03 October 2009

Pride & Prejudice Goes to the Movies

Pride & Prejudice, one of my favorite books, has made it to the big and small screens several times. Some renditions were great and some were pretty bad. Here's a quick rundown of the versions I've seen.

Let's start with the 1940 version. Here's the best I can say about it: It stars Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, and Aldous Huxley was one of the writers. Here's the trailer for that movie:

Note the archery scene and especially their clothing. Hoop skirts?? It's my understanding that they used the costumes from Gone with the Wind.

Next is the 1980 BBC miniseries starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. This version at least got the costumes right and the general plot was accurate. I don't remember being enthralled with it though. I can't find a good trailer, so I'm not posting one.

Then there is my all-time favorite and the most accurate version (except for the fabulous Colin Firth wet shirt scene, that is). I recently got the whole series in the BlueRay reissue. Oh my! Wonderful on the big(ish) TV screen. Sigh.

Well, which scene did you think I was going to show? Duh! I really love the PBS series, and not just because of Colin Firth. I think it follows the book fairly well and the acting is great. I love Bingley's brother-in-law in this series -- a character that is always missing from the other versions.

And finally there is the the 2005 big-screen movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I think it was beautifully filmed and caught all the important parts of the novel, even if it took some liberties. I'm not sure Donald Sutherland was at his best though.

I particularly like the soundtrack from the movie.

Now here is my big question, and I mean no offense to the actresses, but why is that that Jane, who is supposed to be the beauty of the family, is never played by an actress whom I consider to be truly beautiful? I guess it's because they don't want to distract the viewer from Elizabeth, but that has always bothered me.

Which is your favorite P&P film?


Stephanie Cowell 10/3/09, 10:23 AM  

They always give the greatest beauty to the main heroine of a novel when they film it! I adore P&P! It really influenced my last novel ("Marrying Mozart")

Stephanie Cowell

Julie P. 10/3/09, 10:37 AM  

I am planning on reading Pride and Prejudice again very soon. I just downloaded it for my new Kindle!

Pabast 10/3/09, 10:45 AM  

I have not seen the first two, but I think it would be fun to see the 1940s version.

I fell in love with P&P after watching the Colin Firth Version. I was drawn into the romance and the family drama.

The scene you chose was perfect. Not only did we get to see Colin Firth in a wet shirt, but also the awkardness of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth seeing each other after his declaration and trying to maintain social protocol.

The movie version did not appeal to me. I did love Mr. Collins and Dame Judy Dench as Mr Darcy's Aunt. I think she played the character better. Will I watch this one again most likely not, but I will watch Colin Firth's version over an over again. LOVE IT!!!!!

Michele at Reader's Respite 10/3/09, 10:54 AM  

Oh my, it is difficult to chose. What amazed me is that after reading your post, I realized I've seen every one of these versions. I must really love this story (!).

That said, anything by the BBC is usually superior. And I've got to say that I cannot STAND Keira Knightly (we call her ol' Bobble-head around here and joke about how nice it must be not to have to wear a bra). But, but, but, for some reason Matthew McFadyen was the quintessential Darcy for me. I even put up with ol' Bobble-head just to see him capture that role to beautifully.

And I agree re: Jane. It's always disconcerting to see Lizzy on screen talking about how beautiful Jane is, and yet physical evidence in front of us contradicts that. Weird filmmaker stuff I don't understand.

bermudaonion 10/3/09, 11:10 AM  

Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy!

Alexa 10/3/09, 11:13 AM  

The Colin Firth one with out a doubt! Not just for CF but because I think Julia Swalalha is amazing as Lydia and Alison Steadman is beyond wonderful as Mrs Bennet! And Jennifer Ehle is the best Lizzie.

Amy 10/3/09, 11:52 AM  

I always wondered the same thing about Jane! I did like the movie version but I always picture Mr. Darcy as Colin Firth.

Sandy Nawrot 10/3/09, 12:49 PM  

Maybe I can't really claim to be a true lover of P&P since I have ONLY seen the Colin Firth version (based on alot of advice from some of you!). But good Lord, be still my heart in that wet shirt scene. I got goosebumps when I saw it on your post. I would have to agree with Michele, I'm not a big fan of the bobblehead either. I just want to sit on her, hold her down and shove some fried Mac and Cheese in her mouth.

Kate T 10/3/09, 12:51 PM  

For me Matthew McFadyen will always be Mr. Darcy, and I do think Rosamund Pike as Jane in the 2005 version is much prettier than Keira Knightley's Elizabeth. Of course to me it always looks like Knightley's teeth are thisclose to busting out through her lips, but that could just be my imagination.

Deborah 10/3/09, 12:55 PM  

This is a dangerous question lol. i'm not a fan of the 1940's version. it's rushed and the costumes are just....OMG. the A&E version is scrumptious, very long and detailed. the 2005 version is absolutely beautiful with wonderful music. personally (no tomatoes please!) i prefer Matthew McFayden over Colin Firth but that's b/c i love the brooding Darcy. but i love watching both so...

i think Rosamunde Pike in the 2005 version is beautiful and the best Jane. At least she is the prettiest Jane out of all the actresses and you can understand why Bingley fell in love with her immediately.

Dorte H 10/3/09, 3:16 PM  

I have only seen the one with Colin Firth so ...
It seems to be the one Danish Austen lovers go for. I do agree though, that Jane does not look particularly attractive.

Book Psmith 10/3/09, 3:31 PM  

I have only watched the Colin Firth adaptation and that was because he was in it:) I think one version is enough for me unless there are enough actors in it to entice me. I couldn't watch the 2005 version because as much as I like Dench, Knightley annoys me (which doesn't seem very nice since I get the sense she is a perfectly decent person).

Belle 10/3/09, 4:54 PM  

I haven't watched ANY version of P&P yet - can you believe it? A couple of weeks ago, I did borrow a copy of the BBC production from the library but couldn't get to it before the week was up and couldn't renew it because (of course) someone else had requested it. I should request it again!

farmlanebooks 10/3/09, 4:59 PM  

I'm feeling bad - I've never read the book, or seen any of the films. I really need to do something about that!

Meghan 10/3/09, 5:48 PM  

I love the BBC version. I could happily watch it over and over again and probably wouldn't mind if none of the other versions existed! It is the closest to the book and IMO has the best acting, plus there is very little better than six hours of Jane Austen!

I have also wondered why they never pick a truly gorgeous actress to play Jane. I think I agree with you, it's because they want Elizabeth to stand out, but even so.

Alexia561 10/3/09, 8:18 PM  

I love this book, but have to admit that I've never watched any of the adaptations. Tend to be wary of movie versions of favorite books as I don't see how they could possibly live up to the book. A friend did give me a DVD, but I'm not sure which version. Maybe I'll have to watch it after all... :)

Margot at Joyfully Retired 10/3/09, 9:01 PM  

That was nice to see all the versions. There were a couple I haven't seen. As the the actresses who play Jane - I agree with you. I've been disappointed in the ones I've seen. It must be an ego thing.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 10/3/09, 10:20 PM  

I need to be pushed to re-read P&P and take in some of these movies. It hasn't yet clicked for me the way so many people are Austen devotees ... (yes, I feel like I'm missing out on something!)

Carrie K. 10/3/09, 11:22 PM  

I've seen the last two you mentioned. I liked the Keira Knightley version okay - until I read the book and then saw the Colin Firth edition. That is now my favorite. :)

hmsgofita 10/3/09, 11:26 PM  

My all-time favorite is definitely the 2005 version! I just love it and then the Colin Firth version which is also heavenly! Great post!

stacybuckeye 10/4/09, 12:32 AM  

I know what you mean about Jane. For me, the 2005 version was close, but I've only seen that and the BBC mini-series.

Stephanie 10/4/09, 2:34 AM  

I think Rosamund Pike (in 2005) is very pretty and depending on your tastes could be considered better looking than Keira.
I tend to like whichever version I've seen most recently which is the 1940 version; it was on TV not too long ago and I was able to watch it twice. Of course Olivier and Garson are two of my favorite actors so the liberties the screenplay took didn't bother me as much.

Bernadette in Australia 10/4/09, 3:40 AM  

I'm definitely in the Colin Firth camp. In fact now that I too have upgraded to a fancy new large-ish tv it might be time to scour the DVD stores for my very own copy of the series. Excellent idea Beth :)

Alice Teh 10/4/09, 4:21 AM  

The 1940 one is interesting!

Michelle 10/4/09, 5:01 PM  

I've never seen the 1940's version so I can rule that one out right out of the gate. I do love the A&E version with Colin Firth but I have to go with the Kiera version for a couple of reasons. One because, like you, I love the soundtrack and I think the movie has beautiful cinematography. Second, I love Matthew Macfadyen from his A&E MI-5 days don't know why but he just tickles my fancy.

All in all, though, I have to say I wouldn't change the channel on either version. I watch them both every time their on.

Bea 10/4/09, 7:47 PM  

I *adore* the 1940 version. Plus, it has the prettiest Jane.

My main issue with Rosamund Pike is that she's so beautiful, yet her hair on P&P is really unflattering ("her hair, Louisa!").

Just Mom 10/4/09, 9:13 PM  

I've only seen the A&E mini-series so far so that will have to be my favorite! I do have the newer one sitting on my nightstand waiting to be watched as part of the Everything Austen challenge.

Serena 10/5/09, 10:12 AM  

I think I'm in the minority when I say I adore the 2005 version most. I covet my DVD and watch it regularly in spite of the liberties. I also think the Jane they selected is the most beautiful of all the movie versions I've seen.

violetcrush 10/6/09, 6:18 AM  

Thanks for the info, P&P is one of my fav books too. I love the movie with Keira Knightly in it.

I think the female who played Jane in the Keira Knightly version was prettier but then again she lacked the spark.

Have you seen the Indian movie version called Bride and Prejudice. It's quite very entertaining and it is in English :)

Shannon 10/6/09, 11:29 AM  

I felt the same way about the actress who played Jane in the BBC/Colin firth version... I literally laughed when I saw her, and thought "um... she's supposed to be the most beautiful sister!" (no offense to the actress, like you said!)

But I do think Rosamund Pike from the 2005 movie is just gorgeoous! And I thought she portrayed Jane very well.

I've only seen the BBC and 2005 movie versions... by far, the movie is my favorite. I had too many issues with the BBC version. It may be more true to the book, but I still prefer the movie!

heidenkind 10/8/09, 8:55 PM  

The BBC miniseries is definitely my favorite. I liked the Kiera Knightly version when I first saw, but now for some reason I can't stand it.

Rebecca :) 10/9/09, 5:59 PM  

I like Colin Firth the best as Mr. Darcy but I like Kiera Knightly for Elizabeth. Put them together and it would be a fantastic movie. :)

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