Yesterday I wrote about the trials I have personally encountered in reading through many classic literary works. I am pleased to report that I have in fact completed reading Pride and Prejudice, and am still sufficiently shocked at my sustained interest in the work. As usual, the conclusion to the novel was not nearly as satisfactory to my sensibilities as the conclusion in the inspired film. I like closure, a facet that many classic writers fail to impart in their works.
Anyway, today I want to try to reconcile myself with classic literature enthusiasts, by stating that, while the original sources of these stories often fails to stir a sense of felicity in me, the films inspired by them often completely captivate me. This, I suppose, is a fact much indebted to my predisposition as a photographer to be drawn to all things visibly pleasing, and also hails to my background as an actress. I would be lying if I did not admit to my desire of one day portraying a heroine in some classic or another. Which, if I am to continue to be ironic in my writing of this post, I would have to mark down to my pride.
See? I totally get the humor and terminology of classic literature. It's just not always my taste.
Anyway, I wanted to enumerate some of my favorite films inspired by classic literature. Even if you are not an avid classics reader (which I have to say I may be becoming one myself, as my current read is Bram Stoker's Dracula), the wonderful stories and characters may not be lost on you. I particularly curated this collection based on cinematographic qualities almost entirely surrounding a few key points: direction of photography, faithfulness to the period in set and costuming, and superb acting ability of the cast. A film is not one worth watching, in my opinion, unless it has the full ability to immerse you in the circumstances and emotional implications of the plot.
Here is my list of must-see classic literature inspired films:
1. Pride and Prejudice, of course! I love everyone's performance in this work, and the cinematography is brilliant. Kiera Knightley is brilliant, as, of course, are Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn. Even if Matthew McFaddyen blinks a lot, which he does, he plays a wonderfully insensitive and later emotional Darcy. The score enhances the action and there is so much subtext in the camera's view of people in conversations that implies rank as well as emotional connections to the current topic. Definitely a great romance film.
2. Bram Stoker's Dracula. I am in love with this film as well! If only Keanu Reeves were not intent on ruining the film with his pitiful acting chops... but it is made up for in the brilliant performance of Gary Oldman. Winona Ryder is pretty well suited for the part, even though she is often similar in any character and has a certain manner of speech that sometimes pulls me from the story. The ingenuity of the cinematography is something I cannot overlook... the shadows that seem to have a mind of their own, the carriage ride with Dracula's eyes appearing over the landscape... all these things were done in camera using old school methods, and that is enough for me to put it towards the top of the list!
3. Sense and Sensibility. I am particularly partial to Kate Winslet as an actress, and equally so with Alan Rickman. I am usually not drawn to Hugh Grant as an actor, but I think he does his role justice, especially since he plays opposite Emma Thompson. The cast is a pretty terrific group of people, and the sets and costumes attentive to the era. While I am not as crazy about this film as the aforementioned, I think it was done credibly to the text of the original novel, with a lightness that allows a modern viewer to more willingly accept the story.
4. Little Women. Again, I have issues with Ryder's speech and believing her to be sincere, but I do love this film! Of course, Susan Sarandon is wonderful! The detail is amazing, the story is heartwarming. Not much more left to desire, when you consider the interesting choice of angles and smooth camera operation... it's another winner.
5. Jane Eyre. Okay, so this one I haven't seen all the way through yet, but I quite like Mia Wasikowska and from the bit that I've managed to download from iTunes so far I find very intriguing. The cinematography is, again, full of promise of innuendo. I love the lighting, the costumes and sets are very true to date. I am excited for it to finish downloading so I can watch it all!
Do you have any other favorite classic lit based films? I just picked five that I like, although I am sure there are more!