IT must be a tiresome life, being a purist. Spending all that time in pursed-lipped disapproval each time the world reinvents the wheel, or makes a new flavour of crisp.
All the tutting and harrumphing and ruining perfectly good dinners by complaining that your tapas isn’t authentic enough.
I’ve been puristic about few things in my time, and managed to stay puristic about even fewer.
Fancy dress is one – I hate it when people turn up in a wipe-clean black and white sack off the internet and think they’re the spirit of Carnaby Street.
Pride and Prejudice aaptations are another. When something as completely, flawlessly brilliant as the 1995 BBC version is still delighting fans the world over, why would you even bother with the effort and expense of making further, obviously inferior versions – like Keira Knightley’s 2005 pout-athon, or this new PD James crime sequel to mark the book’s bicentennial?
Why not just have Colin Firth’s wet shirt listed as a Grade II heritage site, for coaches of schoolchildren to visit on field trips? Then the TV and film people could tick Pride and Prejudice off the list, mark it done forever, and move on to other things.
Like The Very Hungry Caterpillar: The Musical.
But mostly, it’s quite pleasant to enjoy something that the purists hate. It’s refreshing.
It’s like everyone else sitting in a bad smell when you’ve got a blissfully blocked up nose.
Which, as it happens, is exactly how I felt about Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
After all the months of mounting hype and previews and product tie-ins and everyone going, “gee, you’d think that if they’ve got enough good bits for a three-minute trailer, they’d have, like, finished the film by now”, I was fully prepared to be crashingly disappointed.
But the beauty of going into something prepared to be disappointed is (and I guess this was Eeyore’s philosophy) most likely, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Yes there’s the raucous R’n’B soundtrack, but isn’t that exactly how jazz would have sounded to traditional ears in the 20s?
Yes, it’s gaudy and overblown and cartoonish and Leo DiCaprio’s accent is like nothing that’s ever left another mouth, ever, but as a cinematic experience it left me feeling exactly the same way the book did – invigorated, slightly confused, and craving a cocktail.
So, if I prepare to be thoroughly scornful of Death Comes to Pemberley, covering my eyes with my Regency needlepoint every time Matthew Rhys fails, well, to have Colin Firth’s exact face, then I might just be pleasantly surprised.