Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How I Met Sir Percy - Alexandra's Edition

We Leaguettes decided to dig back in the recesses of our pre-TSP memory to recall exactly when we first met our elusive hero, whether it was the book or one of the film versions. Stay tuned in the next few weeks to read the stories...and leave a comment and share your own!

I'll go first. :)

Trying to remember back to a time when I didn’t know Sir Percy is practically impossible. He’s been such a huge part of my life for so many years it’s just ridiculous to imagine there was a time when I didn’t know he existed. But apparently it is so, and so for this series I had to dig far back to those sad days pre-Percy and remember exactly how I first became acquainted with my favorite Englishman.

Let’s see…

I was just on the brink of seventeen, just foraying into the world of romantic films beyond the normal Austen fare and on the quest to find the Most Awesome Hero, which so far had eluded my attention – Mr. Knightley was the only gent who came close…but he couldn’t quite cut it, and I was beginning to despair that there was such a hero that would fit my bill. We had also just gotten one of those Blockbuster subscription things like Netflix and we were discovering all these films Mom and Dad had seen years ago. Two of the films were destined to become my two favorites – Somewhere in Time and of course The Scarlet Pimpernel. Mom had loved Jane Seymour for years and wanted me to see this film she had been in that she had seen years ago at a friend’s house. And so when The Scarlet Pimpernel came in I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

 My mom had told me beforehand that I “would really like it”, and since the last few films I had seen and loved recently had been my favorite kinds – the romantic tragedies that so few people like – I prepared myself for the fact that someone in the story was going to die. That was ok. I loved those kinds of stories.

The film opened, and I was rather iffy about the scruffy old man that Mom said was the main character. Seriously? Then Sir Percy pulled off his fake nose…and I knew I would like this character. Too bad he was going to die.

I met Marguerite, and despite Jane’s crazy afro, I thought she was one of the most gorgeous women I’d ever seen…and when she met Percy, I knew I would absolutely love this couple. It was going to be sad when he died.

Unlike a lot of people who read/saw TSP the first time, the fop side of Percy didn’t annoy me…maybe because unlike the book, you know that Percy’s putting on an act right away because you know the Pimpernel’s identity from the beginning. As the film progressed, I just fell in love with the character more and more…and grew more and more apprehensive about how I knew it would end.

Now as anyone who knows me well (or has had the misfortune to watch something I’ve never seen with me) knows, I’m very vocal while watching films (you should have seen me watching The Avengers for the first time a few weeks ago). And this was no exception. Once the action really got going, I was yelling, bouncing, cheering, and whatever other crazy reaction the scene called for. My pulse was rushing, my head was reeling, my face was flushing…but it wasn’t loathing I was feeling. Sorry. Anyway. By the time The Epic Rescue scene happened, I was completely and totally head-over-heels for Percy, and I remember thinking, “Well…maybe he won’t die. Hehe. Maybe not. Surely not! Puleeeze not!”

And then he was Betrayed by the Infamous Flea-Riddled-No-Good-Very-Bad-Worthless Armand and I hated Armand forever more and wept because I knew now He Was Going to Die. And Marguerite came and they had the Ultimate Gorgeous Romantic Reunion scene with that oh-so-perfect-kiss and my heart was breaking because sob-sniffle-sob…he was really gonna die now. All their plans were in vain, he was gonna die and I was gonna die, too.

So when Chauvelin ordered him executed, I was heartbroken beyond belief but really not surprised. I was holding my breath with everyone else, kind of hoping against hope that he’d find a way out, and I screamed right along with Marguerite when they fired. I also threw pillows at Chauvelin and began fantasizing horrible deaths for the guy, which didn’t help the story but made me feel better.   

And then, as everyone who’s seen it knows, there was The Twist that I will admit, I totally did not see coming! And I began screaming with joy and running around hugging everyone and doing the happy dance for five minutes while they had to pause the movie to wait for me to calm down. He Was Actually Alive!

I have to say though, I couldn’t quite relax yet. I didn’t enjoy the duel very much the first time, just because I was sure in my pessimistic brain that after all this, the sadistic director would have him stabbed at the last minute and die and I would hate this movie forevermore.

But as we all know, he didn’t. And when they shared the kiss on the Day Dream and the credits rolled, I knew two things – The Scarlet Pimpernel was my second favorite film EVER. And two, I was hopelessly, devotedly, unashamedly, passionately in love with Sir Percy Blakeney. And Anthony Andrews was pretty much the coolest guy evah, evah. Oh, wait, that’s three things. Oh, well.

I was obsessed with the movie. Showed it to all my friends and family, lived, breathed, ate, and slept The Scarlet Pimpernel. Watched it an enormous amount of times. Memorized it. The whole works.

And avidly avoided the book.

See, I have this thing. If I absolutely adore the film and see it before I read the book, I tend to like the movie more. When I do read the book, a lot of times it spoils the movie for me after I see all the glaring changes from the film that books usually have. And I did not want to read this.

So just about a year passes, and we move to Mexico. The first week we were there, all of the kids were staying at a missionary friend’s house while our parents moved our stuff in. We were kind of housesitting since they were out of town, and so we spent the days inside watching their movies and trying to keep occupied. You can only watch Veggie Tales so often before going crazy, and our friend had a huge bookshelf full of books that I began picking through.

And one of the books was The Scarlet Pimpernel. 

I fought it. I didn’t want to spoil it. But I was bored. And the temptation was just too great. Soooo I read it.

And of course, I loved it. No, it didn’t have the Epic Twist Ending (do any of the books? I’m rather surprised Baroness O didn’t think up that kind of an ending…it has her written all over it, which I have to say is a major accomplishment for the screenwriters), but it was awesome, and best of all, I could totally see and hear the characters I knew and loved on the pages of the book. My admiration for Anthony Andrews grew by leaps and bounds as I realized just how perfectly he had nailed the character, and despite Jane’s hair not fitting description, I could absolutely see her in the role. And then I discovered…there were sequels! Tons of sequels! It was like a dream come true – ever loved a movie so much you wished they had just continued the story? Being able to picture them and imagine them in the roles made it exactly that kind of experience for me. I got The Elusive Pimpernel and El Dorado for Christmas that year, and of course completely fell in love with the latter – to this day it remains my favorite TSP book – and slowly over the next few years I discovered (and continue to discover) more.

That was a really fun trip down memory lane for me. J Percy has as you know become The Most Amazing Hero on my list, and for better or for worse it’s shaped my idea of the kind of man I hope for someday. You never know! Everything comes in our lives for a reason – even the most strange and “insignificant” things. J Regardless, through a random movie search six years ago I found one of my favorite films ever, and that, my dears, is the story of how it happened.

So! What was your experience with TSP? Did the book or film come first? Stay tuned for the rest of the Leaguettes' stories! J                                     


Melody said...

"...beyond the normal Austen fare..."
*Melody stops reading*

"...Mr. Knightley...couldn't quite cut it..."
*Melody scowls and REALLY stops reading*

Well, it's true. I only scanned the rest. =P Ha. But I'm always interested in stories of how someone became acquainted with their favorite thing. :D Of course, if it was a JA story I would be more interested, but hey. My mother is always telling me I need to be more open-minded. :P


I think it's absolutely hilarious that you thought Sir Percy was going to die. I never did...because I thought, surely I would have been WARNED. (That's always my reasoning when it's a movie I've seen recommended times over. :D) So my reaction when he re-appeared as alive as ever was to burst out laughing and clap my hands in merriment. Especially when he said "But then, fashion never was your forte... was it?" Not sure why, but that especially amused me. The sad thing was I quoted it a few times afterwards to people who were fans of the movie and they didn't seem to recognize it. *sniffs*

I actually can't remember where I heard about this story first... ooohh! Yes, yes I do. It was the Period Drama Hero Tournament. Sir Percy was in the competition of course (because people had nominated him) but I had No Idea who he was. And from the looks of the picture I thought he looked like a dreadful coxcomb.
Heh, heh, heh. That IS the general idea. But I did not know it at the time. :D
Anyway, I knew that Charity at Austenitis liked it, and then one of my sisters saw the list of movies for the Period Drama Film Tournament and started watching the ones she hadn't seen yet, and I happened to know when she watched it because I was with her when she got it from the library. Then she was coming over to my house for a sleepover (in honour of her birthday and we had a terrific Bleak House marathon--ALMOST finished the whole thing, haha) and my dad saw it sitting on the counter and was talking about how his sister used to call it "The Scarlet Pumpernickel"...


Anyways. And when I saw it recommended more and more I asked her how it was and then I got it from the library meself. And I DID like it. I just didn't quite connect with all the fan-ism about it. LIMM. But I did indeed like it. In fact, I watched it twice before it went back. See, I like watching movies by myself, and the first time through was with my mom. And if I like movies it's fun to watch them twice anyways, to make sure I 'got' the whole thing. And I knew that wouldn't be the last time I saw it by a long shot. :D

Of course, I doubt you actually wanted to know how *I* had become acquainted with it. Unworthy me. But it's just that I start comments intending them to be short and then... something else happens.

Heh. If I am a wild Beast I cannot help it. It is not my own fault.

(And it's no wonder that Mr. Knightley couldn't quite cut it if we are talking about Jeremy Northam. *coughs and looks around waiting for someone to say "Melody, let's not open THAT envelope."*)

Miss Dashwood said...

Melody, let's not open THAT envelope...

...but I will admit, darlingest Ally, that I was quite tempted to stop reading when you said Mr. Knightley didn't quite cut it. Of course he cuts it. Quite nicely, too, and doesn't even have to use a sword.

But anyways. I did so love this. I need to start writing mine... haha, your story was so much more dramatic than mine. Love it.

I remember emailing about this like back in April or something, and laughing myself sick over your "The guy is going to die. Okeydokey." Heeheehee. I have to wonder what my reaction might have been if I'd watched the movie without knowing what was going to happen--as it was, I'd read too many blog posts about it and already knew how it was going to end. Fake shooting and all. Heh. But that didn't make it any less fabulous.

Oooh, I move we make The Infamous Flea-Riddled No Good Very Bad Armand an Official Title for the Bane of the Leaguettes' Existence. Do I hear any "ayes"?

I'd say the book DOES have an epic twist ending though... I mean, I for one totally didn't see it coming. Sure, there's no Fabulous Shooting Scene, but there's a pretty good Revealing Of the Guy Under the Disguise.

I'm being a little too capital-happy today... heh.

Alexandra said...

Melody - hahahaha. I love ya, girl. :D And excuuuuuse me, I *did* find it very fun how you discovered it. ;) You all must excuse my choice of words...I mean, it's not like it's MY post or anything like that. Hehehe. :P

Anyway! That's hilarious about your dad because we used to call it the Scarlet Pumpernickel, too! Haha. And YES...I always like to watch a movie twice...sometimes if it was kind of meh the first time I notice I like it a lot more the second viewing. :)

But let's definitely not open that envelope. My Austen fanship is shaky enough as it is without your attacking my favorite, ever-so-amazing Knightley. So hold your peace. :P

Amy - CHILD. *sigh* LOOK. He's third best hero in my book. I mean, considering there isn't an Austen film in my top five list and only one in my top ten I thought I was doing great that an Austen hero was alllll the way up at third (and Emma isn't even the film on the list). I feel very freakish right now. Hehehe.

Oh, I totally agree that the book ending is GREAT. But there's nothing like thinking he's dead and then finding out he's not. Plus you've gotta remember at that point I was judging the book to the movie. So it was a teeny letdown. But in hindsight it was really good. I think too that part of it was I *knew* his identity, you know, so finding out GASP IT'S HIM wasn't as big as a punch. Make sense?

And I completely and totally and heartily second the motion for the Armand thing. All in favor say 'aye',

And now I shall leave before I shock anyone else with my lack of Austen sensibilities. Hehe. ;)

Melody said...

Well I'm glad you enjoyed it, then. :)

Hold my peace, eh? Well, then. With no mentions of film portrayals, the real Mr. Knightley is the one in the book. :D And I must say Jeremy Northam was better than Mark Strong. But... that isn't very hard to achieve. Heh heh. Oh, and his performance in the Scold Emmer At Box Hill scene was the best, I think. :D

But now I'm curious... what ARE your top five favorite movies?

And Amy! Look, Ally calls her "Austen"!
Dreadful. Horrid.

Hayden said...

First of all, *aye*

and then...

You thought he was going to DIE?

Oh, you poor dear. I read the book first so I was not thinking that was going to happen...

*shakes head* That must have been dreadful.

But I do have a bone to pick with you about Mr. Knightley not cutting it...m'dear, he is wonderful and delightful (and for the record I am quite fond of Jeremy Northam's portrayal, although I also love Jonny Lee Miller. It's just Mark Strong that...doesn't cut it. *ahem*)

But back to Sir Percy.

I also love the book ending, even better than the one in the movie- but, I must say, the movie one *is* wonderful. I just think the book is a teeny bit better, that's all :)

My post should be up in a matter or minutes...

Anonymous said...

HA!! So funny.... I was so sad when Percy got shot - I totally didn't see it coming. (Unlike you....)

Your story is sorta like mine.... (But you won't know how much until I post my post, which will be.... idk.)

You talk during movies, too?! I knew I liked you. : ) Heehee... I just watched The Avengers for the first time, too, and got... well, I won't say HOW emotionally involved, but let's just say it was a lot. XD


BatZion said...

Oh my goodness, I could not stop laughing while I read this... gosh, it sounded so much like me! :)
I also discovered TSP via film. A friend loaned me the DVD, just one look at it and a big grin stretched across my face.... come on, it has Jane Seymour on the cover!
I fell in love within the first ten seconds. I'm a big history fan, so anything to with history has a big tick in my books. A handsome hero makes that two ticks. :)
My little sister, who got bored (not a history or hero person), plugged in her headphones and watched something else while I sat there, eyes glued to the screen. As I started talking to the various characters throughout the movie (*ahem* Don't laugh. I now know there are others out there like me!), she would pull out her headphones and look at me weird. "Don't ask," I said, "It's too complicated." :)
I. Love. The. Ending. And having said that, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Eldorado... I have to read the sword fight scene!
I could not avoid the book. Sorry, but I've been itching to read it since I found out that the movie was based on the book. I've bought a copy, now just waiting for it to come in the mail. :)
I'm just trying to figure out a way to get my hands on copies of all of TSP books... That might prove tricky... :(

Miss Dashwood said...

Just thought you might want to know and be spared the disappointment I experienced-- the sword fight scene does not appear in El Dorado, nor in any of the TSP books, sadly enough. It was invented for the movie by the brilliant guys who wrote the screenplay. But El Dorado is still a fabulous book nonetheless!

BatZion said...

Miss Dashwood:

Really!?! :( That's sad... Well, we have to give credit to the screenwriters because that scene could have come straight from an original. Thanks for warning me, :) I would rather know beforehand than be disappointed.
In any case, I still can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Eldorado! :)