Pride and Prejudice

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I thought of a post on this film, and then thought it wasn’t worth the effort. Suffice it to say, it is very pleasurable to look at, and everything clicked into place when I saw on a bus stop poster that it was by the producer of Bridget Jones Diary and Love Actually and Notting Hill. That’s not a criticism. I enjoyed the former a lot (though hated the second Bridget Jones movie and wasn’t sure whether my tastes had changed or it really was that much worse) and Love Actually was a very good flick. Notting Hill was a bit too formulaic for my taste but passed the time well enough.

Anyway, this is Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones. Elizabeth Bennett is ‘dumbed down’ a bit and the actress Keira Knightley gives us too many cute little grins from those modern day romances for my taste. But it’s great to look at. Donald Sutherland’s Mr Bennett is perhaps the most interesting bit of interpretation. Much ‘heavier’ than the book, but very convincing in this role.

The film had the occasoinal tacky anachronism, as when Elizabeth and Darcy do the old Hollywood ‘near kiss’ only to pull away. I guess it put it in a more accessible modern idiom. My 11 year old daughter certainly liked it.

In any event, I just read a great review of the film by Peter Craven. Peter Craven has concocted a remarkably fruity ‘up himself’ accent for himself, which would be enough to polish him off for me. I find taking note of such things can be a very rapid and often surprisingly accurate way of summing things up. But it doesn’t work with Craven. Without saying I always agree with him, or that he doesn’t occasionally write some shockers (who with his output wouldn’t?), he’s a marvelous reviewer with an arresting and penetrating turn of phrase.

So I don’t need to write any more. Read Peter Craven’s review, and three stars from me.

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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

why anyone would even try to do the movie after the absolutely stunnning Mini-series is beyond me.

If something cannot be bettered don’t do it.

I doubt id anyone wil attempt to do LOTR for this very reason.

Fyodor
2022 years ago

“Anyway, this is Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones.”

Um, Nicholas, Bridget Jones’ Diary is an explicit retelling of P&P. Didn’t you ever wonder why Colin Firth played a characted called Darcy in BJD?

Homerkles is right – the whole idea is an abomination. The most recent BBC series will likely never be surpassed. To attempt it is folly on a massive scale.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Fyodor. On recollection I do recall that BJD was a retelling of P&P. You presume that I wasn’t thinking of that when I wrote “Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones”. You happen to be correct, but it seems to me to make perfectly good sense whether or not one is in the know.

Regarding the mini-series, I loved it, but I really disliked the lead actress Jennifer Ehle. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. And anyway so what?

I wasn’t aware that a good adaptation somehow made ridiculous the next one. If P&P were packaged up again next year I’d enjoy seeing it.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

My wife is the Austen fan and gradually got me to look at the series which anyone could see was brilliant.

I must say that the language is something else.

I thought the polish actress , blonde ,eldest daughter was the stunner of the series.

One thing I couldn’t come to terms with was the ‘age’ of the ladies.
The actresses were obviously much olders than the ladies in the book but it was so good I didn’t care.

Fyodor
2022 years ago

Nicholas,

Chill. I wasn’t being snarky – it seemed obvious to me that you weren’t aware of the connection as, to my mind, “Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones” merely means “Jane Austen meets Jane Austen”. Unfortunately, this is more likely to mean JA=JA, not JA squared.

I disagree violently with your opinion of Jennifer Ehle. She was perfect in the role, and very much teh hotness. A little too old for the character, as Homerkles rightly points out, but it’s unimaginable for a modern actress of 21 years to carry off that dialogue.

What makes the current version ridiculous is the knowledge that the BBC series wasn’t merely “good”, but damn-near perfect. It was ridiculous to even attempt to match it, let alone better it. Why bother?

Homerkles, I have no idea why you think Susannah Harker, the actress playing Jane Bennett, was Polish. She’s definitely English, and very memorable for her role in “House of Cards”.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

I was led to believe that her parents were polish.

You may well say that but I couldn’t possibly comment!!

She is one of the best looking actresses around.

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Well, they say there are only a dozen or so stories in the world – all the rest are just variations. P&P is the original chick story – the reason the plot now seems so formulaic is because it created the formula others followed.

On Austen stories remade and transposed, the film “Clueless” was a savagely hilarious version of Emma, set in Beverley Hills.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Sorry Fyodor,

I realised as I was writing my response that it could be read as assuming you were being snarky, and I also realised that you may not have been. But I just pressed on thinking “I’ll be here all day if I try to get every nuance right”. Consider me chilled.

As for not doing anything if it’s been done very well before. Allow me to say in as snarkless a way as I can manage – bollocks. The idea seems OK for Maxwell Smart or Gilligan’s Island. But for Jane Austen? Should we apply it to Shakespeare?

As for Jennifer Ehle, well we just differ. I found her quite stodgy and unattractive and I’m not referring to her looks. But we’re just trading opinions full of sound and fury but signifying not very much.

boynton
2022 years ago

I agree with you re Jennifer Ehle, Nicholas.
Think she was miscast.
But she was absolutely fab in “The Camomile Lawn”
(one of my fav TV shows evah)

Naturally I think it would be hard for any actor to surpass Colin Firth in the Darcy/hotness stakes, but it’s always worth trying. Maybe one day there’ll be a mash featuring the best of every adaptation. To date.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

Colin Firth is very nice to look at, but (from memory) don’t you think he was a bit mild for the role. The guy who does it in this version (Matthew MacFadyen) is pretty good at the pride bit. Then again, maybe his portrayal is a bit cliched – a little overly influenced by the Mills and Boon industry (that of course Jane Austen wrote the templates for).

boynton
2022 years ago

Nah – CF had enough of the pride to balance the mild.
(btw – is the collective noun a “pride” of darcys?)

Wonder how Wickham is in this latest? It would be good to see a version where he matches Mr Darcy in the x dept.

Emsa
Emsa
2022 years ago

hey i disagree with some of ya cause like i think its good considering the fact that i have neva read the book or even watched the so called “fantastic mini series”

Anyway those of you who think Colin Firth is hot. Like come on, seriously what century are you living in.

Doug Tucker
Doug Tucker
2022 years ago

I’ve always been astonished that nobody seems to consider the earlier BBC series on P&P made in 1985. This was dramatised by Fay Weldon. I initially preferred it to the later series because it adhered more closely to the book and didn’t dream up scenes like that of Darcy taking his early morning plunge for the benefit of the drooling female viewers. However, when persuaded to watch the second series, I did find the latter more convincing than I had previously thought, and so worth doing if it served the purpose of introducing Jane Austen to a wider audience. (I even discovered a few undergraduate students inspired to venture forth into hitherto unexplored realms i.e. reading a book!) That aside, my own experience with the two mini-series suggests that it is worthwhile making new versions of a good book from time to time.

boynton
2022 years ago

Ah but Dr Finlay didn’t quite cut it as Darcy for me…
But Mrs B was very good, not so exaggerated, and it included the scene of Lizzie informing her mother of the big news. (The strange absence of this scene is one of the big flaws in the Davies adaptation, as I think it rounds off the story. I could have swapped it for a dance routine or two.)