Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Research can sometimes be tiresome. Not on Friday evening when I went to see Pride and Prejudice at the cinema. I found the film, by and large, is faithful to Jane Austen’s novel and the period detail is right.

Keira Knightly (Elizabeth Bennet) grins infectiously. Any man would fall for such a smile. She pulls off the role of the ‘foolish, headstrong girl’, her mother describes. What’s missing is some of the depth of Elizabeth Bennet’s character. It’s difficult to believe that Knightly’s Elizabeth might actually sit down and read a book.

In the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (1995) Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy famously emerged from a swim in a lake, his wet shirt clinging to his chest. Matthew MacFadyen’s Darcy strolls across the dewy dawn grass with his shirt open at the neck and the fluff of some chest hair on view. The romance is there. Matthew MacFadyen’s Darcy is different from Colin Firth’s but not less agreeable. He cuts a tall, fine figure. Proud, like Firth, but he appears more vulnerable, somehow shyer. The scenes at Pemberley, with Georgiana Darcy are captivating. It’s completely believable that he should have falling in love with Elizabeth when we see the eagerness in his body language in her presence, and the way he smiles at her in these later scenes.

Brenda Blethyn plays Mrs Bennet exceptionally well and Rosamund Pike is absolutely convincing as Jane Bennet. Donald Sutherland portrays an amusing Mr Bennet, his dry humour works though his English accent sounded slightly odd in places. Tom Hollander gives us an exceptionally cringe-worthy Mr Collins – that’s the character – his eyes never meeting anyone he speaks to, and his voice absolutely in character with its obsequiousness.

Simon Wood’s Bingley comes into his own in his final scene with Jane Bennet. Watching Darcy’s dark and confident silhouette against a flustered and pacing Bingley beside a hazy lake just before this scene was a delight.

If the BBC’s 1995 version was all about balls and Chippendale elegance, then the 2005 film is set in a farmyard. Longbourn, the Bennet’s home in Hertfordshire, is not a scaled-up doll’s house. There is clutter on the tables, muddied hems and shoes, and the window sils need a lick of paint.
The sensuous feel and detail is rife. The sun shines when the Bennets are happy. rain showers down heavily when there is a crisis. There are pleasing quirks in the cinematography which add successfully to the atmosphere. Joe Wright (Director) captures the feel of rural England. (He should consider a Thomas Hardy for this next project.) There is a moment as Mr Bennet hussels a beloved pig through the hallways at Longbourn; another as he lifts a prize plant down from a high shelf. Uninportant in themselves, over in two seconds, these tiny glimpses are enough to make an impression.

Now it's just fingers-crossed that the DVD will be out next year at around the same time as Perfidy and Perfection.


  • At 9:04 pm, Anonymous Jo Manning said…

    Kate, I loved the movie, and totally agree with your comments about Matthew McFayden's Darcy. He is very attractive, quite vulnerable, and smolderingly sexy.

    I have to wonder, though, where the director got the idea that Longbourne was the Bennets' home farm. A pig through the hallway?! Never never never. That is a bad misreading of the Bennets' circumstances. They are landed gentry. Not as rich as the Darcys or Bingleys, but comfortable though stretched financially. They do not live with pigs, chickens, and farming activities in close proximity. But this was my only objection.
    The actress playing Elizabeth's elder sister is gorgeous, and I loved Donald Sutherland's Mr. Bennet. Brenda Blethyn was perilously close to overdoing it as Mrs. B. I wish that the other sisters had more screen time.


Post a Comment

<< Home