Monday, June 13, 2011

Why They Don't Read Jane Austen

The truth is that young readers don't easily attach themselves to Austen. Mr. Darcy, "haughty as a Siamese cat" (in Deresiewicz's delicious phrase), isn't half as appealing on the page as Colin Firth stalking across the screen in Andrew Davies's liberty-taking film. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland seems coltish and naïve to readers of her own age today, while Emma Woodhouse, all of 20, appears loud, vain and bossy. And who, at 27 or thereabouts, now feels sympathy for the meekness of Anne Elliot, a young woman who has allowed a monstrous father and a persuasive family friend to ruin her chances of happiness with the engaging Captain Wentworth? — Miranda Seymour, New York Times, June 10, 2011.
And why I won't read Miranda Seymour:
... each work reveals itself as a teaching tool.... — Ibid.

Cut to Donald Richie:
The camera was turned toward Setsuko Hara. Ozu nodded at Yoko Tsukasa, sitting to one side, and she delivered her line of dialogue. Start, said Ozu, and his camera, Yuhara Atsuta, squated behind his machine, began filming. The director nodded to Setsuko, who said her line. Cut, said Ozu, and Atsuta stopped filming.

The director was apparently satisfied with the delivery and went on to the next line. Not always, however; several times during these afternoon hours of shooting he would make one or the other of the actresses repeat her line.

One cut finished, one line of dialogue completed, Ozu began getting ready for the next. The conditions seemed in all respects identical but Ozu would nonetheless reframe each cut. Hara had not moved, yet Ozu, looking though the viewfiender, insisted on a shift of half a millimeter to the right. When I saw the finished film I noticed that in some cuts Yoko's hand towel at the bottom of the screen was more visible than in others, but generally the effect would be visible to the director alone.

— Donald Richie, Japanese Portraits: Pictures of Different People , Tuttle edition, 2006, p. 13.

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