Pride and Prejudice (1995)
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It is rare to find a Jane Austen dramatisation that comes so near to being perfect on every level and that stays so true to the original novel. The greater part of the dialogue in the series is Jane Austen's own and every scene is included and follows the same chronological order. The drama departs from the novel in only two instances. In order to extend our knowledge of the characters of Darcy(Colin Firth), and Mr Collins(David Bamber), two scenes are added; to demonstrate that Darcy is not just an effete aristocrat but a real man worthy of Elizabeth's love we are shown him indulging in manly pursuits; fencing, and swimming in his private lake (it puzzles me why so many women seem to drool over his wet-shirt scene); and to demonstrate that Mr Collins is an idiotic, narrow- minded prude we are shown him trembling with embarrassment and horror when he happens to come across Lydia (Julia Sawalha) in a state of dishabille. David Bamber makes Mr Collins deliciously toadying and obsequious. A remarkable piece of acting.
It is its faithfulness to the original that makes this drama so good. No one has ever written a more tightly plotted novel. Its series of climaxes make the novel difficult to put down; just as one plot-line reaches its climactic conclusion, another is building. And the duel of wits and sharp dialogue between Darcy and Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle) as they get to know each other is entrancing. And then comes that moment. She is at the piano befriending Darcy's sister, Georgiana (Emilia Fox), when he holds her gaze with a silent declaration of his love and admiration. This involved a fine piece of editor-timing; a split second either way, either too long or too short, and the poignancy of that moment would have been lost. It is interesting to compare Colin Firth's Darcy with that of Lawrence Olivier's Darcy in the Hollywood film. Olivier falsely portraits him as appealingly shy and self-conscious. But Darcy was in no way shy, he was just proud, with every reason to have a good opinion of himself. He found it impossible to imagine that anyone in a lower strata of society, living in a small provincial town, could be his equal - until he met Elizabeth!
However, I felt there was one weak link in the chain of superb acting; Alison steadman. Many will disagree but I think she over-acted, turning her Mrs Bennet into a nerve- grating, neurasthenic caricature. But apart from that, I heartily recommend this video. Don't miss it. You'll not see its like again. I must just mention the charming piano music by Carl Davis, so beautifully evocative of a beautiful period in history (for the rich).
This version is true to the novel and true to the characters and the wonderful tension between Elizabeth and Darcy is beautifully depicted.
Not for a moment do you think that these two are not meant to be together.
The Austen wit of both the main characters and the minor roles are strongly projected and the costumes and sets are faithful to the era of Austen's writing.
There is an incredible scene where Elizabeth is playing the piano and her eyes meet and hold on Darcy's who is at the other end of the room. Now, for me, that is one of the most sexy and sensual scenes I have ever seen. Everything is flawless about this production.
Superlative, satisfying and stunning.
Do not miss it. 10 out of 10.
A few comments on costume: one of the most believable aspects of the details put into this miniseries has to do with the costumes. Elizabeth and Jane are both adorned simple enough to convey a Christian background and some decor and modesty, as they would have properly been dressed during this time, yet the costumers could have expanded their wardrobe as you see many times in American films (the 1999 version of Emma comes to mind here, particularly) and yet at the time, the women would *not* have had 10 different ensembles to wear at special events. I honestly admired the holding back of their wardrobes to a few gowns rather than having gone overboard as you often see! The women who were of higher stature were properly attired in their jewels and every costume fit the character and situation beautifully. This and the musical score are two of the biggest highlights, I felt.
I would also like to give props to Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth who were cast wonderfully. Jennifer was able to convey a sort of devilish satire and quick wit which I thought suited her exceedingly well and accentuated the wit Austen was trying to get across in the novel. Firth held back and it suited his character. He shows a quiet power, a feeling of disdain and complexity in his acting that worked well for the first half of the miniseries and then turned this into admiration and openness later as the story develops. By the time he declares his undying love to Elizabeth you get the impression he is ready to burst open and you breathe a huge sigh of relief for him, yet the energy continues to pulse. Its a great thing to watch..
I would recommend this miniseries to anyone, especially those not yet familiar with Austen. This specific miniseries is so well done many people I have watched it with have sparked incredible interests in the intrigues of Austen's works. Good job BBC!
This is the most complete adaption of the novel, and there are so many lovable details in it that just make it a very unique movie experience. There are however minor changes, due to the fact that each episode of the series had to be leaving the audience wanting more... but nothing that really differs from the original.
The actors are awesome - Colin Firth is and will be the one and only Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle was a wonderful Elizabeth - spirited, lively, yet still always within decorum ( only that her skirts were " 6 inches deep in mud, I assure you"). Jane is, although maybe not for our standards pretty, a very classic beauty, and very much in character.The Bingley sisters are wonderfully arrogant, and Bingley is such a nice guy - not the insipid undecided, but rather too much trusting those he holds dear. Mrs Bennet, though annoying, is wonderful, and Mr. Bennet, witty and sarcastic, a perfect choice....in short, the complete cast has so decidedly imprinted upon my image of the characters that I find it hard to imagine anyone else playing that particular role.
The movie works very efficiently and elegantly with flashbacks to tell the various sub-plots, yet remains focused on the main actions. The scenery is well made, and the costumes are beautiful. I liked the fact that each actor had a wardrobe just as they would have had had they lived in the time, and not a new dress for each new scene.
For us, it may be hard to acquaint oneself with the language of Jane Austen, the rules of decorum of her time, and the social standards and sets of rules. In watching the movie, a lot of these things come clear - visualization as a means of understanding the regency period.
On a last note - the music is awesome. I have the opening melody as my cellphone ring ever since my Cellphone was able too...;)
There are so many little details, over which discussions can be lead for hours and hours, or pages and pages, and this s one of the best parts about the movie - although it gives an interpretation, it is not finite. A perfect movie to visualize the novel,and a must-see.
The mini-series is just perfect. It is a fantastic love story that is witty, charming, and very funny. I am not sure how many times I have watched it now, at least 5, and it improves with each viewing. The story and characters are so rich and interesting and the acting is just superb. I have a Top Ten list of movies/shows based on the premise that you are stuck on an island and can only bring 10 movies with you to watch for the rest of your life. This version of Pride and Prejudice has a permanent spot on that list. I rarely give 9s when voting here and I give this a 10!
If you like period pieces, good acting, or a great love story then this is a must see!
It was worth every last penny.
"Pride and Prejudice" is quite simply the most flawless thing I've ever seen. The story involves Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), who's opinion changes greatly of a seemingly very proud, rude man that moves into town. To sum up the whole story would be impossible, as there isn't really a simple lot.
First of all, let's examine the overall look of the thing. Simon Langton's direction is excellent, and he succeeds in getting the most breathtaking views of everything and anything. The production design and costuming is perfect, capturing the time without error, and the locations are simply gorgeous. Carl Davis' score is terrific and fitting (also to the times). Andrew Davies' script brings every last scene from the book and then pops in some new, being as absolutely faithful to the book as anyone could hope to be.
But now on to the casting. The cast is outstanding, although the film's one problem (albeit a very slight one) is the role of Mrs. Bennet, who - although wacky in the book - is completely over-the-top here and quite frequently even annoying. But the stars of the film couldn't be better. Jennifer Ehle is absolutely wonderful as Lizzy Bennet, and her eyes are so dazzling that they mesmerized me throughout the whole 300 minutes!
The show is completely stolen, however, by Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Colin Firth is not just playing Mr. Darcy; Colin Firth IS Mr. Darcy. He was born to play this role, and plays it so flawlessly, that it deserves to be considered one of the best performances any actor has ever given. Words cannot describe Firth's perfection as Darcy.
All in all, "Pride and Prejudice" is the greatest thing ever to air on television, and were it a film, it would be the greatest film of all-time. Those of you who have read the book shouldn't worry a bit about the long running time of the mini-series; as impossible as it seems, you shan't even notice. When I finished the series, I had such a feeling of satisfaction as no entertainment has ever before granted me.
This is perfection.
It is so interesting to have a window into the thinking, social mores and lifestyles of early 19th century, rural, genteel England, and to see how very, very different society's attitudes are today. The specific examples of Mr Wickham's disgraceful conduct would not be considered unusual today, but what makes him such a blackguard is how far he stepped beyond the bounds of acceptable behaviour at that time.
The central message of the story which I found personally educational is the moment when Elizabeth, having thought herself an excellent judge of human character, while reading Darcy's letter realizes that she has entirely deceived herself with regards to the character of both Wickham and Darcy and that this self deception has resulted from vanity, because Wickham flattered her whereas Darcy insulted her with his "She is tolerable I suppose, though not handsome enough to tempt me."
All this is all very well and good but this is not why I love P&P. All the characters come across as real people and they are successful at transmitting all the emotional tension that gradually builds up throughout the six hours. One can really identify with the characters. I would love it if Darcy was my best mate. I mean what a great guy. What a hero. (And an Arsenal supporter too! (in another movie called Fever Pitch)) I love the following scenes:
"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you";
"and when sanctioned by your excellent parents..." dab dab collapsing sweatily against the doorpost while Lizzie rapidly retreats, finishing his speech to himself "I am sure that my proposals will not fail in being... acceptable";
"the Look" as my wife calls it between Darcy and Elizabeth at Pemberley;
the party at Netherfield where most of the Bennets disgrace themselves;
Lady Catherine 'refuses her consent';
Mr Collins' visit to 'condole' with the Bennets;
"for it has been many months since that I have considered her the most handsome woman of my aquaintance" so there!;
and absolutely the best, "my feelings are so different, in fact... they are the opposite". Joy, joy, joy.
There are so many others too...
I hope this doesn't give too much away to those who haven't seen it. If you haven't seen it, get it. It will be the best money you spend on entertainment all year!
To all those who were involved in making this production: Bravo. This was the best ever. It produces the same feelings in me as when Arsenal win the League!
I recommend this mini series to everyone. It far exceeds the films made of Austen's works. Emma (and Gywnneth Paltrow) pales in comparison with this A&E mini series.
I, too, enjoyed Bridget Jones Diary all the more because of Colin Firth's Mark DARCY.
The interesting aspect of the miniseries is that it never feels like it's moving at a crawl. The story of Austen's micro-society develops at its own pace, much like the novel: it's as if the novel had literally come alive and were being acted by the people from FAHRENHEIT 451, complete with costumes and settings. We meet the Bennets right at the beginning when they discuss how Netherfield is to be let at last, and that its owner is none other than an eligible bachelor. Elizabeth, the second eldest Bennet herself is the one who utters the opening line of Austen's book -- and it's appropriate that she be the one who does so: listen to how she says it, not to when she does or who she does to.
The arrival of such a man causes an uproar it the small community. Charles Bingley is a congenial man, personable, but has some odious sisters, Caroline and Louisa Hurst. His friend, Mr. Darcy, is also eligible and ten times richer than Bingley, but is soon to be revealed to be someone disagreeable. At the ball, Jane Bennet becomes close with Charles (much to her mother's delight) and Elizabeth seen to be a little taken with the imposing nature of Darcy, but his aloof nature and continuous rebuffs, plus a harsh commentary he makes of her within earshot hurts her deeply: her pride has been hurt; hence, from now on, she will have nothing to do with him.
But fate has her meet him again when Jane falls ill after she gets called to spend an evening with Bingley and his sisters. While Darcy seems to be taking a repressed liking to Elizabeth, she is unaware of it, and grows increasingly hostile towards him, particularly after learning from George Wickham that he behaved quite badly towards him. In the middle of this, and because the Bennets have no son, the girls stand no chance of inheriting. Their property has been entailed to a male heir. Reverend Collins comes looking for a wife, proposes to Elizabeth, gets rebuffed, and winds up marrying Charlotte Lucas -- Elizabeth's best friend. On top of this, the Bingleys leave Netherfield, and Jane's future is left up in the air.
Eventually the plot reaches a head, and like the novel, it occurs midway. Jane Austen must have been aware at an empiric form that editing can balance out a work and enhance its effect, because in putting the crisis of the action halfway she establishes that Elizabeth and Darcy will have to shift towards each other in a realistic way, the same way other events will allow Jane and Bingley to consummate their union. This is what makes this story so enduring -- everything in it is realistic as possible, adhering to what society's attitude towards woman and men of their time was, where marriage was taken as serious as a retirement plan or having medical benefits.
The miniseries captures the slow breakdown of Austen's plot in a way that could have been stagy but is not. Not one thread is left untold, unlike the 1940 version (despite the presences of Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson) where the story looked a little more like farce and characters in the book behaved much differently in that film version. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are perfect in their renditions of Elizabeth and Darcy. She resembles an earthier version of Meryl Streep down to her voice and mannerisms; he is as aloof as alluring. Who wouldn't believe they didn't have what it took to merge together? Both have to do much acting without expressing much if at all, yet Ehle brings a nice iconoclastic attitude towards her character, the same way Firth embodies masculine arrogance.
Now, with the 2005 film version having got the praise it did, there will be people who prefer this version to the movie version and vice versa. There may be Olivier purists who will balk at such a long version. Having read the novel several times, I can relate to this one best because it retains pages of dialog intact without making it too talky and that's a tricky thing to do. Minus Alison Steadman's character, everyone is at a uniform level, but Steadman is a shade too shrill. While Mrs. Bennet wasn't the most agreeable person in the world, I believe that she has been represented better in the movie version because while still being a hyperactive, over-emotional woman, she was aware her daughters would be left destitute if they did not marry well. Even so, she does have a delicate tightrope to walk and I found myself liking Mrs. Bennet in the end and understood she was also a part of this enormous tapestry that Austen herself had woven so lovingly.
One would be hard-pressed to find any fault, big or small, regarding this superlative production.
The casting is flawless; could there be any other Darcy or Elizabeth aside from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle? Austen herself would have approved of their inspired performances. Every actor - from the histrionic Mrs Bennet (Alison Steadman) to the devilishly caustic Miss Caroline Bingley (Anna Chancellor) was brilliantly selected. Salutations indeed to the casting team responsible for this project.
The cinematography and locations are breathtaking enough to make me want to jump on the next plane and fly over the Bermuda Triangle in an attempt to transport myself to Austen's 19th century rural England.
The script is extremely faithful to the book, with no chapter or element of importance left untold. The humour is carried throughout the film with great subtlety, yet one cannot help but burst out loud in laughter - triggered by no more than a well-timed piece of dialogue... or lack of it! My greatest praise indeed to all responsible for this vintage production of one of Austen's best known and most loved works.
A must-see for all readers of Jane Austen and indeed all who wish enjoy one of the most brilliant pieces of film-making ever.
Jane Austen (the author of Pride and Prejudice) illustrated the characters in such depth and with such an aura of a familiar truth around them - why, I could easily associate the entire Bennet family with people I know. Now, after watching this movie, I find I know each character even better - that I understand what she was trying to say more clearly.
Many people say that this story was told from a woman's point of view. Perhaps. But I can safely say that at least in civilized society in our country, many of us, young men and women alike, can relate strongly to the situation described, and visualized so accurately in the movie.
Having a theme that would basically be understood best by those between 18 and 25 years of age, those who pay attention might find such typical personalities, and such insight into human nature as is hard to find elsewhere.
The actors do the story justice, and I can give no greater praise. Elizabeth and Darcy represent all that is dignified and ideal, and oddly enough, where our society is very particular about propriety in behaviour between men and women, no breach of decorum was shown as acceptable - even for us. I mention this because we are a bit conservative as it is, and yet even in the movie this universality was maintained and respected.
Truly an emotional road trip, with the crests and troughs, the pit stops and U-turns - Pride and Prejudice will remain one of the most honest and beloved stories in history.
Now, of course, five and a half hours is a LONG time...but all the more to sit through! When you love something, it's fabulous to have it extended for as long as possible. This version is right on with the book; the conversations were practically ripped from the pages. If you've been a faithful fan of the book, you can rest easy that this is a faithful adaptation.
As for the actors, it's hard to find anything bad to say. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth portrayed Lizzie and Mr. Darcy perfectly, and I have no qualms with putting their faces to the characters when reading the book. In fact, I can't think of one person I could complain about...they were all well suited.
This is very light-hearted, wholesome entertainment that has become a favorite of nearly everyone who I've seen it with...including my dear dad. Well, not a favorite for him, but he enjoyed it very much! If you don't think you can sit for almost 6 hours, take it in spurts...although I have yet to see a friend ask me to stop if from boredom. Even my sister's ex-boyfriend sat through all 6 hours and enjoyed it. We've been lucky with men around here, apparently. ;) If you enjoy this, I also recommend Sense and Sensibility. Happy viewing!
The cast flows together as though they live in Austen's England. They were clearly hand-selected for their individual roles, and yet no one oversteps his or her bounds. The sets are real standing mansions, and when one reads a credit for a "Period Chef," one knows every possible measure was taken to ensure the accurate portrayal of life at that time right down to the smallest detail. The music is brilliant in all its simplicity, and the costumes designed beyond perfection.
This is the most perfect movie I have ever seen, and I love it as much as I love the book. I can not give it any higher compliment than that.
A great cast of actors has been given a fine script and they all turn in great performances.
I wondered at the wild, over-sexed behavior of the youngest Bennet daughter, Lydia, here acted by Julia Sawalha. She is allowed to display her wide-ranging, formidable comedic talents. I especially loved the little snort she emits in an early scene, displaying that she is truly her mother's favorite daughter and very much like her.
Mrs Bennet, played hilariously by Alison Steadman, is a vulgar, loud and ostentatious woman and I liked her very much in this part.
Mr Bennet, the long-suffering patron of this family is played with laconic humor by Benjamin Whitrow, a piece of perfect casting. Jennifer Ehle is splendid as Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine who gets her man in the end, as they always do in Austen's novels. I won't belabor the countless nuances of her characterization other than to say that she is deeply satisfying at every level.
Her elder sister, Jane, is played by Susannah Harker ('House of Cards') with a sweetness that stops just short of simpering.
The middle daughter, Mary, is an early prototype for the first suffragettes. Lucy Briers had quite a challenge to make anything of Mary who is often relegated to the background. But Briers sets the tone for one of the most hilarious scenes in any film I've ever seen; the dinner party at the Netherfields Ball where she entertains the guests by singing and playing atrociously. Note Anna Chancellor (Miss Bingley) in this scene. I burst out in loud guffaws at her reactions.
Anna Chancellor was an inspired piece of casting for Miss Caroline Bingley the aristocratic and condescending sister of Jane Bennet's beloved. Miss Bingley is an interesting character. The Prejudice against her is immediate, on the part of Elizabeth, as Miss Bingley is aloof and fork-tongued. But she is really a good person who tells the truth. It's just that she is a product of her highly sheltered and sophisticated environment and "comes off" snooty and vindictive.
Colin Firth is ideal as Mr Darcy the romantic interest of Elizabeth Bennet's life. Tall, handsome, well set-up, intelligent and gentle, Firth's portrayal possesses all the traits of a high-born gentleman. He is NOT a snob but he is aloof and easily bored. Not unusual in a very intelligent person. However, Elizabeth's Prejudice, out of ignorance of Darcy's life, seems a worse misdemeanor than his Pride which seems like arrogance but isn't.
David Bamber ('Heavy Weather') portrays the obsequious Reverend Collins with oily unctuousness. Collins is funny, yes, but also maddening in his obtuse inability to comprehend the feelings and thoughts of anyone besides himself. Only his new wife, Charlotte Lucas, comprehends his nature and finds happiness in her life with him.
Charlotte is one of those characters, along with Jane Bennet and Mrs Gardiner, who occupy points of equilibrium and sensibility to their environments. When any of these 3 women are holding forth one senses serenity in the atmosphere that stops the whirling dizziness of most of the characters' states-of-mind.
Barbara Leigh-Hunt turns in a masterful performance as the monstrous bitch Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Such spite and malice as Lady Catherine possesses is spat out with acidic nastiness. Her first scene when she meets Elizabeth is also extremely funny.
There is a minor masterful performance from Harriet Eastcott, who plays nursemaid-companion to Lady de Bourgh's sickly daughter. Without uttering a word Ms Eascott conveys volumes as to the put upon, subservient and terrified situation of Mrs Jenkinson.
One of the great delights of this mini-series is how it takes its time to actually observe this long-dead society. The ball scenes are gorgeously executed. The choreography of those intricate and beautiful dances is hypnotizing. There are long periods where the camera watches these dancers, moves about among them. It is beautiful to behold. The actors must have been sorely challenged to deliver their lines in such a natural manner and yet having to time them to fit the complicated steps they have to perform.
All the technical aspects of this film are superb, especially the editing. The forte-piano playing of Melvyn Tan glues the entirety together. Simon Langton's direction is so good as to be invisible.
I cannot praise this version of 'Pride and Prejudice' enough. It is one of the two great Jane Austen adaptations on film, along with Roger Michell's wonderful version of 'Persuasion' with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds.
Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle give unforgettable performances, and their chemistry is divine. As Darcy and Elizabeth, both actors beautifully display emotion simply with facial expressions and physical gestures, offering a dimension of subtlety that's often non-existent in the romance genre today. The portrayal of their romance is on such a heightened level that you find yourself investing so much in their story very early on, anticipating every exchange of expression, dialogue and physical contact. The first moment they hold hands during their dance at the Netherfield Ball is more true an exchange of sensuality and eroticism than all of the overt and unintentionally shallow displays of sex in television and film combined.
The supporting cast does a marvelous job of bringing layer and depth to this wonderful film. There is no weak link. I can take the time to single out every performance, but it would result in far too long a commentary. I'll only mention Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. They are a delight to watch. Sure, Mrs. Bennett is excessively annoying and unlikable. This is only testament to the great performance of Steadman, who plays the part so well that you find her exasperating character to be lively and endearing despite her flaws. Whitrow has what I believe to be the best one-liners in the script, and he delivers them with great comedic wit and timing. With the more serious, yet equally charming side of his character, you truly get a sense of his affection and admiration for Elizabeth, especially in their very touching final scene together.
The script is terrific. Andrew Davies brings such an earthy, human element to Austen's wonderful novel. He takes risks, and they pay off. The direction, costumes, music, and cinematography all tie in so well thematically, resulting in a thoroughly complete and beautifully detailed production.
I urge you to see 'Pride and Prejudice' and experience a very rewarding 300 minutes. Its source material will amaze you as well - read it if you haven't already and fall in love with this delightful story.