July 9, 2013
Twelve-foot Mr Darcy of your dreams/nightmares
by Kirsten Reach
The Independent released a short video about the twelve-foot tall Mr Darcy sculpture in London’s Hyde Park, including reactions from passersby and speculation about the swans’ feelings toward their new colleague. Clad in a wet, white shirt à la Colin Firth, this fiberglass figure is a menacing compilation of the many images of Darcy from various Austen film adaptions.
“We took Colin Firth’s famous lake scene as a starting point for creating Mr Darcy but we also read the book and looked at performances of the brooding hero by Matthew Macfadyen, David Rintoul and even Laurence Olivier,” said lead sculptor Toby Crowther.
The wet shirt scene appears in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries, 1995, and is famously a favorite of the fictional Bridget Jones in Helen Fielding’s novel. Firth also appeared in the film version of Bridget Jones’s Diary as the love interest, Mark Darcy.
The scene does not appear in Jane Austen’s novel; it was added to the miniseries to sex up the character’s tension with Lizzie Bennet. Regardless, it recently topped the charts in a British survey of the most memorable moments in film.
“In the years between Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones, I don’t think there was a single interview in any newspaper that didn’t have Darcy in the headline,” admitted Firth in an interview with The Daily Mail.
Twenty years after the BBC adaption and two centuries since the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Darcy remains a controversial heartthrob. Chiara Atik of How About We? calls him “the man responsible for setting crushingly high romantic expectations for two centuries of women,” while Anna Breslaw describes him for Glamour as “pretentious, laconic, repressed, and verging on emotionally abusive.” For more controversial characters in Austen’s love stories, we heartily recommend Lady Susan.
Three sculptors constructed the fiberglass Darcy over the course of two months. Crowther said, “The challenge for us was capturing the spirit of Darcy as handsome and noble but also aloof and proud. The Mr Darcy sculpture is a real mix of the many portrayals of Jane Austen’s most famous hero.”
The Darcy sculpture will be sent on tour to Scarborough (where he’ll be emerging from the sea), then Lyme Park—the scene of Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice–until February 2014. If you’re not in the UK, rest assured he’ll appear in your dreams, one way or the other.
Kirsten Reach was an editor at Melville House.