Jane Austen Adaptations, Period Drama, Pride and Prejudice Movies & TV

Pride & Prejudice (2005) Movie – A Review

Pride and Prejudice 2005 posterI vividly remember sitting in the theatre in 2005 waiting for the curtain to rise on the new Pride & Prejudice movie starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden. I was excited that one of my favorite Jane Austen novels was being trotted out as a major motion picture. It had been 65 years since MGM released its theatrical version of Pride and Prejudice and I was looking forward to two hours of sumptuous costumes and eye-popping settings that were not set in the Victorian era! I had been reading about the Focus Features production for months on the Internet, especially at Austenblog, where the editrix Mags had been following the media promotional machine very closely.

I had no idea who the British actor slated to portray the iconic romantic hero Mr. Darcy was. My sympathy for him was already acute. How could he possibly fill those big, black, shiny Hessian boots that Colin Firth’s strode about in so effortlessly in 1995? Queue fanfare music and red velvet curtain rising at the theater.

Since this movie was released eight years ago and has been available on DVD since February 2006, is there Janeite left in the world who has not seen it? Just in case you don’t know what it is about here is the blurb from the production notes:

Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continue reading “Pride & Prejudice (2005) Movie – A Review”

Masterpiece Classic, Period Drama

Preview of Any Human Heart on Masterpiece Classic PBS

Gillian Anderson as the Duchess of Windsor in Any Human Heart (2010)The 40th anniversary season of Masterpiece Classic continues tomorrow night with a new three-part contemporary drama Any Human Heart at 9:00 pm (check local listings) on PBS. Based on William Boyd’s acclaimed 2002 novel, he also adapted it for the screen. Following the life of writer Logan Mountstuart, three actors portray him during different stages of his life: younger years by Sam Claflin, middle years by Matthew MacFadyen (Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice 2005) and older years by Jim Broadbent.

As Mountstuart travels to 1920s Paris to 1950s New York and 1980s London, we witness some compelling history and meet dazzling personalities: Ernest Hemingway (Julian Ovenden), Ian Fleming (Tobias Menzies) and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Gillian Anderson and Tom Hollander) to name a few. The many women in his life include: first fling Tess Scabius (Holliday Grainger), first girlfriend Land Fothergill (Charity Wakefield, Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility 2008), first wife Lottie (Emerald Fennell), second wife Freya Deverell (Hayley Atwell, Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park 2007) third wife Allanah (Natasha Little), later fling Gloria Scabius (Kim Cattrall), and guy friends Peter Scabious (Samuel West) and Ben Leeping (Ed Stoppard). As you can see, the cast is as amazing as the story itself. Continue reading “Preview of Any Human Heart on Masterpiece Classic PBS”

Downton Abbey, Masterpiece Classic, Period Drama

Masterpiece Classic 2011 Season Preview

Masterpiece Classic logo

One of the consolations of being trapped inside during the cold, wet Pacific Northwest winter in the prospect of great television from Masterpiece Classic on PBS. Celebrating its 40th year on the air, the longest-running and most-honored drama series in primetime announced its new 2011 season this past week. There are some exciting new productions in the queue: Downton Abbey, Any Human Heart, Upstairs Downstairs and South Riding, and encore presentations of My Boy Jack, The Unseen Alistair Cooke and 39 Steps in store for drama lovers.

Since girlhood, I have been entranced by Masterpiece Theater, now Masterpiece, broken down into the Classic, Mystery and Contemporary seasons a few years back. This superbly produced series has for the majority of my life enriched my viewing experience and opened up new possibilities in reading classics which many of the shows are adapted from, and more recently contemporary fare with books and stories from the twentieth century. Continue reading “Masterpiece Classic 2011 Season Preview”

Masterpiece Mystery

Miss Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – Recap & Review

Julia McKenzie is Miss Marple on Masterpiece Mystery (2009)Julia McKenzie debuted on Sunday as the new Miss Marple in A Pocket Full of Rye on Masterpiece Mystery. She’s the actress who played Mrs. Forrester in last season’s Cranford who put flannel pajamas on her cow. We shall see if she can also put a memorable spin on Agatha Christie’s famous elderly spinster who dabbles as an amateur sleuth.

McKenzie has big shoes to fill. Not only is Miss Marple one of Christie’s most famous characters whose analytical skills are as sharp as her knitting needles, the two previous actresses who portrayed her in this series, Joan Hickson (1982-1992) and Geraldine McEwan (2004-2007), were outstanding, leaving an indelible mark on the role. We shall see if she can wear the Marple mantle as successfully.

Based on Christie’s 1953 novel, three murders in two days has Inspector Neele (Matthew Macfadyen) baffled. Wealthy financier Rex Fortescue (Kenneth Cranham ) poisoned at his London office was found with rye in his pocket, his young wife Adele (Anna Madeley) the prime suspect dies after tea in their Continue reading “Miss Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye on Masterpiece Mystery PBS – Recap & Review”

Masterpiece Classic, Period Drama

Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS

Little Dorrit (2008)

Affairs of the heart populate episode two with hopes and aspirations for all of the unattached characters in Masterpiece Classic’s miniseries of Little Dorrit. The episode opens with a wrenching blow to John Chivery (Russell Tovey), when Amy Dorrit (Claire Foy) rejects his tender marriage proposal. The touching scene played out with chilling sadness as we look upon his dejected face and her regretful downcast gaze. I felt numb with emotion for both of them. I can not remember witnessing a proposal scene that was so tragically realistic.

Meanwhile, Arthur Clennam (Matthew Macfadyen) goes calling to Twickenham to the Meagles and finds he is not the only beau courting Miss Pet. Even though Pet’s parents have attempted twice to separate their daughter and Henry Gowan (Alex Wyndham), he has reappeared and is still the front runner for Pet’s affections. Tite Barnacle Jr. (Darren Boyd) is hopeful too, but the Meagles prefer Arthur, who is smitten. Continue reading “Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS”

Little Dorrit, Masterpiece Classic, Period Drama

Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode One on Masterpiece Classic PBS

Little Dorrit 2008 cast

And so the mystery begins as the opening episode of Masterpiece Classic’s Little Dorrit puts us on the trail of whodunnit. Arthur Clennam (Matthew Macfadyen) the anti prodigal son returns home from abroad after several years to fulfill the mysterious death bed wish of his father “to put it right” by promising to place his gold watch in his mother’s hand. On return to England, his hesitant reunion with his mother foreshadows their troubled relationship.

Mrs. Clennam (Judy Parfitt) is indifferent to his unexpected arrival and the news that her husband’s death, but rattled by the gold watch he brings for her and its mysterious contents, a slip of fabric hidden in its casing with the ominous message “Do not forget.” Arthur sees through her stony reaction to the watch and flatly asks her what his father’s request means suspecting some secret behind it. She denies anything, but her reaction and his prompt dismissal feed his curiosity. Continue reading “Little Dorrit Recap & Review of Episode One on Masterpiece Classic PBS”

Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen's Works, Pride and Prejudice Movies & TV

Pride and Prejudice: Which Mr. Darcy Has the Noble Mien for You?

Portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte circa 1802, by John OpieMr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report, which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley… The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 3

This is our introduction to the infamous Mr. Darcy from chapter three. Fine, tall, handsome, noble with ten thousand pounds a year! What a social pedigree. What unmarried woman, or over anxious mother would not want to snag him as a husband for themselves or their daughter? Interestingly, the description is subjective, allowing the reader to insert their own physical characteristics to form their ideal Mr. Darcy. How then did the archetype of Fitzwilliam Darcy as dark haired and fair complected come about? Blame the movies.

This striking portrait of a Regency era gentleman matches my impression of what Mr. Darcy should look like in my mind from Jane Austen’s description and the later influence of Hollywood and television. When I came across this portrait of Edmund Lenthal Swifte on the Tate Museum website, I was struck by the incredible similarity to actor David Rintoul who had portrayed Mr. Darcy in the 1979 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. They could be twins separated at birth by two hundred years. ;)

So gentle readers, who is your ultimate Darcy archetype? In a contest of dueling Darcy’s between Edmund Lenthal Swifte, Sir Lawrence Olivier, David Rintoul, Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen or Elliot Cowan, who really floats your boat? Cast your vote before November 1. You might just be surprised with the results.

Dueling Mr. Darcys

Jane Austen Adaptations, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice

Taciturn disposition

Image of Kiera Knightley & matthew MacFadyen in Pride & Prejudice (2005)TACITURN 

“Do you talk by rule, then, while you are dancing?”

“Sometimes. One must speak a little, you know. It would look odd to be entirely silent for half an hour together; and yet for the advantage of some, conversation ought to be so arranged, as that they may have the trouble of saying as little as possible.”

“Are you consulting your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are gratifying mine?”

“Both,” replied Elizabeth archly; “for I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.” Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 18

One of my favourite’s scenes of Darcy and Lizzy sparing. She is miffed at herself for her knee-jerk acceptance of his offer to dance (did she forget to use the dance card ploy?), and he is numb from his lack of resistience of her fine eyes (bet he wished he’d not been such a savage)!

What follows, is one of the most famous repartie’s in literary history. She sharply taunts him along with with her smooth insults. He fumbles for come-backs not quite sure how to take her all in since no lady has ever spoken to him like that before. How anyone can spar and dance at the same time, is amazing too me.

Image of the cover of the DVD of Pride & Prejudice, (2005)In preparation for this post, I watched this scene in the four movie adaptations available on DVD.

P&P0 (1940), staring Greer Garson & Sir Laurence Olivier

P&P1 (1979), staring Elizabeth Gravies & David Rintoul

P&P2 (1995), staring Jennifer Elhe & Colin Firth

P&P3 (2005), staring Kiera Knightley & Matthew McFayden

 And I am surprised to tell you that I have a new appreciation for Pride & Prejudice 2005, staring Kiera Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. I love the way she is so surley to him and he is terrified of her! Oooo, abhorence simmering.