Becoming Jane

Name: Becoming Jane
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 120
Description: The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable – marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter’s future social standing. They are eyeing Mr Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire – then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters – family, friends and fortune.
Stars: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy and Julie Walters
Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance

I especially liked the first half, but then gradually became tired of the endless, pained and strained romantic conversations filled with elevated language, not to mention the endless ‘I’ll marry him, I won’t marry him’ plotline. Anne Hathaway’s British accent was nearly perfect, but for me, the absolute highlight was Julie Walters’ angry outburst, although Maggie Smith was as good as ever too. Ultimately, I would have enjoyed it more had it been a bit shorter. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom: at least the subtitles taught me how some of Austen’s annoying and repetitive vocabulary can be translated to contemporary Dutch (pleasing, agreeable, etc.) That will help me perfect my own Pride and Prejudice translation.

There was something curious going on with the score. The composer was obviously inspired by scenes that required energetic and romantic music, but at times, he seemed a bit lost. In one of the first scenes, for example, he gets the general tone and mood of the music right, but it lacks enthusiasm. That problem persists during crucial moments of the story, like Jane kissing her lover. Most of the sad parts were handled well, but even these passages occasionally didn’t work for me. What I did like, however, was how the music was used in one particular ballroom scene: as Jane aimlessly wandered through the dancing crowd, the score could only be heard on one channel, but the moment she spotted her lover, the dance music suddenly became louder and was then spread over all the channels.

The audio description had one rather big problem: characters and locations weren’t properly described. Especially with a Jane Austen story, you really need to identify characters as soon as possible. Luckily, 90% of all the information was conveyed through the story, but still, it doesn’t make sense to mess up introductions and places like that, you have to explain who is with whom and where.


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