Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sniffing Coffee Beans:

Continued from here:

The Outing of Fitzwilliam Darcy

While Weldon's adaptation can only be described as straying from Jane Austen's spirit and intent, Andrew Davies 's translation to the screen stays true to Jane Austen. Closely working with Sue Birtwisle, the program' s producer, he has opted for a strategy, which is very different from his predecessor's. The 1995 version of P&P is a drama for television.

The action is seen, rather than told via conversations. Important letters are not read in a voice over but dramatized as flashbacks. This gives an impetus to the action and makes good use of the advantages offered by this medium.

The characters are not meddled with but bear remarkable resemblance to the way Austen portrayed them in her novel. Elizabeth, as a character, is perceived through her actions, her behavior and her interaction with the other characters. The viewer does not gain a direct line of communication with her through a voiced soliloquy. The premise being that no one writes Jane Austen as well as Jane Austen, this dramatization is felicitous in its choice to follow Austen's direction in adhering as closely as possible to the plot line and the portrayal of her characters.

The acclaim, which greeted this dramatization, has not been completely unanimous. Some critics have protested that Darcy, a major character in the novel, is given too much prominence.

Indeed, the authentic novelty of this translation lies in the treatment given to Darcy.

In the novel, we hardly ever gain access to his thoughts or his life offstage. Jane Austen, though, does give us enough clues and bits of information to construct a complete portrait of the man. Davies follows Austen's clues and gives them substance by projecting them in visual images, and not just textual notes spoken by some character.

Davies’ Darcy has a chance at pleading his case directly to the viewer, allowing us to better understand the seeming transformation that takes place in his behavior.

Davies has brought Darcy out into the open, so to speak, by looking at the underlying text, penetrating its surface and peeling away the layers of irony and second-hand reporting that partially conceal Darcy from the reader. This was a stroke of first-rate creativeness: the reconciliation of the two media, the novel and the film. While the novel uses novelistic techniques to achieve Darcy's allure, the dramatization mimes it by using filmic technique to bring out the same insight. This is in effect what Antoine Berman calls the potentiating movement in a translation, unlike the more aggressive twists of interpretation offered by the Fay Weldon's version.


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