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Posts Tagged ‘Colin Firth’

Scarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl Earring

With Colin Firth nominated for an Oscar tonight, I’m reminded that I’ve been meaning to write something about one of my favourite films of his – Girl With a Pearl Earring, directed by Peter Webber. I’ve actually watched it twice since starting this blog, but failed each time to write a full review, and now my memories have faded slightly again. So this will just be a short posting about a couple of the main points which struck me, and an excuse to post pictures .

For me this is one of the most breathtaking historical dramas to watch, with the colour, lighting, costumes and Eduardo Serra’s cinematography working together to create the atmosphere of the 17th-century Dutch paintings by artists like Vermeer perfectly. I have read and liked Tracy Chevalier’s novel, but this is one where the adaptation appeals to me and sticks in my memory more than the book. I first saw it at the cinema  – since then I’ve seen it on TV and the effects still work very well, but it was best on the big screen.

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Colin Firth is one of my favourite period drama actors – I’m hoping to see his latest, Dorian Gray, very soon – so I was interested to hear today that he is to star as King George VI, our present Queen’s father, in a forthcoming film, The King’s Speech, with Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist working with him to overcome his stammer. The director is Tom Hooper who directed the series John Adams and it’s due for release next year. Looking forward to this one!

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This is another shorter review of a movie which I saw a little while ago, when it was released in the UK in November – though I know cinema-goers in the US and some other countries are still waiting for it. 

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The film has come in for quite a lot of criticism because, although it is loosely based on an early Noel Coward play, it doesn’t use any of Coward’s script, instead featuring a new screenplay by director Stephan Elliott, whose previous films include the acclaimed Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I have to say this really didn’t worry me  and I still found plenty to enjoy. The script might not be Coward’s, but it is still very witty. The film also has a great cast, headed by Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Ben Barnes and Kristin Scott Thomas.

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I’ve now finished re-watching the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice – and loved it all over again. I also watched the featurette included on the DVD, where producer Sue Birtwhistle discusses how much care was taken with every detail of this production, down to tailoring the costumes to the individuals and even choosing houses for filming which echoed the personalities of the characters living there.

I think all this attention to detail has paid off, together with the leisurely length, in giving the whole production a multi-layered, rich feeling. It’s quite a wrench when it comes to an end and you have to step out of that world and come back to the present – although that final shot, with Darcy and Elizabeth sharing their only kiss, is what viewers have been waiting for right from the start. 

The wedding scene

The wedding scene

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Costume dramas are often seen as escapism. In this celebrated mini-series, I definitely think there is a strong element of that in the beautiful sets, landscapes and music – and, of course, the costumes themselves. I’d love to get away from it all into the sunlit gardens of Pemberley.

However, anyone tempted to turn to Jane Austen to escape from the credit crunch will soon find financial troubles looming in her world too. In Pride and Prejudice, the theme of money is there from that famous first line – which, in this adaptation, has to be spoken by Elizabeth. because there is no narrator and Andrew Davies can’t quite bear to leave it out. Darcy and Bingley might be too rich to worry about money, but most of the other characters have to do so.

The Bennet family

The Bennet family

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I did see the hugely popular Andrew Davies version of Pride and Prejudice when it was first shown. But, as my younger child was only one then, and I was constantly rushing in and out of the room, my memories of it are something of a blur – a mix of beautiful costumes and landscapes, dancing, sunlight and Colin Firth taking that famous dip in the lake.

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth

I think I also saw a repeat a few years later, but that has faded in my mind too.  Watching the series again 14 years on, thanks to the beautifully-presented BBC Anniversary Edition box set, I’m hoping to take it all in better. So far, I’ve watched the first two episodes and thoroughly enjoyed them. Andrew Davies’ dialogue keeps a lot of Austen’s wit, and, after watching several rushed 90-minute adaptations of classics recently, the more leisurely pace of this one comes as a welcome change. It’s a pity Davies didn’t do as many episodes in his recent version of  Sense and Sensibility – though that adaptation has grown on me.

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