This is Part 1 of my answers to the Period Drama Week Tag. I'll be posting Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 later this week!
How did you get into period dramas? - You could say my parents introduced me to them. I really can't remember a time when period films were not watched in our home. My dad's grandmother was an English Literature major in college and she passed down her love of literature through my grandmother and father to me. Film adaptations of classic and historical tales have always been watched in our home along with period musicals and classic black & white films. I remember watching my first Jane Austen adaptation at age 9 and my love for anything with the period drama feel had just grown since then.
What is it that you like about period dramas? - They tell tales of days gone by when gentlemen were honorable and ladies were elegant. They are set in times where curtseys and bows were common courtesy and good manners were always the order of the day. These wholesome stories reward characters for adhering to truth and villains face the consequences of their actions.
Do you usually read a book and then watch the adaptation or do you watch the adaptation and then read the book? - There have been a few occasions when I've made myself read the book before watching the various adaptations but in general I get interested in the story by watching the films first. When I was younger it really helped to get the gist of the story and an idea of what the scenes might have looked like before reading the original story.
Which author do you like the adaptations of their works best? - Most of you won't be surprised when I say that Jane Austen adaptations are my favorite. I own all the adaptations that are available in the USA and have watched all of them at least three times (and most of them a lot more!). I also love all of the Elizabeth Gaskell, Louisa May Alcott and most of the Charles Dickens adaptations.
Which period drama has your favorite screenplay/script? Why? (e.g if it is similar to the original text, if there is one, or if it has been improved in some ways) - This is a bit of a difficult question so instead of picking a particular film I've decided to tell you who my three favorite script writers are. These three writers have written screenplays for some of my favorite films:
- Andrew Davies - Although he sometimes likes to add in scenes not in the book he's adapting, the dialog and scenes he creates are very entertaining and frequently close to the spirit of the original author. His period drama screenplays include: Pride & Prejudice 1995, Emma 1997, Wives & Daughters 1999, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, Northanger Abbey 2007, Sense & Sensibility 2008, Daniel Deronda, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right. He's also written screenplays for A Room With A View 2007, Middlemarch, South Riding and even the new The Three Musketeers 2011 (which I really want to see)! He's adapted all but two of Jane Austen major novels, can we persuade him to write miniseries for Persuasion and Mansfield Park? ;)
- Sandy Welch - Although she's not as well known or experienced as Mr. Davies she has written four of my favorite miniseries. Her work is so close to the original while being so beautiful and charming! Her work includes: North & South, Our Mutual Friend, Jane Eyre 2006 and Emma 2009. I would love for her to write screenplays for Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan!
- Heidi Thomas - I love Cranford and Return to Cranford and while I was watching the DVD interview with screenwriter Heidi Thomas I was very impressed by the styles and techniques she used to combine three of Elizabeth Gaskell's lovely tales into one amazing miniseries! This may be one of my all time favorite miniseries because Heidi Thomas has created such a beautiful "tight close weave" with these amazing stories! Ms. Thomas also wrote the screenplays for the lovely Ballet Shoes and Upstairs Downstairs 2010.
Do you like having multiple versions of some period dramas? Do some period dramas need a newer version? Or are the older versions better? - I like having multiple versions because each adaptation brings different points out and usually I like bits and pieces from each film that make up the real story.There are definitely a few period dramas that need a newer version particularly Mansfield Park (definitely needs a long miniseries that stays true to Fanny Price's character), A Tale of Two Cities (I don't really know the story but it hasn't been adapted in a while) maybe Middlemarch (I think the story is probably much more interesting than the 1994 miniseries) and some of Shakespeare's works need new adaptations that are fresh and true to the text.
Well, that's it for this part! There are 20 questions in this tag so be on the lookout for three more parts! And don't forget to check out Miss Elizabeth's Period Drama Week for more fun!
Very Truly Your's,