HIGGINSBROOK HOUSE: BECOMING JANE
By Rochelle Tolentino
Star Movies or HBO? I can’t remember where I first watch BECOMING JANE. At first, I was hooked by the fact that the leading actress is Anne Hathaway. I like her as an actress and it started when I watch her other movie princess diary. Both of her movies have some setting in castle. But on this writing, I like to give details on the movie Becoming Jane. When I first encountered the title, the first question that flashed in my head is “who is Jane”. I thought that this movie is just a fiction story. I’m not really familiar of this movie but as time flies and as I watched it many times already, I had the idea that the Jane referring in the movie is Jane Austen. With that, I realised that it’s based on the true story of Jane Austen.
This movie focused young Jane’s love story. Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) is the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Austen and she has not yet married. Until she met Thomas Lefroy (James McAvoy) a promising lawyer with a bad reputation. Jane found him arrogant. But then they soon seemed comfortable with each other’s company. Afterwards, they fell to each other. But then again, a wealthy Lady Gresham set an engagement between her nephew, Mr Wisley and Jane. In addition to that, Tom’s uncle, a rich man who funds for Tom’s allowance, didn’t want Jane for his nephew. So because Jane and Tom loved each other they planned to elope. However, on their way, the carriage they were riding was stocked. So Tom volunteered to help, and then he gives his coat to Jane. With that, Jane saw what was on Tom’s coat, a letter from his family which gave her realization about his situation. Tom was the only person that supports his family. Jane decided to back out and returned home. They both separate and don’t see each other again. Twenty years later, Jane attended a gathering and there she saw Tom about to leave. Her brother Henry tried to catch him and brought him to her. But Jane was surprised when she saw tom’s daughter. The young girl tried to convince Jane to do a reading because she is a fan of her but Jane refused it. However, the young girl object, then suddenly Tom silenced her by saying “Jane!” Tom named his daughter Jane and after Jane Austen realised it she conceded to do a reading. They were in a couch with Jane reading a book which turns to be the Pride and Prejudice.
The story focused on realism because in the first place it served as a biography of Jane Austen. And to add for the realistic story is the setting. The movie was shot in Dublin, Ireland in contrast to the real birthplace of Jane Austen which is Hampshire, England. According to the director the decision of filming the movie in Ireland was due to the fact, “Hampshire now is groomed and manicured and what we were able to find in Ireland was a sense of countryside that felt more unchanged”. Dublin has beautiful scenery which adds to the romantic atmosphere in the movie. It may also one of the factors that give Jane an inspiration to write. The director also likes the sense of landscape in Dublin because Jane Austen grew up with that kind of environment.
Eve Stewart, the production designer, read about Austen’s life and a wide range of literature from the 1790s Regency England period. Because the decorative styles of the period were mostly for function, whitewash and simple colors were used on the set, as well as wallpaper, was becoming more common to all levels of society. Furniture was mostly basic wooden pieces with a few upholstered pieces. Stewart found the perfect set for the Austen family home in County Meath. The house has only one bedroom so Stewart created couple of rooms to look like the Austen’s house. Higginsbrook House shows the manner in which the Austen family lived.
Higginsbrook belongs to the Grays who inherited it from Christopher Gray’s great aunt since 1970. The house itself was built circa 1747, thus older than Jane Austen herself, it was built by Joseph and Ralph Higgins. Higginsbrook House is a Georgian style house. The house seems bigger on the outside but the interior is just middle-sized house. It has a box-shaped and strictly in symmetrical layout. Its windows are usually rectangular and evenly spaced. There are chimneys in both end of the roof. Additional distinguishing feature of the house is the pediment above the door.
I realised from watching the movie that the love she experienced and the environment from where Jane Austen grew up is one of the factor that brought Jane the inspiration to write.