Friday, July 25, 2014

Old vs. New: Pride & Prejudice

While on a roll with period pieces, this is another review I wanted to write for some time now. It is interesting, because one is a series and the other is a movie - so it isn't easy to draw comparison between the two - and yet there is plenty to talk about in both!

Pride & Prejudice (1995) vs. (2005)

The well known story is about Lizzy Bennet, the second of five sisters, who falls ill to first impressions. She believes that appearance says it all, while that is not the case. She meets a pride fellow by the name of Fitzwilliam Darcy, who she finds repulsive for his selfish ways. She soon learns that Darcy is in love with her, and despite their differences, wishes to wed her. Lizzy refuses at first, only to find out Darcy's true character, which is a caring gentleman who simply has trouble in relaxing with bigger crowds. Lizzy grows to regret her decision, but feels that it is perhaps too late for her and Darcy. It is then that Darcy dares to tell her that he never stopped loving her, and he sensed that her feelings have somewhat shifted as well - he proposes again and Lizzy gladly accepts.

This is really a 'nutshell edition' as there is a lot going on in the background, of course. Before heading into the movie, a couple of sentences about the show. It was this that really put Colin Firth on the map for people. As far as I know everyone who loves him fell for him here - and I can't really blame them. I, however, was mesmerized by Jennifer Ehle, our Lizzy, as she was extraordinary in my opinion. I have been following her work ever since and she and Firth actually met again on the set of The King's Speech. What else can there be said? By making a mini-series BBC makes sure to give each piece of literature a justified adaptation. They are coherent, well done and very enjoyable. Each miniseries that they work on is a blessing for any English major who has literature exams! And here comes the key difference between the two pieces of adaptation: Timing.
With a movie, you do not have the time that you would with a six hour long series. And well, that's a big problem when your main character's emotions are dependent on the fact that she needs time to reevaluate and asses her feelings. Darcy proposes, she says no, and basically five scenes later she finds herself wondering about him and feeling foolish for having refused him. The essence of Lizzy's character was getting to know Darcy slowly and getting to know her own feelings as well. If you don't take the time for that then it feels a bit forced. But this is, ultimately, not the movie's fault as it is a different medium. I actually refused to see the movie for a very long time, but when I did I was mesmerized. For being a two hour long movie it did justice to the book and included everything from it as well as it could. I love the movie very much: the music? The cast? The colors? It was truly a job well done and I highly recommend it for anyone who doesn't want to watch the series for six hours straight!
In the end, there is one more thing I wanted to mention: Lizzy. If you know anything about the series or the movie, I bet it came from a girl who told you how dreamy Colin Firth was! That is all well, although, I have to admit that I came to love Matthew Macfadyen's version a lot more :P And that is also something that irritates me because - in the end - the main character was Lizzy and not Darcy! Think about it, if next to him our leading lady wasn't as awesome as she was, would've Darcy ever made such an impact on anyone? The answer is no. Both Ehle and Knightley made this character theirs and they did a spectacular job at bringing Lizzy to life. In the series, she is older and therefore much grown up than her sisters. In the movie she is smarter for her age.
Both do justice to the character who is, essentially, a unique girl unlike any of her sisters and any girl of her generation. In the end both adaptations only got (in my opinion) one thing wrong: Jane. Jane is Lizzy's older sister and I am sorry, I actually love Rosamund Pike, but her character trait is the fact that she is the prettiest of them all. In both adaptations I ended up loving Lizzy far more and that might have been intentional or just a mistake while casting the lead. I do feel, however, that Lizzy's surprise at Darcy's proposal was a bit overrated as in both cases I kept thinking: "Of course he wants to marry you! You are beautiful, sweet and very smart!" And although it is said over and over how beautiful Jane is, I felt that Lizzy beat her every single time.

That having been said: The difference between mediums also comes in among the same medium. A series is always (AS IN ALWAYS HOLLYWOOD!) better than a movie. This is due to the fact that most stories need time to develop and for that to happen you cannot cram certain books into a two hour movie - you just can't!!!! Despite that, however, when the script writer and the director take time to dig down and get the essence of the story, they are capable of adapting it well (even with slight changes!). A good example of this is this movie and for example the latest Jane Eyre (click here to read my review!).

Make sure you check them out both. If you have read the book you will be surprised by the accuracy of it. If you haven't, perhaps these will encourage you - that's what happened to me! If you insist that your boyfriend becomes like Mr. Darcy, then I suggest starting with the shorter version on date night :D Either way, check them out!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

(1995)
Lizzy Bennet - Jennifer Ehle
Mr. Darcy - Colin Firth
Jane Bennet - Susannah Harker
Charles Bingley - Crispin Bonham-Carter
Mr. Bennet - Benjamin Whitrow
Mrs. Bennet - Alison Steadman
Catherine De Bourg - Barbara Leigh-Hunt
Mr. Collins - David Bamber
Mr. Wickham - Adrian Lukis

(2005)
Lizzy Bennet - Keira Knightley
Mr. Darcy - Matthew Macfadyen
Jane Bennet - Rosamund Pike
Charles Bingley - Simon Woods
Mr. Bennet - Donald Sutherland
Mrs. Bennet - Brenda Blethyn
Catherine de Bourg - Judi Dench
Mr. Collins - Tom Hollander
Mr. Wickham - Rupert Friend

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