Pride and Prejudice; Jane Austen; Literature; Cinema; Joe Wright
A comparative study of the opening scene of Pride and Prejudice; based on the book published in 1873 and the film released in 2005.
A visual presentation of a literary work such as Pride and Prejudice and especially the opening scene may lead the audience to read the novel and introduce the viewer to high culture through its popularization. If it is not the case, the visual presentation of such a
literary work at least displays cultural knowledge [...]. On the opposite, the adaptation also allows people inclined to focus on elitist culture to be introduced to popular culture via a democratized adaptation.
Jane Austen, 1873. (1994)
Joe Wright, 2005
[...] Actually themes and literary devices and techniques take part in the construction of the scene in terms of language. The depiction of the lives of the middle and upper classes and the literary genre of Pride and Prejudice imply realism. Still the depiction appears through the degrees of formality –literary and figuratively- and Austen's depiction is voiced by the characters themselves and revealed by their behaviours. Austen's realism less implies descriptive passages. Jane Austen describes a society of propriety, amiability and civility. [...]
[...] The function of an opening scene is to inform, to interest and to invite to further reading. These three features are intrinsic and mix the content and the form of the text. In fact, the combination of information and interest creates the invitation. The informational part corresponds to the presentation of the plot, of the spatiotemporal context and of the main characters. In Pride and Prejudice, an incipit initiates the opening scene: is truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” l.1. [...]
[...] In this instance, the edition of Pride and Prejudice displays a bourgeois culture. The scene might be chosen as a key moment in terms of its potential visual impact because it is the first scene of the novel; it represents the introduction of the story and is therefore determinative of its continuation. Visually, it has to convey the atmosphere of the whole novel and the necessary intensity to catch the attention of the person who would watch it. Actually the fact that Pride and Prejudice starts in medias res would allow people to witness and imagine case of a still picture- the situation. [...]
[...] This cinematic device allows the viewer to immerse himself into the cornerstone of the film: the life of the Bennets. These scenes represent the visual and aural (the piano theme is played all along the five scenes and it happens that one of the Bennet daughters is playing the theme in the fifth scene) introduction to the beginning of the story marked by the first words: the dialogue between Mr and Mrs Bennet. Though the mise en abyme is visual and aural: the main characters are present physically and nominatively in the case of Mr Bingley, the succession of scenes reflects the narrowing focus to reach the core of the story. [...]
[...] Besides the materiality showed in the film affects the mise en abyme as the depiction of characters is rough and the visual aspect is stronger than the storytelling. But others devices are adaptable: the in media res effect, similarly used in the novel, involves the viewer in the story regardless of his will, and the language used by the characters, which form and content inform the reader as well as the viewer about the continuation of the story in its content and in its form. Like a translation, a successful cinematic adaptation must convey the general idea and be as close to the original as possible. [...]
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