Monday, March 03, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

I know that this may shock some of you, but I just recently saw, for the first time, Pride and Prejudice. I saw the stage production in college (and promptly forgot the story) and I have never read the book. So when I found out that Masterpiece Theatre was running the complete Jane Austen, I decided to DVR them all and catch up to my womanly notions that I should be at least familiar with her writing.

I watched the "classic" version first, the A&E and BBC one with Colin Firth as Darcy. I am glad I did, because if I had seen the newer version first, I probably would not have wanted to sit through the 4 hour version. Boy, am I glad I did! It was wonderful! I disliked Darcy at once, instantly rooted for Jane and Bingley, and felt exactly as Lizzie did in every scene. I couldn't ask for a better movie.

So just for kicks, I decided to rent the 2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly and went into it, I must confess, a bit biased. I knew it would never top the original. And so I wasn't disappointed. Although, it did a good job of condensing the plot to only 2 hours, it missed all the nuances that were so obvious and necessary for a complete story.

Instead of completely dismissing the Kiera Knightly version, let me give you a more detailed response to it:

1. For starters, it did a better job showing the disparity of wealth between the Bennet family and Bingley and Darcy. I didn't get that in the original.

2. Kiera Knightly does well in a strong female role, but couldn't convey the gentleness of Lizzie, or, quite frankly, the beauty. She kinda looked like Cinderella before her transformation for the majority of the movie - dirty and unkempt. Her sisters looked more formal than she did.

3. The only time I believed Kiera as Lizzie was when she was telling off Mr. Collins when he proposed and Darcy after his first offer.

4. Colin Firth as Darcy was much more believable. He was mean and snotty and softened just enough for the viewer to change their mind about him. The actor who portrayed Darcy in the latter of the films (sorry, I couldn't find his name) was too soft from the beginning and came across as almost pitiable. I never once disliked him and kinda felt sorry for him. Although I will concede that his softening at the end of the film was a bit more endearing.

5. Jane was definitely more beautiful in the 2nd film, although I thought Bingley looked like Conan O'Brian.

6. The 2nd film cut so much of Mr. Wickham's storyline that I neither embraced him nor hated him. He was an ancillary character that didn't matter, which is a shame, because I whole-heartedly fell for his lies in the longer version.

7. I did enjoy both actresses who portrayed Mrs. Bennet, although they portrayed her quite differently. Both versions were believable.

8. I was intent on liking the 2nd Mr. Bennet, but he wasn't around enough to enjoy and he garbled most of his memorable lines.

All in all, if you weren't familiar with the first movie, the second wouldn't be bad. In fact, it received really good reviews. But I will side with most P&P fans and take the first version any day!

*By the way, I am aware that the BBC version is not truly the original. But come on, has anyone actually seen the Lawrence Olivier version? These 2 movies are the most well-known productions of the story. And yes, I will also read the entire book now. I know I did this backwards!


Sara Mincy said...

LOVE the BBC P&P!!!! My favorite. You have made me want to see it all again. I was SO disappointed in the one with K.Knightly. It could have been so good- but it wasn't.

Glad you enjoyed the long version!

Tina said...

I did it opposite of you. I watched the newer version first and then sat through the 4 hour version later. I am so glad I did it that way because the first one dragged the story out so long that I think I would have missed the whole point and probably wouldn't have finished the movie. I liked getting the condensed version first and then going back and having the rest of the story filled in for me.

I liked the newer version Darcy better. But then that is simply my preference. Maybe it is because I met him first. Most people however tend to agree with your choice.

If you liked this story, you need to watch the North and South series I referenced on my blog (NOT THE CIVIL WAR SERIES!!!). In the few people that have seen it, they referenced it as actually better than Pride and Prejudice . . . but I'll let you decide!

Karen said...

I am very prejudiced, but the A & E P and P is the best movie ever made. I am a P and P finatic, so that will be very biased.

Of course being any good Austen fan with P&P being my fav, I saw the Kiera Knightly one, I actually drove over an hour to see it on opening day (before it opened in regular theaters) That is how much I love it; and...I was dissapointed. I also, like you, appreciated the more reality between wealths, but...the character development just didn't happen.

I feel Mrs. Bennet's voice ("oh, Mr. Bennet you try my nerves") could never be matched or equal to that of the A & E version. Colin Firth was exquisite in the development of his character through the movie, but than again, he had over 4 hours. I think the social graces/issues of the time was better laid out in A&E too. You could just feel the struggle between the classes.

I am extremely "prejudice" to A&E and am so excited for you to have seen them. I am intrigued by Tina's post of the North and the South (not the Civil War one) Hmmmmmmmmm.....

Gretchen said...

Donette -- I agree with you on every aspect of your assessment. MUCH prefer the BBC one. Elizabeth Bennet is such a beautiful character in that one. I just LOVE HER! (hard not to think of Kiera Knightly as a pirate's girlfriend).

Now you need to watch "Bride and Predjudice" done by Ballywood. Modern day Indian twist on the story (arranged marriages and all) done with much singing and dancing (but no kissing). :) I really love it!

Karen said...

Donette, I totally ditto Gretchen, I totally agree. I watched B&P last year and REALLY enjoyed it.


Miscellaneous From Missy said...

Now, I have to go find the older movies. I've only read the book and seen the new one.

Karen said...

Hey Donette!

Okay, I took the advice of one of your readers and just borrowed North and South from the Library.

Tina was right. It was EXCELLENT. After just studying the Industrial Revolution in England earlier this year, it was fascinating to me. The whole plot and story line and the character development was very well done. Great suggestion Tina!

I loved it! Gotta watch it Donette! :)

Hugs to you friend.

Molly Carlisle said...

I was looking at Gret's friends' list and happened on your page. I just watched Becoming Jane, and wondered if you've seen it ... about the life of Jane Austen. I enjoyed it, and thought I'd recommend it.

Donette said...

Ok, so now I have a ton of more movies to watch! I will search for Bollywood's version, Tina's recommendation and the new Becoming Jane. Now I just have to find the time to watch all these movies, as well as the complete Austen on Masterpiece Theatre that I've saved on my DVR. My Friday nights are going to be full for a while.

Thanks for all the ideas, everyone!

girlie girl said...

I just watched Becoming Jane this weekend (2x), and I'm now obsessed with all things Jane Austen. If you haven't seen, go rent it! Sooooo good.