Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So good that it's not based on a book

As much as I love watching Downton Abbey this season on Masterpiece Classic,part of me wishes that this marvelous miniseries had been based on a book. Not that every great film or made for TV program has to be so,yet the highest compliment that I can give to this saga is that it plays out in book length fashion.

Julian Fellowes,the creator and writer of the majority of the episodes for Downton Abbey,has written novels as well as films which explains in part the quality of his work.

It's not only the plot and the setting of this story about a titled family and their staff that makes this series so compelling;it's the pacing of both the major and the minor threads of story involving the characters,plus moments of seemingly small detail that quietly define each player and their true role on the story stage:

To find a film or miniseries that feels like you're walking around in a book is rare for even those features that are actually based on books. Coming across one that seems as if it came from a novel but didn't is on the level of someone taking an item they found in storage somewhere to Antiques Roadshow and discovering that it's a true hidden treasure.

These small gems I have to display in this category are far from hidden but perhaps one of them might be a sweet revelation for your viewing pleasure. The British miniseries Lost in Austen was such a kick with many fans that most insisted that it must have been based on the Jane Austen Addicts novels by Laurie Viera Rigler.

While LIA is most definitely not connected to those amusing books,the mix-up is understandable given that they share a time travel twist and a humorous look at the world of Jane Austen. There is a series of webisodes based on the Jane Austen Addict books(called Sex and the Austen Girl),that are great fun to watch and give you a better take on what those amusing novels are really like.

For an offline Austenseque experience, this engagingly charming series about a modern day girl switching places with Elizabeth Bennet certainly hits the spot. As Amanda strives to keep the Pride and Prejudice plot as intact as possible,her situation and circumstances(along with the regular set of P&P players) keeps going entertainingly off track:

Despite it's loose connection to a Sir Walter Scott novel of the same name, the 1995 film Rob Roy is truly not adapted from any particular book. The characters are somewhat based upon real life figures in Scottish history during the 1800s but it's more like historical fiction than fact.

Many found the film to be long and drawn out in parts,which is probably why it was overlooked by audiences particularly since Braveheart also came out that year with a similar Scottish theme.

However,I've always preferred the well thought out pacing of this film that allows it's characters to be more than stick figures in a revenge driven drama. Rob Roy may not have gotten the critical love it deserved back then but true quality tends to win out over time:

While the premise of Notting Hill does seem to be the perfect romcom cliche-famous movie star meets humble bookstore owner and falls in love-it could also be easily adapted into a nifty little chick lit title as well. Particularly the type written by the English,who bring their own quietly offbeat sense of humor and pathos into these stories.

The real sweetness of the film comes from the leisurely pace given to the romance. Even with the usual layers of merry misunderstandings and mistakes that the would be lovers walk into,the real heart of the movie shines through in it's talky moments that allow most of the characters to display their inner depth.

Letting your main and supporting players a chance to slow down and just reveal themselves in casual conversation is not always encouraged in either format but pictures and conversation do go together,even if you're not telling a Lewis Carroll story:

In the end,writing is as writing does,whether it's for a book or a film. Any medium that allows for the fullest creative expression and values artistry along side amusement is the best situation a writer can find him/herself in.

Of course,even literary classics can be made fresher with a dash of adaptation flair that appeals to more than one section of the audience and when all else fails,go for a laugh-it never hurts too much!:

No comments: