BBC Believes There’s a Need for the Classics

For the complete story, please see http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/aug/21/classic-novels-film-tv-eyre-wuthering

We have seen a resurgence in the filming of the classics of late. Jane Austen, the Brontes, and Charles Dickens have never lost their edge in writing stories that transcend their times. What the truly great writers have to say is relevant for each generation. Austen explains the gender gap and women’s lack of empowerment as well as any modern day writer. Dickens is a master at speaking of the struggles of the lower classes.

In The Guardian’s article, Christine Langan, who runs BBC Films, defended the latest cinematic adaptations of novels by Charlotte and Emily Brontë – the recently released Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights, due for release in November – against accusations of deja vu. “People,” Langan sighed, “will be saying, ‘Why the hell are they doing all that over again?'”

The article from The Guardian goes on to say, “Certain books – by the Brontës and by Jane Austen and Dickens – are indispensable to us and accompany us through life. When we first read them, they prospectively sketch our quest to discover who we are and our struggle to impose ourselves on the world; in later decades, they remain as markers of our progress or testaments to our disillusionment. In Jane Eyre, a disadvantaged girl prevails by force of will and by the intensity of an uncompromising imagination. Oliver Twist is about an even more disadvantaged boy who survives thanks to the kindness of strangers and remains angelically immune to the depravity around him.”

I have seen the newest Jane Eyre adaptation, which stars Craig Roberts, Jamie Bell, Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, and Sally Hawkins, and although it is not my favorite version of the book, it ranks high on the list. (I prefer the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson version to all others. By the way, the Ciaran Hinds/Samantha Morton 1997 version of the film is on Ovation tonight.) I do so remember reading this book for the first time. I was as devastated as the young Jane Eyre to discover that Mr. Rochester had a wife locked away, and my Cinderella syndrome soared to learn of Bertha’s demise and that Jane and Rochester could finally be together. I was in the depths of Heathcliffe’s despair when he frantically dug away at Catherine’s grave. I have experienced Elizabeth Bennet’s realization that she had made the biggest mistake of her young life by judging Mr. Darcy by Wickham’s standards.

If you agree that there can never be enough Austen or Brontes or Dickens, leave a comment below.

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
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6 Responses to BBC Believes There’s a Need for the Classics

  1. Margay says:

    Oh, I think there’s definitely a need for the classics! They are amazing feats of storytelling and just teeming with drama and romance. What’s not to love?

    • Margay, I agree. I grew up on the classics. My son’s first bedtime stories were the Greek and Roman myths, Shakespeare, tales of the Round Table, Biblical feats, Robin Hood, etc. His first real written story mixed elements of the battle between King Arthur and Mordred, along with the tale of Persephone. It was quite inventive. That is how children learn. My reading and hearing the “best.”

  2. Amanda Mauldin says:

    Yes, please, and thank you! Bring on the classics! I can’t read or see enough of them.

  3. Amanda, I watch Ovation almost every afternoon because they show period dramas about 80% of the time.

  4. LaurenG says:

    I do agree. I am a chronic re-reader, and each time I re-read such novels, I always experience an “aha!” moment, and I always find something new. As we age and mature, our own personal journeys prepare our minds to find new meaning, or to understand something that may have been previously obscure. The great writers manage to achieve layers-like an archaeological dig, there always seems to be something new to discover!

    • Lauren, I agree. I, for example, have read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, at least, fifty times. Yet, each time I do so, I discover a passage with which I had previously taken no notice. I love to reread the classics.

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