I am watching the second last episode of The Bachelor, I love trashy reality tv in a way that my more snobbish teenage self could never have imagined.* Another thing that my teenage self would never have predicted as something that I have come to love, or at least love to explore, is the story transformed and re-imagined.
I think the way that I came to realise this was actually through the story that I was most dedicated to a singular interpretation of. And that story is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Not the text though-I wasn’t that pure a literary snob-no my canon interpretation was the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
It happened to turn up on Australian tv channels just at the moment in my teenage years when I was looking for something to be obsessed with. And we where studying the text at school at the same time as it was showing on free to air^, so there was entire class of 9 Blue whose Monday English class was devoted to dissecting the episode from the night before.#
After I had watched, rewatched and then watched again the mini-series over the next few years-until I could probably recite every scene from every episode- it became my classic of choice (and my period drama of choice). It also became the only version that I liked. In fact a much earlier (and gawkier) version of my blog life has a long blog in which I pull apart some of the newer versions of Pride and Prejudice-the 2005 Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice movie and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, if I remember rightly. There was definitely some passionate defense of the 1995 mini-series as the most historical and textually accurate interpretation that had ever and could ever be made, period.
Agh the absoluteness of the young. For a long time I did manage to stay true to my belief that there can only be one perfect, historically and textually accurate version of anything (and yes I am aware that there is some issues with this in regard to text versus tv adaption). At some point though I had a shift in view which allowed for a spectrum of perfect interpretations.
Though I haven’t revisited either of the previous two iterations, I have come to love a number of other Pride and Prejudice re-imaginations and transformations. Namely Bride and Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennett Diaries both of which I enjoyed watching as their own entities, despite knowing the foregone conclusion of the endings I was completely engaged and emotionally affected by each stage of the story. I also came away with new interpretations and understandings of characters and elements of the original text (by which I am now referring to the actual novel because adult me has evolved a little).
I am so glad that I finally come to realise that there is the potential for than one ‘perfect’ interpretation of a story. It’s given me a lot- Jane Austen’s Emma-a text where I had always struggled to have sympathy with the heroine or crushing sadness for some of the less fortunate characters, has been given a new life with Emma Approved and Emma the reinterpreted novelisation by Alexander McCall Smith. And I was able, without any issues, to enjoy Sherlock, Elementary, Mr Holmes and the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies-as each offering different plays on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
*Though if you’d like me to rank fairytale romance based reality tv I’d actually put Married at First Sight ahead of The Bachelor. Less uncomfortable uneveness in the relationship status quo in the former over the latter.
^The well time nature of this has only just occurred to me as, you know, probably not a coincidence. Well played English teacher, well played.
#I would like to point out that I was definitely not one of the class who wrote her essay based on the tv show, I read the text as well as watched the show.