There is a lot of talk these days among Austen fans about an upcoming movie, Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway. It's set to release in the UK in mid-March '07. The US release date hasn't been announced yet.
Most Austen devotees are pretty upset about the movie. Some are saying that Anne (of Princess Diaries and Brokeback Mountain fame) is too pretty to play Jane, who was regarded as pretty but not altogether beautiful. The real problem, to echo Mags at AustenBlog, is that the movie is essentially a Made-Up Story. Only, most moviegoers won't realize that because they don't know much about Austen's life to begin with!
The movie focuses on Jane's "relationship" (which might better be called a flirtation) with Tom Lefroy when she was twenty. It examines how this love and consequent heartbreak influenced her writing. Apparently the filmmakers have taken incredible liberties.
It seems that they've made Cassandra, Jane's sister, into a married woman. (In real life, her fiancee died of yellow fever in the West Indies, and she never seriously considered anyone else.) They've taken out Jane's dear friend Anne Lefroy completely, who is one of the most interesting characters in Jane's life, I think, and who was Tom's aunt and so would have been involved in the goings-on.
I'm an Anne-fan, but all of this makes me sick. The real story of Jane's life is compelling enough as is, without all the Hollywood-style rewriting. As Mags pointed out recently, couldn't they have given it a Shakespeare in Love, wink-wink, this is all a farce quality? At least then people would know they are watching fiction.
Anyway, in honor of Anne, and the "is she too pretty?" debate, I'm offering a little riff on beauty, one of my favorite things from the book. Look for that starting early next week.