Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Video Versions and Updated Tellings of Classic Favorites

The wonderful people who brought us The Lizzie Bennet Diaries  and their retelling of Sanditon have just begun their version of Emma.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD) deservedly won an Emmy award. I participated in their kickstarter campaign and am waiting for the release of the entire series (in order, with all of the series adjacent videos) on DVD.   I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed that series.  

I've read a lot of theories on how the updating of many classic books is difficult.  In the case of Pride and Prejudice, you have the issue of the family being ruined by Lydia's escapade and elopement with George Wickham.  Today, there are very few people who could possibly care about that.  It certainly wouldn't bring shame to an entire family, destroying the prospects of Lydia's sisters. Not to mention the entailment on the property and Mr. Collins wanting to marry one of the daughters so they wouldn't totally lose the family home. So, how do you retell this story, keeping true to the original, but updating it so that it still makes sense?  The LBD found a perfect way to do it which felt organic and right.  

If you haven't seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you should. You can find them on their You Tube Channel, all of the characters and actors are/were active on Twitter, Tumblr and their own website.  If you want to check out the videos, you can start here:

Hank Green, Bernie Su and company did an amazing job with this series.  The way they brought in Mr. Collins and Catherine DeBourgh was to have them in business together.  Ricky Collins was a classmate of Lizzie and Charlotte's and now he works for a communications company, just the business the two young ladies are hoping to break into.  In fact, Pemberley Digital became its own video entity.  

Gigi Darcy, working for her brother William at Pemberley Digital helps with the beta testing of their video/communication system, Domino.  There are a handful of set up videos, before Gigi goes to the beach town of Sanditon to do a beta test of the system as the town decides to rebrand itself to increase tourism.  

If you didn't already know, Sanditon is another Jane Austen story, although never finished, it was published along with a couple other short/unfinished works.  I wasn't as crazy about Sanditon as the LBD, mostly because of the fan videos, which I found wholly unnecessary.  While it's true that the series earned and amassed a rabid fan base, I don't know that they needed to be included so senselessly here.  It's nice to recognize them, but I wasn't alone (just read the comments below the videos) in feeling it detracted from the story.  

You can start watching the Pemberley videos, including all of Sanditon here:
Toward the end of LBD I started to run across some people doing like projects.  I was very excited about The Autobiography of Jane Eyre.  If you've been reading any of my posts, you surely know that I am a huge fan of Charlotte Bronte's most famous work.  The folks over at the LBD did such an amazing job and made it seem so effortless, I got over-confident about how these stories could be retold.  I never made it past the first 10 or 12 episodes, and I even had to force myself to go on that long.  I don't really like the Jane character. Here, she's a young to mid-20s nursing student who has lost her way academically and is taking on a new educational plan.  She takes a job for a rich family as tutor and is documenting her life as a vlog.  I'm not sure why she's got a hidden camera and is surreptitiously recording meals in the home of her employer, though. That is just creepy. I don't know if it's just not good, or if the combination of the success and enjoyability of the LBD, with the fact that Jane Eyre is one of my favorite stories and characters of all time had my hopes up too high.  Whichever the reason, this series just doesn't work for me.

You don't have to take my word for it.  Maybe now that I've reduced your expectations, you may think it's just fine and enjoy it immensely.  Your welcome.  Or, it could be that it's just not very good, but you'll know for yourself.  Here's the first video.  You can decide what to do from there.
The LBD folks have started their next project, a retelling of Jane Austen's Emma.  Emma is my least favorite Austen book. I'm not a fan of the character.  The only version of Emma that I like is the movie, Clueless.  Cher Horowitz as Emma, I adore.  I'm hoping that this version will improve my feelings about this book and character.  

I've watched the first episode and, already, I feel the same way about the characters that I always do. Emma is an annoying egocentric busybody and Mr. Knightley is patient perfection.  We'll see how it works as we go on.  You can check out the first episode here:

Enjoy the videos, please feel free to leave comments about any I've missed. Whether it be more video/vlog style retellings, movie, tv shows or books, please share.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

These look really good. I love retelling of the classics when they are done right and follow the original story line but with an updated twist. Thanks for sharing these.