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A Fresh Look At Austen's World
BECOMING JANE is set in a world unlike any previously seen in screen adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. Notes producer Robert Bernstein: "We recreated a world that Jane Austen lovers can recognize and associate with – but we can also take the audiences into areas and places like the boxing club and the fair that do not feature in Jane Austen's fiction. They are sort of seedy and dangerous areas that give a different view of the times.”

Adds Julian Jarrold: "It was important to us that the movie feel real and truthful.

Cinematographically and design-wise there were a lot of interesting juxtapositions in Kevin Hood's script that I tried to develop. These included languorous rural Hampshire versus energetic, chaotic London; the informalities and warmth of the Austen household versus the cold stark frigid atmosphere of Lady Gresham's; and the journey of Jane from exuberance and innocence to an experience that turns sour before her eventual triumph as a novelist.”

To bring the full breadth of Jane and Tom's youthful worlds to life, the filmmakers tapped Oscar®- nominated and Emmy winning production designer, Eve Stewart (TOPSY-TURVY, HBO's "Elizabeth I”). Stewart began by not only brushing up on her knowledge of Austen, but immersing herself in a wide range of literature from Regency England circa 1790s. Her mission was to create a world that was realistic but revealing of the fictionalized characters.

"We wanted to transport people into another world but also not get too bogged down in pedantry. So BECOMING JANE has both some of the bright, beautiful and dramatic sheen of period Austen films – but it is also grittier, earthier and harder than previous movie adaptations,” Stewart explains. "At times the edges are not softened and the sunlight isn't always golden. It is more of an interior representation of what life might have been like for Jane.”

The film shot in Dublin, a city filled with unblemished Georgian architecture, where terraced streets (especially Henrietta Street) and landmarks (including City Hall) still retain the essence of 1795. The palette Stewart chose was true to the practicality of the times. "The decorative styles of the period were pretty functional with lots of whitewash and plain colors,” she says. "The furniture was basic wooden pieces and there was some upholstery but not an incredible amount. The only thing that was terribly sophisticated in the period were the fabrics: silk, lace, velvet. To a certain extent wallpapers and wall coverings were just becoming quite popular and being printed in a way that made it more accessible and affordable to the lower regions of society.”

One of the key locations in the film is of course the Austen family house, based on the modest rectory in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. "Jane spent all her formative years there and that was the place that influenced her view of the world. You have to believe that the family live in that house because that is a crucial piece of the jigsaw,” says Stewart. "I wanted some place that was suggestive of the Bennets' household. After a lot of research, I discovered that the Austens lived in a smaller version of the Bennet household. There is a lot of visual evidence, including etchings and paintings of their house that corroborates this.

After a lengthy search through Ireland, Stewart finally alighted on a place with just the right ambience: Higginsbrook House near Trim in County Meath, a middle-sized home which dates from 1747. "The scale of Higginsbrook was ideal because the Austens were crammed into this small house, where Mr. Austen was the lowly rector of a small parish and where they had a small garden to grow all their food,” says Stewart.

Standing in stark contrast to the Austen's modest house is the grand, stately home of the fictional Lady Gresham, which is overwhelmi

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