Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Over the years, there have been different film versions of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. I enjoy the diverging portrayals of the House of Bennet, where the Salic Law prevails, for new insights into the array of characters can always be gleaned. It is like visiting the same family in different seasons. I must admit that to me the 1995 BBC version was so excellent that I thought nothing else could compare, which is why the viewing of the 2005 rendition was postponed until a couple of days ago. With stunning cinematography and meticulously detailed sets, it is a highly entertaining production. Keira Knightley, although she is too thin for period roles when women were more fleshy, played the part of Elizabeth quite well. The other sisters and Mrs. Bennet were very well-cast. Donald Sutherland utterly stole the show. Sutherland's Mr Bennet seems to be in his own world yet he is really more in tune with everything that is going on than distracted Mrs. Bennet. That is especially evident from the way he goes over and comforts poor Mary at the Netherfield ball.

The musical score is quite romantic, capturing the desperation of young love obstructed by such obstacles as money and status. The attraction between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is more palpable than ever, although they hardly ever touch except when dancing. Those days of strict boundaries and protocols certainly make for some great love stories.

In the 2005 version, the Bennets seem more like yeomen farmers than landed gentry, with pigs running through the house, and shabby dresses. Were the Bennets really that poor? Maybe they were. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy is raised to the peerage, living at Chatsworth like the Duke of Devonshire. The Darcys were a distinguished and wealthy family but I doubt that they had the Elgin marbles in the parlor. This was only a minor distraction (along with the few weak attempts at vulgar humor) in a wonderful film which brings the viewer into the world of the late 1700's, the world of Jane Austen, when young men knelt to ladies when proposing marriage, and being a penniless old maid was the fate worse than death. Share


Anonymous said...

I was shocked to find that I liked the 2005 version as much as I did. I love the BBC version; I have both volumes on DVD. But the 2005 rendition was surprisingly good. I agree wholeheartedly that Donald Sutherland's portrayal of Mr. Bennet was fantastic!

I am looking forward to the second part of Sense and Sensibility tonight on PBS!

Low Flying Angel said...

I like the 2005 version. I prefer it to the 2005 version. But my most favourite is the Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson version.

elena maria vidal said...

I saw S&S last night on PBS, Juliana. It was good.

Janice, I love the Greer Garson version, too. Olivier is the epitome of Darcy.

Low Flying Angel said...

Re Olivier being the epitome of Darcy.

I agree wholeheartedly :)

Greer Garson is one of my all time favourite actresess. No1 fave being Nicole Kidman :)

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

OOh, I know many purists who hated the 2005 version-- I enjoyed it and I am happy to see you did too! As the Greer Garson's version is concerned... mmm... yes, they are darling, but it is by far the version that strays away from the book the most, inventing all sort of scenes that never happened. Not to mention the completely wrong fashion styles!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, I know what you mean, Ana. The fashions of the later versions are much more accurate.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Yes, and I liked most of the costumes in the 2005 version--but not all. And Keira was too thin, yes.