the message: namely, that Jo achieves maturity only when she abandons her wild selfishness, and subordinates her needs to the greater needs of her family. Once she does that, she is rewarded with happiness and a husband. Before that, frustration is her lot. In the 1994 movie, Winona Ryder, as Jo, cheerfully assures Mr. Bhaer that her (fictional) father espouses a doctrine that involves doing what makes you happy. I'll be the first to admit that Bronson Alcott was a selfish nut, and probably one of the first hippies, but Louisa May Alcott loathed growing up like that, and her books explicitly rejected that self-serving message. To have it incorporated front and center into the movie probably had Miss Alcott spinning wildly in her grave. I'll take myself off with a friend to see Pride and Prejudice, 'cause it seems like a good chick-flick, but I am going to have to put my own prejudices aside. Instead, I'll just accept the movie as a "boy meets girl, girl hates boy, girl and boy fall in love" movie, devoid of Austen's elegant social commentary.