I bought it. Pride & Prejudice. And as I was walking out of the store I got to thinking about how many versions of the movie I own. Of course, I own the A&E/BBC version starring Colin Firth. I now own the 2005 version with Keira Knightly and Judi Dench. I also count Bridget Jones’ Diary as a version, since it was based heavily on the book. That makes three. Furthermore, I own the book, so I think it is safe to say that Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book/movie. Anyway, this line of thinking started to progress and I began to wonder “How many copies/versions of our favorite books/movies/songs do we have a tendency to purchase?” I realize that not everyone’s favorite ‘whatever’ has multiple versions, but for those that do, how many do we own? I own three versions of Emma, two musical soundtrack versions of My Fair Lady, and three copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (in addition to several books of individual plays and the sonnets; did I mention I adore Shakespeare?). My argument has always been that I am a literary person; therefore I collect various versions and multiple copies for research purposes. My confession? That reason isn’t true. I just like to have multiple versions/copies of things. I like that I own three copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. They are laid out differently, so some things are easier to find in one than in another. Yes, some weekends I will spend a Saturday watching all three versions of Pride & Prejudice. As for My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews was a better Eliza Doolittle than Audrey Hepburn; however, Jeremy Brett was a better Freddy Eynsford-Hill than John Michael King. So, if I want to listen to “On the Street Where You Live,” I listen to the movie soundtrack, and when I want to listen to “I Could Have Danced All Night,” I pull out the Broadway cast recording. Do I think this is extreme behavior? No, I consider it part of my collection. After being inspired by a conversation with my friend Jana, I am working towards being able to devote an entire shelf to Jane Austen. (I’m well on my way with my three copies of P&P, two of Emma, a copy of Persuasion, and one of Sense & Sensibility.) One reason for my desire to collect multiple versions is that I like to see how different directors/actors/writers interpret the text. For instance, in the A&E/BBC version of P&P, very little of the book was left out. The movie followed the text almost perfectly. Obviously in Bridget Jones, the writer had a little more freedom to express a modern day approach to the story, and therefore took “poetic license.” However, this new version falls somewhere in between. First of all, it is clean. There is no bad language, no nudity, and no inappropriate behavior. Second of all, the screenwriter rewrote some of the dialogue, which I thought at first would irritate me, but instead many of the changes were good changes. Some made the story more believable and interesting to a more contemporary audience, and others added a hint of passion that was difficult to detect in the book. I do feel, in this new version, that at times the writer/director was trying too hard to get in the lines everyone expected, causing the actors to rush for time’s sake and causing a bit of awkwardness that could have been remedied with a simple rewrite or cut of unnecessary dialogue. All in all, the three versions have given me a greater understanding of all things Austen, and they have also put within me a desire to explore more of her works and the works of her counterparts.
In summary, I pose a question to cyberland. How many versions of your favorite book/movie/song do you own and why?