I recently watched a couple of the Pride and Prejudice screen adaptations. First I finally watched the much-loved the A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, which so many recommended in their wrap-up posts for the Classics’ Bookclub.
A few observations which I typed up as I was viewing:
- Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Bennett on screen removes a bit of the harsh edge of their relationship. I loved their characterization in the book, but watching their banter made it seem more real.
- I love Bingley! What a delight. I found him to be sort of flat in the book, but he is so delightful in this movie, and became one of my favorite characters.
- Lizzie is perfectly portrayed so well by Jennifer Ehrle with those eyes that do indeed sparkle with keen wit. I love her too!
- An hour in, I couldn’t wait to meet Mr. Collins after seeing the other characters come to life. He was appropriately slimy and self-absorbed.
- Seeing Darcy’s smile after the wedding (perhaps the only time in the whole movie?) was a great way to end the movie.
So — all in all — great show that I will be watching again! It’s worth the six hour investment, but what’s with the Darcy bath scene??
And then, less than a week later, I watched the Keira Knightley movie from 2005. I know the main reason I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. Just like following up an excellent book with a movie (no matter the version), following up one excellent screen adaptation of a lovely book with a lesser one just didn’t do it for me. The characterization was fine of the Bennet sisters and even Mr. Darcy, and every scene featuring Mr. Collins made me grin. The main problem is that one just can’t get that suspenseful building love/hate relationship in the shortened version, and that’s the crux of the story, whether told on screen or in novel form.
I also didn’t really like the crowded ball scenes in this version. They might be more accurate, but I found it harder to follow the characters amidst the crowds.
I know I didn’t say anything here that is revolutionary, but I thought that those who have loved this film for so long might enjoy hearing a first-timer’s immediate love, and maybe those of you who were intrigued by all the gushing would like the extra nudge to go ahead and watch it already!!
Managing Editor Jennifer Donovan is a contributing editor at 5 Minutes for Mom. She blogs about her interests and her family at Snapshot.
I love the Kiera Knightly movie…though I think it is different from the book. Altogether, I think it’s a beautiful movie. I haven’t watched the A&E version yet. It’s in my Netflix queue though!
The only think the Kiera Knightly movie has going for it in my book is a more accurate less cartoon portrayal of Mrs. Bennet (it wasn’t just nothing she was worrying about after all) and Judy Dench as Lady Catherine…
Otherwise Kiera’s un-period hair was just too annoying to make it through the movie… Seriously I think it was all on account of the hair that I still have never seen the entire thing…
Thats one place that even regency scholars have given props to P&P2 – the costumes are spot on…
Though I do think the success of P&P2 is due to the length – its long enough to stay faithful to the book…
(and hey – be thankful – originally Mr. Darcy was supposed to be jumping in the lake stark naked! But if thats the only thing they changed (have him wet instead of sweaty/dirty from his ride) I’m not going to complain…)
Carrie, Reading to Know says
LOL to YGL’s comment on KK’s hair! That’s hilarious. The reason I haven’t watched that particular version is not just because of the hair, but because of the person wearing it. She just drives me up the wall.
Then again there’s the issue of the A&E version taking a good six hours to tell the story instead of Hollywood trying to cram it down our throats in a more bite-sized portion.
Not that I have an opinion on it or anything . . .
I DID very much enjoy reading your First Impressions. 😉
Thanks for sharing!
Hey, Jennifer, honestly I agree with your assessment. In fact, I think you identified the reason the Kiera Knightley version isn’t quite as good as the A&E. (Well done for a moden rendition, I must say. No doubt about that.)
All the points that made you laugh did the same for me. The negative points you made are the same ones I made when I first saw it. So in other words – good review. 😀
I didn’t care for the Keira Knightley version at all. Nothing can top the A&E version. Nothing!
I have a whole post on my main blog about Pride and Prejudice! I should move it to my book blog. I adore the 1995 version. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are the definitive Darcy and Elizabeth and the entire cast is delightful. The setting, everything. The 1980 version with David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie is really good too, if you’re up for another viewing!
The 2005 version would be acceptable, if you took Keira Knightley out of the equation. She’s so totally wrong for the role of Elizabeth. And she smirks her way through it so unlike how Elizabeth would act. While there are things about the film that I like, she’s in it and it’s too short and too trendy for me.
So glad you loved the A&E version.
It, so far, is my favorite screen adaptation from a book. Ok..Ok..so I do not remember every book made into movie but the ones I have been watching lately just do not cut it as the A&E version did for P&P. Now…I need to own this one….
Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books) says
I know this isn’t timely, since the P&P was almost 2 months ago, but with the response the Jane Eyre film reviews got, and the passionate love that people have for this particular miniseries, I just HAD to publish it. Good call!
The A&E P&P is by far my favorite movie adaptation of any book ever!
Sarah M. says
I agree with you.
The amount of time given to the story in the A&E version really does allow for better character development. The hair and costumes are just better in my opinion. I like Bingley in this version. Not sure about the bath scene – I assume you mean when he’s getting out of the tub and watching her from the window – I guess they just wanted to have Colin Firth wet more than once.
As for the KK version… Her hair does bug me. I couldn’t stand Bingley in this version, he seemed like a simpering idiot. Mr. Collins’ was less annoying.. I liked David B better in the A&E.
Have you seen the 1940s version with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier? It’s not true to the book at all, but Olivier makes a good Darcy. He’s got the stormy personality. It wasn’t one of Garson’s better roles, unfortunately.
oh the Bath scene – no clue really… (especially since Colin wasn’t a name yet – P&P is what launched his career really)
best statement I’ve ever heard about P&P0 (the 1940s version – the Austen-L list who originally numbered the versions forgot about it, lol – great history of the online parts of the fandom at the website the Republic of Pemberley) was that it was quote “the ultimate Pride and Prejudice fanfic” – which is so true…because it is so far off – but no further than half the fanfic out there!
Barbara H. says
My thoughts are much the same. I really liked Mr. Bennet’s gentle bemusement of his wife in the KK version, but it is really not true to the book. He tells Lizzie in the book and the A&E film that she needs to marry someone she can respect…what he doesn’t say and what is implied is that he does not respect his wife and therefore knows how needed that quality is.
I also didn’t like the KK version portraying animals in the house. That seemed strange. Mr. Bennet was gentry and didn’t live like a country farmer. And of course the unkempt hairstyles were awful.
All in all I still liked it somehow, though. I especially loved the piano music throughout.
But I liked the A&E version much better.