Monday, February 25, 2008

A True Masterpiece

For the past three weeks PBS has shown Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In my humble opinion (ha!) this is the definitive Austen adaptation. Here's why:

- The luxury of time. This series is over 5 hours long. Characters and story lines are given time to develop.

- The actors disappear into their roles - which is a good thing. Barbara Leigh-Hunt is Lady Catherine. Susannah Harker is a serene and lovely Jane. Alison Steadman is completely screechy and annoying, as mortifying to the audience as she must have been to Elizabeth and Jane.

- There are no "artistic" reinterpretations of characters. This is one of my main problems with the recent Keira Knightley adaptation. In this movie you can see why Darcy is impressed with Lizzie's Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in the 2005 movie they were as annoying and crude as the rest of Lizzie's relations.

- No striding across moors in early morning mist. Sure Mr. Darcy is given a few more flourishes than the book suggests (the infamous swimming scene which I don't like, the fencing which I do) but neither of those grates on my nerves as much as Matthew MacFadyen strolling across a foggy moor to Keira Knightley. How very Bronte! And therefore, how very un-Austen.

- Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are both enjoyable to watch and believable in their roles. Neither is my perfect image of Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy but I doubt my "perfect" images are actually living on this earth, much less acting in movies.

- My own Prince Charming actually enjoys this adaptation and has been known to watch it with me. He walked out of the room on the Keira Knightley version. That's enough proof for me at my favorite being the better adaptation.

Don't just take my word for it. See it for yourself!

Picture credit: I can't remember where I found this collage. If you know be sure to tell me so I can give proper recognition. It may have been from The Costumer's Guide.


MacKenzie said...

You are right about this being the best adaptation. I haven't been watching it on PBS because Craig is going out of town this weekend so I am planning on watching the whole thing then. (Unlike your P.C., mine isn't a big fan although he does get credit for letting me take pictures of a random street in England just because Mr. Darcy sat on a horse there in the movie.) I am so excited to see it again!

donw said...

I caught the end in time for the weddings. I'd seen the other version you spoke of and didn't catch enough of this one to compare. I did like the other one and Sense and Sensibility too. I'm an Anne of Green Gables fan. We used to have Anne weekends and my daughter and I and maybe a friend of hers would watch them all. Justin liked them too.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I agree with nearly everything you said! 1995 Pride and Prejudice *is* the best Austen film adaption! I couldn't warm to the Keira Knightley version, either...even though her name is Knightley. (Knightley's my favorite JA hero. Who couldn't like him, with a name like that?) Oh, and yes, Barbara Leigh Hunt *is* Lady Catherine. (She was really good as Lady Cumnor in Wives and Daughters, too. You might want to check that out from that wonderful haven of bliss commonly called the library. It's a good film adaption of the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, the authoress who wrote North and South.)

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