Everyone has a dream for humanity, and my one is simple and modest. All I want from the world is for everyone in it to care about the Mitford sisters the way they care about, say, The Hobbit movies. Specifically, I want Hollywood to make movies about the Mitford sisters precisely the way they make Hobbit movies. We will live in a perfect society when there are three 150 minute movies covering the lives of Nancy, Diana, Unity, Debo, Decca, and I guess Pam if there’s time, in painstaking detail. Every feud, every dead husband, every sly jab from Nancy. Here is what that might look like.
Nancy – Emily Blunt
The thing about Nancy is that Nancy is kind of a dumb asshole. She is wise enough to write searing social commentary, but not self-aware enough to not fall in love with gay or married men. She is constantly betraying her sisters for money or for laughs. I am only able to say this about Nancy because Nancy is absolutely my favourite Mitford sister, and I love her so much that I’m allowed talk about her many awful character flaws.
My favourite terrible thing about Nancy is that she has no idea how straight, non-insane men act. She doesn’t know any, or if she does, she just ignores him until she can find the nearest sister or gay man to talk to. If you’ve read Love in a Cold Climate or The Pursuit of Love you’ll know that the protaganist Fanny gets married to Alfred, and in both books Nancy has no idea how to write Alfred or their marriage. It is the writer’s equivalent of playing with Barbie, making Ken say “Bye Barbie, I’m going to work now!” before just looking at him for a second and throwing him to one side.
I want Emily Blunt to play Nancy Mitford. Emily Blunt is strong and funny and she has the humanity and grace to make Nancy’s dumb asshole characteristics likable to a mainstream audience.
Pam – This Broom
Sometimes when my friend Ella and I are having kind of a shitty day, where we feel dumb, round-faced and socially ill-equipped to deal with the world around us, one of us will tersely say to the other “I think… I think I’m the Pam”. It is always, always the responsibility of the other person to say “Do not be insane. You are not the Pam. You could never be the Pam.”
Pam was undoubtedly a nice person, but even the Mitfords made fun of her for how generally unremarkable she was. There is a whole movie in the lives of every Mitford sister, with the exception of Pam, and they all knew it. For the sake of group shots and the poster for this movie I think whoever plays Pam should take up as little space as possible, and that is why I have chosen this broom.
Diana – Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike has the beauty, breeding, wit and callous lack of regard for humanity that would make her a brilliant Diana.
History has not been kind to Diana, which is fine, because Diana’s life was essentially seeing how many jewels and furs she could hold at any one time. Yes, Diana has been painted as an unrepentant Nazi sympathiser. But the Nazi part isn’t the key to Diana’s character – the unrepentant part is. To apologise for poor judgment, to crawl on your belly for the forgiveness of people you deem lesser than you, is just so wholly un-Mitfordian in concept that it would be unthinkable for Diana to have done so. It’s simply not canon.
If I can sympathise with Amy Dunne’s decision to stab Neil Patrick Harris with a boxcutter, I can sympathise with Diana’s decision to be an unrepentant Nazi.
Unity – Mia Wasikowska
Mia Wasikowska has that sort of goofy, unhinged charm that allows you to believe she was 1) fun enough to be Hitler’s best mate 2) crazy enough to shoot herself in the head. Imagine all the brilliant scenes with her and Rosamund-as-Diana, pootling around Berlin and showing off their gams to Stormtroopers. You can also imagine Unity really coming into her own for the first time in Nazi Germany, a place where she stops being plain-sister-to-international-beauty and becomes plain-friend-of-international-dictator.
Int. A smokey cafe in Berlin. The Mitford sisters enjoy Gin Fizzes while the shadow of the Fuhrer is seen from behind a members-only curtain.
“Send for ze Mitford Girl.”
Rosamund-as-Diana smiles and smooths her silk dress, as she stands up to entertain the Fuhrer.
“Nien. Ze uzzer Mitford Girl.”
Mia-as-Unity, overshadowed by her more beautiful and talented sisters her whole life, timidly takes the hand of her new pal Hitler. Her eyes widen. It is 1934. Her life is about to begin.
Decca – Bjork
I spent a really long time trying to cast Decca – she was the same blank space in this article as she was the empty chair at her sisters’ weddings. I just can’t reconcile the pain she caused her family with the superb writing she brought into the world, and that sticks in my craw. In the end, I asked my friend Lucy, and we have settled on a spiritual casting. Decca is Bjork. She is a genius, and she is aggressive, and she will attack you at the airport, and she is not for everyone. She is certainly not for me, but I wouldn’t take that away from all the Decca fans out there.
*ask yourself this question, from now until you die: where is my retirement island?
Debo – Jennifer Lawrence
If any of the four people who are interested in reading this incredibly specific article are still reading this article, they probably flicked down to this entry before reading the rest of it. Everyone loves Debo. She is beautiful and she is kind and she is funny, and she has none of the distressing shoulder-chips all her sisters are burdened with. She loves hens, but not in a weird way, the way Pam the Broom does. She’s pretty, but not in an annoying fascist way, like Diana. She’s a great writer, but doesn’t have Nancy’s sour lemon qualities. It’s Debo’s lack of flaws that make her so difficult to cast, and although I know this is going to piss people off, I’ve had to settle on Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence is an It Girl that has spent her life walking into rooms where everyone is delighted to see her. Debo. She is smiley and good-natured, and unspoiled by her charmed life. Debo.
In fact, take anything that Debo Mitford said in her long life and you can probably imagine it being said by Jennifer Lawrence on The Tonight Show, hyper-alert and giggling. “I once asked him what his idea of hell was. ‘Honey on my bowler hat,’ came the answer.”
Please argue with me in the comments, this is what I live for.
Posted by Caroline
Caroline is the creator of Work in Prowess