Mar. 7, 8, 9, 2011 (<—this is 300 minutes, after all!)
42. Pride and Prejudice (1995)—REWATCH
Starring Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow, Crispin Bonham-Carter
Directed by Simon Langton
Plot: "Jane Austen's classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart." (from IMDb, and a rather poor summary, but I assume most know the gist of the plot)
*****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*****
I always have a hard time pinning down my favorite P&P adaption. I like certain elements of all the ones I've seen—the 1940 one with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, this version, and the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen. I like this adaption because of the time the story has to develop and because it is usually regarded as the adaption most faithful to the original novel. But…
I'm glad I decided to rewatch this because I saw some things in a very different perspective. I guess there were mainly three things that jumped out at me. But before delving into those points, I feel like I should give some sort of warning to die-hard Austen fans. I'm afraid I might scandalize or offend you with what I am about to say…
First: I forgot just how stuck-up and sulky Darcy is. I know that he is always regarded as The Ideal Man, but I don't think I would ever want to be married to that type of person. He is certainly an interesting character and I enjoy the story, but I just think the whole Mr. Darcy thing is overrated. I understand that he is shy, awkward, willing to work on his faults, etc. but just imagine him on a bad day! I am happy to hear any arguments supporting the theory that he is Male Perfection Personified, though—so shoot away! (Personally, I can think of Austen men that I find much more agreeable. Just in this, I rather liked Col. Fitzwilliam. He seemed like a nice, handsome, steady, stable guy…without the glowering stares and mood swings.)
Second: I never really felt like Elizabeth loves Darcy (at least in this adaption) for who he is. Her attraction in this seems to begin when she discovers how rich he is, and she even admits this jokingly. Or is she joking?
Jane Bennet: No, seriously, Lizzy. When did you first know you were in love with Mr. Darcy?
Elizabeth Bennet: It came on so slowly I hardly know... but I believe I must date it from the time I first saw his wonderful grounds at Pemberley.
Third: The ending seemed to lack something. Despite the objections I listed above, none of these really hit me until near the end of the film. In fact, I greatly enjoyed most of this adaption. I found myself caught up in the tension between Elizabeth and Darcy, suppressing laughter at the funny parts, and enjoying watching the plot unfold even though I knew it well. But…the end. It felt like SUCH a let down. His second proposal seemed most ‘blah’. Her reaction was so subdued. And then the wedding. It just felt like it really lacked something. I still wasn't buying their attraction. I guess (don't shoot me for this) I like more how the ending was handle in the 2005 film--we can clearly see that they are in love with each other, they acknowledge their short-comings and false presumptions, and they live happily ever after.
Please don’t think I didn’t enjoy this at all, though. As I said, I still thought it was a great miniseries. I just noticed some things that I hadn’t before. But as to what I liked…
This is one of my favorite scenes (how original, I know). I like it because of how awkward and nervous the usually up-tight Darcy is. This is evidenced in the fact that he requests after the well-being of her family twice in a very brief conversation. His character really begins to develop. We see that he is shy and tongue-tied and maybe just not as proud as Elizabeth thinks…