Monday, January 30, 2006

Pride & Prejudice--The Video

On the March Hare Scale: 5 out of 5 Golden Tickets (with bonus points for Colin Firth)

There are several versions of Pride & Prejudice on video. This version is the A&E/BBC version, which ran as a miniseries in 1995. It's six hours long. And it's incredibly faithful to the book. If you're interested in my comments on the storyline, read Pride & Prejudice--The Novel.

I borrowed it from our local public library--all six tapes--and DD#1 and I watched all six hours on Saturday. I didn't plan on it, but once started I was hooked. She thought it was okay, even though the tapes were not in the correct box and we started with Tape 2 instead of Tape 1. But, since we watched Tape 1 next, she figured out what was going on.

There is more than just getting all the words right in filming a book, especially a book as well-known and as well-loved as P&P. The entire tone of the film--the settings, the actors, the costumes, the set pieces--have to be just right. The words have to sound like conversations that could actually happen. The emphasises, the silences, the inflections and the intonations have to be precises, especially since this is a "talking" movie rather than an "action" movie.

Colin Firth is a perfect Mr. Darcy. Jennifer Ehle was not quite as I imagined Elizabeth to be, nor was Susannah Harker as Jane. (Jane is reputed to be a great beauty and I thought Miss Harker to be a little plain.) Alison Steadman was a terrific Mrs. Bennet--after watching her, I understood just how foolish a woman she is/was. Benjamin Whitrow also did an excellent job as Mr. Bennet, illustrating how he played his wife and just sort of stood back and watched the chaos.

Much has been made of Colin Firth's wet-shirt scene, especially in Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason and in earlier reviews of this summer's remake of P&P with Keira Knightley. Let's just say I prefered the bath scene earlier in the movie, although, looking back, the wet-shirt scene had some terrific non-verbal acting by Mr. Firth.

My one caveat is the adaptation is so faithful to the book that I'm afraid that if you watched it, you would feel like you've read the book, so what's the point? On the other hand, it does give you an idea of what life in the early-19th Century looked like.

DS#2 came home from a Boy Scout snow camping trip on Sunday and asked me why I had checked out six tapes of the same movie. He was incredulous that anyone would make a six-hour movie and that anyone would sit through it! (He's never been through Star Wars marathons, either...)