Friday, October 06, 2006

On O'Byrne and Spongebob

Bless the LCT and their trickling release of goodies. Today's is an interview with Brían F. O'Byrne, who plays Alexander Herzen in The Coast of Utopia. Here's a taste:

BL: What was the most useful thing about your Russian adventure in terms of doing The Coast of Utopia?

BO: I went there hoping just to see small things. A useful gesture, for example: seeing someone wave their hand in a certain way. I wanted to try to understand the physical nature of Russians. Of course, Russians now are different than Herzen and his friends were. But I wanted something that would remove me from America, and remove me from New York. Just give me some colors for Herzen. And learn a little about what Russian people themselves are going through, coming out of Communism and dealing with this surge of money. And I wanted to learn about politics and Putin, who's a stronger force all the time. I was interested in Russians' independent spirit. I saw them from an Irish point of view somewhat. Everybody talks about Irish people and Catholicism, which ruled everything. But in another sense the Irish were free. We go to Mass but we don't necessarily believe in the whole thing. There's something similar about Russians: whatever the state of oppression is, you still hold on to that freedom. Which is what Herzen is talking about: individual freedom. The outside forces are not the things that actually rule you totally. The freedom starts within the person himself.

BL: These are insights about Russia, but were they insights about Herzen?

BO: I didn't expect to brush up to an aristocracy still talking about these ideas. But it was interesting in that regard to sit down with Arkady, who is a Financial Times correspondent and who did the translation with his brother, Sergei. He spoke with some disdain of how Russians with ideas were systematically rooted out within the past hundred years, under Communism. Arkady was so passionate about how this whole race of people were destroyed. That's why he thought this play was so important right now. It says: look at what Russia could have become.

Herzen is always talking about the peasants in Russia. Yet there was this group, this intelligentsia, that helped create change. Arkady talked about what would have happened if the growth of that kind of person had continued rather than had been manipulated. When many of the best minds have been taken away for many generations, what does that do to the psyche of a nation? [more]

Psst, let's hear a female voice, Mr Lemon. We can think of someone...

There's a photo of Mr O'Byrne and other Utopia blokes in USA Today. Remember, previews for Voyage open in less than two weeks, so if you haven't already, get your tickets at Telecharge.

Meanwhile, more reviews of the Pride and Prejudice collector's edition are coming out. Says Amy Longsdorf of The Morning Call:

''Pride & Prejudice: 10th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition'' (1996, A&E, unrated, $60): BBC-TV's Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are sublime as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in a love story that practically redefines the allure of amour. Extras: new interviews with cast, documentary about Jane Austen and a 120-page, making-of book.

From The Flick Filosopher:

When 51st-century cultural historians look back at the televisual dramatics of the Later North Amer-atlantic Civilization (1750–2150), three items will stand out: The Twilight Zone, Spongebob Squarepants, and the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This BBC production remains, more than a decade after it astonished Austen purists and dreamy teenage girls of all ages alike, quite the most wonderful five hours of romantic suspense and social intrigue ever committed to film. And this new DVD set sneaks in now, almost in response to last year’s very different theatrical Pride, to remind us that filmed Austen -- filmed literature of any kind, really -- simply does not get any better than this.

Two of the three discs here contain the entire miniseries, which is as gorgeous and as rapturous as you remember, all heaving bosoms and handsome men in uniform and Darcy smoldering and smirking his way through insufferable country balls and Elizabeth being efforlessly witty and clever and the two of them falling inexorably -- even if they don’t see if at first -- into each other’s arms and hearts. *sigh* It’s all almost too much to bear, it’s so perfectly attuned to the needs of modern TV viewers, with its clipped pace (for all its length) and snappy dialogue, while never, ever denying the brilliance of our lovely Jane and her sharp, clear eye on the universalities of romance and marriage and familial expectations and the tripwires in our own hearts. Ah, and Colin Firth (Nanny McPhee) couldn’t be Darcier, and Jennifer Ehle (Possession) couldn’t be Elizabether... the whole cast is, to a one, just right.

The third disc contains a terrific, new retrospective documentary about the production, with lots of interviews with cast and crew (alas, neither Firth nor Ehle appear, but the others have tons interesting to say). And the package -- which is as near to being coffee-table-esque as DVD sets go -- also includes an oversize paperback book about the making of the miniseries; it’s bursting with tons of delicious behind-the-scenes photos and discussions about the lucsious costumes, the beautiful set design, the difficulties of learning Austen’s dialogue, and a lot more. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an Austen fan in possession of a DVD player must be in want of this set.

At Risky Regencies there's discussion of the mini along with their contest to win the new edition. Here's a mention:

One of the things my friends did not understand about the P&P mini series was why Jane was considered the beautiful Bennet daughter and not Lizzie. "I think she is prettier than Jane," one of them said.

This is where I think the filmmakers were so masterful in their casting! Because I think Jane (played by actress Susannah Harker) is the ideal Regency beauty. Take a look and compare to this detail of one of my 1815 La Belle Assemblee fashion prints: Jane has the same oval face, pointed chin, big wide eyes as the 1815 image. She could have modeled for the ladies magazine!

Now look at Lizzie (Jennifer Ehle) compared to another 1815 fashion print detail: Lizzie's face is round and her complexion is rosier, not pale like Jane's. Her mouth is full. Her "fine eyes" are not as large and round as Jane's and the La Belle Assemblee ladies.

Luckily, however, Mr. Darcy learns to appreciate that pair of "fine eyes."

Word from Wenlock is that on the "Heroines" episode of the BBC documentary Reader, I married him, Daisy Goodwin "picked out Elizabeth Bennet for particular scrutiny, illustrated by Jennifer Ehle". This episode is being rebroadcast by BBC4 on Sunday 8 October at 10pm-11pm and 12.45am-1.45am.

Lucky-lastily, a somewhat recycled note on Road to the Sky in Daijiworld:

Santosh Sivan, who is directing a Hollywood film titled 'Road to the Sky', shot extensively in the tea growing hill station of Munnar.

According to reports, the producers of the film, Echo Lake Productions of Los Angeles, Adirondack Pictures of New York and Santosh Sivan Productions, were keen to shoot either in South Africa or Brazil.

However, once they saw Munnar on Sivan's insistence, they were impressed with its pristine beauty and agreed to shoot the film in Kerala.

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