Other Media Review

Prides and Prejudices: A Movie Review Collection by Carrie S.

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Genre: Contemporary/Other, Not a Book, Regency

It's the end of summer, and time for therapeutic movie watching.  Either the kids are still out of school and driving you bonkers, or they are back in school and you are madly filling out backpacks full of forms, or you are in your cubicle lamenting the days when you actually had a real summer vacation, or, you are on a yacht with a billionaire playboy pirate sheik, in which case, we all hate you.

Anyway, I've been on a Pride and Prejudice ( A | BN | K | S | ARe ) binge lately and although we don't normally review movies here at Smart Bitches, SB Sarah has made a late summer exception.  (SB Sarah: This is easily the most expensive guest review I've ever run, as I ended up buying nearly all of Carrie's recommendations. Darn it.) 

Here are a few adaptations for you to try in case you need to escape to the English countryside for a while.  Of course there are many adaptations I haven't reviewed, for instance: the 1940 film with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier, the BBC mini-series from 1980, and Pride and Prejudice:  A Latter Day Comedy, a film from 2003. 

Bride and Prejudice Bride and Prejudice (2004): 

Brilliant and fun, this sets Pride and Prejudice in modern day India, with Bollywood numbers.  You'd think it would be terrible but it's a perfect fit.   Aishwarya Rai is a suitably feisty and funny Elizabeth (Lalita), Wickham is gorgeous and charming, the sister who is analogous to Mary (Maya) does a snake dance that is…interesting, and my beloved Naveen Andrews is irresistibly cheerful as Mr. Bingley (Balraj). 

The only problem is that Martin Henderson has no charisma to speak of as Mr. Darcy.  Also, when sparks fly, there's this whole falling in love montage – in fact if memory serves there are two, and during this there's a lot of hugging and hair-kissing that Jane Austen would not have approved of in the least.  Overall, although the movie looses some of it's grip towards the end, it is still an absolutely frothy yet insightful delight and not to be missed.

Here's the trailer if you'd like a visual taste: 

Link

Pride and Prejudice w/ Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden Pride and Prejudice (2005): 

Starring Kiera Knightly's huge eyes, and co-starring lovely English scenery, both human and geographical, this adaptation is one long swoon.  From the dance scene in which all the dancers disappear except Elizabeth and Darcy to the smooching at the end (Austen would be shocked!) this is a dizzyingly romantic production. 

The hand of Hollywood lays heavily upon it (would Mr. Darcy really ask Mr. Bennet for Elizabeth's hand with his cravat off and Lizzie in her night dress?  I should hope not!) but I have to admit that the sight of Matthew MacFadyen striding across the moors is not one to be soon forgotten.  Great performances by everyone. 

Also starring Judi Dench as Judi Dench (AKA Lady Catherine de Bourgh).

Link

 

Bridget Jones's Diary Bridget Jones's Diary (2001): 

This movie is an adaptation of a novel, which is an adaptation of a newspaper column, which was a very loose adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, setting it in modern day England. 

I'm a huge fan of the Bridget Jones novels and I was crushed that all my favorite parts were missing from the movie. 

As far as adapting Pride and Prejudice goes, Bridget is a great character, and Renee Zellinger is adorable in the role, but in no way does she resemble Elizabeth Bennet.  As evidence I will point out that Elizabeth would never get drunk and belt out “All By Myself” (although Jane might have, which I would pay good money to watch). 

On the other hand, Wickham, AKA Daniel Cleaver, AKA Hugh Grant, has never been more funny and charming and devilish and completely slimy, and when Colin Firth as Mark Darcy showed up to save Bridget's dinner party I seriously thought I was going to pass out.  Wow.

Link!

 

Lost in Austen Lost in Austen (2008): 

I love, love, love this BBC mini-series! 

Amanda lives in modern day London and is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice.  When she discovers Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom, and Elizabeth shows her a connecting door that leads to Elizabeth's house, the two trade places and hi-jinks ensure. 

I refuse to tell you anything else except to say that I had no idea how attached I was to the Pride and Prejudice story until it went all to hell. 

The ending, alas, is full of huge holes but for the most part this series is a delight.  I believe some purists on the Internet were horrified, so don't watch this unless you're willing to bring a sense of humor and suspend your disbelief – it's well worth the effort.  LOVED IT!

 

Link

 

Pride and Prejudice, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (which I learned recently is pronounced EEE-LEEE). Pride and Prejudice (1995): 

This is the iconic BBC adaptation. 

Most of the script is verbatim from the book – it is by far the most faithful adaptation I've seen.  If you love the novel, this is a huge plus.  If, like me, you find the novel to be a bit dry and inaccessible (more on that later), then this adaptation is not wildly exciting – but it does bring the book to life. 

Jennifer Ehle does a nuanced performance as Lizzy – she really brings out Lizzie's frustration with her family and her circumstances.  Colin Firth is, of course, Colin Firth – no one scowls or smolders quite like him.

(Alas, there isn't a trailer on YouTube that isn't a fan-made version, but there are many clips of this miniseries on YouTube, including MANY of Colin Firth smoldering and scowling.)

I have a dark confession to make – the first three times I read Pride and Prejudice I was not thrilled.  It's only now, on my fourth reading, that I feel that I am starting to get it. 

Reading Austen, as refined and genteel as it is, is actually a lot like reading science fiction.  Austen describes a society that, to modern eyes, is an alien one, even though the personalities are like those we meet every day.  It is ruled by strange customs and strict social and economic hierarchies.  Everyone speaks in an alien language – not only because the language is slightly archaic, but also because characters deliberately speak in code.  I didn't get that until I sat through these adaptations – when I could see actors speaking and reacting to the dialogue, and see their body language, new layers of story opened up to me.  I'm grateful to the adaptations that have opened this book to me!

What is your favorite adaptation?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    My love of P&P film adaptions has only been marred by one film: Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier’s 1940 version (I have yet to see the 1980 mini-series). By the hammer of Thor, that movie’s ending was atrocious! Everyone ends up married in a happy, singsong fashion. Even Mary. *headdesk*

    My particular favorite adaptions: the 1995 BBC mini-series, of course, and the 2003 Mormon version, which I thought was a really interesting take.

    And while not a movie, I’m enjoying “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on YouTube as well.

  2. 2
    Floffy1983 says:

    mormon p&p? oh do please link

  3. 3
    arnique says:

    My family just watched Bride & Prejudice again last week. Even my fourteen-year old brother enjoyed it, particularly the ‘No Life Without Wife’ song-and-dance scene. Though I also think that it gets too cheesy in the last fifth and Martin Henderson is bland as heck, it is still an excellent adaptation. Lalita is a perfect modern interpretation of Elizabeth Bennet, and I think the intricacies of Indian society are analogous to that of 19th century England. Considering the P&P 1995 series, Bride & Prejudice is the next best adaptation.

    But, eurgh Keira Knightley’s gurning portrayal of Lizzy. I had to stop watching halfway through. I liked Rosamund Pike’s Jane and Matthew MacFadyen’s Darcy (nice re-interpretation of Darcy, I had never considered Darcy to be SHY) but Knightley’s overwrought performance belongs to a Bronte rather than an Austen.

  4. 4
    arnique says:

    Not to mention the fact that the producers set it a few decades after the 1800s. The archery scene was pretty cool though.

  5. 5

    I loved Bride and PRejudice because it’s one of those “cute” movies. Now I’m in the mood to celebrate the first day of school with an Austenathon.

  6. 6
    Kate Sherwood says:

    I’m not sure I need to comment – I can just +1 arnique’s ranking!

    But I wanted to post to agree with the idea that Austen’s characters speak in code and the movies help decode them. Once I’d seen the BBC P&P and realized what was going on, and I went back and read all the Austen that I’d previously skimmed and groaned through, and realized how much I’d been missing. The characters aren’t saying what they mean, AND Austen is making fun of them. I’d first read P&P as a teenager and not appreciated it, but as an adult, and after the BBC P&P, I grew to love all of her books.

    (My favourite is Persuasion, book AND movie – but I guess that’s a post for another time!)

  7. 7
    BitsyRavenclaw says:

    Can I just say Carrie S: “You hear that George? That *thudthudthudthudthudthudthud*? That’s the sound of Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer.” My favorite line EVER.

  8. 8
    Sandra says:

    Yeah, don’t waste your time on Olivier/Garson. Olivier was wooden and Garson was 35 and looked every day of it. No way was she a 21 YO Lizzie Bennett. And those costumes…. SHUDDER!!! Over the top Hollywood versions of 1830’s fashions. The movie’s in B&W, and it may just be the particular print that I saw on TCM?, but everything – costumes, sets, all – came across as brown.

    For another funny nod to P&P, try “If You Give a Duke a Duchy”. I picked it up based on the ad in the SBTB sidebar. It’s a round-robin of sorts, so the writing’s uneven, but it has a villain named Willoughby Wickham, heroes named Firth and Colin Darcy, and a parrot named Pemberly, along with pirates and nearly every other Regency trope out there.

  9. 9
    LG says:

    Ha! I didn’t see the “collection” part of the post title at first, so I thought this was a review about some strange new paranormal romance movie based on Pride and Prejudice, featuring lion shifters. Lol. I can’t see that existing as a movie, but, now that I think about it, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a book like that.

  10. 10
    Jenny Dolton says:

    Hate, hate, HATE the Kiera Knightly version. My mother (a lit teacher who taught P&P) and I bonded over our outrage at everything they got wrong and how Ms. Knightly is so-not-Elizabeth. And then, when I was engaged, I discovered my fiancee actually owned that particular atrocity. I contemplated breaking it off then and there, but he promised to either hide it or get rid of it so I would never have to see it again.

    On the other hand, I absolutely adore the BBC Collin Firth adaption. It startled me a little bit to think of it (or even of the novel) as inaccessable, because that’s the one I watched when I was little, with my mom explaining the satire as we went. It’s made sense for as long as I can remember, for which I suppose I owe my mother a profound debt of gratitude. (Yay English teacher moms!)

    I was reading Slightly Dangerous (Mary Balogh) las night and was struck by the similarity to P&P in some of the scenes with the hero and heroine. I don’t know if it was a deliberate homage or not, but it made me smile. And want to go read the original again.

  11. 11
    Alex says:

    My thoughts on it are neatly summed up thus:

    http://www.dreamwidth.org/user…

  12. 12
    Mom_on_the_run2001 says:

    I’m a big fan of Jane Austen on film but much less so on paper, as I have always struggled to slog through her books. I always figured that it was because she was writing for people who had absolutely nothing better to do than to read every conversation, thought and scene rendered in excruciating detail. So while I love her characters and stories and some of her dialogue, I am less than enamored with actually sitting down and trying to read it. My favorite is the newest P&P, as it is beautiful, emotional and I really adore the music in it. Comparing it to the BBC miniseries, it looks so real. To me that one looks flat and clean and well….too long. I must have a short attention span!

  13. 13
    Kim T. says:

    I’ve seen them all, but not the 1980 BBC series.  I also enjoyed the Mormon version (though I’ve forgotten most of it).  The Olivier version was painful in hindsight, but I remember liking it when I first read Austen in seventh grade and I was also into b&w movies.  I love them all and it depends on my mood which one I’ll rewatch.  I think the Keira Knightley version was so perfectly done in terms of tone and art direction and, though I love me some Firth, rewatching that one is sometimes a chore and I just fast forward to the good parts.  I like Bride and Prejudice, but appreciate it less after becoming a Bollywood geek (it’s really Bollywood lite meets British chick flick).  Anyone would have been better than Martin Henderson in that role!

    Lost in Austen is so much fun and I think I’ll be rewatching that soon (also on my rewatch list is Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth in Persuasion…swoon). 

    Bridget Jones is just perfect.

    I reservedly recommend Aisha to fans of Jane Austen’s Emma.  It’s a Bollywood adaptation of Emma by way of Clueless.  It has its moments.  Also, it should be mentioned that there is an Indian film (Tamil language so technically not Bollywood) called Kandukondain Kandukondain starting Aishwarya Rai and Tabu that is an adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.  Also interesting and very sweet.

  14. 14

    I’m with Jenny. I was horrified by the Kiera Knightly version. I felt like the producers were channeling the Bronte sisters rather than Austin (all those fervid, undone clothes! The striding across windswept moors!), and it didn’t work.

    As for my favorite, I only have two words: Colin Firth. He packs more emotion into a longing glance than all of the “Hey, look at me in my nightdress!” scenes in Hollywood.

  15. 15
    lorelai says:

    OMG. Sayid is singing and dancing! I’m going to have to watch that one.

    I know this is a P&P post but when you talk about longing glances and smoldering looks, we have to talk about Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South. SWOON.

  16. 16
    kkw says:

    I like the Colin Firth version best (if you have difficulties with it, try the Mr. Bingley drinking game – if you drink whenever he says something adorable, you get nice and tanked early on, and can maintain a buzz through the whole series).

    The only thing I really liked about the Kiera Knightly one was that you finally got a good visual sense of the financial gulf between the Bennets and Darcy.  Sure, Mr. Bennet is a gentleman, but there’s a pig running around the yard.  Otherwise, hideously cheesy and overwrought.  It’s for people who don’t actually like Pride and Prejudice.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Bridget Jones.  It’s not perfect, and the book is better, but that’s inevitable.  Particularly satisfying when you’re sick.

    Bride and Prejudice is a disappointment as both an Austen adaptation and a Bollywood movie, but in theory it’s brilliant.

    The older BBC miniseries is not as good, and the Olivier movie is ghastly.

    I haven’t seen Lost in Austen…what if I can suspend my disbelief, keep my sense of humor intact, and am still very attached to Austen’s stories as written?

  17. 17
    Carney says:

    I always do a mash-up of my favorite bits of each adaptation. It’s almost a hobby of mine to try to pick the best something from each Austen adaptation to make a sort of super-version if only they could be remade. 

    Favorite Elizabeth: P&P 2005 Kiera Knightly.  I liked her irreverence and cheekiness.  Jennifer Ehle was great but a bit too serene for my tastes.  More Jane than Lizzy in expression.  I could see why Kiera Knightly exasperated her mother.

    Favorite Darcy: P&P 1995 and Bridget Jones’ Diary. No, I can’t decide between Colin Firth and Colin Firth.  He was born to play this role. 

    Favorite Bingley: Bride and Prejudice.  Naveen Andrews rocked this role. 

    Best Production Values: P&P 2005.  Beautifully shot. 

    Best Adaptation: P&P 1995.  So true to the story and it really does bring to life the little moments. 

    And some literary thoughts:

    Favorite explanation for why Charlotte married Mr. Collins: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: she had been turned into a zombie early on.  It’s really the only explanation that makes sense. 

    Character I most want to read about in his own story: Colonel Fitzwilliam.  With all the literary sequels, I’m sure someone has written a story about him.  I should probably check into it.  If anyone knows of a good one, please shout out. 

  18. 18
    Julia Broadbooks says:

    We’ve been enjoying the Lizzie Bennet Diaries too! Jane is the perfect modern adaptation and it manages to surprise me while still adhering to the main thread of the story.

  19. 19
    Jennifer says:

    The Kiera Knightly version is divisive, yet I love it. Probably has 80% to do with Matthew Macfadyen and 20% to do with my short attention span.

  20. 20
    Fran says:

    The 1995 miniseries always wins out for me.  I do absolutely LOVE the soundtrack to the 2005 movie though.  I’ve seen the 2003 movie, and other than it taking place in Utah I don’t remember anything Mormon about it.  I thought it was ehhh.  Lost in Austen, fantastic.  Especially *that* nod to 1995.  I fell off my chair laughing.  I had way too much fun to get distressed over the plot changes.

    The novel always wins out for me though.  I love the old illustrations… http://www.mollands.net/etexts…

  21. 21
    Andrea23 says:

    For those who haven’t seen the 1980 BBC mini yet, I highly recommend it.  Although the production values are not nearly as good as the 1995 series, I still love it, and not just because it was the first adaptation I saw.  For me, Elizabeth Garvey remains the quintessential Lizzie.  She captures the wit and liveliness of the character.

    Netflix had it streaming a while ago (not sure if they still do), and Amazon has it free for Prime members.  I may just go watch it again now.  :)

  22. 22
    Castiron says:

    I second the recommendation of Kandukondain Kandukondain for people who want further Indian cinema Austen adaptations; I especially like the Colonel Brandon character, Major Bala. (And as I’ve said many times, I think Bollywood or another Indian cinema would do a far better job with adapting *Mansfield Park* than any Western cinema’s done; the song-and-dance numbers showing the characters’ inner emotional states are exactly what that story needs to work on screen.)

  23. 23
    Anna says:

    One thing I did like about the Keira Knightley version is that they cast actors of the right ages (or close to) in the roles.  Julia Sawalha is a fabulous actress, and I do love her giggling Lydia, but there’s no way that woman is anywhere near 16, and it does add something when you can see just how young she is.

    I really was not a fan of Lost in Austen.  I felt like in order to hold to the plot twists they had planned, they had to take nearly everyone so far out of character they became unrecognizable.

  24. 24
    duckgirlie says:

    It might be this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…

    I didn’t really like it… There’s probably some stuff I didn’t get due to not being a Mormon, but I thought it was kind of all over the place? There are some new subplots that are totally different to the book, and the ending is kind of rushed.

  25. 25
    M_E_S says:

    The 2003 Mormon adaptation is surprisingly entertaining.  I’ve watched it a few times and they really did an interesting take on it (for the record, I am not Mormon- I just have an odd fascination with the culture).  IIIRC, it’s all in parts on YouTube.

    My favorite part of the Bridget Jones series is where Renee Zellwegger interviews Colin Firth in character (based on the interview the character does in the second book where she steers everything back to the lake scene).  It’s an extra on the DVD that I think is also available on YouTube and is truly hilarious.

  26. 26
    Erica DeFigueroa says:

    I love, love, LOVE! Lost in Austen. Its my go to rainy day movie, and its brilliantly done. So much fun to watch.

  27. 27
    CarrieS says:

    @lorelai:  OMG, when I did my first draft of this review it was ALL about my imaginary boyfriend singing and dancing and SMILING!  Sayid was happy!  It was awesome!  Then I realized that I was off topic and reined myself in – but really, happy Sayid made the movie for me.

  28. 28
    CarrieS says:

    @Carney – I limited myself to screen adaptations but it just KILLED me to leave out P&P and Zombies.  Maybe it needs it’s own review?  I really liked how the zombies weren’t just thrown in but rather were woven in thematically, and the stuff with Charlotte was surprisingly effective and haunting.

  29. 29
    CarrieS says:

    It’s P&P, a Latter Day Comedy – link is in intro at beginning of review.

  30. 30
    CarrieS says:

    I had to be ruthless with this article because it was epic in length.  I cut my final verdicts due to length, but here’s my two cents for the best of everything:

    Best Darcy:
    1st place:  Colin Firth, BBC
    2nd place:  Colin Firth, Bridget Jones
    3rd place:  Adorkable MacFayden (with the moors, and the coat, and the lack of a cravat – just, wow.  But yes, I agree with the comments – much more Bronte than Austen)

    Best Lizzie:
    Tie between Kiera Knightly and Jennifer Ehle.  Jennifer is a far better actress in the role than Kiera, whose acting style mostly consists of opening her eyes very wide – but I love the youth and vitality that Kiera brings to the role.  We didn’t see much of Gemma Atherton’s Lizzie in Lost in Austen but I liked her too (“I’m macrobiotic” LOL!)

    Best Wickham:  Tom Riley, Lost in Austen.  Hugh Grant comes in second as a more slimy (and more traditional) Wickham in Bridget Jones.

    Best more or less faithful adaptation:  BBC
    Best revisionist adaption:  Lost in Austen, with Bride and Prejudice in second place.

    Best adaptation I wish I could have reviewed:  I limited myself to screen, because there are so many print variations on P&P that it would have been impossible to cover even the highlights – but I hated leaving out Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Maybe need to review it on its own sometime :)

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