Waxing Fangirlish

“I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow”

So, I saw P&P the other night with the Fox. It was actually very good. It was not the BBC miniseries, and I could go on and on about how Knightly isn’t Ehle, yadda yadda, but anyone who was expecting the miniseries should know that they’re in for a disappointment. That miniseries is hand’s down the best film adaptation of Austen evar.

On its own merits, however, this version of P&P was really very enjoyable. It was much grittier than Jane Austen is usually presented. They did a rather interesting reverse thing with costumes and setting where instead of making the richer gentry look more chic than the well-dressed but understated country folk (as you see in most period flicks, they made the poorer country gentry much more earthy. The local balls had rather the feel of dances in Hobbiton or on Cold Comfort Farm. The acting was very good. There were some pretty hefty sparks between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, especially during the scenes at Rosings. The Mr. Collins and the Mrs. Bennett were played a little more subtly and a little less ridiculous than I’m used to seeing (actually, all the ridiculous characters were a little less out there). In Mr. Collins’ case in particular it made him a much more sympathetic character. He reminded me of a few slightly backward geekboys I’ve known, and I really felt bad for him that the Bennett girls kept laughing at him. This is the first version I’ve seen where the Jane was prettier than the Lizzie (which is how it should be). I had to go to IMDB to place the actress, but when I did I was very happy to see that it was Miranda Frost from “Die Another Day” (one of the few reasons to see that film was her presence in it). I really would like to see more from that actress.

The music was rather over-the-top in some places, and although the camerawork was amazing, in some places it diminished the impact of the action that I knew was supposed to be taking place (in particular, the Ball at Netherfields, where the entire Bennett Family is making themselves ridiculous, was done in an extremely well-choreographed single shot that had the fox gasping in amazement, and me rather disappointed that it diminished the painfully comedic impact that this scene is supposed to have). They did do a very good job of catching the quick back and forths between Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, so I suppose it evens out.

My greatest disappointment would be that they cut what I feel to be one of the most important lines in the story, where Mr. Darcy is first realizing that he doesn’t actually despise Miss Elizabeth Bennett, and puts down Miss Bingly’s presumptuous comment by remarking on Lizzie’s “fine eyes”. It is such a major line, such a pivotal moment in the story, so revealing on Mr. Darcy’s character, and really such a fan favorite that I think cutting this line was a very big mistake, almost as big as never mentioning the opening line (the “It is a truth universally acknowleged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” one).

Watching this film made me recognize something that drakerocket has been saying for some time, which is that one of the difficulties in playing a noble in this game is how much people don’t understand how to play commoners. The pain that Mr. Darcy and the Bingleys undergo on being exposed to a country gathering where the common people are jockeying for their recognition is really very delicious, all the more so because the bumpkins don’t realize how bumpkinny they really are, how presumptuous they are being, but Darcy and Miss Bingley do, and we the audience does, and that awareness that Austen draws from us about class difference is what makes the story so good. It saddens me that this is not a story we are able to tell in the Changeling game.

Be that as it may, I’m thinking about organizing a film day where we watch the BBC P&P. I will keep peoples posted.

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29 thoughts on “Waxing Fangirlish

  1. one of the difficulties in playing a noble in this game is how much people don’t understand how to play commoners

    And the other difficulty is how much people don’t understand how to play nobles.

    I had wondered if you were going to see that movie. I’m sorry to say I am just not a Jane Austen type. She has her moments, but I just never really got into her stuff. Of course, I’ve been known to watch Austen movies just for the costumes. 😉

    • And I’ll offer a third perspective: how much we, as Americans, generally lack the perspective and experience that would help us play either side of a hereditary-nobility divide. I’ve seen very few players, in this game or others, do a good job of either a commoner’s subservience to/desire to please a noble, or a noble’s assumption (not demand — that difference is crucial) that those beneath her will bend to her will. Malloy once did a very good job of the former, in response to a high-ranking Silver Fang I NPC’d in the Bloomington Garou game — but that probably surprises no one. <g>

      The stubborn, uppity-commoner atmosphere is appropriate to a city in Concordia; it’s what made the Accordance War so bloody.

      • I never said we didn’t. I also think we have some amazing commonness (is that a word?). I guess I think that the nobles are no better at being nobles than the commoners are at being commoners–which is to say, sometimes brilliant and sometimes terrible, and every shade of gray in between.

        I think that bneuensc has hit the nail on the head as far as the problems with us Americans portraying either side of that divide. I also think that the two are very interdependant–it’s hard to play a good noble when the commoners aren’t behaving the way a commoner should and equally hard to play a good commoner when the nobles aren’t living up to *their* end of the bargain. It’s a tough bind.

      • I am curious as to what you think the noble’s end of the bargain is, given that historicaly that end was to protect and militarily dictate the common-folk. This is something that is impossible by the very nature of having numerous martialy powerful commoners who rarely, if ever, need protection by the nobility (particularly given that the nobility has been, and remains to some degree, much less powerful than the common folk).

        Although it did work beautifuly when Apples threatened to take over Muses…then the common folk ran right back to the nobility.

      • Have you ever had a friend whose schedule meant they rarely if ever had time for you — but you wanted to hang out with them badly enough that, if they proposed going to a movie you weren’t that keen on, or going out for dinner when money was tight for you, or having a party on a night when you kind of had other plans in mind, you would watch the movie or spend the money or cancel your other plans?

        The sidhe can defend — but other fae can be warriors, too. They can back up their orders with force, be it physical or magical — but “might makes right” could as easily be a commoner philosophy, especially with (say) redcaps. They can rule on the basis of tradition, but as Siobhan points out, tradition has been weakened in this context. Honestly, while I can imagine specific sidhe dreams that are the tyrant or the military leader or the traditional lord or whatever, if you ask me what the core of the kith is in my own personal interpretation — what distinguishes sidhe as leaders from a troll acting as a general or a boggan maintaining peace and stability or a redcap dominating others through violence or any of the other ways someone can govern a group of people — the sidhe are those people whose sheer force of charisma makes you want to do what they say.

        Given that, it’s not surprising that I’d probably rank sidhe up there with pooka as one of the hardest kiths to play really well.

        How do you make that work in a game, where you can’t actually create that supernatural force of personality? It’s a balancing game between the player of the sidhe choosing courses of action and ways of presenting those courses that make people actually want to go along with them, and the player of the commoner having the flexibility to go along. But given both the histories of America, Concordia, and Muses, I’m not remotely surprised that the commoner-noble interactions of this city don’t flow that smoothly.

      • Your statement of sidhe does not make them difficult to play; it makes them impossible to play.

        You can’t mimic that force of charisma on your own anymore than you could mimic the beauty of the sidhe on your own. If that is all the sidhe have to go on then other players have to play with the illusion that it exists; just like they play with the illusion that Laughing Tom has a big axe when Mike Williams has a shower pole.

        But you have included in your assessment a rationale for almost everyone to not go along with the nature of sidhe charisma.

        In your statement, sidhe lose.

        Further, even when sidhe employ *supernatural powers* that have *book-written mechanics* to force others to go along with thier charisma, people ignore it. This is no less wrong than someone ignoring a lightning bolt that dealt them three agg. The argument that grandeur is over-used doesn’t hold water. I have been in this game long enough to see how often grandeur is used and who reacts to it and who doesn’t. Maybe Kaye has been in one too many grandeurs for Heather to want to bow? Alright…that doesn’t make it right by the rules that she doesn’t, but it’s a rationale. But no one does what the book prescribes for grandeur, not even new or relatively new players who could not have possibly developed a thick callous to every sidhe player throwing around grandeurs and protocols like they were candy. For that matter, I would wager that most players haven’t even submitted to the effects of that cantrip a few times before they decided it didn’t matter: how many times have you actually seen someone who looked upon sidhe PCs as though they had “Unearthly grace and radiance” (and I say PCs, because NPCs get a lot more narration and enforcement of their grandeurs)…or done it yourself for that matter?

      • In defense of the commoner players: from what I know of the Changeling political situation (admittedly still something I’m a bit sketchy on), the commoner/noble interaction in game is further complicated by the fact the commoners got by without the sidhe for a period. Unlike the world of P&P, where everyone knows there place (and has for generations), many of the commoner characters w/ remembrance are still dealing with their loss of independence, while those who’ve chrysalize without it are introduced to a system that isn’t shored up by tradition in the way it once was. In other words, I think the occasional “bad” commoner/noble behavior has an in-game explanation. (Whether or not that’s what other players are thinking of, I don’t know.)

      • This links into what I said above. Kithain the world over have gotten along for centuries without nobles, and American mortals have done the same. This is why I figure Britain would have a different dynamic — at least there, the mortals still had hereditary nobility even when the sidhe weren’t around. Ergo Concordia gets the very bloody Accordance War and independently-minded commoners, while Albion gets the much less bloody War of Ivy and commoners who are more willing to go back to the old status quo.

      • If Kitsune_Den is indeed following my line of argument (given that I was referenced, I shall presume she is), not a lick of politics or reason matters. It has nothing to do with why the commoners play like they do or what their history has been. This is a situation that noble players feel makes the game experience harder/less fun/more frustrating for us. It may well indeed be perfectly in genre; hell the basis of the game vilified nobles from the start (not only did we have to face a genre that meant many hated us, but a tyrant ruled the city as well, making the situation worse…oh and the current nobles came in to the city with a threat of tyranny). This isn’t meant to say that commoner players suck, it’s meant to say that it’s really hard to play a noble because of the way commoners play. You spend your time mending fences you never broke rather than playing the stories you want to play.
        When it comes down to it, as I have also discussed with Kitsune, the real hard part is not having a place to retreat to. One can spend their time politicking or putting up masks of tolerance or genuinely trying to make things right with the commoners all day long. That’s work. But we don’t have a time for play. The nobles in this game are fragmented into what I see as three categories:

        Knights: Knight is almost a genre into itself. They are separate from other nobles because they are soldiers, not rulers. Courtly matters are not nearly so much thier thing and they must concern themselves with martial prowess over noble banter. Further, they are almost universally sworn to the courtly nobles and it is very hard to be real friends with those who you have fealty to/those who have fealty to you.(ex: Azraphael, Drevni)

        Commoner Nobles / Noble Commoners: These are either commoners with noble title who carry some of the weight of nobility (but almost never follow the sort of courtly notions of nobility) or they are nobles who shun/avoid other nobles and spend most of their time around commoners. Either way, they rarely suffer the disdain of the commoners. (Ex: Kaye, Liza)

        Courtly Nobles: These are the ones who fundamentally stand away from commoners on some level. They might have fun with commoners, but they don’t engage in orgies, food fights, common brawls or the like. They care a great about appearances and courtly matters. They *enjoy* fancy dinners where you have to keep your back straight and your forks placed just right. They don’t think of commoners as being their equals, even if they care a great deal for them. (Ex: LeBois, Leander, even Orion to some degree)

        It is largely the third category that is very hard to play, because it can really only be done around people who really buy into the system, who think on a base level that noble rule is right and just. Hell a small part of it is the very act of enduring the ire and mistrust of the commoners. From my perspective I don’t expect the entire game to conform to the “pure” courtly idea of sidhe…but it would be nice if there were a few more who did….so that stories like those told at the kingdom game would not wither and die under a constant barrage of demands for equality and liberty without even a shelter of like-minded dreams to retreat to.

      • “You spend your time mending fences you never broke rather than playing the stories you want to play.”

        Now that is the essence of what it means to be a noble to me! You don’t get to do what you want, you don’t get to love who you want, what you want simply doesn’t matter! And to top it all off, almost nobody loves the boss. In fact, people usually hate the boss because of what he can do, even more than what he actually does. That’s going to manifest in a lot of ways, and most of them are going to be annoying, ’cause either you fire people, which increases the hatred, or you don’t, which increases the contempt.

      • That’s a bit easier if you don’t care about people’s good times ooc. You know what would make this game fantastic for the nobles? If the Varich quit being pansies and crushed the commoners with their armies, city-wide geases and brutal oppression. Ignoring for the moment the issue that because of the busted nature of the system, Kaye could turn all of the draconians, wyverns, knights and ragnar into cupcakes en mass, we would never do that because it would ruin the game for all of the other players. It would selfish to enforce our enjoyment at the cost of everyone else’s. David and Alyc are well aware of how much the nobility doesn’t do because it would ruin the goods times of everyone else. I talk to the STs before Vlad makes major decisions to make certain they think it will be okay by their game.

        I don’t feel that most people pay the nobility the same curtsey. It is not an easy thing to think about the boss’s good time, but it is important none the less. I don’t think many people go into this game thinking about how their actions or responses will affect those around them, but I think about this more than I think about my own character most of the time. This game is supposed to be for the mutual enjoyment of all, not just the majority. I don’t say that all of my PC’s actions are selfless acts of good nature mind you, but I do very seriously take into account the ripples they can cause.

        It’s very hard to play Vlad in this game, and I wish it wasn’t…I wish circumstances allowed me to have more enjoyment out of my character in a way that is appealing to me…I suppose that is what all of my posts on this have been about really.

      • It should be noted that what I’m really mourning isn’t so much on the lines of individual performances of people as either nobles or commoners, but rather that the one of the stories we’re telling (about the conflict between the dreams of a traditionalist monarchy and a revolutionary democracy) doesn’t really lend itself to being able to tell the kinds of stories or roleplay the kinds of situations for which I love Jane Austen so well.

  2. The Mr. Collins and the Mrs. Bennett were played a little more subtly and a little less ridiculous than I’m used to seeing (actually, all the ridiculous characters were a little less out there).

    I have to say I also thought this was a nice improvement from the BBC version. Mr. Collins is less Mr. Bean-esque and Mrs. Bennett less shrill and screeching. 🙂 I am not sure what it is about him, but I love Donald Sutherland in practically everything he’s been in the last 10 years… 🙂

  3. I have the barest knowledge of Changeling history but I always think of the oddness to the commoner/nobility dynamic to be a function of the Accordance War and the fact that the commoners got along without the sidhe after being left behind. Or however you want to characterize it. But basically that they never really could go back to the courtly ways after having been out from them for a while. Maybe if we added pre-sundering special event game #242 we could see how it’s really done.

    Another problem is that it’s tough to react to more than a person’s roleplay. Similar situation, when I’m playing Cihuacoatl it sometimes drives me nuts trying to find reasons why she wouldn’t just squeezie-make-dead some various impudent people. But the more I feel like I’m giving off a goddess vibe, the fewer problems I have. And it’s not a function of whether I’m doing or saying the right things as much as whether I’m in the right place for it. Which is to say that I’m not trying to say anyone is doing a bad job roleplaying (I’m not sure what that would mean to me anyway), but it’s tough, right? On both sides.

    The optimist in me wonders if we could help the IC problem by trying to address the OOC problem of resentment that has built up between the two groups of players, which I think has been pretty hurtful. I can’t put my finger on the idea that’s trying to form… Some way of creating a group intention to let a four year build up of yuck go in order to have an amazing final season…

    And did you say something about a movie? I almost missed it in all that changeling talk you were doing.

  4. Regarding the costuming for this movie…

    The costume desinger and director chose to set the period of costumes during the time when Austen started writing the book, a good ten years before it was actually published. The costume change reflects this period change. The BBC version uses the costuming that the characters would have worn at the time of the books publication, which is what most of the period dramas based on Austen’s work do.

    While the BBC version of Mrs. Bennet is a bit screechy, I think she helps bring out the fact that she is even more common than her husbnand or her daughters, and throws her poor, untutored manners into stark relief of those of Jane and Lizzy. Her younger daughters obviously take after her, while the elder take after their father, thus showing the noble vs. commoner inside the family dynamic. (for those not in the know Mrs. Bennet is from a middle class family; Mr. Bennet is landed gentry who marries beneath him).

    I agree that it must be nice to finally have a Jane that is, in fact, prettier than Lizzy, but I find that the sweetness of the BBC Jane grows on you the more you watch it and she becomes prettier as the story progresses. And while Lizzy (Ehle) does not quite diminsih in appearance her pride and prejudices make her seem more human and less “beautiful” more “pretty”, while for Jane the opposite is true, she is so good she goes from “pretty” to “beautiful” because of her actions and kindness.

    On a totally different note. If you want a copy just say the word. And if you give me a mailing addy they could be there by Tuesday, Wednesday by the latest. 😉

    Ta.

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