Thursday, November 24, 2005

Movie Thoughts: Pride & Prejudice

I've seen the new Pride & Prejudice (with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen) three times now -- first with Christa, who came up for Veteran's Day, then with Megan last Friday night (where we ran into a couple of my students), and finally on Monday with my mother and two of my sisters.

First, I think it's rather unfair to compare this version to the BBC/A&E version that came out in 1995 (with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth). That one had five hours to capture nearly everything in the novel (though why they couldn't do the end justice, I don't know). A movie version of Pride & Prejudice hasn't been released in theaters since the 1940s, so we were well overdue. And so, for a two-hour version, I thought this movie was excellent.

Just a few thoughts:

Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet: Excellent choice of an actress to portray the eldest sister who is meant to be more beautiful than Elizabeth. I thought this actress was far better than the one in the 1995 version. (RP also played in Love in a Cold Climate, the Masterpiece Theatre version of one of my favorite books.)

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy: Personally, I think MM gives Colin Firth a run for his money. I've been a fan of MM ever since I watched MI-5, a British spy show. I read one review which commented that it didn't seem as though Darcy had to undergo change, that it was Elizabeth who had to make all the change and come to a better "understanding" of Darcy. I think that's a valid observation for this version, but I still think MM played the withdrawn hero to near perfection. He, perhaps, could have been a bit more haughty.

The crowded, claustrophobic effect: I loved the cramped feeling produced by the dance scenes. It seemed more authentic somehow. The Bennet's house and the town have this effect as well. In contrast, Netherfield and Pemberley have an open and empty (and therefore, luxurious) feel to them. I also enjoyed the dance scene with Darcy and Lizzy (at Netherfield) when the other dancers fade away, and they're the only two dancing.

Bronte meets Austen: For my one criticism, I must echo the thoughts of one review I read that commented on the Bronte effects in the movie, which the reviewer felt were displayed as Lizzy looked out over the brooding countryside, or when she ran in the rainstorm/the proposal in the rain, and finally, when Mr. Darcy came to meet her at the end. The only criticism of these that I truly agree with is the one concerning the end -- it's a good scene in that it demonstrates visually how Darcy has "loosened up," but I must admit that I had to restrain a small laugh as Mr. Darcy came striding across the open field with his shirt half-open. Poor Jane Austen probably rolled over in her grave at that moment. It truly felt as though it had been lifted from Jane Eyre.

Overall, though, I loved this version. I plan to buy it on DVD and place it right alongside my other Pride & Prejudice DVD. Then I can simply alternate between nearly perfect adaptations of one of the greatest English novels, and await the day when someone else wants to remake it yet again. I'll be first in line to see it.


Blogger fuzzystartsover said...

I've been dying to see it. I'm so glad that you have given a good review. I would be so disappointed for someone to hack such a wonderful piece of literature for the glamour of Hollywood and big box office bucks.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I was relieved that it wasn't messed up either. I read one review that commented, "When Hollywood remakes classics, we get 'Bewitched' and 'Dukes of Hazzard.' When the British remake classics, we get 'Pride & Prejudice'."

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Christa said...

I went to see it for the second time this past Wed. and enjoyed just as much as the first time. The only thing I could add to your review is a comment on the filming itself. I enjoyed the new look of so many of the familiar scenes, my favorite being the choice of sculptures at Pemberley instead of paintings. I agree it was well done and not at all a disappointment. And I was very glad to be able to see it with you. :)

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Andrea ~ I very much enjoyed reading your P&P review and second the notion that you cannot compare a 5 hour version to a 2 hour version of this great story. I look forward to seeing it soon, and will probably buy it on DVD to set next to my A&E version. Very well thought out commentary and I love your blog website, it is thoughtful, well-written, and a pleasure to read! Suzanne

10:47 AM  
Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

It's going to sound ridiculously pompous since I am a scientist and not an English major, but I would greatly appreciate any comments you have on my Pride and Prejudice blog, which you can find here:

Your comments would be especially valuable since: A. You're an English teacher, and B. You like Emily Post's Etiquette.

I, too, greatly enjoyed this movie version. All three of the latest makes of P&P have their strengths. Very interesting comments, there.

In Christ.

11:33 PM  

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