Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top 10 Austen adaptations: #2

~No. 2 - Pride and Prejudice 2005~

Pride & Prejudice 2005

First, a disclaimer. This is a list of own personal 10 favourite Austen adaptations - it isn't supposed to be a list of the 10 best Austen movies. Then again, there's really no such thing as a list of the ten best Austen adaptations. Such a list would always be subjective. All anyone can ever do is list their own personal "best" Austen films, which is what I'm doing here anyway. . . 

Pride & Prejudice 2005

Okay: why is this interpretation of Pride and Prejudice my favourite? 

Pride & Prejudice 2005
Fish out of water. . . poor ol' Mr. Darcy

Firstly, Matthew MacFadyen's interpretation of that Fitzwilliam Darcy is, in my opinion, better than that of any other actor to have taken on this role. Some Janeites have complained that Matthew plays Darcy as "shy" rather than "proud". Personally, I think it's pretty clear from the text of P&P that Darcy's haughty exterior is the result of a combination of pride and social ineptness - "shyness". I thought MacFadyen's portrayal of Darcy was spot on.

Pride & Prejudice 2005
Love the light in this scene. . . LOL, look at the little dog! I never noticed him before

I think there's more "life" in this adaptation than in any of the other screen interpretations - probably partly because of Joe Wright's direction, and partly because of the youthful cast. This is one of the few Austen adaptations I can think of where the main characters are actually the ages they're supposed to be - from the five Bennet girls, to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham, and Mr. Bingley. 

Pride & Prejudice 2005
Kitty Bennet (Carey Mulligan), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) and Lydia Bennet (Jena Malone)

The only characters who looked too "old" were the Gardiners and Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet, and since their appearances onscreen were relatively brief, this wasn't a big issue. The younger Bennet sisters looked and behaved like the giggly, hormonal teenagers they're supposed to be! Lizzy was portrayed as a very young woman, with a lot to learn about herself and the world. Mr. Darcy was shown as a vulnerable, serious young man, perhaps not quite comfortable in his own shoes, and still coming to terms with himself and his responsibilities.

Pride & Prejudice 2005
Keira is so beautiful in this movie. . . 

I'll be the first to admit that P&P 2005 has its faults. The omission of various characters and scenes from the novel is one of the most obvious downsides, but considering that they only had two hours to work with here, I think they did a brilliant job. It didn't feel overly rushed to me. I've read the novel so many times, I can fill in the scenes and dialogue that are missing with my imagination. :-)

Pride & Prejudice 2005
The rain scene!

What bothered me more than the two hour runtime were the various glaringly historically improbable scenes and situations that popped up through the course of the movie - such as Mr. Bingley walking into Jane's room to check on her when she is ill (why? just why??). Then there was Mr. Darcy proposing to Elizabeth in pouring rain in the middle of Stourhead Gardens. Though I have to confess I didn't mind that alteration so much. :-) Seriously, it wasn't much more silly or historically inaccurate than Darcy casually going for a swim in the lake before bumping into Elizabeth in P&P95. Another destination to add to the "Places I've got to visit to see when I go to England" in Stourhead. 

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The second proposal scene was too mushy, I'll admit. And the U.S. alternate ending, ditto. But I'm such a hopeless romantic, I didn't really mind *sheepish grin*. . . 

Pride & Prejudice 2005

Finally, I believe that one of the main purposes a literary adaptation should serve is to bring to light certain aspects of the book that you may not have thought about before. A film adaptation shouldn't try to be a replacement for the source text - rather, it should complement the novel. And above all, it should make you want to read (or re-read) the book upon which it is based! For me, P&P05 fulfills all the above criteria.

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Keira Knightley with director Joe Wright

I can't wrap up this review without mentioning the wonderful artistic vision lent to this film by director Joe Wright - not to mention the gorgeous piano-based score by Dario Marianelli. I'm well aware that stunning visuals and a nice soundtrack do not a good movie make, but they certainly don't do any harm!!

Pride & Prejudice 2005

What more is there to be said? I can't convince you to like P&P 2005 better than you do already, I can only try to state my reasons for liking it myself!

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Love this moment of the film. . .

Pride and Prejudice 2005 may not be the "best" P&P (though that in itself is debatable - see my disclaimer), but it is my P&P. In spite of its imperfections, this is the movie version that manages to encapsulate what P&P is all about - for me, anyway. When I'm need of a dose of P&P (something that occurs at least once every few weeks) and I don't have time to read the book, this is the version I turn to.

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Exhilarating. . . one of the most breathtaking scenes in the movie

19 comments:

Charleybrown said...

Hi Elise!
Great countdown!! (even though I would choose another order, I think mainly for our choice of P&P but we already know that and I DO enjoy Keira and MM)

I like your pics of Beckinsale's Emma, it reminds me that I do like that one more than I remember. I just wish I liked KB's portrayal more although I know I'm one of the few who doesn't prefer that version.

So you're at #2, I do hope that I'm correct in what your #1 choice is since I don't see a certain film mentioned yet!!
;)

Elisabeth said...

U.S. alternate ending? What do you mean by that?

LaSara said...

Hi Elsie Do you know of any good place to watch this online? Besides youtube.

silent_librarian said...

Hello, I am a recent reader of your blog and I usually lurk about in silence, but I had to comment here because I was surprised by this choice for Number 2. Usually hardcore Jane-ites dislike this movie. I am so glad you love it! I love it too! I agree with your reveiw and I don't mind at all any of the faults you mentioned. Though, I don't find the ending mushy. ;)

The movie is just beautiful on so many levels and I love how the music and cinematography are the driving forces that push the story forward. The music and cinematography ARE the telling of the story and you can capture the emotion and interaction without using words. Example: When Lizzie just had that confrontation with Lady Catherine, and it is just before sunrise as she walks out into the fields. The piano starts out quiet and melancholy and all we see for several quite long seconds is Elizabeth walking across the grass in this gorgeous field landscape that looks straight out of a painting. We understand everything she is going through because the melancholy piano is her finally coming to terms with her love for Darcy and his not being there. She thinks she will never have a second chance with him and maybe contimplating a lonely life ahead. Yet, the music is building towards a response as the sun is rising. "Weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes with the morning..." Then that glorious moment where Darcy comes across the fields looking extremely hot in his coat and the sun bursts, there is hope, and the music transcends to the sublime!

I love it! Who even needs words at such a moment as that! Though, Mr. Darcy's proclaimation of love is heart melting. *sigh*

Sorry, for the length, but I lovelovelove movies that know what they are doing. Hehe!

The Editrix said...

Silent Librarian - the whole time I read your comment, I was going "Yes, yes, YES!!" Finally, a Janeite who agrees with me about P&P05! I often feel a bit lonely, not knowing any other devoted Jane Austen fans who also love P&P 2005. . . thank goodness I'm not alone, LOL! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the film. :-D

La Sara - hmm, sorry, I don't really know. You could try somewhere like Tudou.com - but I really think you should buy or rent it! It's definitely worth it, and you can get it really cheap from most DVD stores.

Elisabeth - the "Mrs. Darcy" kiss at Pemberley after the wedding!! We didn't get it in Australia or the UK, it was only shown in America. The scene came as a bonus feature on the disc we bought, not as part of the movie.

Charleybrown - I'm glad you're enjoying it! Yes, #1 probably is the film you're thinking of. . . ;-)

Theresa said...

I always cringe at the last proposal bit, it's as if he is about to say, "Hi Liz, I'm just strolling around your dad's property in the early morning half dressed. See my hairy chest?" - haha. The real mr Darcy wouldn't have done that... but then again I'm picky.
There is definitely a lot that is good about this version of P&P! [Just not Kiera, however I'll shut up about that...]

The Editrix said...

ROFL, Theresa! :-D

Livi said...

I agree with Theresa about the ending but apart from that I think it is a beautiful movie! I especially love the scene when Bingley is practicing proposing to Jane, so funny. =)

The Editrix said...

LOL, I love that scene, too. . .

Marian said...

While this is not one of my favourite movies, I do love the soundtrack, and I think the film is better on second-viewing. I was not very impressed by MacFadyen's Darcy, but I loved him as Arthur Clennam, and with Knightley as Lizzy, I think she definitely looks the part; so for me, the script is the biggest problem in this adaptation. It feels like a collection of quotes from the movie, with some cringe-worthy modern moments--like Lizzy telling her family to "leave her alone". Also, a little more of the Wickham subplot would have made a big difference; he's only in a couple scenes, and so that really detracts from the horror of Lydia's elopement, as well as Darcy's heroism.

But I see your point, when you said "A film adaptation shouldn't try to be a replacement for the source text - rather, it should complement the novel. And above all, it should make you want to read (or re-read) the book upon which it is based!" I really love the newest Mansfield Park film, and I know many people don't agree with me on that... ;)

Miss Jen said...

Elise~
Awww.... I just knew this one would be one of your top 3!!! :) *wink*

Although this isn't my favorite
adaptation of P&P... it has really grown on me... You will often find
me cooking away in the kitchen whilst watching it.... *sigh*
It's the perfect movie for sewing
too!! Oh.... and I'll say just one
more thing the MUSIC in this movie
is AMAZING!!! ~ Just visit Blessed
Femina... a few times and you will
find out how much I LOVE it!! :)

Many Blessings~ Jenny

Anonymous said...

Hello Elise,

My name is Rebekah and I am 19. I live in the United States. I have actually been reading your blog on and off for several months now, but only just decided to comment. :p

I find your blog very enjoyable to read! I was just reading your post about Pride and Prejudice and while it is actually my least favorite adaptation (my favorite is the 1979 version with Elizabeth Garvie) I agree with you on two things: I love the soundtrack and I think that this is actually the best Mr. Darcy to grace the screen!! I love your countdown by the way - very fun to read!! :D

To the KING be all the glory!
Rebekah

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Rebekah said...

Whoops!! I didn't mean to leave my comment (just above) as Anonymous ... My computer is acting funny ... Sorry about that! :)

To the KING be all the glory!
Rebekah

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

The Editrix said...

Marian, about the Wickham subplot - I agree. I just wish that they could have had the same cast and crew make a 6-hour miniseries, rather than a 2-hour movie. :-(

And good on you for not being ashamed to admit that you like the new MP! I rather like the '99 version - it may be different to the book, but it definitely makes me want to re-read MP every time I see it. :-)

Jen - yes, it's one of those movies that you can sit and watch, or just let play in the background while you're cooking or ironing, etc. :-)

Hi Rebekah! It's lovely to meet you! :-D I'm glad you like it here. It's nice to meet another fan of the 1979 version!

Anonymous said...

I had a feeling this would be #2! And I think I know what your very favorite one is, but I won't say. LOL

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with this PandP. There are so many historical inaccuracies that bother me quite a bit. Upon first viewing it, I was horrified when Keira ran upstairs after seeing Lady Catherine and actually yell at her parents! After that, I could never see Keira in a movie the same way again.

However, despite my dislike of Keira's acting abilities, I love the fact that she's an acknowledged Austen fan! It's so annoying when an actor/actress is like, "I had no idea about the character before I accepted this role." Ugh. But not Keira! :) I read/watched some interviews with her talking about how Lizzy Bennet was her favorite literary heroine even back when she was in her teens!

Oh yeah, love the soft piano music! And your pictures are lovely, too. Eek! I just realized that I always type long comments. But I'm sure you don't mind. :D Back to more schoolwork....

~obsessivejaneite

The Editrix said...

No, I certainly don't mind long comments! :-D As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts! And yeah, I thought it was cool that Keira had been a P&P fan for years before playing Elizabeth. :-)

Anonymous said...

It's been both fun & interesting to read your "top 10 Austen adaptations", Elise. Like many of the other comments have said, I never leave comments, but after reading this blog, decided too.

While I've not agreed with many of your comments about "Pride & Prejudice" 1995 (which is the "classic" version in my opinion) or the placement of these "top 10", it's still fun to read all the different thoughts about Jane Austens' works. And, I do agree with much of what you said in this post. :)

My mom too has mentioned she thought the younger girls were better cast than the '95 version. For a 2hrs. adaptation, I thought this version was wonderful! And honestly, it's the one that is most watched at my house, because it's so much shorter. Most 1995 P&P fans don't much care for this, but each time I watch it, I like it even more and it somehow is tied with the aforementioned. :)

The Editrix said...

Hi Anonymous - it's great to hear from you! :-) Thanks for commenting!

You know, as much as I loved P&P05 the first time I saw it, it probably took a few viewings - and a few re-reads of the novel - to truly appreciate it as an adaptation of the book. I think that's the way it is with most new Austen adaptations, even the new Emma. . . it takes a while for me to get used to them, LOL. :-)

Arty said...

Hi.
First I have to say that I absolutley love your blog. Reads it as often as I can.
Secondly, I looooove this movie so much. It is one of my favorite movies. This one i much better than the movie from -95, didn't like that one at all. And I absolutley agree with you, Keira Knightley is so beatiful as Elizabeth and I love the scene where she is standing on that cliff (the last picture), the music is so beautiful.

Thanks for a good blog
Love it!