In honor of the release of the 2005 version of “Pride & Prejudice,” I am posting an email I sent to Jana prior to seeing the movie. After having seen the movie, I can say with confidence that my defense of the film was accurate. I don’t think they will ever make a version of “Pride & Prejudice” that is as wonderful as the BBC/A&E version. However, the 2005 version with Keira Knightley is a beautiful interpretation of the novel! I loved it and plan to purchase it this week.
As for the new P&P, here’s my theory: Yes, I’ve heard bad reviews. Yes, I realize that without the presence of Colin Firth that the movie will seriously lack in substance. However, my loyalty to all things Austen tells me that I must give it a chance. I watched the ridiculous LDS version of P&P, where they decided that Mr. Collins was certainly in love with Mary and vice versa, therefore concluding that they were to be together. And where they furthermore wrote Mr. Bingley as the most moronic character I’ve ever seen. They didn’t just make him a little naive, but instead decided that he was a complete idiot and proceeded to characterize him as such. I plan to at least read the back cover of the Bollywood disaster “Bride & Prejudice.” I watched “Clueless” before I knew it was based on Emma. And I still find that it has merit, especially since they had the amazing foresight to rename it, so that it could truly be based on the book and therefore give them license to change some of the storylines. Unlike the LDS P&P creators, who had the unmitigated gall to use the name Pride & Prejudice, yet still chose to tamper with the purity of the storyline. Anyway, all of that to say this: (1) Keira Knightley cannot possibly be as terrible of an interpretation of Elizabeth Bennet as that awful LDS actress; (2) I have come to terms with the fact that Colin Firth is not in this movie, and furthermore has declared that he is bored with playing Darcy-like characters. This being as it is, he will probably never reprise the role of Fitzwilliam (or Mark, depending on whether you’re talking Austen or Fielding) Darcy (unless, by some miracle, Helen Fielding decides to create a third installment of Bridget Jones.) (In my previous ranting, I failed to mention my adoration for the Bridget Jones series, based of course on P&P.); (3) I have seen several previews. Yes, I know previews are misleading. However, I feel the director and screenwriter have taken a different approach. It seems to be a darker, almost gothic, version of the story. Something that Miss Austen might have appreciated; (4) I think critics are idiots and very rarely know what they are talking about; (5) I plan to go into the film with the attitude that Jane Austen did not write the screenplay for this film, therefore any inconsistencies must be understood to be the screenwriter’s or possibly even the director’s fault. This last theory is something that all Tolkien fans can relate to, especially if they had read the LOTR Trilogy before the movies came out (like yourself.) I know there were things that the director changed, some for the better (like the enhanced role of Legolas, in my opinion.); (6) the A&E/BBC version of P&P was wonderful because it followed the script almost exactly, it held to the purity of Austen. Still, like all things pure it was five hours long. Not that I mind spending five hours with Darcy. However, there are so many times I want to watch P&P, yet don’t feel I have the time to devote to it. I’m so anxious for a version to come along that is only two hours or so (and a version, I might add, that doesn’t have the language of Bridget Jones), and therefore can be watched in a typical evening, after work. I’m truly hoping this version will be satisfactory enough to fulfill such a desire; (7) the movie is basically set in the correct time in history, with the right dress, the right accents (British, of course), the right locale (England, of course) and for the most part, the right actors (don’t forget that Lady Catherine DeBourgh is being played by Judi Dench, giving it even more merit, in my opinion.) It has been awhile since someone has made a P&P version that wasn’t set in a time period or place that had nothing to do with Jane Austen (i.e. Bridget Jones in modern London, LDS P&P in modern Utah, Bollywood P&P in India!); (8) I do realize that the comment was that the movie was “un-Austen like,” so I must go back to point number 5, Jane Austen did not write the screenplay for this movie! Furthermore, Austen was more diverse than most people realize. Her stories are not as predictable as they seem to be, when you study her writing style. Nor are her stories all exactly the same, like so many authors. Although one may be able to predict who will fall in love with whom, it is difficult to predict when, and how, and why, and what else may be going on during the process. Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into all of that, but I did. I guess we’ll just have to see for ourselves.