Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie


So if you have been following me, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Con’s and wishing I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.

YEEEEES!!!!!!

But then there was a light in the darkness! On my instagram popped up a post about a Jane Con in Modesto! Modesto! I could go to Modesto!

No horror-glee and happiness instead!

From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera-to of course post on them later (as I am now).

So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & GroansAfter that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club. 

Our group decided against the book club workshop as we already had one, although I am sure it was absolutely amazing, and instead decided to attend The Definitive Darcy. 

Ah, Darcy.

I was excited for this workshop as there are so many adaptions of Pride and Prejudice, oh this will be so much fun! I mean you have a ton of Regency Darcys to choose from:

AND a ton of modern adaptions (and yes I know the above has a picture of Darcy from Bride and Prejudice. I didn’t make the image):

And let’s not forget-we aren’t just looking at Darcy. We are also trying to define the definitive Elizabeth.

This workshop was run by Erin E. Connor and Melissa Ruzika:

Why is Mr. Darcy such a big deal and why are we wild about Lizzie? Join JASNA Central California executive committee members Erin and Melissa as they delve into Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, and its three most popular film adaptions. Bring your own opinions and take sides in a friendly debate as to who is the definitive Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Erin E. Conor is a lifelong Jane Austen fan. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and serves as member-at-large on the Executive Committee for the Central California region of JASNA. Her favorite Austen novel is Emma, and her favorite Austen inspired film is Austenland.

Melissa Ruzika is a long time JASNA member and Central California Region Executive Committee member. Her knowledge of Jane Austen and her works is deep, and Melissa is known for being an acute observer of JA in popular culture with solid textual backing for her opinions.

Debate you say? Okay:

I’m ready:

So one of the nicest things that Connor and Ruzika had with their workshops were handouts and a paddle with the Firth and Macfayden Darcys to engage the crowd in the debate in order so that everyone could be heard.

Connor and Ruzika started off with Historical Context, discussing what the Regency period was. You can click on the link above for more information, but a brief overview:

  • Crazy King George III (sorry I’m American) had to take a step down from ruling as he was suffering from a disease (believed to be porphyria) that made him mad, and his son had to become Prince Regent.
  • The Regency Period is believed to be 1795-1837, with the Prince Regent ruling from 1811-1820. When King George died in 1820, the Prince became King.
  • The Prince Regent was a giant fan of Jane Austen.
  • There was the Industrial Revolution in the North (Any North & South fans out there? It is set in the Victorian time period but shows the difference between the industrial North and the Countryside South extremely well.)
  • There was serious class division, with an emerging middle class (The Gardiners who reside in Cheapside
  • It was the Romantic Era.

From there we got a quick overview of the book Pride and Prejudice as Connor & Ruzika had provided a handout from Playful Paths to Love and one from shmoop to give us a better idea on how rich Darcy would be today. We (book club, sister, and I) really loved that as while I am the serious Janeite, the rest of the group isn’t. One member of our group had never even read the book or seen any of the movies, only having read The Darcy Monologues for our book club. I’m not sure about the rest of the crowd, but I am certain that there had to be some others who were grateful for the refresher.

And even if you know the story frontwards and backwards, it is one that I never get tired of hearing.

We then had a brief discussion of Pride and Prejudice (1940), but they didn’t spend that much time on it. They later explained that they felt that not that many people have seen it (or liked it), and I understand time is limited.

Aw, man!

But as we have time, I’m throwing the trailer in here. It may not be accurate, but still is a great film and the first P&P adaption I ever saw. Plus LAURENCE OLIVIER! *Sigh*

I wish we could have looked at all the depictions, but that would have taken too much time. Although I’d be down for it.

Anyways-we then moved onto the debate. Colin Firth versus Matthew MacFayden, Jennifer Ehle versus Keira Knightley, Simon Langton versus Joe Wright, BBC versus Universal, etc.

 

Fight, fight, fight! (from Jane Austen Fight Club)

So starting with the trailers:

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

So now that we have seen the trailers, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So after they discussed each facet they had us hold up our paddles to determine who won.

I’m in this photo.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who won each scene:

So I’ll just put my thoughts at the end.

Round 1: Mr. Collins, Tom Hollander Vs. David Bamber

So the group started off with the Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice (2005) the boiled potatoes scene. 

I know a lot of people love that scene, and I admit that I love Hollander’s stone faced delivery, however, it never really struck me as much as it does everyone else.

For Bamber they showed him trying to dance. But the scenes that really sell me on Mr. Collins is when they are getting ready for the ball and he runs into Lydia, and the Mr. Collins wave. Those scenes are priceless! 

IMO Winner: P&P (1995) David Bamber

Well-played!

Round 2: Sexy Darcy, Hand Clench Vs Firth in Bathtub & the Wet Shirt Scene

So the hand clench scene, I understand it but I don’t go crazy over it. First of all, as Doiel said in Gowns and Groans, they should have been wearing gloves. And not to be rude-but to me it always looks like his hand has a spasm. That’s just my view, if you love this scene then love it. I actually like this scene better.

For the 1995, they had the bath scene:

And the wet shirt/lake scene:

This had an obvious winner, I mean how can you resist Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt?

IMO Winner: P&P (1995) Bath Scene + Wet Shirt

Round 3: Meryton Assembly

So they started off with the Meryton Ball in 2005. Now I don’t really care for it as I am mostly distracted by how Caroline Bingley forgot to put a real dress on, she looks as if she is in a chemise not a gown. I never cared for how casual the Bennet sisters look as Mrs. Bennet most definitely would be wanting the girls to be more dressed up in order to snag a husband. It is lively, but I don’t care for the interactions between the characters:

Now the 1995 version is more subdued, but I like the costume choices better, and to me I like that it is concentrated on small scenes (Bingley & Jane along with Darcy & Elizabeth) with not so much going on in the background.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

Round 4: Romantic Aesthetic Vs. Accuracy

So Pride and Prejudice (2005) has a lot of romantic elements. You have these big scenic panoramas, Elizabeth on the cliff, Darcy and Elizabeth in the neoclassical building when he proposes (1st time), and the slow walk along the field in the early dawn (2nd proposal). This I personally don’t like, as Connor and Ruzika said, it is very Bronte-esque, but that is my biggest problem. Jane Austen is not Jane Bronte. And I really don’t like the scene where he finds her in the rain, as how did he know she would be there? And the field scene, they just happen to be there at the same time? Besides one of my favorite parts is at the end of the book when Mr. Darcy comes around with Bingley and Elizabeth is doing all she can to try and get his attention and figure out a way to talk to him, but is thwarted and unsure. And that longing and loss of hope-just gets me every time, will they get together ?!

And “Your hands are cold” I’ve always disliked that line as I feel it just kills the mood.

With me I love the accuracy of the mini-series, but of course there are things added in, like the Lake scene. But one of my favorite is when they are getting ready for the ball and the interaction between the sisters and Mr. Collins.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

Round 5: Bennet Family, “Behave Naturally” Vs. “Meet the Bennets”

So to get a view into the different relationships with the Bennet sisters, they used the “Behave Naturally” scene from P&P (2005). This is a great scene, even I love it.

The scene they chose from the P&P (1995) version is also a great scene. You really get the family dynamic in this one.

IMO Winner: Tie

Round 5: Darcy’s Flirtation, Sisterly Help Vs. Hungry Eyes

So with 2005, they chose the scene in which Elizabeth goes to Pemberley and meets Georgiana. It is a good scene as we get a new view of him from the servants, how he interacts with Georgiana, and that Darcy has been talking about her quite a bit with his sister. However, I have always hated Elizabeth skulking around and that peeping tom camera angle. I know it is partly because they had to combine different parts of the book for time limit, but her looking through the door gives me Norman Bates Psycho vibes.

For the 1995 version, they used a fan made video of Darcy staring and Hungry Eyes playing. That video is AMAZING but my favorite flirtation scene is when Darcy goes to see Elizabeth when she is staying at the Collins’ house, and Darcy comes to visit her and just stares or stares out the window because he doesn’t know what to say.

IMO Winner: P&P (1995)

So in my opinion there is a clear winner between Firth & Ehle versus Macfayden & Knightley:

But as for Jane Con? Everyone who had a paddle held it up and it came out to be 18-18

But then someone brought up the fact that not everyone had a paddle so they had us stand and count. The final result came out to be…………………………….

22-20 in favor of………

Yes Modesto Jane Con 2020 Declared Colin Firth as the Definitive Mr. Darcy.

So we all loved this workshop. They were fun, informative, interactive, and in the end we all could agree whether you love the 1995 or 2005 version, we all love Pride and Prejudice.

The only thing I would love more is if we looked at the other Darcy’s from films and TV shows, although I understand that wouldn’t be possible in one hour. I also would like to know who they think the worst Darcy is. I personally think it is the one in Austentatious (2015), which  ugh, I still have to finish watching.

For more on Modesto Jane Con, go to Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

For more Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, go to Whether Presentable or Not, I Love Spending Time With You: Episode Four, Pride and Prejudice (1995)

For more Elizabeth Bennet, go to YULETIDE: A Jane Austen-inspired Collection of Stories Audiobook

For more on Mr. Darcy, go to I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s