Sunday, October 14, 2012

Susannah Harker as Jane

I love the 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation.  This is not an earth-shattering revelation. Many others do too. And I, like many others, watch it, oh, say, once or even twice a year.  -- whenever I am getting in the mood for fall. . . or looking for a way to unwind after being really busy . . . or snuggled in by a fire at Christmas. . . there are many excellent excuses to re-watch.

So re-watch I did. Again. For the umpteenth time and, as I often do, I reflected upon Susannah Harker as Jane. When I first saw this series, many many years ago, I remember that I was just ever so slightly disappointed with Jane, thinking, as others have done before me, that she is just not quite breathtaking enough for the role.  But each time I watch I see more and more of her beauty. You just have to look with the right eyes.

The problem is not Harker at all; it is her hair.

Now, this Pride and Prejudice was an authentic period piece, so I understand that they were constrained to Regency-era styles. Of course that would present some strictures as to what would be appropriate for Jane; but, it's just no excuse for her hair not to suit her face better.  Other women in the production have hairstyles that really fit both the actress and what her character needed to convey. Especially Lizzy. Jennifer Ehle looks just as Lizzy ought to, and in some scenes, her hair adds immeasureably to her charms - for example, the Netherfield Ball 'do.

But poor Susanna Harker gets horns coming out of her temples. When she's casual, she gets to look long and stringy (with horns) and when she's dressed up, she gets to look too pulled back and severe (with horns.) The problem wouldn't amount to much except that Jane is supposed to be undeniably the most beautiful woman around and she comes off looking a bit unpleasant.  This is unfair, because on viewing photos of the actress not as Jane, I can see that she is very very lovely.

Here is how good Harker can look when she isn't becoming Jane:

She is very beautiful!

She has an excellent Greek nose, translucent skin and a lovely turn of the neck! While I admit that sometimes the production managed to showcase these characteristics well, for the most part, it failed to. The inability capitalize on and showcase the beauty of the character who was supposed to delight our eyes is one of the very few weak points in the production.