Watching the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice is a bit like watching the Twilight version of Jane Austen. If you’ve ever wondered how bad it was possible to make a movie I recommend watching 1) Twilight movies 2) The Harry Potter movies 3) The 2005 Pride and Prejudice.
This movie has apparently been directed by one Joe Wright, a man who was either very optimistic or very opportunistic. An hour and 10 minutes now into this movie and I think perhaps he was both. When I had first watched this ridiculous movie I really did appreciate the interesting take on the Bennets’ home. It was more wealthy farm house than country house. But both then and now what I couldn’t stand was the dullness of the casting and the direction and the incredible wrongness of everything. How am I an expert on early 19th century mannerisms in Britain? Good question, but at least I read the book. Many, many times over the past (jeez) 20 years. I think Joe Wright could have at least looked through it himself, and then if he was going to get the dialogue changed because the original did not sparkle enough, he could have got some kind of language and protocol expert to tell him what could be said by whom and how. I really don’t think that the first thing Elizabeth Bennet would have said to Mr.Darcy during a formal introductory visit would have been, “What are you doing here?”. Like she ran in to him at the mall.
Anachronistic conversations aside you also have to endure Elizabeth Bennet running hither and thither all over the landscape, occasionally through the rain, when to add to the excitement Mr. Darcy follows her and proposes to her before we (or she) have had time to recover from her whispered conversation in church. In the book she was playful but never undignified, and whispering in church was probably right up there with talking about boys when the waiter was still serving you at the inn in the year 1813. Colonel Fitzwilliam had just her told it was indeed Mr.Darcy who drove away Jane’s lover. Elizabeth is horrified and runs out into the rain. We don’t know what prompted Darcy to follow her, maybe he was just …out for a walk and his feelings overcame him. Very unlike book Darcy who knows there is a time and a place for everything. He proposed in a living room, set aside time to do it, and was rejected, eventually got over it, and it is true he did propose on a walk the second time, but the weather was clement.
Sigh. The BBC series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is available on Youtube. You can watch it anytime. You can even buy it and expunge the memory of all the untidy hairstyles (limp bangs abound), lack of punchy dialogue,wide open startled eyes (cliche) and the absence of Colin Firth.