Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is There a Pig Inside the House at Longbourne?

Okay, I'm going to address all this nonsense about there being a pig in the Bennet house during the 2005 Pride & Prejudice once and for all.  I found my mom's copy, found the infamous pig scene, and shall now examine the evidence.

First, the pig comes swaggering past an open door:


Next, Mrs. Bennet stops beside another open door at the top of some steps and calls through a little room, toward where the pig was:


Last, Mr. Bennet follows the pig into view outside that first open door and engages Mrs. Bennet in a little conversation:


Now, examine these pictures.  What's that beneath the pig's feet?  Looks like sawdust or chaff to me.  Not floorboards or even flagstones, certainly.  When you look at Mr. Bennet, you can see all kinds of things wrapped in fabric and hanging from hooks -- those look an awful lot like cured meat to me, at least compared to what I've seen at all the living history places I've visited over the years.  That is clearly some kind of cellar or place for storage, possibly even open to the elements a bit -- you can see sunshine pouring in from behind the pig.  The flooring in that dividing room is dirty slabs of stone, probably some sort of entry way where the servants bring things in, store things for the kitchen, whatever.  The chair we can see in the first picture certainly doesn't belong in any of the nice interior rooms where the family lives.  The walls in the middle room aren't painted either.

But look at where Mrs. Bennet is -- that's the part of the house where the family lives.  There we see painted walls and some sort of light fixture.  It looks to be the hallway leading to the front door, as several of the girls race past her in a few more frames, all ready to go to town to see the militia. 

So.  Do the Bennets have a pig in their house?  No!  They have a pig being herded by Mr. Bennet and an employee through a storage area (underneath the remains of some of its previous companions, no doubt -- the pig's, I mean, not the employee's).  The only animals ever seen in the house itself are a couple of dogs.  Fitting household companions for a gentleman.

Ladies and gentlemen, to me it is clear:  no pig in the house.

20 comments:

  1. Ha, well, in my opinion, Longbourn-as-portrayed-in-this-movie in its entirety is a very unrealistic residence for the Bennets. It gives the feeling of a dilapidated farmhouse-- I do not care how much we Janeites like to over-civilize the Regency period inf indeed we do; Jane Austen's Bennets would not have lived there.
    ;)

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    1. The 2005 version is actually set in 1797, so it's pre-Regency by a bit. That was the year that Austen finished the first draft of the book, and according to this article, the filmmakers chose to put it a bit earlier than most Austen dramatizations because it allowed them to avoid the Empire fashions and be more "gritty and honest" than "idealized."

      I think that the exterior of the house, the dining room, and the sitting rooms are very nice -- those are what their acquaintances would see when they entertained. The bedrooms and halls upstairs are plainer, and Mr. Bennet's library and puttering-around rooms are messy (presumably to emphasize his carelessness), but I don't get a feeling of dilapidation from their living quarters -- these sections look careworn, but not broken or squalid.

      However, we all have our own ideas of what all the characters and setting should look like, based on our reading of the book, and no movie is ever going to perfectly match that. Some will work better than others.

      Maybe we should become filmmakers so we could make the movies we want to see! Wouldn't that be fun?

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    2. Yep, I realize the styles and everything are quite different... but that's one of the things I dislike about the movie. Jane Austen REVISED the book in the year before it was published, and evidently changed a lot of things (even with the story, perhaps--I mean, the original was in epistolary form!) and since it was completely rewritten and updated, 1813 (or '12 or '11) is when it should be set. It only makes sense.
      So yeah, they just did it because they wanted to--which was pretty much how the whole thing is. They weren't trying to make it an accurate JA adaptation. :P

      I'll stop ranting now. Really. I will. :D

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    3. Lol. Well, this post is kind of there to provide a ranting place for all sides, lol.

      I suspect one of the reasons they set it back farther is so that they could make a different movie from the '95. Otherwise it would just be the same thing over again, in a way, and they wouldn't be making something new and interesting.

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    4. Cough. Well, they certainly achieved making it different from P&P95. And interesting would be one way of putting it. ;P Obviously though, they were wanting to make something new and different and Not Actually Like P&P. An 'interpretation', you know.
      To be honest, I don't think the perfect adaptation is out there yet. But I fear it never will be, and I'm happy with 1995 anyways. It's the best--but I do think some things could be better. Just a bit. :)

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    5. All adaptations are an interpretation of sorts. Or are any and all movies of, say, Shakespeare that do not take place in the times Shakespeare set them in also hopelessly wrong? In the case of Hamlet, we'd have to throw out all but possibly Zeffirelli's 1990 version, which is closer to feudal Denmark than most.

      One way filmmakers get us to pay attention to a story is by doing something new and different with a story we're already familiar with -- using a new setting is a great way to get people to think about things they might not have considered otherwise. This version emphasizes the rural setting, getting us to think about how the Bennets may or may not have lived. Look! It worked! Almost 10 years later, we're still discussing it. Would you have learned all this about Regency life and customs without it?

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  2. Great eye, Hamlette! I hadn't really analyzed it but can agree with you without any problem. :) I read a lot of articles when this movie came out and so many were upset at how the filmmakers portrayed the Bennets and their household. I confess that it never bothered me one bit. For all that I like the "refined" versions, this one definitely has the family, and especially the sisters, truly feel like a unit. That despite the silliness and quirks and frustrations of each of the sisters, they all love each other deeply. That's one aspect that I really loved a lot. Whether Austen herself would agree or not? Who knows, but I sure like it! :)

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    1. Not such a great eye -- I thought the swing was right next to the house, and when I skimmed through it to find this moment, I realized it's actually between two barn-looking buildings. Oh well.

      I think this version captured the story, the characters, and the themes really well, and presented them in a vital and intriguing new way. One of these days, I'll watch the '95 again and write a big long post about it too :-)

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  3. As far as adaptations/interpretations/whatever, I think that even when filmmakers are adapting a story, they have the right and indeed the obligation to create something new. Apparently someone saw the book this way, and I don't think that's wrong. I enjoyed this version even though it's not my favorite. If they want to roughen up the Bennets' place a little, it doesn't make any difference to me.

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    1. I am coming to believe that you, like me, are not a "purist."

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  4. Great post! I love it when fans analyze movies/books/TV shows like this post did, so it was a fun read. Even if the pig HAD been in the house, P&P 2005 would still be my favorite adaption of the book...I really don't get all the hype over the 1995 adaption.

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    1. Thanks! I did have fun writing it, analyzing the set and such.

      I do understand why the 95 is beloved. It was what sort of initiated the whole Janeism fervor that's been going on ever since. It was way cooler than any other TV costume drama up until that time. And it is exceedingly faithful to the text, which is what a lot of people insist on.

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  5. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. I've heard a lot of people who are upset about the pig supposedly being in the house, so seeing this was wonderful. I love P&P 2005, although I am unfortunately very lonely in those sentiments. I understand why people love the '95 version, but many people who do tend to drag the '05 version through the mud, so to speak. I guess I just wished they would give this lovely version a fair chance.

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    1. You're most welcome, Mary! I know, it's horrible how many people ridicule and abuse this movie. They can get really unkind not just toward the movie, but toward anyone who enjoys it. I have little patience for such small-minded people. I myself quite like the '95 as well -- why on earth should it be a one-or-the-other proposition? I think mocking this movie makes some people feel like they're better or smarter than other people, which is so low.

      So don't feel too lonely! There are actually quite a few of us who like it :-)

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  6. Thanks so much, Hamlette, for pointing this out. I have a terrible eye for details in general--but even I could see, watching this scene, that the pig NEVER ACTUALLY CAME INTO THE HOUSE. And having everybody say that it DID gets really old after a while.

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  7. I promise I'm not an Austen purist, although I do appreciate fidelity to the text when it comes to Jane Austen's most iconic lines or best jokes. Because really, nobody can improve upon them by paraphrasing. But I genuinely can't abide the 2005 P&P, except for Rosamund Pike and Tom Hollander, both of whom I loved, and the soundtrack, which I bought immediately. Judi Dench ought to have been wonderful, but I felt that they gave her nothing to work with, which was a crime.

    Here's the issue for me: I don't mind when informed Janeites like the film. But I have zilch patience with people who now think they love Jane Austen or hate Jane Austen because they saw this movie and have never picked up the book. I put it in the same category as Becoming Jane--if it inspires people to actually read Austen's work, I'm all for it, but I don't want it to feed into the stereotype that Austen is chick-lit, and I'm so afraid that's what it's done more often than not. The producers may have wanted the film to be gritty, but I think all they managed was to increase the fantasy of it, not the realism, making it into a Cinderella story.

    *sigh* After having been regarded so well and read so widely by men in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Austen has spent the last seventy plus years largely relegated to the "romance" genre, and it frustrates me to no end that it's put so many men off reading and appreciating her.

    End rant. And thank you for clearing up the pig thing!

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    1. Hello, Modern Morland!

      I am also frustrated by the way that Austen gets dismissed as "just romance" so often. The various filmed versions all seem to dwell on the romantic aspects, as love stories make for big box office and we all know it.

      I'm reminded a bit of the way that fans of the Sherlock Holmes canon get frustrated by fans of the BBC show Sherlock who won't read the books. Canon-fans know that show-fans would enjoy the show more if they read the canon, would come to a deeper understanding the characters, would appreciate the way the show's writers translate the world of the originals into the modern world.

      Same goes for those of us who love Austen's books and see their depth. I even know people who read the books and dismiss them as "fun fluff." I think there are always going to be people who dismiss classic literature because they misunderstand it. And do film adaptations add to that? Sure.

      But then again... the films/shows often draw in people who would otherwise not be interested in these books. Maybe they don't usually read "old books." Or any books. And if the movie versions of these books get people to try reading Austen or Doyle or Tolkien or Eliot or Hardy or Fitzgerald or whatever classic author it is that they're trying for the first time -- I'm more than happy.

      And they do. I know, because I'd never read Austen until I saw the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma. I'd never read Jane Eyre until I saw the Timothy Dalton version. I'd never read The Lord of the Rings until I'd seen the first movie. I'd never read Middlemarch until I'd seen the BBC version from the early '90s. (I was big into Sherlock Holmes long before I saw any filmed version at all, though. I don't *always* come to lit backwards, I promise!)

      So... yeah, sometimes the films cause misunderstandings. But they also help people understand things better too, so overall, I'm cool with them and their influence on the world at large.

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    2. Oh, I definitely hear you. I saw the wave of mid-90s Austen films comparatively young (11 or 12), so I hadn't read the books yet either. Ditto Jane Eyre. I guess I've just seen a lot of my students (I teach history) rave about Austen over the years, but many have never bothered to go back to the source. They come in wearing t-shirts with quotes attributed to Austen that were actually invented by screenwriters, or quotes that *are* Austen, but they have no idea what book they come from or what they mean in context. I should be more generous, I know.

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    3. Modern Morland, I do get the frustration. I was in my teens when the Austen movies sort of took over everything, but didn't become a real fan of hers until about fifteen years later when I re-read all the books in one year and started reading lots of critical essays about them, books about the history of her era, and so on.

      But yeah, it's hard when people don't bother going back to the source material. And when they get super vehement about "correct" portrayals of characters and so on... and then it turns out they haven't even read the books. Sigh.

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