It seems that period films are always around and perhaps they always will be. Few releases within the genre break the box office or are surrounded by an overwhelming sea of hype that proves unavoidable to the majority of the general public. However, despite gaining minimal publicity when compared to recent blockbusters such as “The Hobbit”, “The Dark Knight Rises” or “Skyfall”, these old fashioned motion pictures hold their weight in the long run. The sort of tales that so many know and love, will be revisited time and time again, each story earning its place within a film collection as one to save for a rainy day.
Classics such as “Jane Eyre”, “Wuthering Heights” and “Pride and Prejudice” are remade over and over for both the big and small screens, never failing to attract viewers despite how many times the audience has seen various adaptions of the original novel. More modern stories are sometimes introduced too, with the likes of “The Duchess” and “Atonement” as two prime examples. Regardless, these romantic, idealistic plots typically involve a hopeful female character awaiting her dream man, who eventually strides heroically to save the day and puts a ring upon her finger. That’s all very well and good, except that it would be difficult not to argue that those sorts of expectations are ultimately utterly antiquated.
No longer do women sit and wait, looking pretty for their ultimate ideal male to come along and whisk them away to share the life they have always dreamed of. I certainly do not know any fellow females who waste their days casually doing needlework whilst drinking tea and bickering with their sisters about who is next to be betrothed. We no longer fret about ribbons and bonnets, or worry about snagging our stockings and rag rolling our hair to form perfect ringlets. This is the twenty first century – we have our own lives, independence, careers, money… the list goes on; so why do we insist upon falling in love with these fictional Mr Darcy-esque characters and loyally revisit them countless times throughout our lives?
Long gone are the days of wearing impractical empire line dresses trimmed with lace, tolerating restrictive corsets under your clothing and presenting yourself demurely to attract a suitable suitor, so I find it hard to see why modern women still relate to these archaic characters. “Downton Abbey” still proves popular on television, whilst there is also a new film release, “Lost in Austen,” currently in the pipeline which is due to be released in 2014. The attraction could possibly be that ultimately, many hope that one day they will have their own happily ever after, but surely I can’t be alone in thinking that the idea of sitting pretty for a darling husband, spending my day darning and lunching with other similar ladies sounds utterly dull. As long as we keep the girlish ideals purely for cinematic enjoyment then I’m all for cracking out a period movie with some friends, but take away my own freedom by expecting me to live a life waiting for Prince Charming and you’ve got another thing coming.
By Sophie Seymour