Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Sunday Salon: Pride & Prejudice (1995 TV Mini-Series)

So, Friday and Saturday this week, while my husband was at work, I felt the need to watch the A&E/BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It had been a few years since I last watched it and I just needed some Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in my life again!

I know that the more recent adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley (and I'm afraid I don't remember anyone else) is quite popular, but it just didn't resonate with me the way the BBC mini-series did. The mini-series just feels so much more real to me and despite the fact that it is a good five hours long, if I actually have that much time available, I could sit and watch the entire thing straight through. In fact, that is nearly what I did Friday night when my husband worked late, but after unwinding a bit after work, he came up to go to bed so I had to wait and finish the last 45 minutes yesterday. Between the characters, the story itself, and the fantastic musical score, I just don't want the movie to ever end!

I think I probably watch the whole movie with a grin on my face, too. The characters are just superb and highly entertaining -- the cast was just perfect, in my opinion. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett (Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman) are so opposite one another... She is unbelievably silly, suffers from her "nerves", and can't maintain the same opinion for more than five minutes, while he is sensible and calm -- not to mention very dry and witty. His lines are some of the most humours in the film with perfect delivery and timing. Whitrow also portrays Mr. Bennett's weaknesses of character quite well.

Jane and Elizabeth Bennett are aptly cast, as well, though I must admit I find Jennifer Ehle (Lizzie) to be more beautiful than Susannah Harker (Jane), when it should be the other way around according to the story. Of course, it's all a matter of opinion, anyway, and Harker's looks probably were more true to what was considered beautiful at that time. And their three younger sisters are silly as can be, as well -- their house is quite often in some kind of uproar with the crazy antics of those girls and Mrs. Bennett.

But oh, Mr. Darcy -- particularly Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I honestly think Firth was the perfect Darcy. He is the epitome of what I think Darcy was like -- really, he does a remarkable job acting the part, not to mention he is quite handsome. (Aside: if you haven't seen The King's Speech, you really must -- Firth is excellent in that as well, as King George.) Not only does Firth deliver Darcy's lines just right (both the early stiff, cold mannerisms and the later passionate, warmer feelings of a man in love), you can see he is completely in character by watching his eyes and their expression, as well. Seriously, Colin Firth is Darcy and always will be for me.

There are a host of other lively and quirky characters, as well. Mr. Bingley (Crispin Bonham-Carter) is a nice young man and indeed perfect for Jane, though he is not really a scene-stealer. Quirky characters who are scene-stealers when their times come are Mr. Collins (David Bamber), a man of the cloth and cousin to the Bennetts to whom their property is entailed, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt), patroness of Mr. Collins and uncle to Mr. Darcy. Their parts are not prominent, but oh, are those actors just perfect in their roles! Truly, I feel like I am watching the characters in the story and not the actors who portray them, so well-suited to their parts are the members of this cast.

When I watch this movie, I am complete transported into this little world that Jane Austen created, but frankly, I would rather watch it any day than actually read her book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it well enough, but I just find this TV mini-series adaptation to have more life to it. Austen's writing has never moved me the way it has her true fans. This is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time that I can watch over and over without tiring of it. If you like Pride and Prejudice but haven't watched the A&E/BBC mini-series, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

1 comment:

  1. That version is my favourite as well. I have the same copy that you have pictured there as well as a copy that has been remastered. I should probably watch this again sometime soon.


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