I stumbled on something this weekend. A mini-series called Lost in Jane Austen . Four one hour episodes were played over Sunday and Monday night on the Ovation Network.
Ovation isn't a network that I have watched a lot. In fact, I didn't even notice it until this weekend when I stumbled across and three part documentary recounting Andy Warhol's factory days. This played to my adolescent fascination with the avaunt guard of the 60s and 70s. I didn't learn anything new, but it was interesting to see some of the people I had previously only read about. Interesting because it is always fun to put a face to a name. Also, it was striking how there were two distinct types of people. Those who loved their days spent at the factory and looked back at it with a sense of nostalgia and the perspective time. Then those who who were clearly enthralled with the whole idea of the factory lifestyle and who still, even with the passage of time had not quite moved on. Like the cheerleaders and jocks who show up at the 20th high school reunion trying to re-live their glory days.
Anyway. Lost in Jane Austen. A whole new take on Austen's most famous novel Pride and Prejudice. I have to admit, when I saw the advertisements for this I rolled my eyes. So much has been produced in recent years to capitalize on Austen's stories. Everything from books about people who love Austen to books that imagine the next chapter in the lives of many of the characters. People wonder if Elizabeth and Darcy really did live happily ever after. Did Lydia ever woke up and realize what a twit she had been? There is even a series of mystery novels that cast Elizabeth and Darcy as detectives. Gross.
Still, my natural curiosity forced me to sit in on this train wreck. But it wasn't a train wreck. It was actually wonderful! I think its success as a story comes from the fact that it isn't trying to pretend to be Austen. In fact, the whole point is that its messing it all up.
The adventure starts when Amanda (what a horribly un-Austen name) who has read Pride and Prejudice so many times she has memorized its pages, walks into her bathroom only to find Elizabeth Bennet staring at her. There is portal you see, that connects her shower to Longbourn (the Bennet's home) and Elizabeth has walked through it. Amanda is not quite sure of the whole thing, but takes the chance to see what it is like to be a part of the book. And who among us wouldn't? Who hasn't day dreamed of being a part of their favorite book? Who wouldn't want to meet Mr. Darcy and walk the grounds of Pemberley?
The problem of course, if you haven't caught it already, is that Elizabeth is no longer in the story. She has gone to be a part of the 21st century and left Amanda shivering in her place. Without Elizabeth, how can the story possible turn out as it should? Well, of course it doesn't. All sorts of horrible twists and turns occur that would seem imposable to imagine in the original, but given the events of this story seem all too natural. What makes all of this calamity acceptable? The thing that drags us along with it, not kicking and screaming but dying to see the next turn, is Amanda. She is just as upset as we are. The story is all messed up and she knows it. Hates it. Wants to set it all right somehow. Amazingly I found that I was with her every step of the way. When it was over I was dying for more.
Given how great of a story this whole thing was I went to Amazon, because I new that something this wonderful must of have come from a book. But no, it is straight from scriptwriter, Guy Andrews' head. From google I also learned that they are trying to turn it into a motion picture. I wish Andrews would turn it into a novel and really explore some of the new and bizarre plot twists.
Either way I know I will be enjoying it soon. It comes out in American DVD format on April 13 and I have already pre-ordered my copy. Now.. . popcorn anyone?