In my previous guest posts, I’ve referenced the artistry of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice adaptation: the cinematography, the lush colors and amazingly beautiful locations, the exquisite musical score, symbolic clues and the emphasis on the differences of the various social classes. I appreciate all of those things because they only add to this film’s distinction, but what I love and appreciate the most is its liveliness, animation and the spontaneous feelings that manners cannot contain. It appeals to me visually, audibly and emotionally.
The 1995 BBC/A&E Andrew Davies’ mini-series and Working Title/Focus Features’ 2005 Joe Wright film; are arguably the two most popular versions of Pride and Prejudice that also spark the most debate. I should point out that I enjoy both versions but not for the same reasons, because after all they are different perspectives and two separate mediums. It really depends on what I'm in the mood for and which aspect of the story that I want to focus. The former is truer to the original, but the latter gets the edge as my all-time favorite. The feature film is a glorious, shorter alternative! It’s plain and simple; you can LOVE one without HATING the other. I would recommend them both!
While I appreciate the intricate story and characterization of the mini-series, it is sometimes too unfailingly polite and lacks intense emotion. The perfect adaptation would strike the balance between propriety and passion. The mini-series closely mirrors the events in the book, but the feature film brings the book to life with spirit and resonance! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is simply more realism, sincerity, and feeling in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice than in any other adaptation that I've seen. Joe Wright’s presentation is more natural and unpretentious. While it is a more contemporary version, there is still wit, social commentary, and undeniable romance!
This movie not only preserves but embodies the feeling and atmosphere that one gets when reading the book. As the second daughter of a country gentleman who can't leave his estate to a female (and wasn’t financially prudent) Elizabeth has a small dowry and no influential social connections. She is headed straight for poverty if she doesn't marry a man who can provide for her. Now imagine that she lives in a world where there are very few eligible men, and see her tempted by a marriage that would sacrifice her best qualities, but allow her mother and four sisters to live a comfortable life. She handles and rejects the notion of marrying only for security. Defying convention she holds on to her ideals for a union based on love and mutual respect and eventually marries the right man.
In my opinion, Matthew Macfadyen is the best Darcy on film--as far as the script and his limited screen time allowed. He transformed himself in the movie from one type of character to another. Macfadyen embodies a Darcy that I can actually imagine falling in love with a girl, well below his and his family’s expectations. One of the things that this version chose to highlight is how startled and enthralled Darcy is by his attraction to Elizabeth; and how he struggles against it.
From the very first meeting, when their eyes meet and he looks hurriedly away as if burned, that was it for me! The vanity in his early denials is just a mask. His sense of propriety doesn't allow the connection especially in light of the disastrous impressions he gets from the rest of the Bennet’s, but his emotions are too strong to ignore. Matthew showed a balance of both faults and vulnerabilities; exhibiting the perfect blend of superiority and sensitivity. His performance sold me on Darcy’s internal journey. His growth throughout the narrative; enables him to right wrongs. Through good and anonymous deeds the true nature of the man can prevail. His changed views about the social expectations are clear from the encouragement and assistance he provides Bingley in proposing to Jane.
The most popular scenes in this adaptation are the two scenes that are the most essential to Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. Call me romantic but the near kiss after Darcy's unsuccessful proposal is about as good as it gets. Although it’s his walk before dawn across the fog-misted moors to make an hopeful quest for his love’s hand that provides the much-needed pay-off! For those who point to inaccurate text mirroring or differences in location, I see exact replicas of the human spirit. The emotion of both these climatic events is conveyed, not unlike the unmistakable passion that makes the novel so entrapping. You know that feeling that you get when scenes are so awesomely played by the characters that your heart flutters? Well the 2005 adaptation does that for me! I practically melt every time I view it, I’ve watched it too many times to count and it never gets old! It’s been nearly ten years since its US theatrical release, and I’m still not over it!!! I love, love, love this movie!
I see film adaptations of books for what they are - individual creations based on a common plot line; they aren’t supposed to be exact retellings. As far as I'm concerned, quality matters more to me than a carbon copy of a novel. If you don't like it because it lacks complete authenticity, DON'T WATCH IT....just read the book. As I’ve written before, the 2005 adaptation isn't for the less educated among us, it's meant for entertainment! This film is cinematic art and this adaptation is one of the most romantic films of all time. My paramount concern is not Austen purity, as much as a well told story that sweeps you in and leaves you wanting...No one can tell me that Keira is not Lizzy and that Matthew isn't Darcy, or that there is such a man and such a love somewhere out in the world. This duo was amazing and I imagine that they are still basking in their love at Pemberley. So grab a glass of something, order your favorite take out meal, find your coziest blanket, maybe a few tissues, and enjoy the flick!!!