Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Worlds apart

From The Times:

Why new Pride & Prejudice is abridged in Britian
From Chris Ayresin Los Angeles and Jack Malvern

HOLLYWOOD has finally discovered what followers of the England football team have long suspected: the British do not like a happy ending.

The proof came when executives at Working Title, the British film production company, cringed at the ending to their adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and decided to lop it off.

As a result, the British version of the film is an estimated two minutes shorter than its American equivalent, after the producers at Working Title Films had a change of heart and left their Hollywood-style “pay off” shot on the cutting room floor.

“You got the more sugary one,” Matthew MacFadyen, who plays Mr Darcy to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet, revealed to a USA Today reporter. “The Brits hated it.”

The British version of the film instead concludes with Elizabeth’s father (Donald Sutherland) giving his consent when Mr Darcy asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage. “And if any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at my leisure,” he declares, in the film’s final line. American audiences, however, are treated to a lingering shot of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy kissing under moonlight, on a terrace. Mr Darcy asks his new wife how he should address her. Should he, he inquires, call her Mrs Darcy? She replies that he should only call her that if he is absolutely in love with her.

“Mrs Darcy . . . Mrs Darcy,” he repeats as the credits roll.

The change came about after executives watched a screening of the longer film in America. David Livingstone, vice-president of Universal marketing and distribution, said that the American audience loved it but the British executives had reservations. “There was a moment when somebody said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if it ended with Donald Sutherland?’,” he told The Times.

The extra scene was kept for the Americans, as well as some Asian territories that prefer emotion to be “laid on quite thickly”, Mr Livingstone added.

Clichés and national stereotypes are generally clichés and national stereotypes because they are true.


Susan's Husband said...

Maybe it's not that Brits don't like happy endings, but simply prefer to not have things spelled out in explicit detail as if to a child.

Brit said...

Yes - maybe it's both, and thus the ideal ending is both understated and unhappy, as in The Remains of the Day.

Was it Wayne's World that had the ultra-super-mega happy ending? That was funny.

Then again, after Love Actually I don't think the British can ever again complain about American saccharine sentimentality. Then again again, that film shamelessly whored itself for the American market anyway.