Oct 08


Downton Abbey: PBS Television series ★★★
Downton Abbey was a TV series that ran for 6 seasons, and was most popular during its time. It is the story about the life from about 1910-1925 of one of the remaining great houses in Yorkshire area of England. The movie presents life of both the aristocratic family in contrast to the servants in the manor, or to say it differently, of the working class as compared to the leisured class. Each season presented the tensions and problems of the two classes or people in the Abbey estate. It was intended to paint a sense of sympathy for life on both sides of the class divide. The story line left suspense and tension with each episode, until the very last episode of season 6, where everything is resolved, friendships and feuds resolved, the appropriate people married to the appropriate spouses, and the Abbey is at peace while celebrating a new year.
A most appropriate change to the name of this series would be Pride and Prejudice on steroids. The entire story line ultimately evolves around only two issues, 1) will Downton Abbey survive in the new world?, and 2) who will marry who, and when? To the first question, the answer is, “yes”, Downton Abbey survives, but with a loss of the Pracht and Herrlichkeit (splendor and elegance/majesty) of the past. The movie attempts to evoke sympathies for the aristocratic classes in their “loss” of their leisured world, and disappointed that they can no longer have people dressing/undressing them, having their regular elegant garden parties and life on the fox hunt, and massive banquets of white tie affairs, surrounded by maids and butlers, and a host of staff jumping to their every whim. They failed to claim my sympathies. To the second question, if one of the actors survived, they were all able to eventually get married, and usually within the desired class and to the “right” person.
The story line held one’s attention. Oftentimes, the story was a bit too contrived, such as people dying simply to create and maintain the appropriate flow of the movie. The story and scenery tries to maintain historical accuracy, and to that end I presume they did superbly. The setting was in one of the now retired great houses. Do I feel sorry for the aristocrats of the past, or possess some secret desire to wish I could have filled their shoes? Hardly not! I mentioned that this was Jane Austen on steroids, and that indeed is exactly what it was, without the hidden comedy of Jane Austen. The storyline is a seemingly endless repetition of the Jane Austen novels, yet is a little more crass at demonstrating the arrogance, as well as the hypocrisy of the British elite, especially in terms of their moral/sexual behavior. The issue not that they were more sexually loose than one would like to think, but that they maintained a stringent desire to cover up their dalliances with a gloss of moral righteousness. In this regard, they excelled over Jane Austen.
I don’t regret watching Downton Abbey. It was long. Betsy (wife) definitely enjoyed watching it again, and found it better to watch the entire six seasons in one long setting, rather than having to wait for each episode week after week. So, I’ll cease my criticisms and await your thoughts on this series.

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May 07


Twilight Forever; the complete saga, starting Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattison ★
My son Jon and I spent a night in Forks on a week-long bicycle ride looping around the Olympics, and there was much talk in Forks about this film series. I had no great interest in watching this series, but then, curiosity killed the cat. It is a series of three episodes, the last episode dived into two parts. The movie is based on a series of books, written by Stephanie Meyer. The plot is easy to summarize. A girl (Bella Swan) moves from her mother in AZ to her father, who is a town sheriff in Forks, Washington. She is in her last year of high school, and needs to find friends. She first encounters a native Indian (Jacob Black), who is quite attracted to her. She also encounters another dude (Edward Cullen) who looks and acts more like a creep than anything else. The creep also has other family members attending the school who are just as creepy. Through a variety of events, Bella becomes attracted to the creep Edward as well as the Indian boy Jacob. Eventually, she discovers that Edward is actually a vampire with remarkable talents and doesn’t age with time, and that Jacob is a werewolf, but worse, that the vampires and werewolves really don’t get along too well together. Eventually, she totally falls in love with Eddie the vampire, partially because she fears growing old and thus would like to become a vampire herself. After many sub-events, she eventually marries Edward, has a baby from him which almost kills her, but is saved by becoming a vampire herself. Her baby though becomes imprinted to Jacob, making a crazy threesome.
There is just too many things wrong with this movie series to know where to start. First, this movie really doesn’t have good acting, and how Kristin actually became famous by playing the lead role testifies to the desperation of the Hollywood audience. None of the acting was remarkable. The visuals were good, but not outstanding. Secondly, the storyline was just plain stupid. Too many things were inexplainable, or inconsistent. Why would a 107 year old vampire wish to place himself in a high school situation? Why would the vampire father masquerade as a doctor? Why would the vampire family move away in order to keep their identity concealed, only to return later for no good reason? Similar questions could be asked of the werewolves. Why would the lead female fall in love with a creep? Why didn’t the female experience the problems of becoming a vampire and losing her soul, as she was warned? In both the vampire camps and the werewolf camps, there were bad vampires and “good” vampires, bad werewolves and “good” werewolves. What’s going on there?
My only explanation to this story is that the author really wrote with flight of thought, not even giving thought to what she previously wrote. Perhaps the books offer a better explanation? The mindset of the entire tale is with teenagers living in a solipsistic world of their all important selves. After all, high school is so great, and even 107 year old vampires would eagerly love to re-experience high school. So, my advice to anybody curious about this series—don’t waste your time. It isn’t even good entertainment. There are too many other reasonable movies to watch to waste your time on the stupidity and poor acting of this series.

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Apr 07


North and South, a film adaptation of a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell ★★★
Elizabeth Gaskell was the wife of a Unitarian minister living in Manchester, England, writing about the social injustices of the industrial revolution. This, like the Jane Austen novels, is essentially of romantic novel with the twist of making a social statement. The main character, Margaret Hale, thwarts a marriage proposal, returns home to her family in southern England, where her father serves as an Anglican pastor. He is forced out of the church owing to a loss of faith, and moves to Milton (Manchester?) to serve as a teacher. He acquires pupils, including the young owner of a local cotton mill, the nouveaux rich John Thornton. Margaret catches Mr. Thornton being quite harsh on several of his employees. She sympathizes with the employees, even when they threaten to go on strike, much to the chagrin of Mr. Thornton. Eventually, through the maturation of Margaret’s understanding of the complexities of employee/employer relations and the problems of maintaining a successful factory, Margaret helps mend relations with the employees of Mr. Thornton. In the end, Margaret falls in love with Mr. Thornton.
In a way, I felt like I was watching a Jane Austen novel even though there were differences. The now “impoverished” Mr. Hale still is able to afford servants. Margaret is able to conduct her life in a leisurely fashion, never worrying about needing to work or develop skills for gainful employment. The love story had to be incorporated into the novel, and the progression of confusion or hate to love had to occur. Events, such as the death of mother and later father, were unexplained and used only to make the novel progress. Thus, the story was a bit contrived, as are all the JA novels.
The movie itself had great scenes but fairly mediocre acting. Margaret seemed to have a very flat affect. Mr. Thornton did not have a realistic personality. It was more like watching a soap opera than seeing a film. The movie has its entertainment value but does poorly at social protest. Other films, such as the French film “Germinal” made a much better statement about social injustices, while having phenomenal acting (who can beat Gérard Depardieu?).

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Apr 07


Persuasion, a film adaptation starring Amanda Root of a novel by Jane Austen ★
This is the last novel of Jane Austen. The film adaptation was a bit confusing and challenging to follow. I presume that it assumed that one had already read the novel. A brief summary is as follows. Anne Elliott breaks off an engagement to a sea captain Frederick Wentworth. She is one of several daughters of a wealthy landowner now in the leaner years, needing to lease out the family mansion and live in Bath while the mansion is then occupied by the admiral and his son-in-law Frederick (surprise, surprise!!!). While most of the Elliott family move to Bath, Anne is asked to remain at the mansion to help with the transition. As predictable, Frederick appears to be no longer interested in Anne, courts other ladies, while a cousin of Anne is chasing her. Through multiple episodes of misunderstandings and ultimate clarifications, many of the eligible maidens are married off in the novel, while Anne and Captain Wentworth realize they both love each other and are engaged.
The predictability of these novels reveal some commonalities of the film adaptations of the Jane Austen novels. These points also summarize all five reviews.
1. The theme is always the pursuit of the main character, a young female, to an eligible person.  The movie always ends with the successful engagement or wedding of the appropriate person(s).
2. The females always come from, or are living with, wealthy landed gentry.
3. The movies always have at least one dance scene. The inability to dance, or the play the piano for a dance, removes a female or male from marriage eligibility. In several novels, the ability to quote Shakespeare or Byron were also eligibility tests.
4. Young eligible ladies from wealthy families never ever seemed to have anything to do but to go for walks and sit around pretending to read books. Occasionally they would play the piano without practice. Never were they expected to perform work. They usually played the piano, but their playing was always very mechanical.
5. Even when the wealthy became “poor”, they maintained a host of servants to care for them.
6. Military folk also seemed to be essentially idle and free to loaf at will. Perhaps that is why the British Empire eventually fell, but historical facts suggest that there were no military in sedentary life living in England at the time of Jane’s novels.
7. Older ladies were always pictured as obese, meddlesome, and suffering from verbal diarrhea. Older men were usually lazy old farts who did nothing but read the newspaper.
8. In all of JA’s novels, there is a confusion regarding who loves who, which is always perfectly resolved in the end.
9. Jane Austen was never married, and perhaps all of these novels are a psychological projection of a fantasy world that she wished to be in. Poor Jane. Why wouldn’t somebody marry her? Then, we might have been spared some of her novels.
1o. As to Jane Austen novels being comedies, Emma is the clearest example of that. Her novels are also seen as perhaps a jab at the ever-diminishing numbers of landed gentry in England in her time.
11. Religion is present in its Anglican form in all five novels reviewed, but this religion is very superficial and also a form of prestige. People went to church, but church was more a social gloss rather than a serious undertaking. Perhaps this explains why England is the way it is now.

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Apr 07


Mansfield Park, a film adaptation of the novel by Jane Austen ★★★★
This is the one film adaptation of a novel by Jane Austen that I actually enjoyed, and could not predict exactly the ending at the beginning. It is also one of the most controversial novels that JA wrote. Fanny was born into a poor family, but (for reasons not made clear in the movie) was invited to live with a very wealthy rich uncle Sir Thomas abiding at the estate called Mansfield Park, and whose wealth came from the slave trade in the West Indies. The Sir Thomas family includes two girls slightly older than Fanny, Edmund, who becomes close as a friend to Fanny, and a much older son. Fanny acquires a Cinderella role, with the two daughters being heavily favored in all social and family interactions. Edmond decides to become a clergyman. Henry Crawford and his sister come to town, and become heavily socially entwined with the Mansfield Park family. Finally,  Sir Thomas suggests that Henry and Fanny get married, since Henry is fabulously wealthy. Fanny rejects this out of hand, leaving to go back to her poor family rather than be intimidated into a marriage that she doesn’t want. Henry comes to visit Fanny several times in hopes of persuading her, but this finally comes to an end when Henry is caught in a sexual tryst with one of the now married daughters of Sir Thomas. Ultimately, Fanny and Edmond figure out that they were always in love with each other, and get married, ending the novel and the film. I guess cousins got married in 19th century England?
Several aspects of this film are interesting. First, is that it offers mild disapproval of the wealthy landowners for ill-gotten gain in the slave trade. Secondly, it actually brings in characters of other social status than just the multi-generational wealthy families. Third, it is Jane Austen painting her own deepest feelings about who she wished she could have been in the person of Fanny.

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Apr 07


Emma, starring Kate Beckinsale★★
This is now the third of five Jane Austen books adapted to film that I will review. I will keep the review short for the sake of my dear readers. After all, it was hard enough bearing through yet another Jane Austen novel. Emma is a rich young snot who loves to meddle in other people’s affairs, and the story starts with her at a wedding that she helped fix. She, like all the JA novels, comes from a wealthy landed family that had daughters, all of whom are eligible for marriage and desperate. Emma disguises her desperation by working on fixing other marriages throughout the movie (novel). She disrupts one marriage proposal to a friend Harriet, which she is trying to match to the local parson. Multiple brief episodes of love and hate occurs, until Harriet is finally united to her original suitor and Emma marries a Mr. Knightley, another rich young man with whom she has lapsed into and out of favor with. The movie has rich scenery, but the acting is quite mediocre. The story could mostly be ascertained in the first 10 minutes of the film. Emma as a film has it’s rich moments, and the Queen’s (King’s???) English is adorable. Multiple adaptations of this film have been done, including the film Clueless with Alicia Silverstone, a movie almost certain to never be seen by me.

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Mar 28


Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winsley, Hugh Grant ★
I have recently reviewed the movie “Pride and Prejudice”, and suggest that you review that review and the subsequent comments before reading this review. This is another of the Jane Austen novels put to film, and I will be doing several more Jane Austen reviews before the end of the year. As mentioned previously, I have absolutely no intention as to ever reading any of her books.
I’m not sure if Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility first or Pride and Prejudice first, but it is of little regard, since they are essentially exactly the same story, names and a few details changed. I guess that Jane ran out of creative juices. Perhaps the only difference is that the lead eligible maiden (Maryann) preferred men that read Shakespeare, rather than prefer dancing. The general details of the story between the two novels are practically identical. A family loses its fortune (in this instance, through the death of father) and must move out of the mansion with numerous servants to live like paupers in an ordinary house without servants. Yet, the two oldest eligible maidens are equally pursued by very wealthy gentlemen. The suitors mysteriously disappear to London, and the two oldest daughters journey to London to find their loves. Maryann discovers her lover is now interested in a more wealthy maiden, and so she eventually falls back in love with her original love interest, Snipe, who should have taken her back to Hogwarts. Eleanor discovers that her lover, whom she thought was engaged to somebody else, has broken off that engagement. Maryann goes through a near death experience, miraculously comes back to life, and the movie ends as a double wedding, just as in Pride and Prejudice. I was able to predict half way through the film exactly what would happen, based on recently watching Pride and Prejudice.
Why the title Sense and Sensibility? I presume it is because the oldest daughter, Eleanor, had the most common sense, and tended to hold in her emotions. The middle daughter, Maryann, was an emotional, flirty, “artistic” and impractical type, an addle-brained maiden desperate for a man (just like P&P!). Realism is lost in the novels. Wealth, like in P&P, simply did not exist as such in England at the time of Austen’s books. The gentlemen are aptly defined in the script of the movie as “men without an occupation or profession, and nothing to do” (loose quote). Austen herself was never married, so these novels were probably her painting wishful fantasies of herself into the feminine characters of her books. I know of many young ladies who have watched these films and used them as models for behavior and desire in courtship. In reality, this movie, as in P&P, only makes sense if really viewed as a comedy rather than a romance novel. Because of extreme similarity and “fictions” of both S&S and P&P, I will not be belaboring my point any longer to the weariness of the reader.
I will next be reviewing “North and South” based on a family recommendation. Then I will get back to several more Jane Austen novels. Since I have not seen these movies, you’ll have to wait for my comments.

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Mar 28


Chocolat, starring Juliette Binoche, Josh Densh, etc. ★
Chocolat is a marvelous, cute little movie that won 5 academy award nominations, which my wife watched many years ago, and suggested that it was a nice girlie type movie extolling the beauty of chocolate in transforming an innocent little French town from a prejudiced, unhappy villa to a place of joy and happiness. Right? Wrong! The movie is quite innocent, but really has little to do about chocolate. Instead, the entire theme of the movie is that Christian ethics and morality are oppressive and joyless, and by abandoning those morals, one can find peace, love, joy, and contentment.  The true movie title should have been called “Immorality”. The movie is in many respects “clean”. There is minimal blatant sex, drunkenness, bad words, and the only violence is performed by town Christians in seeking to drive out a poor helpless woman and her daughter from the town for corrupting the village morals. This makes is easy to accept without realizing the fundamental theme is rotten to the core, and the entire movie based on  impossible fictions.
Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk drift across Europe in the years after WWII. They arrive in a quaint French villa, where she sets up a chocolaterie. It happens to be that the town is staunchly Catholic, and that she arrives at the beginning of the Lenten season. She finds it challenging to establish a clientele for the business, save for a few troubled souls of the town who have already cast off their Christian faith. The town mayor and new priest insist that the Lenten season be abided by, making it all the more challenging for her to establish her business, and she is branded as immoral since she is a professing, avowed atheist free to share her deviant faith with those who would listen. The town is then visited by some river “rats”, gypsies that float the river, selling goods along the way, and generally having fun as they go. These river people are also rejected by the town, owing to their loose morals. Tragedy strikes when the town drunk burns down their floating city. Ultimately, Vianne decides to leave town on the day of easter sensing that the town is too “intolerant” for her good. The evening before, the mayor breaks into the shop to destroy a nude female made of chocolate, gets a taste of the chocolate, and is immediately addicted. The easter morning service is suddenly transformed into a lesson on tolerance, the village takes to liking for chocolate and dancing in the streets, and suddenly the village goes from doom and gloom to one of joy and gladness, accepting their new religion of atheism and amorality.
This movie is wrong in so many ways. First, it is economically a total fantasy. The movie shows the river rats living a rather sumptuous lifestyle, and yet never working to earn that lifestyle. Were they actually thieves? It shows Vianne coming to town with nothing but an illegitimate daughter and a few handbags at the start of Lent, setting up a very elaborate chocolaterie, making chocolate, baked goods and drinks in excess every day, and yet having only a few buyers. Vianne would give away multiple free samples, and also throw parties, such as a grand feast with lobster and turkey and all kinds of treats, yet never had a successful business as of yet to support that. Perhaps she was independently wealthy, but more likely than not, the author was completely clueless to the simplest matters of economics.
Secondly, the movie is wrong in trying to be so politically correct. It is politically correct to insult the prevailing western Christian morality and religious practice. Such a movie, if made in an even stricter moral context such as in a Muslim country during Ramadan, would be identified as blasphemous. I guess it is okay to rip apart the Christian faith but not Mohammedism. The final sermon offered in the village church on Easter morning was a sermon on tolerance. In one swift hour, the village is transformed from faith to paganism, from defined morality to undefined lust. It is so politically correct it makes me feel like vomiting.
Thirdly and most importantly, the movie (and book which the movie is based on) creates straw men. Nobody in the movie have real living personalities. To win an argument, contemporary liberalism uses the sly tactic of role reversal. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao become the kind, loving, benevolent leaders. Mother Teresa becomes a crotchety old moralistic witch (note that mother Teresa would not be personally attacked, but that the church which bred her is brutally and usually unrealistically attacked). In this movie, the Catholics of the town are intolerant, unloving, joyless brutes. In reality, I have never seen such a village. The personalities are entirely fictional, with the Compte (the mayor) living as widower (or divorcee, the book/movie never makes that clear but implies that NOBODY would live with such a wrench). Reality is that the Christian faith  brought joy and peace to the warring barbarians of Europe. It is the Christian faith, as compared to atheists/agnostics who have a much lower divorce and separation rate. It is the Christian faith which developed the interest in the world, including art, music, and cooking which Vianne now tries to market. The movie has Vianne painted as the only loving, caring person in the town, willing to reach out to the provincial village with self sacrifice. Actually, Vianne was intolerant to the conventions of the village, even refusing to occasionally set foot in a church or acknowledge some of the fundamental traditions of religious life in the village. The entire theme is that the village must adapt to her, no give or take, and no adaptation on her part. Also, has one ever stumbled across a loving, sacrificing atheist? This movie has no realistic personalities, and it is straw men created to form the fictional intentions of the book author.
Sadly, the movie is more destructive than meets the eye. Many will watch the movie as the joyful transformation of a town through the mediacy of chocolate. In reality, it is a town that goes overnight from Christianity to atheism. I would have appreciated the movie far more had it presented itself with entire fantasy, such as with fairies or magical spells. It would have then been more obvious as the fantasy that it is. But, that is so typical of the Hollywood elites, as they live in a fantasy world but wish the world to believe that they are presenting reality.   If you haven’t seen this film before, please don’t waste your time.

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Feb 12

P&P
Pride and Prejudice, BBC Production starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle  ★★★★ for production, ★ for storyline
I typically don’t watch girly films. By girly films, I don’t intend to imply the lewd films of the present day that don’t allow for public display. Both the present day sexually overt “girly” films and what I am referring to have sex as their primary subject and thus much similarity. The Jane Austen books and associated films have been the subject of popular opinion and frequent enjoyment by many close to me, and even the subject of an entire class offered at schools connected with my church denomination, and thus have I decided to break down and watch the most popular of the Austen series, P&P.
BBC does a marvelous production, with superb acting and excellent cinematography. One cannot fault the scene settings, as they are reflective of a most lavish production. I will limit my comments to the Austen story itself. Since I have not heard complaints about the screenwriters taking liberties with the text that offend what Austen wrote, I will presume that the BBC production is faithful to Austen’s script, as I have no intention of ever reading her book.
The Pride and Prejudice story is quite simple. The Bennett family are near broke aristocrats, struggling to keep the family alive with their five children, all marriageable females. The focus of the story is on the two oldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth,  with the primary focus put on the second oldest, Elizabeth, known as Lizzy. A very wealthy suitor comes to town, and immediately falls in love with Jane. A Mr. Darcy accompanies him, who happens to be even wealthier, but is interpreted by the Bennett family as being quite arrogant though he is interested in Elizabeth. After much wrangling and misreadings of various people’s intentions through the course of the novel, Jane and Elizabeth eventually marry their respective suitors and everything ends happily ever after. There are a few side stories, such as when the youngest Bennett daughter elopes with a soldier who presents himself well, but secretly has the reputation of a sleazy character: this event suggests a besmirching of Bennett family reputation.
There are three major problems that I have with the entire thesis of this story. First is the faithfulness to the historical context. Second is the nature of the individual characters in the story. Third are other underlying implications of the Pride and Prejudice narrative.
Factuality? Austen presents a plethora of idle wealthy landowners with nothing to do but to read books, throw dance parties, visit surrounding neighborhoods, or ride horses. Is this how England was in the early 1800’s when Austen wrote her novels? Scarcely not. England was rapidly depleting its wealth by fighting foreign wars and overtaxing its citizens. It is VERY odd that few normal classed people are ever presented in the story: there are the servants of the wealthy, but that is about it. Secondly, the story shows military personnel behaving quite leisurely and undisciplined, which assuredly was NOT occurring in England during Austen’s time. The entire story is a fanciful fairytale that draws young ladies into a fairytale world of courtship, romance, and marriage that never existed in England or anywhere else in history. Is it any wonder that so many Austen devotees of the female gender have ended in tragic romances and marriages?
And the characters, what about them? The most unendurable character was Mrs. Bennett with her histrionics that exceeded all reality. It was torture whenever she came on the scene. Mr. Bennett was a do-nothing milksop husband who lacks any real character at leading the family. The two oldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth really do not have character development. The movie doesn’t leave one feeling like one knows either of these girls better as they have no character development. Elizabeth continues her blank supercilious smirk throughout, Jane is nothing but a needlepoint preoccupied airhead or picking flowers with Lizzy, and both girls display an arrogance unbefitting of marriageable maidens. The only daughter of interest is the snarly piano-playing middle daughter, who at least has some inclination toward having enjoyments that are not rigidly defined by the family. The entire Bennett family has their own pathology as for example if a suitable mate doesn’t dance well, they are not suitable for marriage. In this regard, society has not changed much, but has just changed the symbolism of dance to that of if one is not good “under the covers” then they are not suitable for marriage. The preacher in the story we shall call Reverend Sniveling Creep, because that is precisely who he is. I hope that Austen wasn’t suggesting Rev SC as prototypical of all reverends; I’ll leave that to the reader to decide. Like nearly every character in Austen’s novel, money and wealth above anything seems to be the prime motive for decisions and actions. The only person with a character worthy of emulation is Mr. Darcy, though he is also not well developed in the story.
Perhaps a better (and more modern) name for this book should have been “Young horny aristocrats chased by young lovesick maidens in heat”, or, “Keeping up illusions”, because that is ALL that this story is about. Any modern retelling of the story would change the dance scenes to wild sex-party scenes, and you would still maintain the moral (though more overt) meaning to the story. P & P is often sold as a glimpse back on when society had a true moral base: if that is really true, it sure wasn’t obvious in the movie!
What about the religious sense in this movie? Does P & P show an honorable Christian moral society? I don’t think so. The character of the reverend best suits that of a cheap used car salesman. Religion is not spoken of save at the very end when the officiating reverend appeals to god’s name while intoning the wedding vows. The motivating spirit was to maintain artificial societal norms, maintain an appearance of goodness, while seeking the easy gain of as much wealth as possible. Religion is nothing but a vacuous means of surviving the prevailing societal norms. This book should be an embarrassment to the church, and definitely never taught without extreme caution in church schools. It is no wonder that England (and America) has so quickly lost faith, since (if the movie is true to public society) it had been lost long before overt behaviors reflected that.
Many interpreters of the Pride and Prejudice story focus on the maturation and change of the character of Mr. Darcy from a cold, distant, arrogant person, to that of a warm, caring individual. In fact, Mr. Darcy’s character remains the most stable of the entire story. The only other stable character (and much to their shame) was that of Mrs. Bennett, whom you pray would just fall over dead of a heart attack early in the novel. The prevailing pompous arrogance of the public, and most notably the Bennett family, did not allow them to see Mr. Darcy for who he really was. When Elizabeth finally had a change of heart and fell in love with Dr. Darcy, she seemed as much affected by the grandeur and elegance of the Darcy estate as by the discovery that Mr. Darcy was perhaps a really nice person, even though he would not always consent to a dance at the whim of  females in heat.
I am surprised that Pride and Prejudice has received favorable acclaim. There is wonderful use of the English language, but the story itself presents a very shallow minded society, with poor definitions of goals, direction and faith. I cannot recommend this book/movie as a worthy read/watch for anybody.

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Dec 15

JoyeauxNoel
 
Joyeux Noël ★★★
This movie is based on a well-known story in early WWI, where German soldiers started to sing “Silent Night” (auf Deutsch, naturlich… Stille Nacht), but were soon joined by their English and French enemies in a 24 hour truce and joint friendship. This followed with the soldiers in each camp being shipped off to other fronts, and sternly disciplined by superior officers. Much has been made of this event and it has been used to reflect on the insanity of WWI.  This depiction of the December 24, 1914 event has a very Hollywood flavor, including matters definitely not recorded in the original story, such as the Scots starting the singing (no sane German would ever sing to the bagpipe), the German singing being led by an opera tenor with his accompanying girl friend also with him at the front, etc., etc. Since nobody is alive any more from this event, we will probably not get the actual facts of how things transpired. The film has good flow and good acting, but an inappropriate sex scene that doesn’t fit with the movie, and a story line that is rather contrived and reeks of Hollywood. It’s attempt at an antiwar statement is shadowed by “The King of Hearts”, “All’s Quiet on the Western Front”, and “Slaughterhouse 9”.

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