This past weekend, I shared my first-ever opinion piece regarding my frustrations with the way historical figures or events are sometimes portrayed when brought into fiction. One of the works I highlighted in that article was the film Becoming Jane, which plays with the idea of Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy pursuing a romantic relationship in a way beyond what factual evidence suggests, to the point of their nearly eloping (which never actually happened).
This is not to say Becoming Jane is a terrible movie, just an inaccurate one, and the inaccuracy of it became even more vexing to me after I made a realization about one of the tracks used in its score a while back.
There is an instrumental piece entitled Bond Street Airs, composed by Adrian Johnston for the film.
While it has always been among my favorite pieces included in the score, it secured its place on my list once I realized why.
In Jane Austen’s time, there was a fairly popular song called The Irishman, which I listen to frequently as a result of its inclusion in the playlist I created for Guises to Keep (since one of the protagonists is of Irish descent). The lyrics speak to the charm of an Irishman compared to other men, portraying him as a sort of dreamboat though perhaps a troublemaker. I’ll argue that it is also a little racy for the Regency:
“The London folks themselves beguiled
And think they please in a capital style
Yet let them ask as they cross the street
Of any young virgin they happen to meet
And I know she’ll say from behind her fan
That there’s none can love like an Irishman”
While I might be incorrect in my interpretation of these lyrics about loving like an Irishman being about lovemaking, it does suggest the Irishman is far more intriguing to young ladies than Englishmen.
Keep in mind that Tom Lefroy was Irish.
And why do I bring that up?
First, take a listen to this rendition of The Irishman.
And then listen to Bond Street Airs from the Becoming Jane soundtrack.
You might notice some similarity between the two tracks in melody. As it turns out, much to my enjoyment, Bond Street Airs sounds like an arrangement of The Irishman, kind of like how some artists sample other tracks in their own like 5 Seconds of Summer sampling Durran Durran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf” for their own song “Hey Everybody!”
And it was at this point my greivances with Becoming Jane worsened.
It’s clear there was some research taken when it came to the soundtrack as, for the most part, it is reminiscent of the time period (we’ll be discussing the use of Henry Purcell’s music in that one dance scene in a future post somewhere down the road), with Bond Street Airs being very close to not just a popular song of the Regency but one that is relevant in terms of Englishwoman Jane Austen and Irishman Tom Lefroy being considered her love interest.
And yet there is so much the film gets wrong about what really happened between them.
Even though the score is a completely different element than the script of any film, it’s especially noticable for me with Becoming Jane because of the tiny details like referencing The Irishman.
Repeating what was said in the article that spurred this week’s Soundwave Wednesday, doing your research can make or break your fiction.
When it comes to historical fiction in general, I truly appreciate when someone takes the time to research and weave in the little things. However, when the little things are slightly more accurate than the story itself, that’s what can lead me to become overly-critical.