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I freely admit that I am mad about period dramas. I count down the days until Sunday night to watch the TV series Downton Abbey and when I heard they were making a movie of Anna Karenina I was very excited. So why are we so attracted to period dramas?
Is it the characters? The romanticised aristocrats, conniving footmen, noble maids, stoic housekeepers and crusty butlers. Or is it the costumes? The bonnets, voluminous skirts, bloomers, corsets, the men in pantyhose and morning coats with ridiculous perms! Maybe it is just we like to live in a fantasy world of when things were all prim and proper and no-one would dare venture a kiss before they were betrothed – let alone have pre-marital sex!
I remember my first experience with a period drama was when I watched the old black and white movie of Wuthering Heights and I became obsessed with the tortured romantic Heathcliffe. I couldn’t get enough of him – he was my dream man! Then years later I watched the movie Pride and Prejudice and I fell head over heals in love with the mysterious Mr Darcy!
It took so long for Mr Darcy to get it together with Elizabeth that I thought they were practically going to be past consummating the marriage. Honestly how long does one have to wait!
It’s all those longing looks, heaving chests and sighs of frustration by the heroine in the story that makes it so deliciously entrancing. In today’s terms this would equate to sexual frustration! You just need to take a peek at the movie titled Hysteria to understand how unsatisfied women of bygone times were. For those that haven’t seen it, Hysteria was roughly the story of the invention of ‘the vibrator’.
Your average period drama has your strong willed heroine (girls love this), good looking British hero (Colin Firth, Hugh Dancy and Matthew Macfadyen to name a few), wit, humour, sarcasm, good conversation (life would be pretty dull without it), gross misunderstandings (who hasn’t had a couple of those?) Then after the girl very dramatically rejects the boy because of some small defect in his character, she realises her mistake and by coincidence they meet up and they reveal their true feelings for one another and live happily ever after. Just like a fairytale really!
The other fact about period dramas that appeals to us all are the deftly transfigured town and country settings, which serve to complete the illusion that we are in a different age. You know, the large sprawling country manors with a hundred bedrooms and acres upon acres of perfectly manicured lawns and gardens.
In some of the recent TV productions such as Downton Abbey (the new Upstairs Downstairs), it portrays the lives of both the aristocrats and the servants. It is a real eye opener to the differences in the social classes of that era – the ‘haves and the have nots’. Secretly I think we would all like to have our own ladies maid to attend to our dressing and grooming. Can you imagine how much easier life would be? We could look immaculate every single day – no more ‘bad hair days!
Some of the dialogue is so romantic. Can you imagine a man of today saying to his sweetheart?
“I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love … I love … I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” (Mr Darcy to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice).
Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and gooey inside? I guess we all still aspire to having some romance in our lives and being swept off our feet by some tall dark handsome stranger!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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