Happy Fangirl Friday, everybody! Today’s post from Laura at Scribbles & Wanderlust is a post after my own anglophile heart! Seriously, when I first read this post from Laura I couldn’t help but swoon! There’s nothing I love more than a drama-filled mini-series on BBC or Masterpiece on PBS. Did somebody say Victoria or (sigh) POLDARK!? Unfortunately, there ARE actually some I have missed and that’s why Laura’s post today is so perfect. It’s reminds me that I STILL need to watch the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice and that FINAL episode of North & South! I’m kind of embarrassed to admit those are still on my to watch list. I will say this, you MUST take Laura’s recommendation and watch Belle…it’s simply amazing!
So, get your Netfix queue ready, because Laura is about to bless us all with some epic British films!
Hi all! I’m Laura, and I blog over at Scribbles & Wanderlust, tweet at @LECrockett, and share pictures on IG at @lauraecrock. A massive thank you to Sarah for not only having this really awesome feature (seriously, who doesn’t enjoy fangirling over things they love?!) but for allowing me to be a part of it!
For anyone who knows me even the teensiest bit, it will come to no surprise that I’m gushing over one aspect of my Anglophile lifestyle today: British film.
I’m not sure when my love for British films started, but I can say without a doubt that it was thanks in large part to BBC adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. Though the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie is gorgeous, and the music to die for (I even purchased the piano music just to play on my own), it was the 1995 BBC Colin-Firth-wet-shirt 6-hours-of-Austen’s-satire delight that really made me take the plunge.
I devoured both versions of Sense and Sensibility (don’t make me choose! Emma Thompson just *gets* Austen, but the Dan Stevens one is just so accessible to a modern audience), fell in love with Felicity Jones and JJ Feild in Northanger Abbey, and actually enjoyed Emma’s character with Romola Garai in Emma.
Then Netflix happened.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD, PEOPLE. Look at the cheesy Merlin and Robin Hood shows! All the versions of my favorite novel of all time, Jane Eyre! All the crime and detective shows, like Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Aussie, but let’s keep moving), Father Brown, Broadchurch, Doc Martin, Foyle’s War. Guys, this is how I found Downton Abbey. I missed the first two seasons on PBS and binged them before season 3 aired. And once Netflix got a hang of my algorithm, there was no turning back.
And you know what mini-series had me hooked and could top no other? North & South.
It had everything. It was Pride & Prejudice but realistic, without the satire and humor and instead full of the grubbiness of 19th-century England, the actual pride and prejudice and misunderstandings of the different English cultures at the time. It confronted the fears of Victorian society, like child labor and unions and poor housing and class systems, and somehow a romance blossomed between a master of a factory and a preacher’s daughter.
I MEAN REALLY, LOOK AT THEM. I watched this mini-series on repeat throughout grad school. Thorton’s declarations of love kept me alive as I wrote my thesis on gothic literature. I’ve got this series memorized. Come at me.
PBS feeds my addiction with shows on Sunday nights, that I of course watch religiously, like Grantchester, Endeavour, Sherlock, Bletchley Circle, Call the Midwife. Netflix continues to feed my obsession by sharing shows like Ripper Street, Bomb Girls, and The Crown. There’s even an art theater in town that shows all these British indie, BBC, and ITV films. I found Suffragette, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Jane Eyre there.
I saw this movie three times in two weeks by myself. The first time was to see a period drama that I thought would be like a Jane Austen film, only featuring a black character. Boy, was I wrong. So the second time I saw it was to bask in all its glory, and the third time because it’s that wonderful. It’s a love story, but it’s also a political film. It’s a story about class and race and feminism and what it means to be a woman in 1700s England, let alone a woman who is neither white nor black.
It’s also based on a true story. Asante has a way of finding these remarkable people in history and shedding light on issues we still struggle with in society today. While Belle’s story surrounds her uncle’s decision on a slave ship insurance claim (he’s the Chief Justice, so his ruling will make or break slavery in England), it’s so much more than that. I get just as fired up about her story as some people get fired up about superhero movies. For real.
Take this gif ^ for example. Belle’s cousin Elizabeth is white and upper-class. But she has no money since her father’s new wife refuses to let her have any claim on it. So, because she’s a woman, she has to struggle to find the perfect husband of proper rank who will agree to marry her with a small dowry. Next we have this black servant, Mabel, who teaches Belle how to do something as simple as brushing her hair. For years, Belle struggled with the comb because her hair is not like a white person’s hair and she’s been raised in a white household. She meets, for the first time, a free and independent black woman, but one who still has to work to keep bread on the table. And finally we have Belle herself. Her father has left her an enormous sum of money, so she has no need to marry well – but she also doesn’t want to become an unmarried spinster. Because of her rank, she needs to marry well, but because of her race, very few eligible suitors are available. She’s too high to dine with servants, too low to dine with her family, too rich to need marriage, too young to live life unwed.
Plus, we get moments like the one below that make you swoon and have exceedingly high expectations of men.
Are you a fan of British film and TV? If so, pleeeeease gush over it with me, and join me on Sunday nights during Masterpiece PBS shows. And if you have no idea at all what I talked about today, give any one of these shows, mini-series, or movies a go. The British know how to tell stories, and if you’re visiting Sarah’s book blog, I know you love stories too.
And let’s just laugh over the fact there really are only 20 British actors 😉
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