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?

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Friday Funnies: Pride and Prejudice and Dr. Who

LOL! The movie trailer of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice is a YouTube phenom. It has been mashed up into so many other movie combinations: Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, Robin Hood, Vampire Diaries, Star Wars, Anastasia, North and South, and hundreds of others, that it is mind boggling. Check out this hilarious mash-up of P&P and Dr. Who. Whatever will they think up next?

Happy Friday everyone. Break out the Austentini’s!

‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Dressing for the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice: Regency Fashion

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Vic from Jane Austen’s World who shares with us her extensive knowledge of Regency culture and history. Her first of four contributions during the event analyzes the costumes worn at the Netherfield Ball in three movie adaptations in comparison to the fashions of the day.

The Netherfield Ball. Ah! How much of Jane Austen’s plot for Pride and Prejudice put on show  in this chapter! Elizabeth Bennet – its star – enters the ball room hoping for a glimpse of a strangely absent Mr. Wickham, but is forced to dance two dances with bumblefooted Mr. Collins, whose presence she somehow can’t seem to shake. (From his actions the astute reader comes to understand that this irritating man will be proposing soon.)

Mr. Darcy then solicits Lizzie for a dance, and his aloofness and awkward silences during their set confirms in Lizzie’s mind that he suffers from a superiority complex. As the evening progresses her family’s behavior is so appalling (Mary hogs the pianoforte with her awful playing; Kitty and Lydia are boisterously flirtatious with the militia men; and Mrs. Bennet brazenly proclaims to all within earshot that Mr. Bingley and Jane are as good as engaged) that the only enjoyment Lizzie takes away from the event is in the knowledge that Mr. Bingley is as besotted with Jane as she is with him.

In anticipation of furthering her acquaintance with Mr. Wickham, Lizzie probably dressed with extreme care, making sure both her dress and hair looked perfect. In the image below, Jennifer Ehle’s “wig” is adorned with silk flower accessories, and a string of pearls, which was the fashion of the time. She wears a simple garnet cross at her throat (Jane Austen owned one made of topaz) and her dress shows off her figure to perfection.

Continue reading at Jane Austen’s World

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 7  June 23     Group Read: Chapters 15-21
Day 8  June 25     Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era
Day 9  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28

Austen at Large: Some of my own prejudices when it come to Pride and Prejudice

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

This week, as I began to reread Pride and Prejudice with my Jane Austen class, I have discovered some prejudices that I have. In reading a book that I know and love so well, I have almost found it hard to understand some people’s opinions of it. I will say that most girls in my class are very thoughtful and make wonderful remarks but there are some that I completely disagree with. I don’t know if it is because of my own prejudices against these views or what, but at times I feel that people are letting the adaptations influence their readings of the novel. Though I try to be a very thoughtful reader, and believe that students individually take away different things from a text, I find it difficult to understand where some of these girls are coming from. Sometimes I think that adaptations have limited or influenced their point of view, and yet when I think about it perhaps another adaptation has influenced or limited me as well. Yet I do try to look at the text for the text, and not how it is adapted in a movie.

I will give an example of this situation: We were reading aloud Darcy’s 1st proposal and Elizabeth’s refusal when one of the girls said “I think that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes somewhere deep down inside of her.” I could not let this observation go by without commenting on it because I did not see that in the text. If anyone wants to make an argument for it I would be more than willing to listen to it, but all this student could back it up with was that she just had a feeling that Elizabeth really wanted to say yes. When I read the text I see Elizabeth being completely driven by her dislike, irritation and misunderstanding of Darcy. She has just been pouring over her beloved sister Jane’s letters examining how much pain Jane is in because of Darcy. She notices that,

They contained no actual complaint, nor was there any revival of past occurrences, or any communication of present suffering. But in all, and in almost every line of each, there was a want of that cheerfulness which had been used to characterize her style, and which, proceeding from the serenity of a mind at ease with itself, and kindly disposed towards every one, had been scarcely ever clouded. (Chapter 34)

I think that for Elizabeth the knowledge of Mr. Darcy’s evolvement with the separation of Jane and Mr. Bingley would have driven away any feelings that she ever had (and which I think she NEVER had) for him.

Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice 2005

What I see in comments like this in class is the problem of Austen adaptations. I am not blaming any movie particularly, but rather the viewer. Every adaption brings something to the table that is interesting, and it is good to see many different points of view and such. What I have a HUGE problem with is when the adaptations start to taint the books; when readers start seeing the book as the movie and trying to make them fit together. No adaptation is ever going to be completely faithful to a book, (though the Fay Weldon 1980 Pride and Prejudice is pretty close), yet it is the job of the viewer to know the difference, and see through the movie. I think my friend was allowing the 2005 movie to influence her reading of the novel. I see that movie as trying to portray that Lizzy and Darcy are meant for each other from the first time they meet and that in the proposal scene, though Lizzy is very mad, there is some part of her that is still attracted to and interested in Darcy. As if they were soul mates and their souls were drawn together and yet their minds were keeping them apart.

I think this is making too much of the romance of the novel and ignoring Elizabeth’s real thoughts and feelings on the matter. The novel says,

In spite of her deeply-rooted dislike, she could not be insensible to the compliment of such a man’s affection, and though her intentions did not vary for an instant, she was at first sorry for the pain he was to receive; till, roused to resentment by his subsequent language, she lost all compassion in anger (Chapter 34).

I think this shows Elizabeth’s feeling on the matter perfectly. “Her intentions did not vary for a second“. It is hard for me to see the argument of Lizzy really wanted to say “yes” to Mr. Darcy in this scene. I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy it as an argument in the text and I certainly don’t buy it in the adaptation when they almost kiss at the end of the scene.

Matthew Macfayden, Pride and Prejudice 2005

I would be interested to know anyone else’s opinion on the subject because I think the use and power of adaptations is very interesting especially with Austen. A movie will never out do the book for me, I just wish that we would become better readers so that the novel will be speaking rather than an adaptation of it. Perhaps these are just my prejudices against those who perhaps like the movies better than the books, but as a lover of Austen’s novels it is hard for me to see how anything could surpass them.

Till next week!

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of October 6th

Actress Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility 1995) has reached national treasure status according to  interviewer Karen Price of the Western Mail who spoke with her before the opening of Brideshead Revisited in the UK this week. She is always a surprising and amusing in life, and on the screen. I saw this version when it opened in the US in July and enjoyed her performance, though the adaptation by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995, Emma, Northanger Abbey 2007, and Sense and Sensibility 2008) had to be so condensed for the two hour movie that it seemed like an entirely different story than the BBC miniseries of the 1980’s or the Evelyn Waugh novel. Her co-stars Hayley Atwell (Mansfield Park 2007) and Joseph Beatie (Mansfield Park 2007) were also excellent, and the movie is well worth renting the DVD of just for the locations and fabulous costumes.

Even though Matthew Macfayden went all Byronic on us as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, he can also do comedy and drama with equal aplomb. Pride and Prejudice (2005) Blog was updates on all his latest projects including Frost/Nixon and Incendiary.

Have lunch with Andrew Davies (well almost) and interviewer John Lloyd who thinks that Davies has shaped the literary imagination of millions (that may be true, but it is a daunting thought for this writer). His latest project airing this month on the BBC is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit staring a formidable cast of classic actors including Austen connects with Matthew Macfayden (Pride and Prejudice 2005), Robert Hardy (Northanger Abbey 1986), and Judy Parfitt (Pride and Prejudice 1979). Mabe it will make it acrosss the pond to PBS next season? Hope so.

Did Jane Austen like children? Old Fogey blog takes a shot at his interpretation of Jane Austen’s view of children in her books and letters with his post on More Cake than is Good for Them. I always enjoy reading his insights on Austen, even though I may not always agree with him!

Classic Reader a website of e-texts of many classic novels offers a nice brief biography of Jane Austen and includes the six major novels and novella Lady Susan for reading online. Also included are is an extensive library of classic titles such as The Castle of Orantano by Horace Warpole, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, poetry and nonfiction works, so check it out!

Austen and Austen-esque book reviews for the week: Just Jane, Persuasion, A Cure for All Diseases, Mansfield Park, Jane and the Man of the Cloth, Lydia Bennet’s Story, Pride and Prejudice, Bride and Prejudice Movie, The Jane Austen Handbook, Persuasion, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Darcys and the Bingleys, Me and Mr. Darcy, and The Independence of Mary Bennet.

Australian author Colleen McCoullough’s new Austen-esque book The Independence of Mary Bennet is getting a bit of press in Australia since its release there on October 1st. The interviews of the author are bristly as she is quite outspoken, ahem. The reaction by Austen enthusiasts is not surprising, since we do defend our Jane, and are unguarded and outspoken about others those who use her name or characters to make money. Here are few reactions from Austenblog and Barbwired.

Austen-esque author Sharon Lathan asks, Another ‘Pride and Prejudice’ sequel…Really? on the Casablanca Authors blog, then proceeds to explain her reasons which I can not argue with but some may. Jill Pitkeathley of newly released Cassandra and Jane chats with A Circle of Books,  Jane Odiwe of Lydia Bennet’s Story is interviewed by Ms. Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World,

The  beautiful color 2009 A Year with Jane Austen wall calendars produced by JASNA Wisconsin are available and a very worthy addition including great daily events through the calendar year from the novels and significant events in Jane Austen’s life. Be informed every day of what happened in Jane Austen’s world. What Janeite could need more, well maybe a book and a movie or two.

The AGM of JASNA concluded in Chicago and now we get to read about all of the wonderful experiences had by many there. Janeite Deb of Jane Austen in Vermont blog does Day 1, shops (bless her), and tells us all about the great books she found, and now on to Day 2. Mags of AustenBlog gives us a daily breakdown of, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Now that is dedication!

Emma the musical officially opens tonight in St. Louis, Missouri at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Penned, scored and lyrics by Paul Gordon, the Toni nominated composer of Jane Eyre, the reviews have been mixed, so we shall see how Miss Woodhouse charms the audience.

The Cleveland Heights Janeites had an Austen celebration last week, and it was all things Jane all around. Read this charming article by reporter Laura Johnston of the The Plain Dealer, who must be a Janeite herself to be so knowledgeable (or good at her research).

Find out why Elizabeth Bennet never got fat! Enuf said!!! and all about miniature portraitist George Englheart who has more Austen connections than Jane Austen’s boy toy Tom Lefroy.

Reporter Judith Egerton gushes about the new Jon Jory production of Pride and Prejudice on stage in Lousiville, Kentucky through November 2nd. I wonder if her love of Jane Austen is genetic? Could she be a descendant of Thomas Egerton who first published Pride and Prejudice in 1813?  ;)

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey continues here at Austenprose until October 31st. The group read is progressing and we are up to chapter 10 as heronine in the making Catherine Morland was just danced with Mr. Tilney (lucky girl). It’s not too late to join in the group read and all the guest bloggers and giveaways. You can read the progress to date at my co-blog, Jane Austen Today. Thanks to the many bloggers and readers who went Gothic with us and are joining in; Kimberly’s Cup, Blue Archipelago, Tea, Toast and a Book, This is so Silly, KimPossible, and Kindred Spirits. It has been great fun to read your opinions. Keep them comming!

Until next week, happy Jane sighting,

Laurel Ann