Whoever follows the mundane hellscape that is my Instagram will be glad to know that I have finally stopped watching Pride and Prejudice. There will be no more memes. No more shaky recordings of my laptop showing Keira Knightley walking (with purpose) through fields covered in mud. The final nail in the coffin was hammered in with dramatic efficiency. The final nail in the coffin was being subjected to a little film called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I was lead into this experience by my friend saying, in his exact words, that it was the best of both our worlds. Well, the best of both our worlds ended in me having a panic attack and dry heaving into a toilet. While watching zombies and period drama collide wasn’t the reason for my panic attack, it feels kind of poetic that my mind decided to have a breakdown at that particular moment. I don’t want to say that my body was physically unable to consume a single second more of any media related to the Bennet household and just checked the fuck out but….if the shoe fits…hyperventilate. At least I got to see Lily James asserting dominance and fucking shit up with a gun in a low cut dress before the purge.
I think last year I potentially watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice twenty times. Now I type it out it doesn’t feel like that much. Six of those viewings were in three days. It’s funny. I walk into every obsession so obliviously. I think to myself, I haven’t watched this film in ages. I put it on. I think of it as an enjoyable thing to watch for a couple of hours when in fact it will hold me hostage for anywhere between a week to six months. Joe Wright got me. He got me the same way he got me in Atonement. With that crisp film grain and those perfect lingering shots of empty hands and with the weather always always always being the main character. With the longing glances and internal conflict that is so apparent in societies that can do nothing but look and never touch. He got me again.
The worst thing I can do is link my obsession to work. I can’t give it a reason to exist. I can’t have a solid excuse for something that is purely indulgent. But I did. I’m writing a period film so analysing Darcy’s character became ‘necessary research’. Thinking about how water amplifies emotions was actually surprisingly helpful and accurate. There is nothing worse than fuelling an obsession with educational relevance. But there I was. Making notes that hit the Blake Snyder beat sheet to a film that has already been made instead of my own became integral to my planning. Marvelling at the chemistry and the costumes and the way you can feel the emotions in the landscapes became a full-time occupation. Realising that whatever I made would never be as perfect as this was fine because this existed and I could consume it all the time.
I was specifically gripped with this adaptation, but, of course, this spiralled into reading the book then watching the BBC version where Colin Firth wields Darcy’s character as if he is a sharp blade made out of ice. Then I realised that all the most beautiful cinematography in the world doesn’t even touch Jane Austen’s words which are so sharp and so perfect that sometimes it feels like you’re being stabbed through the gut or jolted awake from a dream you didn’t even know you were having. And that this is the most important thing, and without it you have nothing.
I like finishing the incessant need to watch something repeatedly and coming out the other side knowing that I can look at it objectively. It’s refreshing when you’ve been so dizzy with adoration for so long. What I finally realised though, is that while my obsessions are almost always a burden, they light a fire under my ass that actually gets me moving. They usually strike after feeling stagnant for a while, and then inspiration and motivation hit me all at once. I have almost always felt like obsessing over things hinders me. Spending so much time-consuming something instead of creating my own versions of them. But they get me moving now. I become so obsessed with something great that it inspires me to make something great and do something now, instead of tomorrow or next week or next year. Last year I was so blown away by something I watched that I finally made my first short film. It was awful, and it was messing around more than anything. But I made it. I wrote it, directed it and edited it. And it will never see the light of day. But it exists.