Friday, February 15, 2013

Reads to Reels: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice has been subjected to several dramatizations, but the 2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly is my first.  I only finished the book a day or two before watching the movie, and indeed looked for the movie because I wanted to experience the story again -- and it was a success in fanning the flames of my enjoyment.  Liberties are taken, of course: quite a few lines are added, and areas of the book are squished. The scene in which Mr. Darcy is rebutted by Jane is a prime example. After he declares his love and proposes (woodenly so, an exception to most of the scenes), Jane  refuses him and then tells him why, in no uncertain terms. In the novel, Darcy sends a letter to answer her condemnations of his character, but here he tries to argue with her. The letter is still used, but doesn't dump as much information at once.  The letters in general are integrated into the story well, with the most potent bits being used as narrative, read aloud by one character during transition scenes -- like a carriage ride between estates. Lydia's transgression is truncated: the family learns she's run off and is shacking up with a dandy, they're scandalized, and the next moment they receive word that she's married, and all is well. The tension should have been stretched out a bit there, I  think.

Visually and musically, this is a most attractive film. Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are supposed to be right beauties, and the casting captures that. Elizabeth's first scene charmed me immediately:  little can match the allure of a woman walking through a beautiful countryside, caught up in a book. Mr. Darcy is a bit rough around the edges for a polished blueblood, always tromping in from fields with a five-o'clock shadow.  The music is wonderful, from a piano piece that echoes throughout the film to the ballroom dancing scene. I'm biased, of course: dancing always captivates me, and if a period movie involves it, the dancing scenes will rank among my favorite -- as they did in the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol.  The only negative point for me was the spottiness of Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy)'s acting: although his character is supposed to be emotionless and reserved, when Darcy makes his anguished declaration of love, he sounds...bored. Fortunately that's quickly forgotten when he's memorably rebuked by Jane.

A memorable and fun movie -- definitely a keeper for me.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this film.. but the PBS series of Austen's work is wonderful too!!! Check it out!



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