Pride and Prejudice

It’s about time that I golbed about a favourite book adaptation: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I know that I’ve written about it before but not in any detail and Bride and Prejudice or Bridget Jones’s Diary certainly don’t count even if Colin Firth is reprising the role of Darcy in the latter. In my mind there are only two video versions worth seeing.  That is if you don’t want to read the book or listen to it which, of course, is the best experience. We own both on DVD: the 1995 mini series and the 2005 feature film. The former of these with Colin Firth as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Miss Elizabeth Bennet is, by far, the best. It’s 300 minutes does the genius of Austen justice and seems to really evoke the time. It also doesn’t deviate as much from the text.  The new movie with Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley as the ultimate couple has better colour and some interesting liberties taken but it’s just too short. It’s OK if you’re in a hurry but buy the 1995 DVDs if you want the real experience. Five hours only seems long when you say it out loud but I do not misrepresent when I say that you hardly notice the time passing with the exquisite acting, beautiful landscapes and historic interiors.
The story is a timeless one and you only have to do a search in the Internet Movie Database to see just how captivating the story has been through the generations. I’m not particularly sentimental but Austen really knew how to bring her characters alive on the page and in interesting situations. She is certainly one of the most gifted writers in the English language and well worth my time.
The 2005 film, of course, has many well known names including Donald Sutherland, of all people, as Mr. Bennet and Judi Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourg. Although Dench plays the part very well I don’t find her as convincing as Barbara Leigh-Hunt in the mini series. Perhaps it’s a factor of time; not enough time to develop her character. Sutherland, whom I am a big fan of too, is a poor casting choice I’m afraid. But I do enjoy having both.
In fact I’m trying to collect DVD’s of all of Austen’s work. We have Sense and Sensibility and Emma and I look forward to buying Mansfield Park and Persuasion as well although I’m not as sure about which versions I should get.


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