Friday, July 16, 2010
Some of our favorite Pop Culture Elizabeth & Darcy doppelgangers
The salute to Pride and Prejudice that's been going on at Austenprose is almost at an end,with many wonderful discussions about the book's themes and several excellent guest blog posts covering differing aspects of the world in which Austen lived.
Today's highlight(courtesy of Jane's Sequels) is a look at Elizabeth and Darcy's relationship,from beginning to end and it's appeal to readers. This got me to thinking about those postmodern versions of Lizzie and Darcy that have cropped up over the past several years and how they measure up to the originals. Let's take a gander at a handful of them to gauge their cinematic suitability:
Lalita and William/Bride & Prejudice
This modern day musical offers up the alluring Aishwarya Rai as the independently minded Lizzie of the piece,who also seems at times to be more sophisticated than the Darcy she's been given(Martin Henderson).
These two do have great chemistry together(perhaps not on the dance floor) but in some ways,the basic personalities of their Regency counterparts have been reversed;Lalita has the haughty aloofness while Darcy is the more lively spirited of the two,an interesting artistic choice,indeed:
Joe and Kathleen/You've Got Mail
This tale of rival booksellers is loosely inspired by P&P but the comparisons between indie children's book shop Kathleen Kelly(Meg Ryan) and corporate chain store owner Joe Fox(Tom Hanks) and their Austen predecessors can be made.
Kathleen does possess a lively spirit and love of amusement as does Elizabeth,with the marked difference being that Kathleen takes a longer time to find her sharp tongue than Lizzie,who has it readily at hand.
Joe,on the other hand,is not as cold as a true Darcy stand-in could be,yet his presumptions about both his business and personal dealings with others soon backfire on him in very unexpected ways,much like the man himself. Also,like that classic couple,one does root for these two to ultimately get together despite their war of words and misunderstandings:
Alternate Elizabeth and Darcy/Lost in Austen
The inventive BBC miniseries has a 21st century heroine named Amanda Price trading places with Elizabeth Bennet(Gemma Arterton),who quickly adapts to her new modern surroundings while her still in the book Darcy(Eliot Cowan) goes through his trans-formative emotional paces with a different objection of his affections(Jemima Rooper)as his end goal.
Elizabeth and Darcy don't actually meet up at first, until an unexpected crisis in the P&P reality(greatly affected by the switch in leading ladies)brings both Amanda and Darcy into the "real" world where Lizzie is a live-in nanny for a rather posh couple and well aware of her connection to the mysterious man accompanying her anxious friend who only wants to take them both home. Even in such offbeat circumstances,the vibe between Elizabeth and Darcy is palatable:
Bridget and Mark/Bridget Jones' Diary
Both the Helen Fielding novel and the movie made from it have a very meta take on P&P,especially in casting Colin Firth(the most popular Darcy to be depicted on film)as Bridget's love to hate romantic interest.
Renee Zellweger may not be British but her delightful daffiness is charming to behold,even if at times she acts more like a Lydia than a Lizzie. This is a role that Firth could have easily strolled through but to his credit and our entertainment value,he gives the part his all and then some:
No doubt,there will be other versions of this famous fictional couple ready to take the dance floor and revive interest yet again in Miss Austen's romantic comedy classic. Some will find fault in these future fictionalizations(as many do with the ones mentioned here)but hopefully,the hearts of these creative creations will be in the right place.
Whether you prefer the actual Elizabeth and Darcy or one of their clever clones, it's good to rejoice in the idea of two halves forming a whole and finding their way to a life of love and fulfillment. Sappy sentiment,I know yet even with all of Austen's quirky asides and sly moments of wit to offset the sugary tone a story like this can take,you still savor the sweetness of a truly perfect match:
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