Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beau Brummell: This Charming Man

I finally had the opportunity to watch my new DVD about Beau Brummell. It really wasn't at all what I expected--I think I had Jane Austen movies too much in mind. But I did enjoy it.

The production is only 80 minutes long, and I wondered how they would capture such an intense, expansive life in so short a time. But actually it worked well for it emphasized Brummell's meteoric rise to fame and his equally swift fall to disgrace.

James Purefoy did an excellent job of playing the Beau. He captured very well the careless bravado, the insecurities, and the unfulfilled needs that must have marked the man. His depiction of Brummell moving from a free, determined spirit to a dependent of the Prince Regent and back again to freedom albeit poorer in all things, is masterly. The sexual license that marked the period in some circles is well illustrated; Brummell died of syphilis and the film leaves us in no doubt as to how he might have contracted that disease. The hint of homosexual activities is questionable, but as likely as anything else. I'm going to investigate how well Brummell knew Byron. I was not aware that there was a connection between the two, but they must have known each other of course.

The servant Robinson is beautifully portrayed by Philip Davis and Hugh Bonneville is outstanding as the Prince Regent. Too often Prinny is portrayed as a total buffoon, but Bonneville's version is much more believable: a man wily, intelligent, immature and not without his own charm.

The Regency period is well-presented--the dim candlelit interiors, the echoing halls of Carleton House, the casual violence and the stultifying idleness of the well-to-do. The costuming is convincing (those awful fops!) except for the Beau's fine shirt--which buttons all the way down the front! But they needed to do that for dramatic effect so I guess I'll repress my anal need for historical accuracy this once.

All in all "This Charming Man" is well worth watching. It's not a happy representation of the Regency period, but it is credible. Now I'm going to read that copy of Ian Kelly's "Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy" that has been in my TBR pile for too long.

"The Education of Portia" is being released tomorrow, and "Emilina's Conquest" is finished editing and will be prepared for publishing as soon as I return it to Uncial! It's a busy time around here--

All the best,

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