Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Great Women Writers Jane Austen|
Director: Dominique Mougenot
This fascinating series presents an informative and entertaining look at some of the greatest women writers of all time. The programs provide an in-depth look into their lives, and include numerous examples of their wor... more »
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First, the woman and her times, second, her books
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 10/17/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I recently saw this company's documentary on Georgia O'Keeffe and was disappointed that it seemed to have all slides and no action when I am quite sure that the painter was filmed or recorded at some point. Here, this is also a slide show, but it makes sense as moving pictures did not exist in the late 1700s. I appreciated seeing vignettes of British life at the time of Austen. When I think "1700s," I think of American revolutionaries, including their images, and French philosophers, but only their words. Really, the Brits looked just like Washington, Jefferson, and their peers did. Still this was an eye opener. Actually, they run out of slides and repeat themselves often.
This work focused on Austen's life and social context. They cover her death two-thirds into the work. Once the narrator says, "She died in 1871," but later he corrects himself by saying the death occurred in 1817. Only the last ninth of the work describes the plots and significance of her books. They show stills from black-and-white era adaptations of her work, but they never mention "Clueless" and the renewed interest in the author.
The narrator says something close to: "Austen was criticized for not discussing the politics of her time, but Shakespeare did not cover that issue and no one dogs him for it." Though they point to a double standard once, I wish the word "sexism" would have come up. (And I actually disagree, thinking that "Caesar," "Hamlet," and "Antony and Cleopatra" are about politics.) I wish more was said about gender. What percentage of authors were female in 18th-Century Britain? Did publishers seek or shun Austen due to gender? Was writing about "apolitical" matters the only way a woman could get published? The work never explores that. Still, when I thought of Austen's condemnation for apoliticality, I thought of how Zora Neal Hurston's male peers dogged her. Sexism in the literature industry seems to continue. Along this line, I thought they could have used a female narrator. The male one did a good job, but where are narrating opportunities for women, if at least in documentaries about female individuals?
Since I've never read any Austen myself, this helped me gain some cultural capital without having to read a whole book. I basically enjoyed this documentary."