Friday, June 30, 2017

Vanity Fair is getting a makeover

Reese Witherspoon, Vanity Fair, 2004

I've just read that Vanity Fair is getting another re-do. The last iteration starring Reese Witherspoon was both a critical failure and a box office flop back in 2004 so word of a new version of Thackeray's classic satirical novel won't have anyone shedding tears. The news that the many many many paged book is going to be a seven part series—rather than a 2 hour film—is very good news for obvious reasons. 


Taking Witherspoon's place as Becky Sharp is Olivia Cooke, the young British actress many of you know from Bates Motel and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. We'll see her next year in the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and the intriguing sounding Life Itself, both coming in 2018.


Except for the fact that Becky Sharp is a social climbing adventuress I confess I've mostly forgotten the book which I think I read back in college. Or thereabouts. I might even have read it for pleasure, I went through a time in the 70's when I went through 19th century period novels like Austen's Pride and Prejudice, George Eliot's Middlemarch, Charles Dickens Bleak House and Henry James Portrait of a Lady like they were The Girl on the Train. These days, not so much. I may try to reread Vanity Fair but with the paperback weighing in at 848 pages, I'm not optimistic. 

Here's how the Bantam Classic is described on line:
A deliciously satirical attack on a money-mad society, Vanity Fair, which first appeared in 1847, is an immensely moral novel, and an immensely witty one. Called in its subtitle “A Novel Without a Hero,” Vanity Fair has instead two heroines: the faithful, loyal Amelia Sedley and the beautiful and scheming social climber Becky Sharp. It also engages a huge cast of wonderful supporting characters as the novel spins from Miss Pinkerton’s academy for young ladies to affairs of love and war on the Continent to liaisons in the dazzling ballrooms of London. Thackeray’s forte is the bon mot and it is amply exercised in a novel filled with memorably wicked lines. Lengthy and leisurely in pace, the novel follows the adventures of Becky and Amelia as their fortunes rise and fall, creating a tale of both picaresque and risqué. Thackeray mercilessly skewers his society, especially the upper class, poking fun at their shallow values and pointedly jabbing at their hypocritical “morals.” His weapons, however, are not fire and brimstone but an unerring eye for the absurd and a genius for observation of the foibles of his age. An enduring classic, this great novel is a brilliant study in duplicity and hypocrisy…and a mirror with which to view our own times.
My twitter friend who calls herself 'Crazy Book Lady' and goes by @rorysbooks on twitter reminds me they changed the ending of Vanity Fair in the Reese Witherspoon version—never a good idea for a lit loving movie fan. Any ideas for what else might have gone wrong? Does it have anything to do with this picture?


Here's the 2004 Vanity Fair trailer, should you want a reminder of how the movie went down. The new iteration comes from the producers of Poldark and Victoria and has been written for television (via Amazon and ITV) by Gwyneth Hughes, screenwriter of The Girl and Dark Angel. Production is supposed to begin this fall in London and Budapest so watch for more casting news in the coming weeks. 



Ready for a remake?


Linking up with Joy Weese Moll's British Isles Friday

1 comment:

  1. I read Vanity Fair in high school, for pleasure, and all I remember about it is that it's one of the longest books I've read. I look forward to the mini-series version. I think I'll wait for that rather than seek out the movie.

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