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Monday, August 12, 2013

Why You Should Care About "Austenland"

by LJ (bio)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that most Mormon girls swooned over the wet-shirt version of Pride and Prejudice, and it changed the concept of romance for us all. This is why we keep going back to other, lesser period romances and Jane Austen fan fiction, but luckily Shannon Hale stepped in with Austenland. Which is going to be released as a movie. Like, now.

Excuse me while I go geek out about this for a few minutes. There is so much history behind this for me.

I got my first dose of the BBC Pride and Prejudice at a sleepover in 1998. It took me three VHS tapes to get Darcy's name right and after his first horrible botched proposal to Lizzie Bennet I remember thumping my pillow and bawling, "Oh come ON Darby, just say you love her!" at the screen. My mom surprised me with my own set of bulky pink VHS tapes that Christmas and I spent the next six years hosting numerous P&P parties at my house. (My brother Steve even invited his buddies over for a showing because he loved Mr. Collins that much.)

Fast-forward to 2008, where I bought a book by someone named Shannon Hale who delivered a premise I couldn't ignore: a heroine basically goes to a Jane Austen theme park and lives out the Colin-Firth-in-a-wet-shirt fantasy she had probably nurtured with her own set of bulky pink VHS tapes. At a sleepover. In 1998.

I devoured the entire book in about two hours, laughed and sighed and when I got to the end sentence, flat-out cried. I slapped the book shut, picked up the phone and called three girlfriends and two sisters-in-law just to tell them I had found the Promised [Austen]Land.

Ohhhhhh I have been looking forward to this movie. I've devoured every casting notice, every trailer, every blog post detailing how this film jumped off the pages. I held an air goblet aloft and toasted to Bret McKenzie as Martin, Keri Russell as Jane, Jennifer Freaking Coolidge in all her glory and went off to research JJ Feild since I knew nothing about him. (JJ, you look fabulous. Don't be mad that I was rooting for Richard Armitage for the part of Nobley first.)

But you guys. YOU GUYS. The biggest reason why you should pick up your phones right now and call your local theatre about bringing Austenland to your town is not because this is a good date movie. It's because this is a chick-flick written and produced and directed by Mormon women. Stephenie Meyer and Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale formed this Mormon Women Trifecta and made a movie that sold for north of $4 million at Sundance.

Excuse me while I go geek out about that too. This is nothing short of stupendous.

So, now that I've told you why I love Austenland with every fiber of my being, I bear testimony to all within the sound of my voice to pick up your phones, call your local theatres, and lobby for Austenland to come to your town. It doesn't matter if you actually plan on seeing it. It's about giving this movie any additional toehold to compete with other, lesser movies and get some more Mormon-made films a chance.

Note: I'm trying out a grassroots campaign on Twitter (@lauriestradling) to bring Austenland to Charlottesville, VA. Let's see if we can get #bringaustenland trending and spread the love around the East Coast. Also follow @AustenlandMovie on Twitter, Like the Austenland Movie page on Facebook, and then follow Shannon Hale (@haleshannon), just because you ought to. 

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