It is 8:30PM, holidays end in a week, nothing interesting on TV… of course, I ask myself, what should I do? And, as every other night when there is nothing good on TV, I find myself staring desperately at my stock of DVDs, hoping that some new, exciting movie appears there. Well, it never happens. Very often, I end up picking something I don’t really want to watch just because there is nothing better. But tonight, I was staring at my DVDs like usual and stumbled upon Pride&Prejudice. You know, the 2005 version with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden.
I love this movie. I really do. Some quite radical and somehow extreme Jane Austen fans will tell you that this version is bad, and that the one with Colin Firth is the only acceptable one, but I don’t share this opinion. The 2005 ver. is really good considering it is a more or less 2 hours ver. of a legendary book, the cast did an amazing job in giving life to the characters, and, hey! Keira Knightley did receive an Oscar nomination for this role! It really is that amazing. I am not the only one with this opinion, though. The critics received the movie very well and I still don’t know how some fans keep disliking it.
So, I wondered “how long has it been since I watched it?” and suddenly realized I couldn’t recall the last time I did. Which basically means: it was too long ago. And then, I put it on. Mom was supposed to go to bed early, but Pride&Prejudice has that “magnet” effect and it is impossible to leave the room in the middle of the movie – only my brother can do that, but he is a teenage boy, and teenage boys definitely DON’T get the magnificence in Jane Austen masterpiece.
Something amazing with this movie is that, no matter how many times I watched it, I still enjoy it as if it was the first. There are so many reasons why I love it that I cannot list them all. But basically, if you never watched it, DO! Don’t be prejudiced against this version because people often say that the 1995 BBC ver. is better. They are different. Different actors, different styles, different lenght too. How can you compare a 2 hours ver. with a +/- 5 hours ver.?
So, let’s focus on the 2005 one here.
I must say that I am not really the kind of people that remembers movies’ musics easily. I have a tendency to not pay attention to it, and when someone tells me “I love the soundtrack in this movie!” I’m like “uh? I don’t remember, was it good? I didn’t notice“. I know, I know, it’s not good. But hey, not everyone is sensible to music, you know! Anyway. In Pride&Prejudice, I did notice the music. It was quite good, and suited the atmosphere of the movie really well. I even asked my parents for the CD! Well, they never bought it, but still. It shows how good the music is. It gives a completely different vibe to the scenes, and probably accentuate the “Jane Austen” mood, somehow. it’s hard to explain. It just fits, you know? Without this particular music, the movie wouldn’t be the same at all.
But music isn’t the only thing that makes me love this ver. I also kind of like the cast. I say “kind of” because when you love a book so much, it is always hard to see it adapted on TV. You are always wondering “but why did they choose this actor/actress? That’s not at all how I saw him/her in my head!“. Of course, the cast director cannot find somebody that will fit every single fans’ imagination. However, sometimes I wonder how did they cast the actors and actresses for the BBC ver. I mean, Jane isn’t beautiful in the 1995 ver. She is supposed to be handsome, right? She really is. But in the BBC adaptation she is just plain. Really. Rosamund Pike however is splendid, and she has an innocent aura that suits Jane’s character very well.
I should also probably apologize in advance to any Colin Firth fan here. I don’t like him. I don’t like him at all. I am not denying that he is a good actor, but I just can’t. I know, I know, the “going-out-of-the-water-with-his-white-shirt-wet” scene is more than famous, but I still prefer Matthew MacFayden. He isn’t perfect for the role either though. He is great, but not amazing. It isn’t against the way he plays the character, but Mr Darcy is… well, he is Mr Darcy. I dreamt of marrying him (who didn’t?) for god sake! Any actor playing Mr Darcy will have to face my much-too-critical eyes, and I don’t think any would suit my imagination. But Matthew MacFayden was good. As for Keira Knightley… well, I love her. And I am so jealous of her ability to wear Historical costumes so well! It really fits her. And she really rocks those kinds of movies (come on! The Duchess… Pirates of the Caribbean… she just looks so great with Historical dresses!), so she makes a really good Elizabeth Bennet. I actually don’t see any other actress that might fit the character as well as Keira Knightley did.
As for the rest of the cast, I think they are all quite good as well. I was particularly happy with Tom Hollander portraying Mr Collins, and he did an amazing job looking as pathetic and disgusting as possible in the short screen time he was allowed, so that was great. Bingley looked cute, though not quite as handsome as I had imagined, but it didn’t really matter. And of course, the three younger sisters were really in character, in particular Jena Malone (Lidya in the movie), as the other two didn’t get much to do other than figuration. Elizabeth’s mother, played by Brenda Blethyn, is also exactly as I imagined: crazy, obsessed with the weddings of her daughters but still caring and loving.
When it comes to the plot in itself… adapting Pride and Prejudice is a complicated task. Even more complicated if you have to fit in a “Hollywood” format: limited lenght, appealing for a large public… Because not everyone is a Jane Austen fan, Pride & Prejudice had to be able to attract people who wouldn’t normally read the books. Of course, it amplifies the love story at the cost of minor stories that make the charm of the book. But it doesn’t mean the movie is bad. The sacrifices made don’t waste the final result. I love the book and I love the movie. I do think that some cuts are a pity, because some of my favourite parts were left out, but I understand that it didn’t fit in the movie.
Sometimes, when I watched it for the first time, I went like “e~h? But… but, no! That’s not how it is!“, but I guess it’s normal. I felt the same with Harry Potter… I’m thinking especially of the scene where Catherine De Bourgh comes to Longbourn to convince Lizzy not to marry Mr Darcy. In the book, it happens in full day light, and I didn’t quite understand why suddenly in the movie Catherine de Bourgh shows up in the middle of the night, as everyone is sleeping. I mean, reading the book, I would never EVER imagine Catherine de Bourgh going anywhere in the middle of the night. It is so not “correct”. But, anyway, it does add some drama. So, that’s fine with me.
I think this movie is way easier to watch for non-fans than the 1995 version. It is shorter (by far!), the story is easier to understand and it is a classic romantic movie that everyone can enjoy, even if you aren’t too much into “historical” stories.
I hope that through this amazing adaptation, more people will get to know Jane Austen and try reading her books. Though Pride and Prejudice is easily the most famous one, I would love more people to see the amazingness of Persuasion. Hollywood, please, why not a movie with this story too? Please?