Friday, December 28, 2007

Watching eleventy-seven versions of "Pride and Prejudice"

I think every woman in the world agrees that the best "Pride and Prejudice" movie is the BBC series with Colin Firth. Once we saw C. Firth as Mr Darcy, we couldn't get behind anyone else. So I have to wonder why people continue to adapt it. But I suppose classics must be re-adapted from time to time. Each generation seems to need its own version.

The other night, I saw the newest version featuring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Matthew McFadyen as Mr Darcy. I did enjoy it and thought that all the actors did a good job interpreting their characters. A 2-hour movie can't do the book justice, but I was surprised by some of the things that were changed. This example may seem small to some, but I assure you it is not: when Mr Darcy is fidgeting around just before proposing to Elizabeth, one expects his first words to be "In vain have I struggled." This is a direct quote from the book. In the newest version, Mr Darcy says "I have struggled in vain." So pedestrian. And when you're expecting a famous line, changing it is not a good idea.

I also found it difficult to tell Kitty and Lydia apart, which annoyed me because I thought I recognized the actress who played Kitty, but the camera never stayed on her face long enough for me to tell. It was in fact the same actress who played Ada Clare in the recent Bleak House done by Masterpiece Theater, but I only knew that by looking on imdb. There was a lot of rushing around in the movie, and that was pretty distracting.

The script also made Elizabeth pretty mouthy. At one point she says something to her mother that was pretty unforgivable, and that no Elizabeth true to the book would have said.

The other thing I didn't like too much was that, while cutting the story ruthlessly, the movie showed long, and I do mean long, contemplative moments and landscapes. It was too much and I was sorry to have them instead of more dialogue -- and I actually do appreciate contemplative moments.

All that being said, the major speeches were all there, and the actors were good. I even liked Mr Darcy. He had the right amount of smoldering good looks and a face that lit up when he finally smiled. One of my favorite scenes, though, was one I acted out for drama class in high school: the scene between Lady Catherine and Elizabeth. Judi Dench was amazing -- the scene was, I think, even better than in the BBC version. And that's saying something.

Naturally, when doing the scene in drama class, I played Lady Catherine. It had a major effect on my personality of course, and to this day I remain haughty, disdainful, presumptuous, and self-important.


Shelly said...

Once we saw C. Firth as Mr Darcy, we couldn't get behind anyone else.

Agreed! Mr. Firth can do no wrong.

So I have to wonder why people continue to adapt it.

I think, perhaps, they should keep remaking it with Mr. Firth. Problem solved, no?

balloonette said...

Oh, Lady DeB, you are sooo condescending! R. didn't like that they kept emphasizing that Mr. Collins was short and Darcy was tall! I liked that the house was dumpy and squalid, as it might well have been if the family had an estate but not much cash!

balloonette said...

p.s. I also agree about C. Firth!

Catherine said...

Shelly, that would be a good solution (having C. Firth star in all adaptations) although the thought of him with Keira Knightley is pretty creepy. Mr Darcy as dirty old man... however, if every generation needs an adaptation, what about doing a version where all the Bennett children and Mr D are in their 50's?? and C. Firth could star!

Balloonette: You know very well my haughty condescending nature! I'm also an ignorant prejudiced fool, because I didn't even notice the short/tall thing, and you're right. The problem with Mr C is not that he's short, because who cares? The problem is he's unbearable. He was actually less unbearable in this version because there was simply less of him. PS Are you still in town or are you amazingly accessing the internet from a remote destination??