For The Love of Frock Coats

Last night I went to the art cinema and watched the latest version of Jane Eyre to hit the big screen. I was rather looking forward to it, as I recall reading the book as a senior in high school and enjoying it well enough, and I remember loving whatever miniseries version it was that we watched in class. I even read Wide Sargasso Sea in college and didn’t hate it! However, my expectations might have been a wee bit too high for a story as dark and depressing as Jane Eyre. I mean dark literally, as the film relied very heavily on flickering candlelight and faces lit only by fires in gloomy sitting rooms at night. Mia Wasikowska was likable enough, if a bit blander than the Jane from my memory, and I just didn’t feel the love between her and Rochester. Speaking of which, I was looking forward to Michael Fassbender as Rochester, since he caught my eye in Hex and has been on my radar ever since, and overall he was good, but not enough to keep me from thinking about how long the movie was and how much my butt hurt toward the end.

I wondered what had changed in the fourteen years(!?!) since I last watched Charlotte Brontë’s story come to life on film. Surely I’m not too jaded for period piece romances, because my heart still swoons during any given Jane Austen film. And who doesn’t love a man in a frock coat? It makes everything more dashing and romantic. And yet… I don’t know if I could handle a guy straight from the pages of a British romance novel riding up to me on his horse and trying to sweep me off my feet. I’d get caught up in the details, such as how are we both gonna fit on this poor horse, where does he think we’ll go, how did he navigate the interstate on horseback, is that a costume or his daily clothing, and most of all who the hell is this guy and who does he think he is? So many of us want the storybook romance, but I that sort of thing just doesn’t fit into our modern lives, as much as we imagine it could. I think it would take a bit of humor and a modern wink-and-nod to pull that sort of thing off. And so today’s video is a marvelous little period piece montage I randomly found on YouTube dedicated to those dashing men in frock coats but set to Geri Halliwell’s version of that disco classic “It’s Raining Men.” Unfortunately I can’t post it directly on my page, but you can go watch it here, and I sincerely hope you do, especially if you’ve ever loved Mr. Darcy and still dream of being swept off of your feet.

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