It's in his kiss: US opts for lingering embrace
Tuesday 15 November 2005
So it is anyone's guess what the 19th-century chronicler of manners would have made of the controversy besetting the new film version of her best-loved novel, Pride and Prejudice.
Not content with the refined kiss between Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew MacFadyen's Mr Darcy, which British audiences waited 127 minutes for during the new Working Title dramatisation, producers have granted US cinema-goers a far longer smooch, with the two canoodling in a moonlit haze as Darcy repeatedly sighs Miss Bennet's name. "You got the more sugary [ending]. The Brits hated it," MacFadyen told US critics after a test screening of the US version, which runs to 135 minutes - eight minutes longer than the more discreet British equivalent.
But both clinches take matters further than Jane Austen, who breaks off from quoted dialogue when relations between Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy threaten to become a little steamy, and continues with the report: "He [Darcy] expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man in violent love can be supposed to."
The film's distributors in the US might think that the American public prefers plenty of sugar but the Jane Austen Society of North America has revealed that it most certainly does not. "It has nothing at all of Jane Austen; it is inconsistent with the first two-thirds of the film, insults the audience with its banality, and ought to be cut before release," fulminated former society president Elsa Solender.
Other members of the 450-strong society are said to have been so taken aback that they broke out laughing during screening of the film, which opened in select US cinemas at the weekend and will be released nationwide on 23 November.
But feelings about the kiss were more mixed among the non-purists in the American audience. "It wouldn't have been a movie without it," Gail Hunt told one newspaper. "I was waiting for it."
"It was such a touching moment," added Francine Zawatsky.
Even the men seemed to like it - among them Willis Ritter, who declared: "This was obviously right after the wedding night."
Evidence has emerged in recent days that some Brits would also like to take a closer look at the smooch. An online campaign has been launched, at www.petitiononline.com, calling for the kiss to be included in all DVD releases.
The petition, addressed to director Joe Wright and Working Title, is described as "a call to arms ... for the British, Irish and European fans who have been denied the 'international' ending scene in the new film version of Pride & Prejudice".
It asks: "What did us poor Austen aficionados (in the country of her birth no less) do to deserve such injustice?"
The petition had attracted around 550 signatures by yesterday evening.
The strictly proper Austen always glided over those moments when her characters were on the brink of making spectacles of themselves in public. Even in her more "romantic" last novel Persuasion, she cut out Wentworth's line, "Anne, my own dear Anne!" from an early draft and replaced it with cooler indirect speech in the final version of the text.
But artistic license has been inevitable amid the television and film adaptations of the novel during the past decade. Comfortably the most memorable scene in Andrew Davies' 1995 TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice - Darcy's wet-shirted emergence from the lake and Elizabeth's alarmed look towards his crotch - was nowhere to be found in the novel.
And then there was that kiss, the promise of which had the nation enraptured for weeks and seemed just reward for those who had ploughed through 359 minutes of viewing.
"It would be such a disappointment if, after six episodes, they didn't even kiss," Davies said. "Everybody wants them to."
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
Madonna might be a stand-up comedy virgin - but she wasn't terrible
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'