Series Review: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

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The BBC series adaption of Pride and Prejudice is nothing short of iconic. You mention Pride and Prejudice and the majority of people are as likely to think of this series as they are of the novel. While there are other adaptions (such as the 2005 adaption and the ridiculously fun 2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), the series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth will always be used as a benchmark for the book. As otherwise as I usually like to be, I sat down with the series after I watched the other two films.

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Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite version of Elizabeth. She manages to capture Elizabeth’s independence and intelligence, and she always seems to be constantly smirking at Darcy. In my opinion Ehle is much prettier than Susannah Harker’s Jane Bennet – I only mention this because in the book it is clear that Jane is supposed to be the prettier one. Harker makes a decent Jane, though she falls short of my favorite. Jane is always the sweet sister, and although there is nothing wrong with her she is definitely the more stereotypical female of so long ago.

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Crispin Bonham-Carter as Charles Bingley is my favorite Bingley. He is as charming, sweet-natured and handsome as Bingley is supposed to be. The character will always be the direct opposite to Darcy, which always makes their friendship baffling and sweet. Bingley is besotted with Jane, and only his inability to see his sister Caroline (Anna Chancellor) for the horrific person she actually is makes him do silly things such as run away from Jane.

Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet achieved what the other ladies in her role couldn’t achieve – the woman drives me crazy. If you’ve read the book you will remember that this character is supposed to drive you crazy – so this statement is an accolade rather than an insult. Mrs. Bennet is self-involved, silly, a really poor mother, a huge embarrassment to her older daughters, an enabler in her younger daughters’ poor behavior and just generally the most frustrating character to be written in a long, long time. I also enjoyed Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet – he had a lot of the sarcasm and sass Mr. Bennet is supposed to have.

As for the sisters other than Jane, Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet and Lucy Briers as Mary Bennet are favorites. Julia captures Lydia’s callous disregard for her family and Briers was a perfect Mary – long suffering, dull, and despite her attempts to appear noble and wise as shallow and embarrassing as the majority of her family. Kitty Bennet is always a bit on the background and not as focused on. Polly Maberly did good in that role as well, but as it is rarely focused on I won’t claim it is my favorite performance.

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And last but not least for the character discussions, there is Mr. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. In the role that started and defined his career, Firth gives as a Darcy that we can strongly root for. Darcy is such a poop in the beginning, but as Zoë and I discussed, his atrocious snobbery and behavior makes him falling so hard for Elizabeth that much more rewarding. His character undergoes such strong changes when he ultimately falls for Elizabeth – it is rewarding and beautiful and powerful.

I really liked the costume and set design. The dresses are gorgeous and styled, something which lacks and seriously grieved me in the 2005 adaption. They also kept the house good looking, again a flaw in the 2005 version, as the Bennets’ are never poor, they just aren’t as rich as the elite. I really did like the dresses they put Elizabeth in, so white and gorgeous. The hair – those curled fringes, made me want to cry. No woman, no matter how beautiful, can make such horrid styling work. It was deplorable.

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The only thing that made me enjoy the series a little less was the music score. I’ve never been a fan of classical whiney screechy music, and it is all over the series. It deducted from my experience. The flashback moments done in the series had me smirking and sighing, but they probably did the best they could with their available technology.

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The ultimate love declaration? This is the closest to the book. I like it for the pure Britishness of it all. It is like “I love you, but let’s not embarrass ourselves”. Something I like about the entire story is how Elizabeth’s feelings change towards Darcy – it’s not sudden, it is a gradual realization that he’s not so bad as she thought and her realization of her own mistakes. If I can say, controversially, that my favorite declaration of love still comes from Mr. Darcy in PPZ, you must please forgive me. His deliverance and his Elizabeth’s reaction are so incredible that it not only stands out in this little genre, but across a large part of movies for me.

The Pride and Prejudice Series conclude my watching of Pride and Prejudice work for the first time. I am really sad about it, so anyone who wants to do another (GOOD) adaption, please see this as a beacon call for it to happen. I enjoyed all three films, and Zoë and I plan to do a discussion post soon about it, and then you will really know which actors act where in there for us.

Have you seen this? Please let me know so we can fan-club together!

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Favorite Movie Quote: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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I recently had the pleasure of watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the third (?) time. It is such a fun adaption of the original work. I really do hope to get to the PPZ book soon as I am currently finishing up the original Pride and Prejudice.

As for today’s quote: The famed letter that Mr. Darcy writes to Elizabeth were he explains himself is beautiful across all the adaptions.The entirety of this letter is explanatory and heart breaking, but I am particularly fond of this paragraph:

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Of all weapons in the world, I now know love to be the most dangerous. For I have suffered a mortal wound. When did I fall so deeply under your spell, Miss Bennet? I cannot fix the hour or the spot or the look or the words which lay the foundation. I was in the middle before I knew I began. But a proud fool I was. I have faced the harsh truth: that I can never hope to win your love in this life. – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Here’s my review if you haven’t seen it yet!

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Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

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Plot: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
–penguinrandomhouse.com 

I started to write this already at the halfway mark of the book, so as to not forget any of my thoughts. I can tell you that I am going to pretend I am British for another week now (the same inevitably happens when I watch Downton Abbey). I had the best time working through Pride and Prejudice and can really not think of a time this year when I felt so content reading any book.

This is finally a successful attempt at reading Pride and Prejudice – the first time I picked it up I only managed to get through half of the book. I have no idea why, perhaps I just wasn’t as inclined as I was this time around. I watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies AGAIN the other day, and I love the 2005 adaption of this novel with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden. The plot speaks to me on many levels – the unerring feminism of Elizabeth Bennet, the courage of Jane Austen to write about Elizabeth Bennet, the love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I can tell you now that I find difficult people so much more appealing than the Mr. Bingleys of the world. Their loyalty is ultimately more rewarding and unyielding. Pride can be attractive in any person. Mr. Darcy is a difficult man, but truly appealing. It is fun to find a character that isn’t written in the typical hero fashion – he’s so ornery and stubborn and proud.

The differences between the movies and the original work are perhaps not significant but the book is naturally more illustrative to the characters. Mr. Wickham is even slimier than his onscreen presence shows, Mr. Collins is a phenomenal, pompous and amazingly irritating pain in the ass.  Mrs. Bennet is truly an embarrassment to her offspring. Her antics are mortifying and she has a cold disregard to Elizabeth that is not shown often in a film adaption. She never ceased her ambition to have her daughters favorably married. Whatever true care she felt for each of them was very much overshadowed by her need to see her daughters settled with men of high fortunes. It was embarrassing.

There is only one section that felt tiresome eventually. The section where Lydia runs of with Wickham is pivotal in the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy, but it really took an extraordinary amount of pages to get through. The conclusion of Pride and Prejudice is the most delightful British ending you can hope for. Feelings are expressed in the utmost British way – please tell me they are still like this! – and the overpowering sweetness of Darcy’s happiness when Elizabeth expresses her love and admiration is lovely. I really did enjoy how sweet he became eventually when he was around her, and that the strength of his feelings could make him do such introspection and radical personal change.

The theme of the book is clear the very descriptive title, but there are also themes of family, learning to look deeper into a person and not expressing yourself in anger – Elizabeth’s family had quite the shock when she professed to love the man she had been so against the majority of the time she’d known him.

Pride and Prejudice really isn’t a quick and easy read, and it takes time to get yourself acquainted with the author’s writing. It is high English, and it was a good exercise for me as a predominantly Afrikaans speaking person to read through it. You also really need to be in the mood to read this book, it isn’t going to be pleasing or successful if you want a fast read.

I am giving this a 9.5/10. It is a very high rating, yes, but I found it very deserving of the classic cult status and many adaptions it has gone through. I really enjoyed it so much! One of my favorite books this year!

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