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Sunday, October 4

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

For the next seven days, Laurel Ann and Vic will devote Austenprose, Jane Austen's World, and Jane Austen Today to Jane Austen's siblings. This event is in celebration of JASNA's general annual meeting in Philadelphia, whose erudite discussions will center on Jane Austen's sister and brothers. Our first post will be about Cassandra, Jane's devoted sister. Two recent movies about Jane's life featured Cassandra. This week we ask you: which actress did you prefer in the role? Greta Schachi played Cassandra towards the end of Jane's life, and Anna Maxwell Martin portrayed Cassandra when she was young and grieving over the death of her fiance.
Which actress do you prefer as Cassandra?

Greta Scacchi, Cassandra, Miss Austen Regrets

Greta plays a world weary Cassandra, who is the mainstay of the women at Chawton Cottage, helping to run the household with her mother, including gardening, sewing, and cooking. These activities enabled Jane to concentrate on her writing. The Times Online offered this description of the character as supportive sister: "As the elder, wiser sister to the fiery Jane (Olivia Williams), her Cassandra is a bedraggled bread baker, chicken plucker and general rural dogsbody without a dusting of make-up or a single bonnet change in ten years of screen life." Cassandra nurses Jane through her terrible final illness, and Greta's scenes with Olivia Williams as a critically ill Jane Austen were among the most touching of the Jane Austen movie adaptations as I have ever seen.

Anna Maxwell Martin, Cassandra, Becoming Jane

Anna plays a younger Cassandra, one who is deeply in love with her fiance Thomas Fowle. When he dies on a trip to the West Indies, Cassandra's grief is profound and lasting. (Cassandra never married and received an annuity for life from his small estate.) Anna's sensitive portrayal of a woman in love and who has lost the love of her life is quite moving, and brought me to tears. In this BBC podcast, Anna spoke about her role as Cassandra and her interpretation of Jane's sister: " she was very much a levelling force for Jane – Jane was the misfit of the family really – very ambitious, wanted to be a writer. Whereas Cassandra was very aware of her duty to her family, which was a hugely prevalent thing at the time - marrying for the right reasons, to the right person. Jane didn’t feel any of those obligations because she had another passion, and Cassandra was really the one who tried to …she was a sounding-board for Jane, but also she tried to level her a bit and that didn’t really work!" free polls
Actress I prefer as Cassandra Austen
Greta Scacchi in Miss Austen Regrets Anna Maxwell Martin in Becoming Jane

Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World


Raquel said...

Vic, you and yours impossible polls! It is impossible choose one... Both are lovely Cassandra.
I think Anna should be Jane in Becoming Jane. She is much more near Cassandra's portrait of Jane.

Bee said...

I agree; impossible poll!

On Thursday, we had some sixth formers visit Jane Austen's House and we had a lively throwdown about the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and the more recent film of the same.

The Cassandras, both mother and daughter, are buried at the chapel outside of Chawton House, just down the road from Jane Austen's House. She lived for such a long time after Jane died. Somehow, I think that Jane was probably the bigger love of her life. Sad, that Cassandra's life was so dominated by grieving.

Nonna Beach said...

This has got to be one of your hardest throwdowns so far. They are both such superior actresses...wonderful in any part they play...

In fact:
"Impossible to choose" should have been one of the choices in the poll ! LOL

Lauren said...

All these polls! I am in a rush now to catch up on my Austen movies!! :o)

nigel said...

I agree with the other commentators that this throw down is such a difficult choice?

Perhaps we should write to Colin Firth and ask his opinion?

Blarney Girl said...

Sorry if this is against the rules, but I voted for both! I love both portrayals.

Kaye Dacus said...

Just like everyone else, I love both actresses in this role. There's a pretty good continuity between the way AMM and GS portrayed her. But like Raquel, I'm of the opinion that Anna should have been cast as Jane in BJ---she would have done a much better job in the role, not just by dent of having a genuine British accent, but by bringing a softer sensibility to it.

Nonna Beach said...

Nigel, you always amaze me with your wit and whipping of poor Colin Firth...and give me a good laugh too !

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