Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Video: A Jane Austen Dance

Friday, September 12, 2014

Isabella reporting,

While we Nerdy History Girls make our living with words, it's still entertaining to consider how much can be expressed without them. This is a clip from the 2007 film Becoming Jane, a fictionalized interpretation of a romance between a young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) with a likewise young Irishman (James McAvoy). True, there's a sizable amount of speculation and wishful thinking in the film's storyline, but I thought this particular scene was quite wonderful. No matter how heavily chaperoned a dance may be (and no one chaperons like Maggie Smith!), young people can always find a way to make their feelings for one another known.

I also enjoyed how the sounds of the dance were accurately captured. Whenever I've attended a recreated dance, I've always been surprised by how audible the dancers' footsteps are, how the shush of silk can be heard over the music. Again, quite wonderful.


GSGreatEscaper said...

And the tall blonde guy from Inspector Morse...who was he?

The costumes were all over the map, chronologically...yuck.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Agree about the costumes...and the hair isn't "right" either. OTOH, I suppose costumers would argue that they're making a romantic impression, not reproducing for historical accuracy. In big ensemble scenes like this, too, many of the costumes for the extras probably came from a rental costume company, and producers care more about staying on budget than being accurate -- and most movie-goers don't care about either accuracy OR budget as long as it's pretty. Which it is. :)

Karen A. Chase said...

I went to an English County Dance lesson a few weeks ago to learn how this is really done. I'm writing my own historical novel, and you'll see from the post that while I love those movie scenes, there's nothing like a first-hand spin around the floor to feel the dance:

Anonymous said...

About the costumes being from a different era... I wonder how many of the women were "cutting edge" on fashion at the time. Couldn't there be some women who had old dresses and couldn't afford new ones? I find when everybody is wearing the fashions of the times it seems to me unreal. For example, in Downton Abbey the Dowager (Maggie Smith) wears fashions that are totally out of date and that is part of her character. As true today as it would have been at the time, an older person not being worried about the current fashion and maybe liking what she used to wear better than what they're wearing today.
The hair, I agree, is not wonderful.

Regency romance author, Donna Hatch said...

It was lovely! What dance were they doing?
And yes, I saw both Georgian and Regency fashions but I still loved the clip.

Anonymous said...

Well this should be set in exactly 1795 the very beginning of regency fashion with the Directoire style and the last traces of the previous Georgian fashions. I would expect Jane Austen herself to be a touch behind the fashion times as her family did not have a lot of money.

GSGreatEscaper said...

Of course some people would have been behind the fashions but remember that people were much more able to remake/refurbish their clothes to keep up with changing modes than we are! And younger unmarried women (and presumably their match-making mammas, to borrow a phrase from Heyer) would have been anxious not to appear dowdy. And of course, the extras costumes would have been from a costumier, but in a feature film one would expect more attention to period. The TV show recreating the ball at Netherfield did a much better job...

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

I suspect any social gathering had a mix of fashions, just as there is today. Remember the last wedding you attended? The twenty-somethings all had new dresses to impress the friends of the groom, but most of the other women wore dresses they already own, perhaps with new shoes or a new scarf.

The styles changed so radically in the late 18th c that I'm sure there were also some older women who flat-out refused to give up their stays, judging the new styles as unflattering. Think of all the women today who still wear boot-cut jeans and never did go for skinnies. Fashion is a process, and a game as well. Some people like to play, and others ignore the whole rigamarole. ;)

As for the accuracy of movie costumes: they are telling a story, not reproducing history - which is why I posted this clip. That's a huge difference in intentions.

The Netherfield Ball video was a recreation, trying to be as accurate as possible - esp. with Amanda Vickery as the host. Most of those attending the ball were historical reenactors (some of whom follow this blog)) wearing their own period-correct clothes. These are people who take their accuracy very, very seriously, and their clothes show it.

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