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Yesterday I was ferreting about on the interweb and came across fialka's Great Lost Story. By this I do not mean one she wrote herself, but rather the story/piece of music/TV show that we all have -- the one we read eight months ago that was fabulous and now we can't remember where we read it, only that it was *fantastic* and we wish to read it again. We once had this whole long conversation about fialka's Great Lost Story, which is how I recognised it, though I'd never read it before.

The trouble with the Great Lost Story is that it is almost never as good as the version in our heads. My Great Lost Story was Robin of Sherwood, which was never repeated on UK terrestrial television because the writers were in dispute over royalties. For the same reason, it only came out on video and DVD comparatively recently and it is now, at last, being repeated on ITV3 on Saturdays.

The virtues of Robin of Sherwood are many (Ray Winstone as a damaged Will Scarlet, mucky looking mediaeval folks with random regional accents, magic, the music of Clannad, the fact that its blatant paganism pissed off the National Viewers And Listeners Association...) but its faults are many too. The pacing is glacial, there's scenery-chewing and it can get very silly in places where I remember it being scary. The main reason it is no longer scary is that I am no longer 11.

The past is another country and it's near-impossible to get a visa. I almost think that our Great Lost Stories, Great Lost Songs, Great Lost TV shows, should remain exactly that -- lost. Lost and untarnished by actual dull reality.

* * *
I went to see the new movie of Pride and Prejudice at the weekend. It was a win-win situation really, because even if I hated it, I knew I could enjoy ripping it to bits.

As it happens, it's a rather lovely version, if flawed in places, but Keira Knightley proves she can act, and is a lovely Elizabeth.

For me, the benchmark is the excellent 1995 BBC adaptation (and how terrifying is it that the Ehle/Firth P&P is 10 years old?) It's almost unfair to compare a series that had almost six hours to tell its story to a film that had only two, but I am going to do it anyway -- the filmmakers brought in on themselves by using the same music for the dances as the 1995 version *g*.

The easiest way to compare the two adaptations is to say that the 1995 version is probably the one that Jane Austen would have liked: it's almost cruel in the way it has a steady eye on and secret delight in the flaws of the characters that Austen disliked.

By contrast, the 2005 version is altogether kinder and warmer, finding sympathy even for Mrs Bennet. Played by Brenda Blethyn as a real, if very silly woman with a mission to marry off her daughters, she's far more likeable than Alison Steadman's screeching caricature. They even find time to suggest that she and Mr Bennet have a functioning marriage, whereas in the 1995 P&P (and the book), it is suggested that the two parents can barely stand to be in the same room.

If the Mrs Bennet in the 2005 version is rather more successful than the BBC version, Lady Catherine De Bourgh is a more notable failure. As talented an actor as Judi Dench is, I did not buy for a second that she was a cold, idiotic snob, I kept expecting some drop of twinkly goodness to emerge from the stern facade, as in the 1940 Greer Garson/Lawrence Olivier P&P, where Hollywood rescripted the confrontation at Longbourne so that Lady Catherine was merely testing Elizabeth to see if she was worthy of her nephew.

ajhall pointed out something I noticed too: the odd disconnect in the scripts, most notably where Lady Catherine now arrives at Longbourne at night to have a pop at Elizabeth (odd in itself) and mentions that the Bennets have a small park, which she could not have seen in the dark. I think the script underwent several rewrites -- allegedly, a through going over from Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliott and Spoonface Steinberg, and then a brief tickle from Emma Thompson -- and someone left a line in that made no sense.

The 2005 script misses out some of my favourite parts of the book -- much of the verbal sparring at Rosings and the attraction between Wickham and Elizabeth is given short shrift. They lose the lovely slapdown of Caroline Bingley at Pemberley too, and the poor Gardiners, who prove that Elizabeth has sensible relatives, barely get 10 lines each. Minor characters are chopped out, such as Maria Lucas, or else miscast (Col Fitzwilliam).

However, it manages the crucial confrontation between Darcy and Elizabeth pretty well. The adaptor is hamstrung by the fact that in the book, Darcy's explanations are given by letter. The 1995 version lived with that by using voiceover and flashback; the 2005 version uses more of this information in the open conflict and I think that works pretty well, even if it could have done with one more rewrite to remove some of the circularity of the argument.

And now to the most crucial question: how fabulously broody was Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy? The answer is 'fairly'. This was a younger Darcy than Colin Firth's in age and in manner, but he did the billowy shirt, lost-in-sexual-longing thing just as well, and they managed to get him wet via a rainstorm, which shows they know their audience. I read a review which described Darcy as one of English literature's Magnificent Bastards. I'm not sure MacFadyen quite managed those heights, but he was certainly pouty in a very alluring way.

In short, this version is thoroughly Hollywoodised, concentrating on the Romance, with a capital R. Everyone is frighteningly young (which they got right. Julia Sawalha was a marvellous Lydia but she looked five years too old and was 10 years too old). The countryside is like the top of a chocolate box and no one looks mucky. The BBC version is thoroughly British, concentrating on class, cash, status and smalltown gossip. People look mucky. Pigs get loose. Family are irritating and embarrassing. Love conquers all occasionally.

However, despite all caveats and nitpicking, I thoroughly enjoyed the new film.

* * *

The X Factor is currently going through its audition stages and I am not sure I can bear to watch, for much the same reasons that I cannot bear to watch Pop Idol -- the levels of self-delusion that some people display are becoming upsetting. Sounding good in the shower does not make you Justin Timberlake. Even I sound good in the shower. Almost as upsetting is watching that toxic goblin Louis Walsh laughing at the delusional. Unlike Simon Cowell, he takes joy from puncturing some young hopeful's dreams of stardom. Cowell may be a rude bastard but there's little malice in it.

A good thing is that the songs these people are murdering are mostly songs that I don't give a shit about. For example, you're perfectly welcome to murder Amazed any time you like. I'll help you bury the corpse if it guarantees I need never hear anyone honking their way through that piece of sentimental cack one more time. (see also almost any boy band song, the back catalogue of Elton John)

One thing I noticed is how almost all the singers that they're putting through sound exactly the same -- pretty trills, R'n'B stylings, melismas, clenched-buttock hooting through the upper ranges.

I blame Whitney Houston (well, her and Mariah Carey). Somehow in the 90s it became obligatory for any balladeer to show how versatile their voice was by arsing about and woobling on every third note. It's all very clever but it doesn't *mean* anything if you don't listen to what you're singing. Jamie Cullum and all those new MOR singers do it as well. They sing as if the words are just a guide for what shape their mouth should be in at a certain point in the music. (I sometimes wonder whether [Bad username: Sharinlilbit's] boyfriend has been successful post-AI because even though he *can* warble and swoop and trill, he *doesn't* unless the song requires it and he sings as though he cares what the words mean)

So, I say to the new batch of contestants on The X Factor -- just because Whitney does it does not mean you have to do it. After all, Whitney spends a large amount of time off her tits on the Idiot Dust and gets her husband Bobby Brown to excavate her more troublesome colonic blockages with his finger and you don't think either of those are good things, do you?

* * *
Poll #573704 playlist nosiness

what song have you played most, according to the play count on your iPod/iTunes/winamp/whatever?

What's second?

And third?

And fourth?

Fifth?

Of your newer acquisitions, which might make the top 10 most played?

Have you ever fiddled your playlist because you'd played something embarrassing a lot?

Yes
0(0.0%)
No
1(5.9%)
I can fiddle the play count?
3(17.6%)
Jam!
0(0.0%)
Ticky box!
4(23.5%)
Be off with you, impertinent miss!
3(17.6%)


* * *
As X Factor has exposed me to high levels of SongCrime over the past couple of weeks, I thought I'd post a few pieces of wonderful music that have helped me recover from the trauma.

Please listen to this if you have time. It is sublime and not a little scary:
Kitty Jay -- Seth Lakeman
This is from his Mercury Prize-nominated album Kitty Jay, a set of folk songs about his native Dartmoor that rocks in a way that folk usually ... does not

Harder to Walk These Days Than Run -- Karine Polwart
This is another somewhat political song from Polwart's album Faultlines of the kind that might appeal to comice, loosehorses or cofax7

Dare -- Gorillaz
Can you listen to this without dancing, and -- dare I say in my rather English way -- shaking your booty somewhat? If you answered 'yes', are you *dead*? There are few records not improved by Shaun William Ryder's appearance. In a sane world this would not be true.

Going Missing -- Maximo Park
This record begins with the lyric "I sleep with my arms across my chest" and a million Spike fangirl vidders reach for the clips file. Thankfully it's a shouty, driven guitar song that I can imagine The Buzzcocks singing. I think that perhaps musesfool, erehwesle, lenadances and maybe incorruptibles would like this.

And now, my favourite song *right now*, currently on about 22 plays on itunes...
My Very Best -- Elbow
Must we speak again of how much I adore the broken-hearted Guy Garvey? This is just gorgeous. And lastly...

Get off the Internet! -- Le Tigre
Which is really what I should do *g*

Tags:

Comments

( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
sharinlilbit
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:23 am (UTC)
(I sometimes wonder whether [Bad username in LJ tag] boyfriend has been successful post-AI because even though he *can* warble and swoop and trill, he *doesn't* unless the song requires it and he sings as though he cares what the words mean)

I'm gonna assume that I'm "Bad Username in LJ Tag" here. *g*

I know what you said is one of the reasons *I* appreciate his singing. I *hate* the melisma, R&B crap and trills everybody and your uncle seems to put in their songs. The purity of tone and Clay's ability to actually hold a note for longer than two seconds without putting fifty billion other notes in there is a refreshing change. Unfortunately, that seems to be one of the things the "haters" complain about.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:13 am (UTC)
Yes, you are bad username. Bad username! No Biscuit! *cough*. Okay I fixed it.

Unfortunately, that seems to be one of the things the "haters" complain about.

Well, then the haters are cloth-eared idiots
loveanddarkness
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:25 am (UTC)
My firstness is special.

I can't get fuckall to completely download for me off Limewire these days or the answers might be somewhat different.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)
Have you joined audiography? You might get some good stuff off there.
barkley
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:34 am (UTC)
That's it. I'm making a concerted effort to let the songs I love play through to the very, very end in order to get my early iTunes songs off that list. It's hard to compete with something that's been on there since 92 when all I had were twenty songs loaded up. I don't even like my #1 played song anymore! (Moving up the list - Damien Rice - Delicate. Ready to crack top five as we speak. That's not playing with the playcount, is it? *g*)
barkley
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC)
Uhm, make that '02. (And Delicate has now replaced To Sir With Love. By tomorrow both of them should knock that crappy ass version of November Rain off there. (Not that I don't like that song, but the quality is terrible even for a bootleg.)
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC)
Go on, fiddle the play count. It's so much easier *g*
emmbright
Sep. 20th, 2005 02:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for the detailed review of P&P. I've been very curious (if skeptical, Firth devotee that I am) about it, so it's good to know that it's worth seeing. Nothing will ever touch the greatness of the '95 BBC version, though. How pathetic is it that the mere mention makes me want to immediately drop everything and stay up all night watching it? ;)
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC)
Not pathetic at all. I watched the end of the '95 version when I got back from the cinema. Granted it was on the TV but I might well have cracked open the DVD if it had not been,
minim_calibre
Sep. 20th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC)
Oy. It's painfully obvious that I had a playlist for an exceedingly long story on this machine. And it's been well over a year since I actually a: worked on said story; or b: listened to the playlist.

Clearly, I needed to do something about this situation.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:30 am (UTC)
Only if it's a bad playlist or induces small feelings of guilt.
sophia_helix
Sep. 20th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
I don't think I can stand to see the new P&P. I liked Keira Knightley a good 8-10 movies back, but now I'm dead sick of the sight of her (independent of any acting ability she possesses), and I love the old miniseries too much. I'll be watching my (bizarrely bootlegged with Chinese subtitles) DVD set instead.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:32 am (UTC)
If you cannot abide Keira Knightley then definitely stay away. She's not my favourite actor either, but she impressed me in P&P -- not enough to seek her other work though.

The 1995 version still rules supreme.
corianderstem
Sep. 20th, 2005 02:57 am (UTC)
Wow. I knew there would be a lot of U2 in my top-played list, but this is ridiculous.

My top 10 most played songs that are NOT by U2:

Toxic - Britney Spears
Don't Panic - Coldplay
In My Place - Coldplay
Bend and Break - Keane
Another White Dash - Butterfly Boucher
What You Waiting For - Gwen Stefani
Jesus Walks - Kanye West
Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
Since You've Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
Somebody Told Me - The Killers

Thanks for the new tunes! I snagged Elbow and the Gorillaz.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:39 am (UTC)
I've got seven of those. I wonder if there's some kind of ur-playlist at iTunes HQ ensuring that there's always Coldplay on there.
grifyn
Sep. 20th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
Let me explain...
These are all songs that, for one reason or another, I downloaded with a metric ton of big, honkin' glee. And then proceeded to play them several times in a row. I therefore demand special dispensation of "My Band", which for some reason cracked my shit up back in... ::checks the "last played" feature for confirmation and hesitates:: Well. Umm, not important. Suffice it to say, totally over it, and A-OK now!
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC)
Re: Let me explain...
I have "My Band" on iTunes too, therefore no dispensation needed. I know the tyranny of inexplicable obsession with songs that one just *likes* so shutupworld!
cofax7
Sep. 20th, 2005 04:12 am (UTC)
Ah, but what was Fi's great lost story, anyway?

And you're right about RoS: it hasn't aged all that well, although I cling to some fondness for it, anyway. I fear that in ten years I'll think the same sorts of things about Farscape, which would make me sad.

infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:41 am (UTC)
That would be telling. I'm pretty sure you'd have read it.

And you're right about RoS: it hasn't aged all that well, although I cling to some fondness for it, anyway. I fear that in ten years I'll think the same sorts of things about Farscape, which would make me sad.

RoS still has the virtues that led me to love it, it's not unrecognisable or bad, it's just not that wonderful series that I remember. I doubt you'll think the same of Farscape just because it'll be harder to get distance from it. Whenever you want to watch it you can, so it won't acquire false wonderfulness.
marakara
Sep. 20th, 2005 04:23 am (UTC)
Robin of Sherwood,

I remember this with the guy who wound up being the prince of Moldavia on Dynasty or something. PBS ran it here, God, I must have been in college since I was still living with my folks. I haven't thought of that program in years.

You are right - the program didn't move along very well but is was really pretty (it was also on in February and March in New York which isn't our pretty season) and the music was great.

Take Care
Mara
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:43 am (UTC)
I remember this with the guy who wound up being the prince of Moldavia on Dynasty or something.

Yes, Michael Praed. Last seen appearing in musicals in London and doing a shedload of voiceover work. He occasionally appears on TV, usually as some bureaucratic villain
hobbituk
Oct. 18th, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC)
Ahh. Michael Praed. He hasn't aged well, unfortunately... He was yummy when they took the pic in my icon though! I still like the Clannad songs they used for the series soundtrack - I think they aged better than he did.
loosehorses
Sep. 20th, 2005 05:34 am (UTC)
Love love LOVE the Karine Polwart song! Thanks for that! :-D
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:43 am (UTC)
I'm glad. It really is a good album.
lenadances
Sep. 20th, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC)
I blame Whitney Houston (well, her and Mariah Carey). Somehow in the 90s it became obligatory for any balladeer to show how versatile their voice was by arsing about and woobling on every third note. It's all very clever but it doesn't *mean* anything if you don't listen to what you're singing.

Don't get me started on that. Please. I've been ranting about it for a good ten years now. Once upon a time in opera-land, composers used to write sections of music in the second part of an aria that had long notes and simple progressions, with the understanding that since it was the reprise portion of the aria the singer would feel free to show off and make her own melismatic booberishness up. Which led to some very bored young singers in college in the 20th century, since nobody had mentioned the fact to them that they were supposed to embellish on their own and these sections were long and dull and tedious. Which meant that eventually editors stepped in and wrote in embellishments, which meant that then the poor bastard voice students were forced to do stuff beyond their ability instead of more simple embellishments. Which is neither here nor there in terms of the modern trend, but grr.

Point being, they knew where to put this stuff, back when: on words and phrases when it made sense, and in sections when it would otherwise be a tedious re-tread of the first section for the audience and singer. Then you get to Whitney fucking Houston putting eight different notes in the very first word of "I Will Always Love You" for NO REASON because the word is IF, which is not a word you want to embellish and besides it's the FIRST FUCKING WORD OF THE SONG, and then she does another six note run for the SECOND word, which is I, which makes slightly more sense but it's still the second note of the song, and then when she has those long fucking notes later on in the same song she barely does anything with them at all, and the comparison between the two makes my HEAD EXPLODE.

You should have seen me when that "Prince of Egypt" duet between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston was on the radio all the time. I was trapped in an office where I couldn't get away from the radio and so I heard the damn thing every hour. I went mental by Thanksgiving. ARGH.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
I did not know this. And I hadn't clocked the heinous detail of Whitney's "I will always love yoooou" as I try to switch it off whenever it comes on. I think my least favourite part though it "I'll be with you each step of the wa-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay" as she hits at least ten notes. I have not heard the Prince of Egypt duet either, and I think that if it made your head 'splodey, I should probably steer clear
se_parsons
Sep. 20th, 2005 04:13 pm (UTC)
I forget who I was with, but when I saw the preview of P&P, we literally CRINGED in our seats. (I think maybe it was jodola, because the LINES WERE TOO MODERN. People weren't speaking correctly.

Maybe it was just a fault of the preview, but my head expodes when I see Austen done with modern language. None of the recent adaptations have done that.

Clearly it must be better than it appeared but it was injuring my soul in the preview.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 20th, 2005 09:02 pm (UTC)
In that case DO NOT see that film. The modernity of the dialogue breaks through often enough for you to be thoroughly pissed off with it.
se_parsons
Sep. 20th, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning, then.

I will back slowly away.
fialka
Sep. 24th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC)
You Found It? Where?
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 24th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC)
Julie Fortune, the artist formerly known as Roxanne Longstreet Conrad. It's Voice of Experience.
fialka
Sep. 26th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
Yes! This is it! How splendid. I can now sleep at night (after I read it again, that is.)
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )

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