on 4 October 2005
As P&P book fan I decided to purchase all available adaptations and as I have read so many positive reviews here at the amazon.co.uk website to raise my curiosity I bought the '80 BBC version.
First of all let me tell you that watching the film was pure delight. Fay Weldon's script stayed faithful to the book without destroying the excitement or lessening its pleasures. I especially liked the end which was too short and precipitate in the '95 version: there you had no time to enjoy the part before Elizabeth & Darcy actually profess their love for each other, here it was more detailed and leisurely, which I found very positive. To my disappointment in the '95 version there was no scene with Mrs Bennet rejoicing over Lizzy's engagement which is of course much more fun than Mr Bennet expressing his concerns and doubts. Here the excellent Priscilla Morgan was given the chance and I liked it very much.
The actors were all excellent. Elizabeth Garvie IS Elizabeth Bennet both physically and spiritually. Her sparkling eyes expressed all her emotions, her wit, playfulness and intelligence - just as Jane Austen described her. I actually liked Jennifer Ehle's performance up to now, but compared to Garvie she fades away and I actually discovered that she SMIRKS instead of smiling playfully or even mischievously. Garvie could act playfully and even challengingly without being impertinent or impolite.
David Rintoul was also excellent, although I admit that I prefer Colin Firth's Darcy, but I found him a bit too rigid and aloof for a while. I know, I know, Darcy IS rigid and aloof, but I couldn't spot any difference in his behaviour towards strangers and his friends the Bingleys: he didn't looked relaxed for a second even in their company. However when I saw his "almost smile" in his eyes and on his lips he started to grow on me gradually. I still thought his acting monotonous occasionally, but I learned to like him.
I also liked Barbara Shelley and Michael Lees as Mr & Mrs Gardiner: they were truly genteel and sensible, once again what Jane Austen might have in mind. Priscilla Morgan as Mrs Bennet and Malcolm Rennie (Mr Collins) looked and acted their part tremendously.
This version is more like it was adapted to the stage (the other is a true movie adaptation, more dynamic) but after getting used to its pace I did not mind it at all.
Clearly, this version did not have the budget the other did, but it did not spoil neither costume, nor scenery nor the lovely music.
This is a must see adaptation for all Austen and P&P fans.
on 1 January 2005
I always loved the Pride and Prejuidce series which was televised in 1980 and had to buy my video copies TWICE, I wore them out that much!! I always had a niggling feeling that there was stuff missing when watching the newer, glossier (longer)1995 version.
Then those darlings at the BBC decided to re-release the 1980 version on DVD (alas only on Region 1) and lo! At least a quarter to a third of the missing material not present on the video version, was reincorporated! There is, however, a walking scene with a small party indicated by the excellent drawings that feature with the opening credits, and which I do recall seeing when the series was first transmitted, but it never made it onto the remastered dvd. Copyright reasons? I don't know. Or I just imagined it!! (Incidentally, those fabulous period drawings, each featuring the content of each episode have also been restored. The video versions spliced most episodes together, and relegated such drawings to the cutting room floor).
Anyway, I've always preferred this version. Aside from the fact that the exquisite Elizabeth Garvie (delivering her lines with such gleeful, yet mannered eloquence - unlike the later, though admittedly assured Jennifer Ehle)and dashing David Rintoul, both spoiled me for anyone else (and that includes the personable Mr Firth!).
The general style and air of the piece is a regal one. The actors are eloquent, elegant and slightly restrained (betraying their excellent classical stage training and what posture!!), unlike the more exuberant, more casual approach of the '95 cast (I think the latter style was to make the work more accessible to a 90's audience. Unfortunately, the cast, especially the girls, do 'gobble' their words at times. And those of the 'higher class' don't always convince. An example, take the round-shouldered, snickering '95 Caroline Bingley (atrocious). Then compare it with the divine Marsha Fitzalan's (80's) self-aggrandizing portrayal. Such posturing, such delicious snootiness!!) The older style, I think, is far closer to the true spirit of Jane Austen's masterpeice. It is 'stagey' and more 'set-oriented', but it gives it a more authentic, intimate feel.
As to the critisims aimed at Mr Rintoul's portrayal of Darcy as being cold and distant (even wooden), we must remember that in the book we don't see Darcy as often as we do in the '95 version (the '95 makers made it as much his story as Elizabeth's, which worked to great effect). Mr Rintoul's portrayal is, again, truer to the spirit of the book (in which Darcy is aloof, and then some), and if you watch him closely, the emotions are simmering there, if barely held in check. I think his approach is keenly judged (just different from Firth's).
Fay Weldon's adaptation is tighter, beautifully structured and performed with a grace and style rarely present in many period dramas of the present day.
All in all, a fantastic re-issue, a must for any P & P addict AND with those excellent additional scenes not seen in over twenty years!! Bravo BBC!
on 21 August 2007
I have watched both versions, the one of 1980 and the one of 1995 and I prefer the older one, especially in what goes for the script and in what goes for the actors. What I don't like at all is Jennifer Ehle's smile. She smiles at all possible and impossible occasions. Her smile has something stereotype, it looks not natural at all, it seems to be a kind of mask, whereas Elizabeth Garvie's smile looks charming and sometimes seems only a shadow of smile. J. Ehle's Elizabeth behaves sometimes in a way, so uncivil, that she seems almost illbred, especially when Darcy proposes to her for the first time. E. Garvie's Elizabeth behaves always with a certain dignity. When Darcy proposes to her she answers with indignation but never looses her good manners.
The only actors I prefer in the 1995's version are Benjamin Whitrow's Mr. Bennet and Colin Firth's Darcy. David Rintoul's Darcy has got a noble looking face (what Colin Firth has not) but his Darcy is so very stiff up to the end, that I can hardly believe he has fallen in love with Elizabeth. Before C. Firth proposes to Elizabeth he goes to an fro and you can tell from his face that there is something going on within him, you can feel his inner struggle, whereas David Rintoul always stays cool an distant, even before proposing.
What I really prefer in the 1995's version is the outdoor scenery.
And here an information: Would you like to get the 1980's version and your DVD player does not play Region 1? Don't resign, go to the German site of Amazon and there you find this version on Region 2. The menu language is of course in German, but you can watch the film either in English or in German. There are no subtitles and no extras. I hope this information will be useful to some of you.
on 6 September 2009
Bag this one before it disappears off the shelf and is forgotten, eclipsed by the industry surrounding tenth anniversaries and special editions and Colin Firth.
All praise must go to the Dutch distributors of this very English, very BBC Classic production. It was made in the late 1970s, and it's far and away the best and most faithful adaptation to date of a glorious book. (Don't be put off by the fact that the dvd is from Holland. If anything, ask why the BBC leaves it to the Dutch to issue this delightful set!)
You will know from my other reviews that I have a very soft spot for 'classic serials' - especially the slightly older ones. They seldom try to be what they aren't. They are marvellous pieces of telly, and this one is high on my list of all-time favourites. I also have a soft spot for series that are faithful to their originals and the intentions of the author.
Don't get me wrong - the later version with Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle is a joyous production, and has achieved iconic status - not least because of the excellent central performances - BUT the adaptation took a few famous liberties, making it in places rather more Georgette Heyer or Catherine Cookson than Jane Austen.
We all know about the drenching of Darcy as he dives head first into a lake at Pemberley to cool his ardour - well, it works in the context of THAT later series, simply because the thing as a whole has a charm of its own and a delicious chemistry that makes you forgive a huge amount ... BUT, Miss Austen would not have written it - even though there are probably many people who now believe she did. (I include among their number the flagrantly ignorant TV critic who trilled over this 'latest Jane Austen bodice-ripper'!)
We need to be careful when we describe Andrew Davies' adaptation as 'perfect' ... It may be perfect telly, but perfect 'Pride & Prejudice' it isn't quite.
Fay Weldon's 1979 version, however, is about as true to the original as it's possible to be - and it's a stronger work because of it. The blend of comedy and romance is beautifully judged, and one realises just how superb Ms Austen was at writing dialogue for her characters, and how deep those characters are. Weldon allows them to develop, and includes traits and observations that are omitted in the later version - presumably to make way for spectacle such as Mr Darcy fencing, or a society ball, or two, or three - or a scene of debauchery in a sordid lodging-house.
The wet shirt syndrome is not needed here. Fay Weldon and the producers have such confidence in the original material that they follow it as exactly as dramatisation will allow. (With one slightly puzzling exception: an important scene between Lizzie and Darcy has been relocated from the inn at Lambton to the drawing room at Pemberley. This is unlikely, under the circumstances, and - oh, but never mind ...)
The script is Austenesque from start to finish - and Ms Weldon is a great Austen fan, so she should know.
NB. Recommended reading for ANYONE who finds a Jane Austen novel 'difficult', or 'irrelevant': Fay Weldon's book 'Letters to Alice' is all about how to enjoy them. Trust me, after reading it, you will understand JA completely, if you haven't before. Should be compulsory reading on every GCSE course.
The casting is also lovely throughout - the portrayals again more true to their originals. And yes, this includes Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy. Excellent though Firth and Ehle are, for me Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul are sublime. Darcy has never been so reserved - so much so, that on occasion you might be forgiven for wishing that he would lighten up just a bit! Colin Firth's great strength of course is in making you suffer the pangs of a dawning love, along with Mr Darcy - in every frame; David Rintoul thaws more gradually.
(A note for the discerning: the Bennet Girls speak much better in this earlier version, too. They are without the horrible and very modern high street 'twang' that afflicts so much recent period drama, and which so many younger actors seem incapable of curing.)
The visual quality is also grand: being a product of the 1970s, it was mainly studio-based, and beautifully lit accordingly. It is what it is: the interiors are nicely designed purpose-built sets, shot on videotape, and the exteriors are fairly brief inserts shot on 16mm film - as was the norm. It works - and has moments of great power: Darcy's letter to Lizzie, read as a voice-over, with Darcy walking away into the distance is a magical sequence.
This series takes a lot of beating.
Have this one, if you want Jane Austen - AND the later one, just for the hell of it. Go on! They are BOTH hugely enjoyable, neither will bankrupt you, and they can BOTH be returned to with delight many times over.
on 30 April 2009
This is lifting the characters from the page. Elizabeth's lovely dark eyes sparkle with mischief. Darcy is aloof and seemingly unattainable.
There were no wet shirt scenes in Austen's book and none were needed in this very fine authentic adaptation. Mrs Bennet here was convincing and not irritating in the way Alison Steadman portrayed her in the more recent version (I found all her screeching extremely annoying). Whilst I did like Colin Firth's Darcy for me he was sweet and vulnerable whereas I never saw Austen's Darcy like that. It is ironic that there is that side to him but it is not on display, Elizabeth has to work for this insight. David Rintoul has the looks, voice, mannerisms and bearing that is just simply Darcy. Elizabeth Garvie is exquisite and I will always see her as Elizabeth Bennet - the way she looks and acts. Magic
on 24 March 2004
This version by Fay Weldon is simply the best Pride & Prejudice I have ever watched. I saw the three available versions and this one tops it all because of the casting. All the actors and actresses were superb in their roles from the silly Mrs Bennett and Mr Collins to the proud Mr. Darcy and the weak willed Mr. Bingley. David Rintoul is the perfect Mr. Darcy as he could switch from being haughty in the first half to being tender at the end. Elizabeth Garvie's facial expressions are always a joy to watch. I watched it for the first time almost 20 years ago and since then I have watched it once in three months. My children, who are 14 and 8, are beginning to enjoy the irony and hypocrisy in P & P after watching this version. To those who think that Jane Austen's works are boring, I beg to differ and this version of P & P proves my point. I sincerely hope that BBC would put this on DVD as I have almost worn out both copies of this title on video tape. To all who made this version of P & P what it is, a BIG thank you.
on 20 March 2004
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.
on 22 June 2005
This is in every way perfect until the fateful meeting at Pemberley, which the1995 version did much better (apart from that rather embarrassing shirtless episode - ahh!!). The 1980 version is more true to the spirit of the novel, it feels like you have jumped into a time machine and gone back to regency England. The actors are all superb, even the minor characters are well rounded. It has none of the 'over the top' acting you got in the 1995 version. A few that stand out include the absolutely gorgeous Elizabeth Garvey, whose portrayal of Elizabeth is amazing, none of the petulant smirking we got from Jennifer Ehle. She portrays Eliza as the intelligent and lively character that Austen intended. You can see why Darcy is attracted to her (I certainly was), I feel that the 1995 version failed to establish this. David Rintoul is superb as Mr. Darcy chiefly because he looks like him (I am sorry Colin), he is stiff, proud and aloof. You can see why Elizabeth dislikes him, witness some of his exchanges with Elizabeth at Netherfield and Rosings, the underlying tension, absolutely superb. One of my problems with Firth's Darcy is one that other reviewers have already alluded to - he is too likeable. There seems very little reason for Elizabeth to dislike him, in fact she is more dislikeable than he is. My one gripe with Rintoul is that I was not totally convinced with his change in manners when they meet at Pemberley, he is still too stiff. Firth was excellent in his portrayal of the 'reformed' Darcy. Charlotte and Mr. Collins are also well acted, she is sensible, realistic and still a great friend to Eliza not the snob that she was portrayed in 1995. He is a believable character not the caricature of 1995 version , he is still pompous and annoying, but you can see what makes him tick. Mr. & Mrs. Bennett are well portrayed, the Bennett sisters look alike as do the Bingley sisters. My major complaint with both versions is that they meddle with the ending, I've never understood why directors/script writers constantly interfere with what is a classic ending. Both versions seem to have been rushed as if production teams realised that time was short and wrapped it up in a hurry. There are also some minor changes in the dialogue, but nothing too alarming as was the case with the 1995 version. Jane Austen's dialogue is the highlight of all her books, why would you change it? Then again I suppose that is why I am writing this review and not having my scripts filmed in Hollywood.
I enjoyed this immensely, one way to extend your enjoyment is to watch this version until after Eliza has read 'the letter', then watch the 1995 version from that point onwards. The earlier version is truer to the book, while the latter does the romance better. Buy both versions - you'll not be disappointed
on 18 July 2003
Higher than the heights of the Bonnet Rock that Elizabeth climbs in the 1995 version, this version of P&P REALLY is the pinnacle. If you had seen it first then the '95 one could hardly raise enthusiasm.
David Rintoul is textbook darcy, whilst Colin Firth just looks like a podgy bloke with a bad hairstyle. Also Elizabeth Garvey's Lizzy is convincingly prejudiced in a way that Jennifer Ehrle couldn't quite emulate, being so nice and all.
The producers and writers haven't mucked around with the script at all, either, so that if you want Jane Austen's words that's exactly what you get!
Another thing that sways the balance for me is that the atrocious characters such as Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins are marginally more bearable in this version too. The only downside is Wickham, who is smarmy, but then Wickham is always a creep!
So, if you get the chance, buy this one and you will treasure it always. It is guaranteed to cause your copy of the 1995 version to gather dust in the video cabinet from this point on!
Sadly, this version is now out of production. I feel that we, the Jane -Austen -period -drama -loving audiences are really getting the short straw now by not being able to own this one anymore.
on 12 July 2005
This 1979 BBC production of "Pride and Prejudice," based on a classic novel by Jane Austen, about the morals, mores, marriages and the class system in Georgian England, is superb! The casting is perfect, with one exception. Although David Rintoul delivers a good performance as the proud Fitzwilliam Darcy, I am one of those Colin Firth fans who can imagine no other in the role. Please don't hold it against me. I admit to my own prejudice! Directed by Cyril Coke (known for his other Masterpiece Theater work including "Upstairs, Downstairs"), the script was written by novelist Fay Weldon, who perfectly translates the novel's witty dialogue to the screen. This adaptation includes some original scenes, as does the A&E version. Here, Lizzy converses with her Aunt Gardiner on the subject of Mr. Wickham. She admits there's a possibility he is a scoundrel and promises not to be taken in by him. There's also the scene concerning Mr. Collin's "Aquatic Life Hat". And Malcolm Rennie's portrayal of Mr. Collins is terrific. It is obvious that this version of "Pride and Prejudice" had a more limited budget than did the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. While the latter film is set in England's luxurious estates and country homes, this one uses television settings. Shown in the US on Masterpiece Theater in 1980, the movie was released in DVD format in an uninterrupted 225 minute 2 disc set, which has been digitally remastered.
The film clearly reflects Ms. Austin's theories on the importance of marriage for women of the period. Most women were not educated, except for the social graces; acquiring, at least, some proficiency in music, needlework and "acceptable" literature, and learning skills essential to running a household. Considerable pressure was placed on women to marry well, to obtain financial security and social position, not just for themselves, but also for their immediate family. Love matches were rare.
The film opens in a small community in Hertfordshire, England. Word is out that the empty Netherfield estate has been leased to a new occupant - a wealthy bachelor. Mothers and daughters suddenly upset their daily routine, and shatter the local tranquility - buying dress material, sewing, embroidering, planning and fantasizing about balls and marriage, and, of course, gossiping. Nowhere is there more excitement than at the Bennett home, where five very marriageable daughters anticipate news of their neighbor. The Bennett's have a particular reason for wishing their girls settled. The Bennett estate, Longbourn, is entailed. It can only be inherited by a male successor. Since the Bennett's have no son, their entire estate will go to Mr. Bennett's cousin. The girls must be married well and settled, so they will have a secure home when their father dies. If their mother should outlive her spouse, they will have to provide for her also. Marriage is a serious business in this period.
There is a ball in honor of John Bingley, (Osmond Bullock), the new resident at Netherfield, and for the friends who accompany him. Bingley is very taken with Jane Bennett, (Sabina Franklyn), the eldest daughter, and a lovely young woman with a sweet disposition. The feelings are reciprocated and the two form an attachment. It is at this ball that Elizabeth Bennett (Ms. Garvie), the family's second daughter, meets Bingley's friend, the aristocratic Fitzwilliam Darcy, (Rintoul). Darcy, is much wealthier than Bingley. He is a handsome, intelligent man, and the Lord of Pemberly, a large, sumptuous estate in Derbyshire. Darcy, however, is the epitome of haughtiness when he arrives on the scene and looks down his nose at the local gentry. Elizabeth Bennett, is quite different from most young women of the Regency Period. She has a strong intellect and her father had encouraged her to become literate, and to enjoy fine books and literary conversation. She is bright, spirited, with a sharp wit, more independent than her sisters, and very pretty. Darcy is attracted to her immediately, but snubs her unknowingly. She responds in kind, thinking him to be boorish and far too proud. Thus she is prejudiced against him from their first meeting.
Elizabeth and Darcy's strong mutual attraction, and the conflict between them, which prevents them from forming a potentially rich relationship, provide an interesting tension throughout the film. Darcy's proud arrogance in his social class and position, and Elizabeth's prejudice against such haughtiness, seem to inhibit all promise of romance.
Ms. Austin's delightful characters, are brilliantly cast here, including: George Wickham, (Peter Settelen), a handsome military officer who further prejudices Elizabeth against Darcy with tales from their mutual past; William Collins, (Rennie), a pompous clergyman, cousin to the Bennetts, and probable heir to the family holdings; Charlotte Lucas, (Irene RIchard), a young neighbor and dear friend to Elizabeth and Jane; and Lady Catherine De Bourgh, (A superb Judy Parfitt), the quintessential aristocrat. Elizabeth Garvie is a superb Lizzy Bennett. She sparkles with wit and intelligence, and is just beautiful enough to be believable. As I mentioned above, David Rintoul is a believable Darcy, but my personal preference is clear.
The settings and costumes are accurate to the period. The dialogue is faithful to the novel. Watching the film, it is almost impossible not to feel transported back in time, and become very involved with the loves, foibles, problems, and adventures of the wonderful Austin characters, brought so realistically to life, in this amazing production.
Unlike other reviewers, I think both A&E and BBC productions are excellent and find many aspects that I like in both. I own both DVDs and watch them frequently. I'm a fan!! A 5 Star BRAVO!