My Pride and Prejudice Spree
So earlier this year I listened all the way through Pride and Prejudice on my MP3 player during work. That made me want to rewatch my favorite version, the BBC 6 hour show with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle… which made me rewatch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries… which made me go on a Pride and Prejudice spree with 4 other versions! 🙂 So here are my reviews of all the versions I have seen.
Pride and Prejudice (BBC TV Mini-Series, 1995, starring Jennifer Ehle)– I grew up watching this version, and so I think it’ll always be my favorite. Watching it this time, Elizabeth Megill and I quoted along with it almost the whole way through. I think Colin Firth does my very favorite Darcy. Maybe it’s because I just like him as an actor or because he was my first model, but I think he does the changeover from Proud Darcy to Trying-to-be-Humble-and-Friendly Darcy the best of any I’ve seen. The fact that they also had 6 hours to show the characters more in-depth also helps.
This version is very close to the book, with very little, if any, changes to the feel of it. The theme stays true, the characters are all done well, and I really like this Elizabeth. She plays the fun-loving Lizzie who likes to laugh with the equal balance of respectable intelligence; and I think her flaws are portrayed subtly but realistically. Again, I grew up watching this one, so I have great fondness and affection for it.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (Pemberly Digital, YouTube series, starring Ashley Clements)- This internet VLOG series is a modern adaptation of P&P, with some extreme switch-ups in the storyline. While they had to change circumstances and characters’ reactions due to the vast change in culture, I think they did a great job of staying true to the characters. The most onscreen characters are Lizzie, Jane, Lydia and Charlotte, and so the creators added a lot of new depth to Charlotte and Lydia. I mean, there WASN’T a whole lot of depth to Lydia in the book, which was the point, but I think this adaptation does some very interesting things with her character. But I won’t spoil anything else.
While the Lizzie and Darcy romance always has its cuteness and delight, I’m not as big a fan of this Darcy. I don’t think that his stilted behavior feels like it quite fits into the modern setting the way that everybody else does. Don’t get me wrong, he does a good job, but I still feel like he’s incredibly stiff by the end of the show. I hoped with a second viewing that I would feel a bit more connected to his character, but I still can’t quite get it. But that’s ok; it’s hard to do Darcy right, and I think Colin Firth’s is the only one I’ve really liked so far. And that’s only with a LOT of viewing.
Bride and Prejudice (2004, Bollywood Musical, starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan)– This is another modernized version, but set in India and is a partial musical. (It has at least 3, maybe 4, song and dance scenes, which are all quite fun.) I saw it once long ago and then rewatched it for this challenge. It’s fun. The characters ring pretty true, and the songs and culture was enjoyable to watch. I like seeing their new takes on this story, and while it wasn’t superbly memorable, it was a pleasant watch. The modernization of Darcy is done differently than in the Lizzie Bennet diaries; the internet dude uses old-fashioned speak and is very stiff and proper, while this guy is just more of a snob who’s uncomfortable and scornful of the new culture he’s in. I can’t tell which is better, but they both have their different takes, which is fun for comparison.
Pride and Prejudice (2005, starring Keira Knightly)- This will probably always be one of my least favorite versions. I know lots of people like it, and that’s fine. I appreciate it better on this rewatch than when I first saw it. It has some cool visual moments (the dance scene and the long shot with her on the mountain are my 2 favorites) and the music is very pretty. However, the colors and the look are all kind of ugly. Maybe it’s more realistic, but it doesn’t look very elegant; mostly everyone and everything just kind of looks unattractive. But I’m spoiled with the gaily colored BBC version I guess. 🙂
Darcy’s… Darcy. Unsmiling (less than Colin) and fairly boring throughout. I like him when he’s vulnerable, but that’s really it. Also, while Keira tried to give Lizzie a fun-loving attitude, sometimes in this version she just feels a little immature. She giggles at odd times and says things like “(dancing with him) would be most inconvenient since I’ve sworn to loathe him for all eternity”. It feels just a little sillier than how I perceive her character. Oh, and Bingly looks and acts like a complete dork in this version!
Lastly, this version is clearly implying that Lizzie is attracted to Darcy from the start but that she is trying to shove down her feelings because she’s prejudiced. (They almost kiss right after she rejects his proposal! That’s not Lizzie, that’s emotionally-charged-modern-romance-movies.) While this is their interpretation of the story, and I guess I can’t object to them taking liberties to create their adapted version, I personally prefer the story that doesn’t say you have to secretly be in love with someone because you hate them. I am sorry about my harshness for anybody who likes this version. 🙂
Pride and Prejudice (BBC TV Mini-Series,1980, starring Elizabeth Garvie)- This was a decent version, with good acting, characters that were true and dialogue very consistent with the book. The plus about these mini-series’ is that you have the time to delve into the thoughts of the characters as they transition, more so than in a 120 minute movie.
The reason this adaptation is slower and more boring than the others is that it’s very visually limited and plain. It plays very little mood music throughout the movie, and they don’t go to a lot of lengths to engage you visually. The long scene where Lizzie reads Darcy’s letter consists of drawn out shots of her sitting and him walking away while his voiceover recites the letter; this is followed by a long scene of watching her sit and hearing her voiceover thoughts that she’s thinking about the letter. This kind of thing occurs frequently throughout the film, and while it gives you quite an accurate depiction of the story with decent acting, as a movie it’s not particularly engaging or exciting.
Lost in Austen (2008, starring Jemima Rooper)- Well. …. I can see why Elizabeth hated this. This is a story where Amanda Price, an adoring fan of the book Pride and Prejudice, ends up switching places with Elizabeth Bennett, and her presence causes chaos and mayhem. There is so much different about the plot in this one that I can’t just critique it, so for anyone who wants to know (if you don’t, STOP READING), this is the movie in a nutshell:
-Bingly falls for Amanda
-Collins falls for Amanda
-Bingly falls for Jane after Amanda pretends she’s a lesbian, but Jane thinks he doesn’t love her so Jane marries Collins
-Darcy hates Amanda
-Darcy falls for Amanda
-Charlotte runs off to Africa because she doesn’t have anyone to marry and is never heard from again
-Bingly gets depressed, becomes an alcoholic and ends up running off with Lydia
-Darcy won’t marry Amanda because she lived with her modern day boyfriend
-Caroline hits on Elizabeth
-Wickham actually turns out to be the victim of Georgiana, who hit on Wickham but when he wouldn’t take her up on it she slandered his name
-Jane and Collins get their marriage annulled and she and Bingly get married
-And Elizabeth stays in the modern world while Amanda and Darcy get married.
It’s a bit ridiculous. Clearly they were trying to make a fun story about what would have happened if everything went wrong, but none of the characters actually would have responded this way. Everything that makes these characters who they are was flipped around and destroyed.
However, the best part was when Darcy and Amanda both decide they love each other, and she says, “Will you do me a favor?” and the next scene you see him coming up out of the water while she watches. (Because there’s this thing in England where all the women say that the most acclaimed visual moment is watching Colin Firth as Darcy come out of the lake that he swims in. It turns out to be a visual that doesn’t actually exist. But it’s something bunches of people insist that they saw anyway.) That part was fantastic. But other than that, it was an awkward and disarrayed movie. SPOILER END
So, those are my movie reviews! …. ….
Don’t really have an outro to this blog, so I’ll just leave you with this nugget of wisdom:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”