Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary by Suzanne R. Pucci, James Thompson

By Suzanne R. Pucci, James Thompson

Examines fresh Austen motion pictures in addition to different "post-heritage" movies and tv exhibits to teach how the previous is remade for a latest industry.

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One asks how the expectations of form determine its shape. By analogy, one can see that Emma as a creation displays similar distance from its setting, despite Austen’s being of the class and place whose manners inform her stories. We can use this notion of distance to sharpen our hearing of Austen’s voice, even as we understand how the observation of locale and the specificity of a period both color her novels. In Clueless, social interaction and computer interactivity are contrasted with social activism as a major structuring device.

Eventually they may ask how race might have determined class expectations, or now misogyny might enter into Mildred’s portrayal in this scene, or conversely how this scene might represent a trenchant critique of a way of life rather than merely presenting it. Assumptions that such scenes simply reflect the times limit such investigation. The film noir twists of Mildred Pierce create entirely different problems given the students’ tendency to read films as accurate and direct reflections of historical situations.

McGrath says in a Vogue article (August 1996), “the minute Gwyneth started speaking, I felt like I was looking at the perfect Emma” (214). It is in this context that Paltrow’s election to the “50 Best Dressed People” in People magazine makes sense, her positioning as classic, understated elegance, as sheer class. In the text that accompanies her Vogue fashion layout, we are told, “‘There’s a Grace Kelly–Audrey Hepburn quality about her says Gucci’s Tom Ford’. . ‘She has a slightly removed elegance, a chic quality that we haven’t seen in a long time’” (209).

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