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A Pride & Prejudice for those who appreciate Jane Austen,
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This review is from: Pride And Prejudice [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is undoubtedly the best dramatized version so far of Pride and Prejudice. In offering a review of this adaptation, I feel that it is also necessary to compare the two BBC versions, to demonstrate the need for both to be available on permanent format.
Whilst the 1995 version may be more sumptuously filmed, Fay Weldon's adaption contains far more passages of Jane Austen's prose. The importance of using Miss Austen's words wherever possible (apart from the literary courtesy due to the original by the adaptation), is that Miss Austen is one of the wittiest writers in the English Language. Unfortunately, as evinced by "Game On", Andrew Davies is not able to prove an acceptable subtitute.
Both portrayals of Elizabeth Bennet are fine overall but Elizabeth Garvie gives a better characterisation. In particular, in the final stages, she manages to express the realisation that her views have been in error, which realisation is one of the fundamentals of the book. To my mind this is never achieved by Jennifer Ehle, whose expression of different moods is too often achieved by alternating between a frown and a simper. She also seems to lack clear enunciation at times.
As to the portayal of Mr Darcy, although David Rintoul gives a good performance, I have to say that Colin Firth is a more rounded portrayal. The famous "lake scene" is however too far out of character to be anything but an embarrassment.
Mr Collins is supposed to be ridiculous and in this version is given a fine comic performance by Malcolm Rennie. He is not supposed to be played as Dud (from Pete & Dud), as in the 1995 version.
Speaking of comic performances, one can only wonder at the inspiration that gave Alison Steadman the idea to play Mrs Bennet as a pantomime dame (1995); by contrast the Mrs Bennet portrayed by Priscilla Morgan is a believably empty-headed but not farcical character.
In defence of the 1995 version, it is good in many respects and is acceptable as a reasonable rendering of the book. Nevertheless, in terms of being definitive, it is fatally flawed in several ways, which takes off the shine.
We desperately need a DVD of the Fay Weldon production, so that fans of each particular version are equally well served.
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Initial post: 6 Dec 2008 04:52:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Dec 2008 04:54:17 GMT
For me this is the best review on the page of the best version of the book made so far. It's become almost an article of faith how wonderful the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version is and I liked how the Fay Weldon series is compared with the 1995 series and how the many areas are pointed out in which the exquisitely measured and acted 1980 version surpasses easily its more famous successor. Alison Steadman playing 'Mrs Bennet as a pantomime dame'? Wittily put, so very true and one of 1995's several fatal flaws. It is a monumentally awful piece of acting. (The awfulness of it was later matched by Donald Sutherland who chose to play Mr Bennet dressed, somewhat surprisingly, as a tramp and by Keira Knightley who grinned and grinned her way unforgettably through the recent and dreadful film version.)
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