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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Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

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I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

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I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

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Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

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I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

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I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

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Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

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On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

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I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to 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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