Much of my contact with romantic classics was in high school. It seems odd as a lover of romance novels to prefer most of them in film over the book. In part, I blame forced reading in classes. As Orson Scott Card says, “No book, however good, can survive a hostile reading.”
To date I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights once each. I don’t know if I’ll ever pick them up again. My most recent of them was Pride & Prejudice and I know quite clearly why I disliked it.
Even after seeing it in films, falling in love with Colin Firth and Matthew MacFayden as Mr. Darcy, it’s hard to read. I found myself lost in dialogue and having to reread passages. You would think having heard the dialogue acted out I would know easily who said what, but Jane Austen was not a fan of dialogue attribution and tags. Very little he/she/person’s name said such and such. Frankly, I’m surprised anyone could tell enough of what was going on to write scripts for actors based on it.
Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were hostile reads. I read them after being forced to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and I was not a happy camper with my English teacher. I thought he was deliberately trying to waste my time with terrible reads. I think I skimmed them as I learned to skim Tess of D’Ubervilles. Even now, I’m not so sure of Wuthering Heights (I think it was that one) in film. I do like Jane Eyre as a film though.
As I was telling Katiebabs on Twitter I like the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre version with Toby Stephens as Rochester over the 1997 A&E version with Ciarán Hinds simply because they made Hinds look way old and gave him very bad side burns. I’m shallow like that. I think I need to see the Timothy Dalton version. Katiebabs mentioned that one.
To sum up real briefly, I prefer romance classics in film over text because:
- The language is easier to understand in film.
- The films were not forced on me like the books were.
- Film adaptations are fairly modern and don’t put me to sleep.
- The actors are hot and give me a new appreciation to their heroic personas… plus the wet white shirt phenomena in the Austen films… yum.
- Films are 100% visual and audible. I can see and hear it with much more understanding on the screen.
So now that I’ve admitted my deepest, darkest, most terrible sin. Will you forgive me?
PS – For all those who vote 1 or 3:
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