Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome t... Read allSparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
Through the Lens of 'Darkest Hour' Director Joe Wright
How silly. Stories are there as frames on which all the meaningful stuff is draped. Or so it would be after Jane Austen invented the novel. The way an idea appears has more effect than the idea itself, and so with images as well. Jane had two great inventions.
The first was in building two parallel narratives: one of individuals bumping into each other and the other of grander forces of life and society. The two interact at times (and much is made of these turning points) but usually the two are layered one on top of the other, shifting dominance as they go.
The other great invention was devising a narrative style that sometimes centered on the people and sometimes on their containing world, using the one to poke sly fun at the other.
So converting Austen to film is a challenge, indeed, but only if you want to capture Austen's magic. Past P&P projects have used the Merchant and Ivory approach which just takes the people alone. There is a context, but it is there only to provide lushness and decoration, not fate. Not what would become known as noir.
The challenge comes in how to handle the layers. We have already many ways of "folding" in films, but they mostly require structure in the story itself. How to introduce this notion of a second flowing layer without changing the story? Why you do it cinematically.
And that's what we have here. I don't know this director, but he is from TeeVee so obviously is inexperienced in these matters. I credit the producers for specifying the technique.
And we have it to glorious excess. Nearly every shot is structured with at least two layers, with things happening both in foreground and background. The opening scene introduces this to us, a wonderful sequence worthy of Welles, as we follow our girl down the road over a bridge behind laundry to the house. Then we leave her and enter the house and noodle around a bit, always still with layers, then wander to a window where we see her passing by behind the house.
Any movie only has a few moments to introduce itself and tell you how the visual world will be constructed and this does it well. This layering is kept up throughout, with a tour de force in the ball, where a seemingly seamless eye goes all over the building, capturing glances at people we know and those we don't.
It isn't that they do it and it is so effective. It is that it goes on so long, layers shifting and receding to be replaced by others in the scores. It is magnificent. The film is worth it for that one scene alone.
Oh, the actors are appealing, as we expect. The story is simplified and softened, also as we expect. The father is made less culpable, minor characters are dropped. The visit to the great house adds a sensuality the book lacked. Incidentally, that house is the same one used in "Draughtsman's Contract" which was specifically about this layering technique.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
- Nov 23, 2005