That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!
Davies’ talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from its actors in its subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.
Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.
A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to this blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.
Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite? Good luck!