Friday, November 18, 2011

Unwrapping: Life in Regency England - All Elegance or Perhaps Not?

Happy Friday!

My Thursday was a very long day and I was very late getting to work on this post.  Even as I am writing this, I'm tempted to just go to bed but since I guess I'm just a glutten for punishment, I'm going to stay awake long enough to do this - for you - my readers.  : )
Please forgive if some things sound strange, you'd be surprised what you write when you nod off and continue typing.  ; )

The other day, I was watching the movie PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the rather less than elegant, Keira Knightley verson not the lovely bright and more elegant, Colin Firth- BBC version.

It's a toss up as to which version I like better but I actually lean toward the Keira Knightley version because it just seems more realistic - imagine if it had been made when Colin was Darcy.  [sigh]

I thought about Keira Knightley's Lizzie with her less than perfect coif, her mutely colored dresses and the mud she seemed to have to muck through on a daily basis. I mentally compared her Lizzie to the BBC Lizzie whose hair was always perfectly coiffed and her light colored, usually brilliant white, dresses and began to wonder which was more closely accurate to the truth of life in Regency England.

There was Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy with his fine dress and slightly tossled wavy hair but always looking grand and proper - that seemed natural, too. After all, he dove into a pond in his fine clothes and still managed to look like a proper gentleman soaking wet.

Of course, as a man, he was allowed to take off his outer clothing so that he only got his breeches and blouse wet. Whereas, poor Lizzie ended up soaked to the skin wearing layers of clothing and mud caked to the bottom of her dress. As Caroline Bingley sniped upon seeing Lizzie's dress, "positively medieval."

One of the things I noticed most when comparing the two productions was the surroundings. Oh, the Pemberley of Keira Knightley's P & P was the grandest Pemberley of any of the P & P productions but the poor Bennetts lived in a comparative shack in comparison to the much grander setting in the BBC production.

The Keira Knightley production had dull, paint-washed walls, the outside of the house was in desperate need of paint or plaster, the windows paint was cracking and peeling. Inside the house, the hallways were dark and gloomy. Even in the drawing room which appeared a little brighter with its tall windows, there appeared to be sheets or something akin to them thrown over the settees. Whereas the BBC production was much lighter, brighter, neater, better kept and far more elegant. Both the ladies and their house were obviously cut from a better piece of society. 

The BBC production Bennett house was much more elegant and sedate with manicured lawns and painted trim on the house. Their clothing was more elegant almost to the point of be extravagant for a large family of their meager means.

The ladies always appeared to be ready to head off to a ball or some other social gathering with only a moment's notice.

BBC Bennett Drawing Room

Whereas, in Keira Knightley's, their clothing seemed simpler, plainer and in comparison dowdy but these may well some of the reasons I prefer this one to the other. Although, the BBC production does have Colin Firth.  ; )

When I think of the hygiene of the era, it wouldn't matter which style of living was had by the Bennetts or Mr. Darcy because ... well, think about it ... no toothpaste, no mouthwash, no real shampoo and heaven forbid you take a bath more than say, once a month. Water had to be heated over a fire to a temperture sufficient for a bath and with knowing that, you have to wonder how often a young lady washed her hair. I suppose the old "I'm washing my hair tonight" wasn't used much to get out of accepting a date from say, Mr. Collins.

I suppose that if everyone had that 'worn these clothes for more than once dance' smell about them then most gals wouldn't be offended by bad breath, dirty teeth and unwashed hair.  Ewwwwww!
Then again, being able to sit under a spectacularly gorgeous ancient tree near the most beautiful estate on the planet might not be so horrible afterall if you can ignore the other things.

I'd like to pose a question to you:

If you could travel back in time to Regency England and become a member of the Bennett household, would you prefer to visit in the darker, plainer Keira Knightley production of Pride and Prejudice?  OR would you prefer to visit in the somewhat brighter, more elegant setting as perceived by our friends from 'across the pond' at BBC??

Also, all things considered - if you were allowed to bring only three (3) items from the future into the past, what would they be?  Please don't say,  toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash, that's too obvious.

I'm thinking that I would bring a nice delicious smelling soap, definitely my favorite shampoo and since I still won't be able to take a bath or shower when I want - definitely deodorant. How about you?

By the way, which production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE do you prefer?

Have a great weekend and Happy Reading Everyone!



Beebs said...

Hi Amy

I liked both productions (the end of the movie when Knightley and MacFadyen meet in the garden, *sigh*),but I do think the BBC was truer to the story but of course they had six hours in which to tell it.

If I was going back in time, it would have to be the BBC P&P, it's so much prettier and more genteel looking. My 3 items to bring deodorant (I'm such a copycat), books and chocolate (cos I prefer eating it to drinking it).

Amy Valentini said...

LOL!! Beebs, I agree with you about the chocolate! I love both of the versions but do have to agree that the BBC one was much more true to the book but I suspect the surroundings of the Knightley one was probably more true to life then. Life wasn't as easy as we'd like to 'romanticize' it was. Not as clean, pretty or genteel as portrayed by BBC.
I'm glad this post made sense - I was up until nearly 4 AM and nodded off several times. I should've saved the weird stuff that I typed then for a separate post, it might have given some insight into my sub-conscious. : )
Thanks for visiting and congrats on winning a book in the Ballroom. I love that blog.

Beebs said...

I love the ballroom too, just finished Winter's Eve, OMG loved it!

I'm enjoying this blog too, your posts are really interesting. I meant to comment on your Veteran's Day blog, have you read Miranda Jarrett (AKA Susan Holloway Scott), her Sparhawk series is about an American family, I've only read one of the books in this series but it was good and I think one of the books is set in Maine, the one I read went from England to the Middle East. I think one of the other blurbs had a sister marrying an English lord. Might be worth a look if you haven't read them.

Amy Valentini said...

I haven't read UPON A WINTER'S EVE yet, although I have it. It's next on my list. I'm glad you enjoyed it, it gives me something wonderful to look forward to. I haven't read any of the Sparhawk series but will check them out now that you have told me about them. Reading is my true vice - I give up sleep to read a good book. : )
In case you're wondering, I usually post M-W-F except once a month when I do a Release Tuesday so I'll be glad to see you those days and I really appreciate the feedback. Thanks Sweetie, have a good weekend.

Beebs said...

I have to say, for a novella which can sometimes seem incomplete, Upon a Winter's Eve is great, didn't feel I was missing any of the story.

BTW, I suspect you're right about the regency era being more like the Knightley movie but if I'm gonna make believe, I'm having it pretty and clean. And I've lost count of the days I've spent in a daze because I had to finish a book.

Have a good weekend, 'see' ya soon.