Saturday, February 04, 2006

Step aside Mr. Darcy?

As my hubby will attest, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. In fact, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books. And in my DVD collection, if you include the modern-day adaptations, I've got 14 movie adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. Yes, I'm a nut.

However, I noticed in the last few months, as I surfed my normal Jane Austen sites, there was a lot of comments of how another period drama has supplanted Pride and Prejudice as their favourite. In particular, many (women) have said that the hero of this new drama has become their new favourite hero.

Wha-? Do you mean there was someone better than Colin Firth?!?!?! There's a story better than Pride and Prejudice?!?!?! And a more romantic hero than Mr. Darcy?!?!?!

You have to keep in mind that I'm reading Jane Austen websites and some of these people are hare-core, die-hard fans of the books as well as the many adaptations out there. They are the people who watch and re-watch, read and re-read, analyze and re-analyze the books and movie adaptations to death. These are the people who know every single stinking detail about Jane Austen and the Regency Period. Hard-core I tell ya. But something made them change their minds.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued.

I wanted to borrow the DVD to watch it first, before I deemed it worthy to buy, but the video stores didn't have it in stock. The only place that had it was, but I can't justify a subscription right now. So instead, I bought it without having actually watched it first, something I would never do, but I had faith in those other people.

(Warning: minor spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk...)

The drama I'm referring to is North and South. No, not the North and South that came out in the 1980s with Patrick Swayze, and no, it's not about the American Civil war. That's what I thought at first.

This North and South is set in Victorian England, during the cotton manufacturing boom in the UK. The main plot is set in Milton (actually, the city of Manchester, but was re-named by the author, Elizabeth Gaskell). Milton is the North. Southern UK, where the heroine is from, is the South.

I'm about half-way through the novel (although I'm very good at reading ahead a lot), and have already watched the movie twice. And the last scene about 20 times (more on that later). The book's actually pretty good, and is worth a read.

However, I'm not going to say too much about the story itself. Instead, I will focus on the swoon-worthiness of the two heroes: Mr. Darcy (P&P) and Mr. John Thornton (N&S), and let you decide who's the worthier out of the two.

Meet the heroes:
Colin Firth, playing Mr. Darcy:

Richard Armitage, playing John Thornton:

Not bad looking eh?

So, let the Darcy/Thornton Challenge begin.

Both men (in their respective tales) are:
  • Rich
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome
  • Broody (and do scowl a fair bit)
  • Sought after by other women
  • Fall in love with women who could care less about them
  • Bungle up their first proposal to the heroine. Really badly.
  • Suffer through unrequited love through most of the story, and believe that there no chance that the love of their lives will ever return their affections
  • During period of unrequited love-suffering, manage to save said heroines from depths of despair and ruination
Now, you're thinking to yourself, "Is Irene even talking about two different stories?". Yes I am, trust me. But you have noted the similarities between the two, haven't you. The the storyline in P&P and N&S actually are not as similar as their TV adaptation counterparts, and there is a subplot going on about a strike in N&S. However, I digress. Back to the important stuff.

So what's the difference? Well for one, N&S has a very steamy kiss at the end. Or should I say kisses. The whole ending is incredibly sweetly romantic, and is probably the main cause for so many women swooning over John Thornton. Trust me, this is one ending you must see.

One reason why I like John Thornton is that he seems more real to me. In the book and in the movie, they focus more on JT's thoughts and feelings more, and it's very clear that he loves the heroine deeply, despite the forces that keep them apart. It's heartbreaking to see him saying one thing and feeling another, but can't voice it to her.

Don't get me wrong, I still love Mr. Darcy. What girl in her right mind wouldn't want a rich man to fall head-over-heels in love with her, be constant in his love to her even though he's uncertain of how she feels about him or that he will ever see her again? Sigh.

I have to say though, I have a bias against Colin Firth (*gasp* Sorry girls!). I will confess, I didn't really like him as Mr. Darcy, I felt that he didn't play it with enough emotion (as a side note, I liked Matthew Macfadyen's version better, even though I disagreed with his interpretation of Mr. Darcy, but will blog on that at a later date). What actually killed it for me was when Mr. Darcy jumped into that duck pond. How can anyone find jumping into a poop and slime infested pond sexy? It's just plain gross. And totally out of character with Mr. Darcy, IMO. That aside, I wasn't terribly impressed with Colin Firth's acting, and still am not, after seeing him in other roles. He's okay at best. Meh.

Richard Armitage on the other hand did a great job as John Thornton, and I'm not saying that because I'm now in love with the man. The little piece of acting that I saw was incredible, the amount of emotion that he can portray, and at times, it gets really intense. And the smoochy scene at the end. Yowza! (I don't think that was acting completely, the man was enjoying himself!). My favourite scene though, was when the heroine leaves Milton, and JT watches her leave from his life forever. My heart was about to break, poor guy.

Not convinced about Richard? Read Meg Wood's Boyfriend of the Week write-up on Richard. (Colin Firth's also featured on her site, but Richard beat out Colin. Ha!)

Still not convince? How about the gratuitous, mostly-naked picture of Richard:

You decide.

(And a completely unrelated aside, while I was waiting for my DVD to be sent from Chapters (the DVD sold out and I had to wait for a re-shipment, in which time I canceled the order and bought the thing in the store, even though it costed more), I surf around a lot of sites looking for more information about Richard Armitage/North and South. After staring at countless of pictures of RA, I noticed something: at certain angles, it looks like he has hobbit ears. Of course, when I finally got DVD, instead of concentrating on the movie itself, I kept on seeing hobbit ears. Very distracting I tell ya!)

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Great post! Here I am reading it two years later because I just recently finished watching N&S and am just blown away how much better RA is at portraying the brooding leading guy. Colin Firth was my comparison and now RA has set the standard. Yeah, I'm in love with RA now. I think I am even going to watch Robin Hood now since he's in it.

Anyway, great commentary on RA & CF.