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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film opened my eyes to the book, 26 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Pride & Prejudice - 2005 [DVD] (DVD)
Pride & Prejudice - 2005 [DVD]I've seen numerous adaptations of this novel, all of them a bit stiff, and having also read the book, I really couldn't see why people thought it was such a great story. This film takes a light-hearted approach and having watched it and enjoyed it, I said to myself, "Yes, but the book's not that funny." I read it again and found that it was. I'd been looking at Jane Austen through the eyes of the learned professors who write long essays about her, suggesting that she was some earnest recorder of the mores of the period, when all she was trying to do was entertain her readers with social comedy. Rather than suffering from feminist depression because the highest ambition of most women then was to find some tolerable bloke to marry, she was having a good laugh at the antics they got up to in an attempt to secure such a marriage, and at how a woman who wanted to be a bit more picky could be considered over-ambitious.
This is hilariously depicted in the proposal scene between Elizabeth and Mr Collins, where he assumes that she will be grateful for his offer of marriage and that any resistance is due to her not wanting to seem "too easy". In fact, she'd rather live with the family dog in its kennel than with him. I know Mr Collins is a big oaf in the book, but Tom Hollander's version of him as a little creep works well, and Keira Knightley's face, showing horror and revulsion, is a picture throughout this scene, as is the despairing look of Talulah Riley, as Mary, at the end of it: "Why didn't you ask me?" she seems to be saying when Elizabeth has rejected him. Even Darcy has his funny side; his honesty is admirable, but when a man proposes to a woman by saying, "You're of inferior birth, your family is a disgrace, but I still want to marry you", that's taking honesty a bit too far. And the scene where Elizabeth learns of the elopement of her sister Lydia, with its potential to disgrace the whole family, is given an unusual comedy touch which I liked.
Of course, any two-hour film adaptation can only capture part of a novel (unless it's a very thin novel) but I felt that this one captured the spirit of it. Nobody does neurotic women like Brenda Blethyn, and as Mrs Bennet, she delivers a more complete character than we find in the book (not a bad thing) but Donald Sutherland gives us more of Jane Austen's Mr Bennet than most adaptations do. He's often depicted as a wise old owl in his study, when what he's actually doing in there is hiding away from his responsibilities.
I would suggest you approach this film with an open mind, rather than that of a Jane Austen anorak, and you will enjoy it.
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Initial post: 28 Aug 2013 15:54:50 BDT
Great review! My thoughts exactly (though you put it much better than I could!)
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