25/04/2010

MY BLOGGER BUDDIES - MEET CHERYL, CHARLEYBROWN AT ENCHANTED SERENITY OF PERIOD FILMS


First of all, Charleybrown, tell us something about yourself. Just as much as you want to reveal, of course.
I live in Ottawa, Canada’s capital and love my city! My name is Cheryl (derived from Charles, hence the name Charleybrown) I have one daughter and I’m pleased that she enjoys period dramas as well – I’m not sure what I would do if she didn’t! My hobbies used to include knitting, cross-stitch and killer sudokus before I started blogging but now it seems they’ve taken a backseat!

So, Cheryl - I love this name! - let’s start with blogging. Your beautiful site, Enchanted Serenity of Period Films , is a precious and rich archive for period drama and film lovers. When did you start it and how hard is to keep it updated?


Thanks for the compliment Maria Grazia! I’m so honoured that you asked me to join you as your blogger buddy. I like that you call it an archive since I did intend for it to be used more like an archive than as a personal blog. I began Enchanted Serenity in December of 2007 and I had no idea that it would have enabled me to meet so many interesting people online! I simply started it as a means of organizing my favourite period films and tracking other items of interest pertaining to each film! When I began, I also had no idea how many films were out there (Eras of Elegance convinced me of that)! I thought that it would be fun to highlight my favourite older films as well as keep up with the few (or so I thought) new films that came out each year. Ha ha, little did I know that there were more than just a few new period films each year and plenty of information about each of them to keep me busy! There's currently over 100 movies listed in my section of recent and Upcoming Films. I find it exciting to learn about projects in the works however I've been disappointed when we've heard that a film has been planned and then cancelled.


 When and how did your fondness of costume movies and drama begin?

I grew up watching family based dramas like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Christy and the wonderful Road to Avonlea! I would say that my interest in period films was cemented in 1995 when I watched Sense and Sensibility. I had heard of the name of Jane Austen and knew that she was a British author but that was about it. After being mesmerized by that film, I came across scenes of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle on a French channel and with my limited French, wanted to fully understand what was going on in the particular scene! (It turned out to be when Lizzie receives the letter from Jane telling her about Lydia's disgrace.) Those few scenes inspired me to find and read Pride and Prejudice before watching the 1995 miniseries which I consider to be one of the best period dramas out there! My fascination with Austen led me to look up film adaptations by other British authors: Dickens, Hardy, Henry James, etc and my public library proved to be a godsend in finding more dramas to savour based on these authors.

3. Do you prefer watching films at the theatres or alone at home on a DVD? What about period drama on TV? How much do they broadcast of it in your country?
I’m fortunate to have TVOntario, a public funded channel that shows many period dramas. That is where I discovered a little series called North & South before I knew of the RA fandom that exists out there! But we certainly don’t seem to have as many dramas as in the UK. We usually get them a few months later through PBS in the States. (Considering moving across the pond so the wait will not have to be endured!) I do prefer watching them at home but not alone! If only I could transport my friends from Manchester, Yakima, Little Rock, Rome, etc. to watch them with me!

4. Give us a list of your most loved period dramas/costume films.

It’s so difficult to narrow it down to just a few favourites! I made a list of my Top 150 Period Films and tried to trim it down to My Top 30 out of those. For the longest time, the 1995 P&P was on top but eventually I realized that Wives & Daughters had become my new sentimental favourite. The other adaptations based on Gaskell’s novels - North & South and Cranford, are also highly treasured! Another one that I think should not be missed is Anne of Green Gables and I love seeing the world through Anne Shirley’s eyes!
I think that my favourite dramas tend to fall under these categories: biopics (Bright Star, Gandhi), based on novels (Gaskell, Austen, Dickens), musicals (The Sound of Music, Les Miserables), focused on British Royals (The Young Victoria, Elizabeth, The Lost Prince) or depicting a particular time in history (Iron Jawed Angels, 1492, John Adams).

5. You often discuss about the fact that they always remake the same classics on TV never daring to propose new titles. For instance, how many Jane Eyre do we have, how many Austen or Dickens adaptations? What classics would you like to watch on screen which have never been adapted? Where do I begin?! As much as I’ve enjoyed watching Austen adaptations, I really wish producers would be more original! I was incredulous when I heard yet another David Copperfield was planned and I wrote an Open Letter to the BBC to vent my frustration. I did take some comfort knowing that there were many others out there with great suggestions for period dramas to be adapted and I now also have a list of books to read based on their ideas! I would love to see something like Villette by Charlotte Brontë (which was suggested by many) or a decent biopic of the Brontës . How about anything by Georgette Heyer? I’m stunned that such a beloved and prolific author has been overlooked. (BBC, are you listening?) Considering that this year is the bicentennial of Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth, it would have been lovely to see a biopic done on her or an attempted adaptation of Mary Barton.

 I love reading a book first and then, only after that,   watching its adaptations. I'm fond of looking and analyzing any difference or I simply like to recognize a good transposition of the author’s intentions. What do you usually do when a classic or a literary text in general is adapted?
I’m not as avid a reader as yourself Maria Grazia but I do love reading a book knowing that I will have the chance to see it played out on screen! Hearing of upcoming adaptations has often motivated me to finally sit down and read a book on my list. I don’t generally like to dissect and analyze the film but just hope that it’s essentially faithful to the author’s work. I would love to join a book/movie club one day so that I could chat with other fans in person!

 What are you most eagerly waiting for among the upcoming films and series?


Knowing that Matthew Macfadyen was cast in Pillars of the Earth, I could easily imagine his voice while reading it and look forward to that series. The King’s Speech with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush looks promising! I think that Julian Fellowes (screenwriter for Gosford Park) has the Midas touch and I’m eagerly awaiting his upcoming series Downton Abbey or I would love to see his film From Time to Time which was released last year but seems to be awaiting wider distribution. The remake of My Fair Lady with Emma Thompson as screenwriter has piqued my interest although I still wonder how they’ll pull it off! I’m curious about adaptations of novels of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See), The Help (Kathryn Stockett) and Outlander (Diana Gabaldon). I also heard of planned biopics for Taj (with Ben Kingsley) and Banking on Mr. Toad (Kenneth Grahame played by Ioan Gruffudd) which I’d like to see move forward.

 Now, your favourite period drama hero and heroine.

Maria Grazia, you’re forcing me to choose? I usually love all the leading ladies and their gents but I think I would have to say Elinor and Edward from S&S since I relate to their romance the most. I wouldn’t mind marrying someone as kind and gentle like Edward and becoming a parson’s wife! I also have to mention Victoria & Albert. I love how their real-life romance was played out so wonderfully in The Young Victoria.



 If you could travel back in time, in which historical period would you like to live and why?
Although most of the dramas I watch happen to be set in the Regency period, I think I would choose to live in Victorian times. I love the fashion of that era even though I’m sure I like the look more than I would enjoy the discomfort of a corset! I also think there were many exciting changes during that time and there were enough technological advances so that everyday living wasn’t totally impossible.

 Am I wrong or I see Mr Armitage dance any time I visit your blog? Is it a hallucination of mine?
 Maria Grazia, if only Margaret Hale knew the competition she has on her hands with the many fans of Mr.T! I saw the ‘dancing RA’ on a messageboard and just had to share it! Luckily, bluecabochon who gave him his dancing feet, agreed to share it with the rest of us! I see by your Armitage posts that you’ve fallen under his charms. Now if only the BBC would cast him in another period drama, all would be well!

Thanks a lot, Cheryl,  for being my guest here. You've been a terrific buddy! It's been great to know more about you and to talk about period drama with someone  as fond as you. Have you got any final questions for  my readers here at Fly High?
Thank you, Maria Grazia! Yes, I would love to know how they got interested in period films? Which ones are their top dramas?


Let's see who among us is the best at Period Drama Cravats!
This is  a quiz I found yesterday, linked to a post by Traxy at The Squeee. Are you an expert in period drama? Do you love men in cravat? Let's see how good you are at recognizing them! My score was sufficiently good 60%. But I don't consider myself an expert. Here's the quiz, The Period Drama Cravats Quiz.  Enjoy it and have a great Sunday!

17 comments:

phylly3 said...

Great post Maria Grazia! Hello to Charleybrown! I found both of your wonderful blogs from Nat at Richard Armitage fan blog.
I have always loved period dramas, and P&P 1995 was my favourite until North and South came along.
Charleybrown RE: your latest blog post -- I forgot to list "Amazing Grace" as one of my newest favourite period dramas to watch. Have you seen it? I do love Ioan Gruffudd, ever since the Horatio Hornblower series -- what a hero he was!
Loved the cravat quiz, but it was really hard. I think I got lucky on some guesses because I ended up with 55% which is not bad considering I haven't seen quite a few of the films!

Marg said...

I loved seeing RA dancing! Too cool!

Charleybrown said...

Hello again Maria! I'm still imagining that we'll meet in person. No one NEEDS an excuse to go to Italy but chatting with you would be a great reason to go! :) Thank you for inviting me to visit you at Fly High!

I did the quiz and got 65% and I DID recognize the pic of RA in N&S this time. There's a Youtube video profiling cravats and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't recognize Thornton in that one! It was obvious once it was shown to be his cravat but I don't know if I should admit to all you RA addicts that I didn't recognize it right away!

phylly3, I did see Amazing Grace and thought it was inspiring. I've yet to see Horatio Hornblower though! If only there was more time to watch all of them!

Marg, I couldn't believe how fun it was to see RA dance. The ladies on C19 (where I found it) are of NO help whatsoever in overcoming any addiction to Armitage!

JaneGS said...

I'm a big fan of Cheryl/Charly's blog, so this was definitely a fun interview to read. It's amazing how similar our tastes in movies are, and she is now my go-to-girl for the latest on what's coming out in the genre.

I definitely support the open letter to the BBC campaign--so many incredibly good stories out there that would make blockbuster period dramas and yet we are served another JE, WH, and DC.

Thanks for another great post, Maria.

Luciana said...

Lovely interview! I love Cheryl's blog, I visit it almost everyday! It is a great source to find information about period dramas and I'm totally addicted to them since I was a very small girl. I love many, but N&S just HAS to be my favourite one. It's very interesting that Cheryl likes more the Victorian era than the Regency. I also find many people online that love the Regency, but it's the first time someone agrees with me and would prefer to live in the Victorian times. I've always prefered it since the time I learned about the Industrial Revolution at school. And I'm not really bad at recognizing cravats, apparently, as I got 75%...

Charleybrown said...

Jane,
If only we could get everyone together from all the blogs and such to unite in getting our word out to the BBC :) There seems to be such a consensus on not liking what they're dishing out but perhaps there would be many varied suggestions as to what they SHOULD produce! I do think that there are a few books though that seem to have support from many!

Luciana,
Thanks for your comment and thanks for visiting ES! N&S is awesome isn't it? I still can't believe that there are some out there who haven't discovered that movie. I think if Maria has her way, that will change with her frequent posts of Mr. Armitage!

Maria,
I'm curious about your answer as to which are YOUR favourite period films?? And are there any Italian period films that you like?

Ruth said...

Wonderful interview! I have really enjoyed reading Cheryl's blog for some time now so it is a treat to get a glimpse at the force behind such a great site!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@charleybrown
Difficult choice . I'll try to reduce my long list to some very best favourites but I must also add I have a terribly long list of TBW DVDs, so tomorrow I might change my mind!And I'll also add that my choices are based on how emotionally I got involved in watching them, not on a critical analysis of the film.
(series)
1. North and South
2. Emma 2009
3 . Daniel Deronda
(... and many others)

(movies)
1. Dead Poets Society
2. Sylvia
3. Persuasion (2007)
4. The Painted Veil
I just tried to write down the ones I remember I was most touched/moved by.
Italian costume movies? I prefer British productions, they respect authors and texts much more. Some Italian TV series are not bad, simply...I'm not so interested in Italian television for reasons I can't explain here. I've seen a David Copperfield, a Wuthering Heights and other classics just totally unacceptable to me. When I'm interested in something ,I record it since I can't bear advertisements interrupting films and that can't be avoided on Italian channels. Though, I like going to the cinema and watching good Italian movies (more than dubbed American/British products which I see on DVDs in the o.v.)Many new directors are quite interesting but they usually focus on contemporary matters.

Charleybrown said...

Hi Ruth!
I like being called a force! Think I'll audition for the next Star Wars! Oh wait, that series wrapped up didn't it? :)

Maria,
interesting to hear your choices! And I would never expect your list to be complete! As for my faves, they're almost always based on my emotional reaction to them so I can understand what you're saying. I find it hard to be objective. I do enjoy reading your reviews where you analyze them with more thought!

Do they have a dubbed version of N&S? Because unless RA learned Italian and did it himself, I do NOT think it would compare! :)

So no Italian dramas then? I came across a drama on Youtube the other day and it looked intriguing. I thought it was in Italian but not sure which language. I also am fascinated with some French ones when they come along - with subtitles of course! Next up I want to watch Séraphine which a friend just recommended!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@charleybrown
I've reviewed some Italian period dramas here at Fly High recently. Some were fairly good. St Augustine and Sisi, for instance. What is the title of the drama you found intriguing on Utube?

Karen said...

What a lovely interview, thank you MG!
I'm following ES from the very beginning, and I'm happy to get the opportunity to say thanks to Charleybrown for her wonderful work :)

It is no secret that my all-time favourite period drama is P&P95, with N&S as close second, but I also like Cranford, Emma09 and Lost in Austen. Not a Dickens' and Bronte's fan, I'm afraid, but instead I would gladly join any subscription for a good adaptation of Georgette Heyer's novels.
I also like French period films and TV dramas (much more than the Italian ones, that is), from the Angélique series on.

As for the Cravat Quiz, I'm very ashamed of my very poor results: I got only 50% of them!
The reasons must be two:
1) I haven't watched most of the dramas listed in the quiz, so far;
2) normally I don't focus on the cravat, IYKWIM ;) ... unless it is the umpteenth time I'm watching it, which is exactly the case of the few 'asy' ones I recognized immediately ;)))

Meredith said...

Thank you for the fantastic interview Maria and Cheryl! I am more of a bookworm myself and have not seen many period dramas. However, lately whenever I do have time to watch a movie I have been opting for the few period dramas I own. I look forward to checking out the ones Cheryl mentioned and adding to my collection!

Some of the period dramas I like are any R&H musical (especially the Sound of Music), My Fair Lady, Jane Eyre with Ruth Wilson, and Emma with Jeremy Northam.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

Great interview, MG! I love the inside peeks at other bloggers and you always ask wonderful questions. :)

I LOVE Cheryl's blog, being an avid period film addict. She brought two of my new favorites to my attention that I'd never head of before: "Wives & Daughters" and "The Young Victoria." Others on my list of faves are (of course) North & South, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre (Toby Stephens), Cranford and Gone with the Wind. Keep up the good work, Cheryl!

Charleybrown said...

@Maria,
I just looked up Sissi and St. Augustine! Both look interesting - I didn't know that there was another version of Sissi that had been done and I haven't seen the earlier one either. See that's what I was wondering,..if there were good Italian dramas that we don't hear about. As for the one on Youtube, I don't recall what it was called but it was an older one I believe.

@Karen,
Thanks for following my blog for so long! Cool! You mention not being a fan of Bronte and I think the broodiness of their style kept me from watching Jane Eyre (2006) but when I finally watched it, I scolded my friends for not making me watch it sooner. LOVED it!! I am still however, maintaining my boycott of Wuthering Heights. Not a fan of that one. I hate to nag but since you mentioned you didn't like Dickens, have you seen Bleak House? I can be put off of him at times as well but bought the series and was glad I owned it as my daughter and I zipped right through it! btw, I've never heard of Angélique!

@Meredith,
Love your choices of your fave dramas! As for reading, I've heard of such great books lately, I don't know where to start! I might have to peruse your blog for some recommendations!

@Nat at RA FanBlog,
Thanks for your comment! Maria does ask great questions doesn't she? She has much more insight in her posts than I do! And you have NO idea how much it warms my heart that you found W&D and Young Victoria and you still liked them after hearing me rant on and on about them! Just hearing you list your faves has me nodding in agreement! :)

Karen said...

@Charley
Thanks to you! Following ES is MY pleasure :)

Unfortunately, I've formed a feeling of intense dislike for Jane Eyre the novel, and this has influenced my opinion about the films/series, and to me even JE2006 couldn't do the miracle!
I can't help it, I need to like the novel, in order to appreciate the series.

As for Wuthering Heights, I've watched the Laurence Olivier version only, no need to explore the subject further... well, apart of watching and re-watching Sparkhouse, but this is another story ;)

Thank you for the Bleak House suggestion: in fact, a very good friend of mine has given me the DVD as a B'day present a couple of years ago *blushes* ... time to give it a chance, I reckon :)

Angélique is a cycle of 5 French movies made in the 60s, based on the novels of A. and S. Golon:
a wonderful costume adventure/drama, set in the age of Sun King Louis XIV. I loved it when I was young, and still like watching it: I understand it's now considered quite a classic :)

Judy said...

Lovely to read this interview and learn more about Cheryl, whose blog I really enjoy. I'm delighted that you picked Elinor and Edward as your favourite couple, Cheryl - S&S is one of my favourite books, and films - well, actually I liked both adaptations very much, but as I'm a fan of Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson I still love the movie slightly more than the mini-series.

Charleybrown said...

Hi Judy! So pleased that you're a fan of S&S as well especially considering all the period dramas that you've seen!