Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pride and Prejudice 1995 vs 2005 (vs 1980 vs 1940)


So, which is your favourite version of Pride and Prejudice? As this is my blog, I get to fire the first salvo here and I say that  my fave is 1995 Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, but only just. This miniseries kept me sane when I was the working mother of a toddler and a preschooler so this will be hard to beat as number one for me. It also introduced me to Jane Austen as I am ashamed to say I had not read any of her books before 1995.

I have a theory that the first version of P&P you see is likely to be your fave. Not always, but there is usually a soft spot in your heart for your very first Mr. Darcy and Lizzy.

My other theory is that every 10 or 15 years, there will be another version out, so each generation can have their own Mr. Darcy. And I think that there can never be too many Austen adaptations out there. If they are really trying to do it right, (not modern or time travel or different cultures) I think we can welcome another version in a few years. What do you all think?

Now, I will weigh in on what I like about each version. I will try to keep it positive and not nitpick the details too much.

Shall I start with the most recent first? I have to say that there is an advantage to the length of a feature film. When I want a little dose of P&P, this is the version I usually reach for. A miniseries is a time commitment which I used to find easier than I do now. This is my bite-sized version. I also love the "muddy hems" and more realistic late 18th century settings and costumes. Gorgeously filmed and the music is lovely.


I think the leads were well cast. Lizzy is the proper age and Keira Knightley is a wonderful actress who loves the book and threw her heart into it. Matthew Macfadyen is a great Darcy. He puts a bit more shyness and awkwardness into the role which is a great take on the Darcy character.


I adore Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet. She brings a realistic and loving touch without losing the comedy. Well done. I think Tom Hollander is brilliant as Mr. Collins with his exemplary vegetables and his amazing facial expressions. Claudie Blakely also deserves kudos for her Charlotte Lucas. We truly feel her fear of being "left on the shelf".

The only thing that really bugs me about this version is the way the first proposal (in the rain in this version) is so rushed. I know they were trying to make it as though it was rehearsed and rushed but it just comes off kind of crazy. OK, that and the fact that Donald Sutherland's teeth are too white. Sorry fans!


I do admittedly adore Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy in the 1995 version. He is verrrrry sexy and perhaps the fact that he was having a wee fling with Jennifer Ehle during filming adds a little spark to the chemistry. And Jennifer Ehle's little smirk and all of her eyebrow raising is very effective to make you really love her as Lizzy.


It is also truly gorgeous in it's locations and costumes and the fact that it is so true to the book. The length is a plus unless you only have two hours to spend with the Bennet family.


I love Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet. When he kisses Lizzy on the head and gives his blessing to the marriage, well I just want him for my father. And could you want any more in Lady Catherine de Bourgh than we get from Barbara Leigh-Hunt? The scene with Lizzy and Lady Catherine in the garden is perfection!



My only knock against this version is the shrill tone to Alison Steadman's voice as Mrs. Bennet. Although I love her portrayal otherwise the thought of her voice has actually prevented me from popping this in on occasion (usually when I have a migraine).



I remember many years ago, raving about Colin Firth to an older co-worker and she said that David Rintoul was a far superior Mr. Darcy. So you see where I started my theory about each generation having their own version. Elizabeth Garvie is a wonderful Elizabeth and I think it's a shame we haven't seen her in more films over the years, although she was great in The House of Eliott too.


This is a wonderful adaptation, only really suffering from being recorded on video tape instead of film, and the basically low production values of the late 1970s and early 1980s.



The scene which really stands out in my mind is when Darcy finds her walking in the park at Rosings and hands her the letter, the way the camera follows him as he walks away is truly effective. Off he goes into the future without her...


The 1940 version with Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy and Greer Garson as Elizabeth is really much better than it could have been considering what Hollywood was doing at the time. They brought in talented screenwriter Jane Murfin along with Aldous Huxley (yes, the Brave New World one) and other than the hoop skirts and the abominable change in Lady Catherine in the last scenes, they got a lot of Jane Austen in there.


I love the comedy in this version. It is just a very fun, light Pride and Prejudice. And again, think of all of the people who picked up Jane Austen's novels in the 1940s because of this adaptation. What a blessing in the midst of WWII to have this film and a renewed interest in Jane Austen.


And Laurence Olivier is really not a bad Mr. Darcy (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more). I wish we could see Greer Garson's red hair in this, though I don't wish to see a colorized version. I'll take it in black and white.

OK, now I am going to hold my breath and post this. Please feel free to give your opinions in the comment section below. There are no right or wrongs on this topic. Everyone's opinion is valid and truly welcome. I want to know when you think we will get the next version now too. We are almost due...

P.S. To see my other Austen Adaptation Smackdown, Sense and Sensibility- 1995 vs 2008  

99 comments:

  1. I must confess that I have never seen the earlier BBC miniseries or the 1940s B&W version of P&P. But I am rather partial to the 1995 version. I definitely prefer it to the 2005 version for keeping to the storyline. However, the 2005 version is good for those times when you really just want a "shot" of P&P. And Macfadyen’s awkwardness was rather heartwarming compared to Firth’s seeming standoffishness. Additionally the cinematography and music in the 2005 version really is gorgeous. But overall there is just too much left out for it to win my heart away from the Jennifer/Colin duo.

    You have an interesting theory about loving the first version of P&P that you see. Makes me wonder if it's the same with other literary/Austen adaptations. I just recently watched the 2009 Emma miniseries with Johnny Lee Miller and Romola Garai. Although the Gwyneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam (1996) version was my first Emma adaptation, I think I much prefer the Johnny/Romola version. The 2009 miniseries includes more about the Jane/Frank/Emma dynamic; it presents a more complicated social situation and critique. I also thought it did a great job of taking seriously the arguments between Emma and Knightly – they are allowed to really fight and really make up, not just sweep it under the rug or laugh it off. I think that captures a much richer, deeper picture of love.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I may not always comment, but I always enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. Hi Alayna! Thanks for the lovely comment. I totally agree with you about the versions of Emma. I too saw the Paltrow/Northam version first but I WAY prefer JLM and Romola. No contest. And yet, all 3 versions (even the BBC Kate Beckinsale one) have lots of good points. I think I will end up doing comparisons of all of the Austen adaptations this winter. :)

      Cheers!

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    2. Gywneth Paltrow makes any version worst w simply her presence since she is quite high on herself and it simply seeps through the film medium leaving a bad taste in your mouth......quite the opposite effect that a Jane Austen heroine is supposed to have lol~

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  2. Yes, of course I have to comment on this .
    Jane Austen is all about characters. She can sum up a character in one beautiful paragraph to the point where you know exactly the kind of person he or she is; thus the need for a 6 hour experience. We need the dialogue! The 2005 version was a beautiful experience with the music and scenery but like many movies of our time, fills in important moments and conversation with fluff.
    I wish I could meld these two movies together, picking and choosing who to keep and banish from the cast. Of course, the final movie would be the same length as the mini-series. Here we go:
    Mr. Bennet: 1995 I couldn’t stand Sutherland and kept wishing he’d just take the dentures out and stop talking like a stroke victim, just horrible. In the 1995 version, you can see where Elizabeth got some of her sense of humor and love of the ridiculous.
    Mrs. Bennet: 2005 but with more accuracy to her character, her voice is much more bearable. She really was an a pitiful person and the 1995 version portrayed her more accurately, but it’s hard to see the beauty that attracted Mr. Bennett long ago.
    Lydia: 2005, perfect!
    Kitty: 1995
    Mary: either
    Jane: 2005 Beautiful. But, I do miss the sweetness of Jane portrayed in the 1995.
    Elizabeth: 1995 I sometimes liked Kiera and sometimes her lines felt awkward. I didn’t get the impression while reading the book that she was such a rag-a-muffin. At her age, her hair would have still been kept up even if it did end up in a ratty bun. I liked the costumes in both but I really wish they would have given Kiera a chest as she’s always reminded me of a teenage boy. Jennifer Ehle really showed the intelligence and wit that we love about Elizabeth; her understanding of human folly but also her own blindness because of her wounded pride. Maybe had Kiera been given a bit longer of a movie to play in, we might have seen more of this from her. I can go on…
    Mr. Darcy: Let me write that again, “Mr. Darcy!” Colin Firth, but also Mr. 2005. I could do both but Mr. 2005 would need to be tried in a 1995 manner. Oh, I could take either but I am still soooo curious how Mr. 2005 would do in the long version. Sexy, both. I love that style of clothing and the perfectly fit coats, pants and black boots.
    Charlotte: for appearance, either one. You definitely do feel the pain and worry of being left “on the shelf” with the 2005 version.
    Mr. Collins: 2005!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love, love, love that actor! Perfection!
    Lady Catherine: 1995. I too saw that 1940s version and almost gagged with that scene that you mentioned.
    Mr. Wickham: 2005, he’s beautiful, pretty even.
    Mr. Bingly: 1995, just adorable! He was not an idiot as the 2005 version portrays him to be. 2005 guy is cute though.
    As you know, I have an infinite amount of words that I could share on this subject but I will hold back. You can call me if you want more on my opinions .

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    1. Hi Becky, awesome comment! I am so glad that I am not the only one with such definite opinions on this topic. So what do you think of our chances of getting another version in 2015? Another miniseries from the BEEB perhaps?

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    2. Keira knightley can not act, i have seen her in action in other roles, she always over acts or tries too hard; in every role i have observed her in she tries too hard, and i can always tell that shes over acting, she ruined P&P 2005; i can not. stand 2005 P&P, the quality was not. there, 1995 was seriously the greatest. And it didnt help that Keira's hair was. always a mess so shabby. It is shameful. the way the story line was. changed, there was no Pride just Shame to do such poor rewriting of a great story. P&P 1995 Rules.

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  3. I agree that Alison Steadman's Mrs. Bennet is the only knock on the 1995 version--it is hands-down, my favorite.

    I did watch my VHS tape of the earlier BBC version until I knew every word and gesture and scene by heart. That tape got me through two pregnancies and 11 weeks of bedrest on the second. There's a lot to love in that version, and I think Fay Weldon is a talented screenwriter. If only we could see her version of Sanditon!

    I also like the WWII era movie--it is fun, and sparkling, and if they hadn't ruined the Lady Catherine character it would have more of a following, despite the hoop skirts!

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    1. Hi Jane! Another vote for the 1995 version! I guess my theory about your first P&P being your fave is being knocked down if the 1980 version was your first. Glad to hear it got you through a rough time in your life. Better than meds, right?
      You sent me scurrying to look up what else Fay Weldon has done. I must check out some of her novels too!

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  4. 1940 and 1995 are my favorites, but I think I HAVE to watch all of them again just to check.

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    1. Oooooh, great idea. I haven't been sick this winter but if I do come down with something (cough!) I will be prepared!

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  5. I notice that you didn't mention Donald Sutherland and he was/is my major objection to the 2005 version. His father was all wrong and I believe the father is the centerpiece of the story. How the five girls react and respond to men is based on how they are treated by their father. So Sutherland's cuddly daddy just didn't work for me. Although MacFadyen for me was no Darcy, I base my objection to him on the fact that as I was leaving the theatre my grandson asked who the actor was and I had no idea - he was so unmemorable. Keira Knightly seemed forced to me.

    The first time theory didn't work for me. I saw the 1940 version a few months after reading the book the first time and was horrified. I've seen every version after that waiting for a good one. Olivier and Garson were much too old and changing the story always bugs me.

    You did miss one from 1968, also on tape. The biggest problem I have with the 1980 version is that they tried to stay too close to the book the screen writer forgot that he was dealing with a visual medium.

    I've always seen the 1995 mini-series as something of a symphony. Simon Langton and Sue Britwistle conducted. They had Andrew Davies script which was true to the spirit of the book but Davies remembered that television is a visual medium. The cast and crew were the orchestra.

    For me Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were the perfect Lizzy and Darcy. And I can say that other generations can appreciate it without a new version (although I know there will be more to come). My grandson who saw the 2005 one with me told me the other day that he wants to see Pride and Prejudice I assumed and asked if he meant the 2005 (as I don't own that one) and he said no he wanted to watch the one he remembered from when he was a 'kid' (he's 18 now) and watched with me (it was the 1995 one). I reminded him that it was five hours long and he said 'yeah but it's way better'. Nice to know he has such good taste and is willing to take the time to enjoy it.

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    1. Hello Sally! Your grandson has impeccable taste. Someday the woman in his life will thank you for influencing him in such a positive manner. At least I am hoping that is the case for me too, as my 21 and 18 year old sons have watched a lot of Jane Austen adaptations. I may have overdone the Colin Firth when they were young however! ;)

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  6. The 1995 adaptation is my favourite! I watched P&P'95 in 1997 which was the second time it was aired on TV in England & I was recovering from an operation and spent 6 weeks in pot so P&P was a nice distraction although I didn't fully understand the story at eight, I loved the clothes. I remember watching the proposal scene and thinking, 'Lizzy is very cross.' Colin Firth is the BEST Darcy ever. P&P'95 is the first period drama I saw and I haven't looked back since. xx

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    1. Hi Kate. So great that you were able to recover with such a lovely distraction. I'll bet you grew into the story and understood it more each time you watched it. Even adults get more out of the story when either reading or watching it repeatedly. There is just so much great material that Jane Austen put in there!
      I wonder if Colin Firth will ever be replaced as the definitive Darcy. Not yet I think!

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    2. Hi Jenny,
      I don't think Colin Firth will ever be replaced as the definitive Darcy! CF is brilliant. Every time I watch Pride and Prejudice 95 it brings back some lovely memories and I have seen it so many times with my mum that we both know it off by heart! P and P is one of my favourite comfort DVDs as it always cheers me up.

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  7. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for the great post. And, I really enjoyed reading all the comments. I have been tring to figure out my self which version I like best. But I think I'm going to shatter your theory about liking the first version you saw best. My first exposure to Jane Austen was as a kid when I watched the Olivier/Garson version. I had no idea who Jane Austen was at the time. I enjoyed the movie. I remember liking the lively dialogue and humour. My next exposure to Austen was the 1995 Sense and Sensibility, which I adored. This time I wanted to find out all there was to find out about this 200 year old author who had so captivated my imagination. I then saw the beautiful Pride and Prejudice mini series and had a new favourite, and only then became aware that the Olivier version had been my first exposure to Austen.

    I have read all of Austens books a few times, and will read them again. When the 2005 P&P was released I went to see it more out of curiosity than anything, because, I thought, how can anyone improve on the1995 version, especially in a shorter feature lengh version. My initial response was lukewarm. I was comparing all the characters to the 1995 version.

    That didn't stop me from buying the DVD though. And I have since watched the 2005 version several times. My opinion has changed on several characters, except Donald Sutherland, with his glowing teeth. Reminds me of an episode of the show Friends. Those who watced it will know the one I mean.

    The 1995 version by far is a much more true adaptation. And like many have said above, it has always been my go to film when I have been under the weather. But, I am aware of the constraints placed on feature films and like the 1940's version, I see it as a Jane Ausen inspired film, not a true rendition. And seen in that light, I'm not sure which version I like best. I love Matthew Macfaddyn's Darcy. We are told in the book that he is shy, Matthew, gives a more complex Darcy performance. Especially when you consider that he has a lot less dialogue to flesh out the character. Kiera too does a good job, again we get the essence of Lizzie, with very little comparative dialogue. As much as I love Jennifer Ehle's Lizzie, she seems a little too foward for someone so young. I do prefer Julia Swalha's Lydia, because of her intensity. I like the 1995 Lady Catherine better, than my favourite Dame Judy, but this may simply be because she had such a small part in the 2005 version. Tom Hollander hands down is the better Mr. Collins.

    I guess my point is this. The 1995 version is pure satire, and if I'm in a flipant mood or need cheering up, it's the one I want. But, if I want a more realistic version with characters which feel like real people with a more serious tone, I like the 2005 version better. Another difference is that when I saw the 40's and 1995 version, I had no doubt that all would end well for the characters. They have that safe sort of feeling about them. I saw the 2005 version at the theatre with a friend who was having her first exposure to Austen. She was on the edge of her seat the whole time worried that the characters might not get to have a happy ending. I'm glad I had the opportunity to see that well known story for the first time through someone elses eyes.

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    1. Hi Olga. Great comment. We do love our Jane Austen adaptations, don't we? I wonder who will be brave enough to tackle the next Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Or will we finally get a really good version of Mansfield Park? Only time will tell!

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    2. The 2005 version is the least realistic with characterization

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    3. The 2005 version is the least realistic with characterization

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    4. The 2005 version is not realistic at all, at least if you are looking at Georgian Regency society. They all acted like 21st century people, so if people were looking for a modern adaptation, I guess they'd like it.

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  8. I first watched the 2005 version and loved it. It is beautifully shot and the music is just stunning! I do prefer the 1995 version though because it'smore faithful to the book and I adore Firth's Darcy.
    Like you, depending on how much time I have, I choose between these two adaptions.
    I haven't seen the older ones yet and I am a bit reluctant to do so.

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    1. Hello Carry. I think we all seem to like both of the most recent P&P versions for different reasons. I can recommend the 1940 version as long as you keep in mind the fact that it took a few liberties with the story. It is really a lot of fun.

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  9. I'm only familiar with the 1940 and 2005 versions. They both have their pluses and minuses. I thought Greer Garson did a nice enough job, but I had the same problem with her as Elizabeth as I had with Emma Thompson as Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, just too darn old for the part no matter how good an acting job they did.

    Sir Laurence may have been a great stage actor, but in front of a camera when he was younger (here and in Wuthering Heights) I found him to be somewhat wooden. Macfadyn's Darcy is far better than Olivier's.

    I love both versions and watch them frequently. This page has piqued my interest in the other versions and I will seek them out.

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    1. Hi Brian. I think we have probably convinced you now that if you haven't seen the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, you have a treat in store. Come back and tell us how you liked it!

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    2. I'm watching the 1980 version as I write this. I really dislike this Darcy. He has none of the redeeming qualities of Oliver's and Macfadyn's Darcy. I almost feel sorry for Elizabeth knowing she's going to wind up with him.

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    3. Well I've now watched all four. I like the 1995 version a lot. I watched it three times in the first two weeks that I owned it.

      Colin Firth is easily the best of the Darcys. I really disliked David Rintoul's Darcy. There was really nothing likeable about the guy. I couldn't imagine anybody watching that version hoping that Darcy and Elizabeth wind up together.

      I think the casting was superior in the 1995 version pretty much across the board. My only quarrel with the 1995 version was Jane. She was almost homely looking, not the beauty in the other versions and the book.

      My favorite thing about the 1995 version was that you could feel the sparks between Firth and Ehle from the moment they met. The other versions didn't give you that.

      I put the 2005 version at a distant second. I don't like the way they presented Bingley as a total goofball. And making the Bennetts out to paupers rather than the upper middle class family they were was pointless.

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    4. Hi Brian! So glad you liked the 1995 version that much. I feel vindicated in placing it first in my heart. Yes, there is definitely heat you can feel from Firth and Ehle, possibly because of their little fling. It certainly didn't hurt.

      You are not the only one to think that Jane wasn't as beautiful as you pictured her. I think she is such a sweetie that I am not a reliable person to assess her looks! Thanks for coming back and telling us what you thought.

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    5. `Jenny,
      Thanks so much for turning me on to the versions that I had never seen before. They are all good in their way. However thanks to you I discovered what I now believe to be the P&P gold standard, the 1995 version. I'm grateful.

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    6. Brian, Yes, you are in for a treat! The 1995 version is a masterpiece.The actors and actresses are perfectly cast. The settings, costumes and yes, music all come together to make five hours of wonderful film.
      I do not like the 2005 version. I can't believe that Kiera Knightly was chosen for Elizabeth! No, No, she is not our beloved Elizabeth.
      She may be a good enough actress but she is wrong for this part. I wish she didn't wrinkle her nose
      almost all the time she laughs.
      Am I alone in this?? Please let me know.

      Betty

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  10. I personally found the 2005 movie far too Disney-fied. Kiera Knightly annoys me greatly for no particular reason, so I should not begin on discussing that particular aspect of the movie or I will be ranting for an hour.
    It was exceptionally odd that the Bennets were portrayed as peasants. There were farm animals wandering at will about the house, which makes no sense whatsoever. Mr. Bennet is a gentleman, not a farmer.
    No one can touch Alicia Steadman as Mrs, Bennet. I am aware that many people find her voice irritating on occaision, but I was under the impression that her voice was supposed to be annoying. The 2005 Mrs. Bennet just seemed a tad tipsy.
    Macfayden showed far too much emotion. Darcy's signature is inscrutability. End of discussion.
    Jane Bennet, I will concede, was superior in the 2005 version because the 1995 Jane's beauty was not the type that I pictured Jane being as I read the book. The 2005 Jane displayed more of the sweetness and slight naivity that one would look for in Jane, and she did not perpetually sound as though she had a bad head cold.
    I think that all of us who have had the pleasure of reading the book can agree that Mr. Collins is an obseqious buffoon. The 2005 Collins showed none of that. I merely saw a slightly pathetic man who was heartlessly rejected by the harpy Kiera Knightley (I simply cannot associate her with Elizabeth Bennet in my mind). The 1995 Collins was properly obseqious and creepy.
    In conclusion, I infinitely prefer the 1995 miniseries to the 2205 movie.
    Unrelatedly, here is a hilarious educational video that is a parody of Pride and Prejudice: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/proseprideprej/prideprej_plotact.shtml

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    1. Hi Anonymous. Sorry for the delay but your wonderful take on the P&P versions temporarily escaped me. I actually do love Alison Steadman's Mrs. Bennet. I just have to make sure I don't have a headache when I watch it. And I agree about Mr. Collins. In the 1995 version I am always duly creeped out that Charlotte actually married him. That back room isn't nearly secluded enough!

      By the way, thanks for the hilarious link to the student guide to P&P. I just tweeted it and posted it to Facebook. Literally had me chuckling audibly!

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  11. Knightly and McFaden did a great job of convincing me that both realized they loved one another, despite all the barbs thrown. Their Netherfield dance, at the piano on Lady Catherine’s estate, and Darcy’s trainwreck of an initial proposal in the rain, conveyed this clearly. It was more the facial expressions and body language than dialog, which testifies to great acting. I smiled at the ease with which the spirited Lizzy cut the lordly Darcy down to size, and made him feel inadequate despite his superior wealth and breeding. She was no doubt the first female he ever met who was not falling all over him, and was his intellectual match. In the book, Darcy as much as admits to her, that he loved her spirit and that she brought out the more spontaneous side of his personality which was too long hidden. Is that not what we all want in a mate….someone who shores up our deficiencies?

    The libido of each for the other was on display, without the usual physical sex and language we have come to expect from today’s Hollywood R-rated product. Dancing aside, the closest they came to touching flesh was when Darcy extended his hand to help her into the carriage. The viewer knew he enjoyed it immensely and was no doubt aroused by it. When she accepts his second marriage proposal, this time delivered by him with more humility, there is no kissing, at least in the English version. The American in me wishes they kissed at the end, instead of leaving it to our imagination.

    The giddiness of Lizzy’s younger sisters was over the top and annoying. So was the blatant listening at the door by Mrs. Bennet and her daughters. Neither was believable for the decorum of those times or even now. We could benefit today from more of that decorum. The old guy in me prefers more respect for women by men. And when young gals act more like ladies, believe me it is far more appealing to eligible males worth marrying.

    Judy Dench excelled in the role of the haughty and imperious Lady Catherine. I was cheering for Lizzy in the scene where she justifiably stands up to Lady Catherine and refuses the dowager’s demand that she reveal her young age. This spunk by Lizzy, as witnessed by the silent Darcy sitting next to her, no doubt made Darcy admire her even more and helped convince him she would make him a proper wife. The scene with Lady Catherine barging into the Bennett house was a winner as well, with Lizzy the 20 year old, skillfully parrying Lady Cs. demands that she renounce all claims to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s affections.

    I visited the actual Chatsworth mansion in Derbyshire a few years back (Pemberly House in the movie), where Darcy was raised. It made me understand better why Darcy admitted to Elizabeth in the book, that he was raised with every material indulgence and had his every whim catered to. It also explains his complete honesty in admitting to Elizabeth that despite “the inferiority of her birth”, he would marry her anyway. The poor guy could not help acting the complete ass, but he was at least straightforward about his feelings and was a better man at the end, unlike the deceitful Mr. Wickham.

    The conspicuous consumption of Chatsworth/Pemberly made me resent the accepted “winner-take-all” combination of laizze-faire capitalism without responsible checks, and inherited wealth without working for it by male heirs in Jane Austen’s England. Today’s bizarre American tax system is slowly creating a society of haves and have nots increasingly like England of the 1800s. But I digress.

    I found all significant lines in the book also appeared in the film, and that is a credit to the masterful job done by the scriptwriters. A feature film should not be longer than 2 hours. Austen somehow manages to consume 300 words, for what could be said in 50 without losing any meaning or nuance. I skimmed the book rather than painstaking read every line.

    The scenery and the music were first rate. The movie is a breath of fresh air amidst the dreck today in theaters. It made me want to view the 1995 miniseries.

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    1. Hello Anonymous! I loved your take on the 2005 version and I can't wait to hear your opinion on the 1995 version. I predict from what you liked and didn't like about the newer version that you will really appreciate the Firth/Ehle version. It certainly can't be watched in 2 hours, but it is well worth the time. And there is a lovely kiss at the end for you!!!

      I went to Chatsworth too and it is truly something! I also visited Lyme Park, which is the exterior for Pemberley in the 95 version. Thankfully all of these estates are now accessible to we plebeian sorts. I had an ancestor who was the scullery maid in a large Estate in Northumberland. But I too digress...

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing in the conversation.

      Cheers!

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  12. (From Bill Tiernan: Part 1 of rambling thoughts to supplement my prior post above of June 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM, under the name “Anonymous”.)

    Having just viewed the 1995 version of P&P, here is my second take on things. Bottom line, if I want real entertainment, I’ll reach for the 2005 rendering every time, although 1995 was more faithful to the book. That is forgivable, because so much more of a story can be told in five hours than two. Not that 1995 wasn’t head and shoulders above most TV offerings, it’s more that 2005 surpassed even it. We see the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzy much more clearly in the latter. It was apparent in every succeeding scene, that love between them is slowly increasing. In 1995, I felt Darcy played the same emotionless character until the end, and so did Elizabeth….each masking their true feelings for too long. Let’s take a few of the key scenes.

    In that first dance at the Mereton Ball, there is fire in Knightley’s eyes as she delights in pointing out Darcy’s lack of social grace. Isn’t that just like your average women?.... Wanting to get revenge only because she overhears Darcy writing her off as “tolerable, but not enough to tempt me”? When he asks her on the dance floor: “what have you found out about my character?”, she gets right in his face and sasses him with the reply: “very little!” I loved it! I found myself wishing he would embrace and kiss her right there, just to silence her constant bratty sniping. The two actors manage to convey a disdain for one another, while simultaneously displaying a growing attraction, even love. A neat bit of acting! There were no such sparks in the same 1995 scene, whose performances were wooden by comparison. The sniping stops in the second half of the scene when the cameras omit all other dancers and focus only on the two silent dancers, who have eyes and thoughts only for one another. Dialog was unnecessary to convey the emotions. This is brilliant filmmaking! Judge for yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9SXvUdM_iw

    At the piano at Rossings estate, the 2005 Matthew Macfadyen plays the lovesick puppy, appearing fascinated with Lizzy’s self confidence in not letting him off gently, when she lectures him that if he lacks the ability to converse easily with people he does not know, “then you must take your Aunt Catherine’s advice and practice”. Consider that he is a rich 28 year old attorney out in the world, while she is only 20 and from a relatively poor family. The gal had moxie and he could not help falling for her. The 1995 Darcy and Lizzy were far more sedate. Judge for yourself again:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qw434PkDOg

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  13. (From Bill Tiernan: Part 2 of rambling thoughts to supplement my prior post above of June 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM, under the name “Anonymous”.)

    Compare the first disastrous proposal scene. Darcy of 1995 sounded more like a lawyer reciting his closing statements to the Court. While Darcy 2005 returns as the lovesick puppy, reduced to stuttering that he loves her three times, and immaturely blurts out: “most ardently” for emphasis. The viewer knows, and she knows, that the guy is baring his soul to her, despite his dumb judgment in saying he wants to marry her “against his better judgment”. (Who among us has not exhibited awful judgment in similar situations?) Here we see more of the same conflicting emotions of disdain mixed with genuine chemistry for one another, evidenced when they both lean in for an “almost kiss” at the end. Does anyone doubt they both wanted to kiss, despite the surface rancor that came before? The idea of kissing is not in the book, but who cares? Its great acting, and a scene you will want to see over a few times. Even the venue is significant, for Darcy 1995 chooses a warm conventional drawing room, while Darcy 2005 waits in the rain for his chance to see her. Be honest ladies, what warm blooded gal would not prefer to be proposed to by Matthew McFaden as 2005 Darcy, in view of what the poor guy has undergone, as opposed to the passionless and more disciplined Colin Firth, who resolves to himself that “he must conquer this”…as if he was studying for the bar exam after failing it the first time instead of wooing a gal? I was rooting for Macfadyen to pull himself together, but felt Firth was more than capable of handling things. Judge for yourself one more time:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJX5_rj2lZg

    Halfway through 1995, I found myself mischievously hoping the plot would have the long suffering Mr. Bennett strangle his wife just to shut her up. But that would make this a murder mystery instead of a romance novel. I was first annoyed at Brenda Blethyn’s ditzy portrayal of Mrs. Bennet in 2005, but she comes across as a downright suave female politician by comparison with the raspy and overplayed whining of her1995 counterpart. I suppose this is faithful to the book, so you are welcome to it.

    While Donald Sutherland is a good actor, I preferred the 1995 version better. Don’s overly white and perfect teeth looked like the product of a high priced 2013 Beverly Hills dentist. This is supposed to be the year1820 for heaven’s sake. Bingley’s catty sister in 2005 was far better and more believable, but the reverse is true for Charles Bingley. Why Simon Woods played the 2005 Bingley as a complete twit, I could not say. It was a turnoff for me. He was supposed to be an educated rich man. Both versions of Lydia were annoying, and if you insist on faithfulness to the book, you’ve got it. When I see the Mrs. Bennet of the 1995 version, we understand where Lydia gets her ditzyness from. Some minor quibbles: In the book, Lizzy was supposed to be plain while Jane was the looker. In 1995, the opposite was true, while both were lookers in 2005. Is it just me, or did Jennifer Ehle look a bit heavy and even matronly for a lady of only 20? Knightley hands down for the Elizabeth Bennet role!

    Both Mr. Collins’s were superb as obsequious, almost comical buffoons, who took themselves far too seriously. I liked the 1995 version slightly better.

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  14. There are too many Lydia’s around today, boy crazy, in love with the idea of love, and willing to hop into bed with whatever man pays attention to them. There are too many Wickhams around as well, out for seduction only and viewing every woman as his quarry, females unable to see beyond his impressive uniform and flattering manner. I loved one line in 1995 that was omitted in 2005, where Lizzy compares Wickham and Darcy for her sister Jane: “one has apparent good qualities easily on display, while the other has truly good qualities that are hidden”. Such is the timelessness of Austen’s writing, and why it has lasted 200 years. It conveys more of life’s lessons than just the original “chic flick” formula of boy meets girl, where they quarrel and have misunderstandings, get together, and live happily ever after. I wish Jane Austen retained the original book title of “First Impressions”, instead of changing it to “Pride and Prejudice”. I may write these notes up more properly some day and share them with my grand children, who are just beginning to date the opposite sex. May God grant them wisdom in their choice of partner. They will sorely need it these days.

    Charles Bingley also learns one of life’s lessons: to know when to take another’s advice and when to follow your own heart. How could Darcy possibly know what was in Lizzy’s and Bingley’s heart, and what gave him the presumption to give advice to his friend on that subject? Bingley acted like too many of today’s young people, who follow the herd instead of thinking for oneself.

    I thought the 2005 scene where Lizzy tells Lady Catherine where to head in was more effective than the 1995 scene, because I believe no one plays the haughty, condescending dowager better than Dame Dench. I liked where Lizzy refuses to promise that she will never welcome Darcy’s affections again, should they be renewed. The 2005 confrontation after bedtime hours was more dramatic to me than the confrontation in the daytime outdoor garden of 1995. The characters and dialog of most of 1995 evoked an older black and white movie to me, made just after talking pictures came in.

    A small moment in 1995 took my fancy, which did not appear in 2005. Darcy peaks through the curtain to see Lizzy outdoors in an unguarded moment playing with and petting one of the hounds on the estate. Darcy knew that ladies of his high station in society would not be caught dead in such lowbrow recreation. That independent trait of hers endears him to her even more, just as her willingness to walk three miles through mud did. I saw this same wonderful spontaneity in my own wife long ago, so I can relate to why this pleased Darcy. That is another story.

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  15. (From Bill Tiernan: Part 4 of rambling thoughts to supplement my prior post above of June 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM, under the name “Anonymous”.)

    The 2005 Darcy was obviously overjoyed to see his kid sister at Pemberly. He smiled, hugged her and laughs for the first time in the movie, while in the same scene, Colin Firth still did not appear to smile or reveal any true feeling or personality. This was a pivotal scene, one where any doubts in Lizzy’s mind were put to rest, that Darcy was a man worthy of her. This proved to her he was not a complete stuffed shirt. Colin Firth was far too subdued for the moment. The time was right for his character to show more emotion and his director should have insisted on it.

    MacFadyen and Knightley were very convincing in the Pemberly scene. Both were sheepish and humble at how wrong they both acted in their early relationship. How many times have we all had to eat humble pie because we knew we were wrong? Both have grown from their past mistakes. I enjoyed the few seconds in this scene on the Pemberly balcony, where neither could find the right words and were reduced to babbling to one another. You be the judge:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZqOhS2M-DU

    Give English director Joe Wright his same 2005 cast, and five hours to tell the story in, and he would have bested 1995 by a long shot for pure entertainment value, at least to this humble reviewer. But few of us can sit still for a movie that long. I wished 2005 would have lasted more like two and one half hours instead of only two, to squeeze in those few more lines I loved. I’ll stop nit picking now, over what was easily a 4.5 star movie in my eyes. They come along so very rarely, and I want my many grand children to view it. How dare I presume to write this movie review, for I know nothing about the art? But know what I like. Here I am supposed to be the red blooded manly type, who mocks chic flicks. I thought this particular one was great. I wish Hollywood could turn out a product like this. It managed to convey love, romance and sexual tension effectively, while still preserving a PG-13 rating. So it can be done. Long live the Brits!

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  16. Part 5 of Bill Tiernan's ramblings.

    How could I have forgotten to include the scene of Lady Catherine's confrontation with Elizabeth Bennet? Watch as Judy Dench steals this scene as Darcy's imperious aunt, and Lizzy in her nightcoat exhibits far more poise than the regal Lady in all her finery. This is a pivotal scene because Lizzy convey's clearly to Lady Catherine that she has feelings for her nephew and would accept him if he proposes a second time. When his aunt returns and tells Darcy of Lizzy's stubbornness, that is all the encouragement he needs to work up his courage to give it another try.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONaPfzjl8qc

    And here is Darcy's second proposal, just after Lady Catherine's confrontation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVaAdARCyU0

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  17. From Bill Tiernan again:

    If you liked either DVD version of P&P, you will also like the DVD: "North and South", by Elizabeth Gaskell. I just viewed it for the first time. It was written several decades after P&P, and it takes place in England several decades after P&P. It is a love story between John Thornton and Margaret Hale, who are the same ages as Darcy and Lizzy.

    Like Elizabeth Bennett, she is a genteel, educated Parson's daughter from the agricultural South of England. But unlike Darcy, he is an self-educated, rough hewn factory manager in a gritty factory town in the industrial North, who had to scrap for everything he has. Like P&P, he loves her but she disdains him, at least initially.

    Where P&P was a story of the 1 percenters who inherited their wealth, North and South is the story of the 99 percenters whose factory work barely earns them enough to feed their families. I did not yet read the book, so I cannot comment on whether Gaskell writes as well as Austen.

    But love conquers all in the end, and I'm sure the ladies will swoon over Richard Armitage who plays the male lead. I loved the hard North of England (Manchester) accents. Where P&P tells the story mainly from the viewpoint of Lizzy Bennet, North and South is more balanced, giving equal time to male and female, so that aspect appealed to me more.

    Go see the DVD, and my thanks to the moderator for allowing me to veer off topic.

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    1. Hi Bill! Thanks for all your great comments. You are on a roll with some of my all time faves. I ADORE North and South. And by the way, the novel is really good too. Mrs. Gaskell is a truly great writer, and you may have to watch "Cranford" and "Wives and Daughters" now too. They are right up there with N&S.

      N&S is particularly dear to my heart as my ancestors were cotton weavers in Manchester in those same Victorian days. Yes, they were like Bessy and Nicholas Higgins and living in the same sort of slums. So the story has extra poignancy for me. But it is just a great story well filmed. Glad you found it.

      You are right about Richard Armitage by the way. Hot stuff!

      You might also like the Andrew Davies version of Northanger Abbey from 2007. It is one of my husband's faves.

      Cheers!

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  18. I love the 2005 version, even though I recognize some of its defects. Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden get to me every time. In addition, he softens as the plot develops, which is exactly as it should be, whereas Colin Firth, whom I also like, does not. I much prefer Brenda Blethyn to Alison Steadman; the latter is not just too shrill but over the top in most scenes. Tom Hollander is my favorite Mr. Collins, and Claudie Blakely does a wonderful Charlotte, again my favorite.
    Jennifer Ehle is probably closer to the book Elizabeth, and I watch the 1995 version primarily because she is so good. Donald Sutherland is very good, especially in the scene with Keira when he explains that she would thereafter have to be a stranger to one of her parents. Benjamin Witrow, however, is probably my favorite Mr. Bennett.
    Finally, Judie Dench is terrific, great hairdo and lighting make her fearsome indeed, and she carries the part well.
    I agree with the observation that I wish the 2005 version could have been longer, just so that I could enjoy it that much more. However, I detest the attached american ending, and I have to stop my dvd just as Donald Sutherland says he is at his leisure.

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    1. Hi Gary. Thanks for your Pride and Prejudice insights. Great points! And Mr. Bennet's line about being at his leisure is one of the best lines Jane Austen ever wrote, IMHO. Bravo!

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  19. I jotted down a few notes before I started writing this and ended up with almost 5 notepad pages which I think means I'm a little over-obssessed so I'll try and keep this short.

    Darcy - 2005 McFadyen I found uncomfortable viewing first time round, and now fall in love with him a little more each subsequent viewing. His complex portrayal is superb, and I love the awkward shyness he shows us. 1995 Firth in the bath. Fencing in his shirt. Swimming. Wandering about dripping wet. Yum. 1980 Rintoul a little too reserved but every so often there's a little smile, a glance, that make me wish we'd seen more of him on screen.

    Lizzie - 2005 knightely I just can't love. I enjoy her performance but she's so forthright and unabashed I had to wonder if someone had slipped some Marianne Dashwood into her script. 1995 Ehle, a little too arch but on the whole my favourite. 1980 Garvie gave an extra dimension, just the right balance of wit and reserve with a hint of vulnerability. If only they hadn't given her all those patronising internal monologues.

    Wickham - 1980 Settelen why are you not hot?? 1995 lukis you sexy lovable rogue. 2005 Friend, naughty naughty beautiful boy. So OK he's clearly evil but who doesn't like a bad boy.

    Mr Bennett - 2005 Sutherland, myeh. 1995 Whitrow, perfect - flawed yet funny, caustic yet kind, and exactly the kind of dad you wouldn't mind having. 1980 Watson was just too mean. Lizzie loves this man yet I struggle to see why.

    Mrs Bennett - I honestly love all incarnations of her. The 1980's version is portrayed with a little more intelligence than you would expect but as a result this makes her seem less of a caricature and more a well-meaning foolish woman.

    Overall I find the 2005 version dazzling, with beautiful actors, great music, set, costumes, and with a real sense of romantic tension and drama. Is it faithful to the book? Are all of its scenes realistic for the historical setting? Well no (the seat shuffling at rosings, the proposal in the random place in the rain). And yet it shows such restrained passions and such a beautiful love story I can't help but overlook it's faults.

    The 1995 version with its wonderful chemistry in its leads, its excellent production values, Colin firth scantily clad n wet, and it's mostly spot on acting and characterisation far outweighs my quibbles with ehle and some of the secondary characters.

    The 1980 version I can understand why it's not as loved here. Poorer production compared to later efforts, an unlovable Mr Bennett and so many horrible horrible voice over a and internal monologues that really do grate. And yet for all that if you want to see a wider view of the relationships (Lizzie and her father playing backgammon, Jane's interpretation of Wickham and Darcy's first meeting, the look on Lydia's face as she says goodbye to her father, to name just some of my favourite) and to see the secondary characters being given much more depth (I could name Lady de bourgh, mary and the Gardiners but I think I loved the interpretation of anne de bourgh best - never before had I considered the effect on health and disposition having a mother like lady de bourgh could have till now) then this is the version to watch.

    1995 was my first ever viewing btw and I've yet to see the 1940 one.

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    1. Hi Jenna! I am just getting back to some of the P&P comments now. Great observations. Glad you stopped by the blog to share. I hope you get to see the 1940 version. It too has things to love...amongst it's faults.

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  20. Jeez, how peculiar that i'm only stumbling upon this page now! How i love that there are so many Jane Austen fans out there!!! My favourite is definitely the 1995 version with Colin and Jennifer. I love the look of absolute elation on his face when she tells him her feelings are now "quite the opposite"!!! Oh how i love that look! It was like he could have exploded with glee. I've recently watched the 1940 version and you know what, I think Greer Garson looks a lot like Jennifer Ehle. their features are rather similar. I wonder if this was something they were looking for when they held auditions. or perhaps it just happens to be so :).

    I must say, i was pleasantly surprised at the 2005 version. I'm not sure why i didn't think that it would be all that, but i did like it actually. I agree with you about the declaration of love scene in the rain. they could've given it a bit more airtime. I also like that he said "i love you", instead of "you must allow me to tell you how ardently i admire and love you". Saying it that directly and that quickly did a better job of portraying his struggles and his need to have it said and out in the open really quickly. They could've given us a bit more though, but perhaps it would've meant them diverting from the book a bit more than they intended.


    the 1980 version didn't do much for me really. Mr Darcy was way too sharpfaced and arrogant. even in declaring his love. like he knew she would say yes or he was entitled to a yes. Who the heck knows. That one is a no from me. Colin Firth went through agony that we saw, fencing and trying to keep busy in order to try and "conquer this". So very cool. and both him and matthew mcfayden showed it on their faces that they were mesmerised by Lizzie. Eish... fabulousness.
    If it were a matter of choice, i would choose the 1995 cast, save for a few of the 2005 members. I agree, Donald Sutherland's teeth are too white in that movie. then again, his teeth are too white in general! I wonder if they are going to produce yet another one at some point. I do so enjoy watching them over and over again.

    Have you guys heard of or watched Lost in Austen? Maybe someone wrote about it but i missed that part. It's about a girl in our present day who's in love with all things Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett finds a door in their attic at Longbourne, opens it and finds herself in Amanda Price's bathroom. For the rest of the story, you have to watch it. i've included the youtube link to the entire mini series below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz-9gmfXjTI

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    1. Hello Sophie. I am tardy in replying to your lovely comment but I just wanted to thank you so much for your input. Wonderful! And thanks for the link to Lost in Austen. I sooo love Darcy and the Teletubby!

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  21. Oh, and one of the things i really appreciated about the 2005 version was that, like in the book, Elizabeth tells her father what Darcy did for Lydia to save them all. I like reading it in the book, but i so did want to watch it happen too!

    oh, and the 1940 version? Nyet..

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  22. The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice doesn't even compare to the 1995 adaptation. Anyone who has ever seen Colin Firth play Mr Darcy can never associate the character with anyone else, in my opinion. I have seen the 2005 movie once, and have refused to watch it again ever since. The clothes and settings are so far from what life would actually have been like for the Bennetts. They are an upper middle class family, not farmers(!) and the clothes they wear are not at all the style worn during the 1970s!
    In the 1995 version you can see that so much more research has gone into it and the casting was far superior! You can really feel the intense but believable feelings that come from Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth! For me, the 2005 version strayed to far from the original storyline and the characters were not portrayed as they are in the book. It was too modernised for my taste and whenever I read the book I will never be able to picture that cast as the characters.
    As for the 1995 adaptation I will give my opinion on how well I think each of the main characters were acted:
    Mr Darcy- What can I say? Colin Firth IS Mr Darcy!!! During the movie (2005) McFayden did not seem at all like the Darcy I pictured. Firth did it perfectly, and every single additional scene (eg. swimming in lake, fencing, in bath..!) really enhances his personality! Nobody will ever be able to replace Colin Firth as the one and only Mr Darcy! And I must add, that the look that Elizabeth and Mr Darcy share when she's over at Pemberly was so perfectly done that I now refer to it as 'The Darcy Look'!
    Elizabeth- Jennifer Ehle is the perfect match for Lizzy! Her wit and charm really shines through! And while she is still very much a tomboy considering the era she lives in, she didn't come across as a ragamuffin like Keira Knightly does. I think Ehle becomes the story's main Heroine flawlessly and in my opinion no one can do any better. The chemistry between her and Mr Darcy are amazing and I think they were fantastically cast! Also, Lizzy's independence is really well displayed, as well as her opinions and emotions, which I love!
    Mr and Mrs Bennett- Again, I don't think anyone can beat them! Benjamin Whitrow as Mr Bennett in this version is so much greater to the one in the movie. I love how is his wit and relationship between himself and Lizzy is depicted! And while the 2005 mother was more bearable than the father, Alison Steadman still reigns superior by far! I know some people think her voice too annoying and loud, I still love her dramatic take on everything, and her hypocrisy as well! I do agree that her voice can be rather hard to take but it's hard for me to imagine her any other way now!
    Mr Wickam- Adrian Lukis plays this part so well. I love seeing his character's story unfold and I find it hard to not be taken in by him at the beginning, but as the plot continues to unravel his character becomes so unlikeable, which is exactly how it should be!
    Mr Collins- David Bamber's version of Mr Collins is played perfectly and I find it really hard to like him, which I think is best! Though many of his scenes make me laugh!
    Aunt and Uncle Gardiner- They are so kind and endearing! I love that you can see that Mrs Gardiner suspects something between Mr Darcy and Lizzy, and together they are great! They play these parts very well and they are two of my favourite characters out of the whole series! But when I watched the 2005 movie I found it really hard to like them!
    I would continue with my review of every character but it’s already rather long. Just be assured that if you ask me about any character out of the story, I shall always take the side of the 1995 version! Perhaps I’m too biased, but I have fair points to back them up! And overall I think the relationships between all the characters and the actual storyline is more like the book! And I would also like to point out that the 1995 adaptation has the best music! The opening theme song is one of my favourite songs to this day!!!

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    1. Hi Hannah! Sorry I am so late in replying to your wonderfully spirited defense of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. You have some wonderful points. You make me want to go back and watch it for the umpteenth time! :)

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  23. There is no comparison. The 95 version is so superior in every way. I won't go thru it because it's already been said. I do want to mention, however, Colin Firth's distinctive walk which "what's his name" even tried to imitate in 05 version in a scene where he just simply walks. Sorry, no one can top Firth's long and lanky stroll in that flowing cloak that is done without effort and is so sexy.
    BYW Jane's look in the 95 version is consistent with that era. Each generation has it's own idea of what makes a woman beautiful. Just look at the portraits and cameos of the time and you'll see that Jane fits the portrait perfectly...long neck, oval face. The casting was right on...another plus for 95.
    Knightly was so forward and obnoxious in 05, shame on the director. Ehle was strong but decorous. Oh! Yes, the scene in the music room will always be my favorite. The subtlety both of Elizabeth helping the sister and of Darcy's thankful look is haunting. It's the moment when true love is born and moves the audience there at a pace that is realistic...something 05 does not do. Thank you for Colin Firth.

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    1. Hi Anonymous! I am late in replying, but thanks so much for your input on the Pride and Prejudice versions. I agree wholeheartedly about the music room scene. Perfection! Sigh.

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  24. Hello! Just re-jumping on the P&P gravy train.

    I think your theory is correct - my very first viewing was the 1980 version, and I loved it. I just rewatched it for a second time a few nights ago and was still charmed. While I had some quibbles with how robotic David Rintoul's Darcy was, I think the level of control was an interesting choice, up against Elizabeth Garvey's spritely Lizzy, whom I absolutely loved in the role. She was just the right touch of intelligence, wit, manners with occasional unbridled impertinence. If I had my way, I'd like to see a pairing of Garvey and Firth. But still, I don't like to discount one over the other. Having acted, there's so much going into creating a world, from direction to acting to the style of the screenplay. The 1980 version shows us Elizabeth's world, and the darkness, and even boredom. There are long shots of waiting in shadow, and her pensive monologues were (in my mind) a positive addition to the story telling, keeping Austen's prose true to their original form.

    It's interesting that with every retelling, the story gets more and more emotive! From 1980, to 1995, to 2005, I see a bit of Bronte elements creeping in. (And I love Bronte.)

    So for me, the 1980 version is rather special. But do I love 1995? Absolutely. Did I enjoy 2005? Very much so. I think the strength of the work makes a compelling performance, regardless of what favorites we might harbor with each retelling.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and not feeling the need to truly trash on one over the other. I can't wait for another version to come out. Mr. Darcy is the gentlewoman's crack, after all! (How romantic of me.)

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    1. Hi Lauren! Thanks so much for the insightful comments on P&P. You gave me my laugh today with the "Darcy is the gentlewoman's crack" line. LOL!

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  25. So it seems I'm rather late to the party (what WOULD Lady Catherine say?!), but this seemed like too interesting a discussion for an obsessive Austenite like me to resist jumping in!
    First off: I notice that lots of people have mentioned the "first cut is the deepest" theory for P&P adaptations. For a long time, this held true for me.I saw the 2005 version first and loved it then and there! And prejudiced I might have been - I then attempted to watch the 1995 miniseries, but stopped about half an hour into it because I found it too formal and "prettified". I had, of course, read and re-read the book several times before watching either. At that point I was 17 years old, and more interested in the 'feel' of an adaptation rather than the details, so apart from the terribly botched ending, I thought the 2005 version was great.
    Cut to 9 years later. With a long abd empty Sunday on my hands and after hearing yet another fellow-Austenite raving about the 1995 adaptation, I decided to open my mind and give it a go. And what a difference the years can make! Having re-read the Pride and Prejudice as well as Jane Austen's other works many times more since then, and also having done a lot more research on life in the Regency era, culminating in actually visiting Bath and doing a 'Jane Austen Tour' there, I could now approach the BBC version with much more awareness. And I loved it! More importantly, I was able to see the shortcomings of the 2005 versions without my previous bias towards it. So here goes. Taking leaf from the owner of this blog and several earlier comments: a point-by-point comparison.
    THE SCRIPT: 1995
    Hands down, 1995. I've put this point first because I think it's the deciding factor for any Austen adaptation. The more times you go back to the books, the more you marvel at the intricacy and perfection of the writing. Two of the best things about Austen's original dialogues were how much of an undercurrent they could convey about something, wgile seemingly discussing something else entirely..and how much emotion could be conveyed within the strictvand decorous politeness of the time, without becoming maudlin and sappy. For me, 2005 lost out on both these points by too much editing and 'modernizing' of the dialogues. I could go on forever, but in summary: to revel in all the glory of Jane Austen's original prose - 1995 all the way.
    COSTUMES AND SETTINGS: 1995
    Much of the discrepancy between the two versions can be explained by the fact that according to Joe Wright, the 2005 version is set in the late 18th century. Taking that into consideration, the 2005 version is accurate -the hairstyles, clothes, houses etc at that time were much grittier and less polished. The 1995 version, however, is set in the early 19th century - probably more faithful to Jane's imagination and intentions while writing the book. And sorry to say it, but women DID wear those ridiciulous clusters of curls and those empire waistlines, men did have those super high collars, and houses did have more tapestries and gardens and less pigs in the backyard. While the 2005 version may have been more believable to modern viewers, 1995 is probably what Jane imagined while writing her books.

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  26. THE CAST:
    Elizabeth Bennet: While I thought Keira Knightley looked the part much more than Jennifer Ehle, and also brought out Lizzie's youthful impertinent side somewhat better, I did feel she often crossed over into frivolity. In contrast, Jennifer Ehle was playful and humorous, and still managed to convey Lizzie's intelligent, sensible side. And of course she got to run with Jane Austen's original, virtually unedited dialogue, which made all the difference.

    Mr. Darcy: 1995
    Colin Firth really drew viewers in as a Darcy who was a good man and had a warm heart even under the grumpy, snobbish exterior. He conveyed intelligence, dignity and charisma in spades. Matthew McFadyen made a creditable effort, but in the end Firth's boots were just too large to fill.

    A note: While the individual performances of the two leads were not without merit in the 2005 version, especially Keira Knightley, where it completely fell flat was the total lack of chemistry between Darcy and Elizabeth, the jerky progression of their relationship, and that travesty of a second proposal. In the 1995 version, Ehle and Firth played off each other beautifully, the gradual transition from loathing to mutual respect and affection was subtle yet believable (I refer you to that perfect, lovely scene in the music room at Pemberley), and leaving Darcy's second proposal in the end as Jane Austen originally wrote it, was a stroke of genius. Some things are sacred and should remain untouched!

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  27. Among the other characters some were equally good in both versions: Jane (though Rosamund Pike is prettier), Wickham, Lydia, Caroline Bingley and Mr Collins.

    Some were better in 2005: Mrs Bennet (1995's Alison Steadman was funny, but somewhat too shrill and over-the-top), Charlotte Lucas (she just about broke my heart in that scene with Lizzie on the swing), and Lady Catherine (Judi Dench. Enough said.).

    And some were better in the 1995 version:
    Mr Bingley (he was NOT supposed to be the stammering, giggling, socially inept twit played by Simon Wood in 2005), Mr Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow was just the perfect mix of dry wit and quiet affection. That last scene with a sobbing Donald Sutherland in 2005. Eek.), and Georgiana Darcy (Emilia Fox played her with a nice combination of dignity and sweetness. Tamzin Merchant was just annoyingly childish).

    All in all, though the 2005 film was an enjoyable watch, it's more like Austen-Lite. 1995 wins for it's faithfulness to the book, it's fabulous script, and beautiful performances and even better chemistry between the two leads. That's my humble twopence!

    P.S. For people who have enjoyed the 1995 Pride and Prejudice...your next 3 stops should be the1995 version of Persuasion starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds, and two other BBC miniseries: North and South, starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage, and the 2006 version of Jane Eyre, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.

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    1. Hi Janya. I am late at replying to your wonderful P&P comments so please forgive. Great insights. I also heartily endorse your last recommendations. All faves of mine and all watched multiple times. What can we do to get Richard Armitage and Toby Stephens in more period dramas? :)

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    2. I adore North and South...Richard Armitage...Swoon!

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    3. I adore North and South...Richard Armitage...Swoon!

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  28. Well. As every other Austen lover seems to have joined in this discussion, who am I to stay out of it?

    To be perfectly honest, I've only watched the 1995 version. Since I was born in 1997 I didn't see it until 2012, but no matter. Colin Firth is the perfect Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle is the perfect Elizabeth to me. They really capture the characters, and the chemistry between them! We shan't say no to the lake scene either, shall we?

    I have attempted to watch the 2005 version a couple of times, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm a nitpicker. I really am. I can honestly get irritated because of details that aren't correct in the 1995 adaption, especially the details that actually matter; Mr Wickham asking for the parish three years after being granted the 3000 pounds, the refusal he gets spurring his wish for revenge on Mr Darcy; Elizabeth explaining for her father exactly why Mr Darcy is worthy of her; although perhaps not important, Mrs Bennet's reaction to Elizabeth's engagement!

    Since such details bug me enough, I won't subject myself to the torture it surely would be to watch the much more unfaithful adaption from 2005. I've had many good movies based on books ruined for me because of details; I'm afraid this would just make another one.

    And really, what cast could be better than the 1995?
    Coling Firth will always be THE Mr Darcy. He is exactly like I imagined him. Exactly.
    Jennifer Ehle was also amazing as Elizabeth. That mix of humour and sensibility only shown in Elizabeth Bennet and her father... Wonderful.
    This version of Jane really is beautiful. I've seen pictures of Jane from the 2005 adaption, and she's just... No, to me. She's cute. Not beautiful. Jane from 95 really was beautiful according to early 19th century beauty ideals. And the acting! She's so sweet, so innocent, so eager to think well of everyone, yet not naïve... I love it.
    Mr Bingley here is perfect. Happy, open, good-looking, completely enarmoured with Jane... Must I say anything more?
    Mr Wickham... Oh yes! You could really believe he's nice in the beginning; he fools us all. But then, when you watch the series knowing he's evil, you pick up on all the subtle hints. And suddenly, they're so obvious even though you know you wouldn't see them if you didn't know they were there. Like Hans from Frozen. Woah. They even look the same. Well, I'm getting off topic.
    Mr Bennet. Just... Perfect, okay?
    Mr Collins... So creepily perfect. More creepy than I imagined him, perhaps, but it's still a great take on him.
    Julia plays a great Lydia. Childish, petty and wanton just as she ought to be.
    Mary, to me, is honestly a bit too pompous. The book Mary always felt like a girl who wasn't good-looking, wasn't very intelligent, but desperately wanted her family's approval and affection. BBC's Mary just seemed disapproving with everything and everyone but Mr Collins.
    I didn't really like Kitty either. I can't really put my finger on it; she just wasn't Kitty to me.
    I liked Mrs Bennet, but her voice was, as stated earlier, a little too shrill, and she was a little over-the-top in comparision to her book self. But over-all a good take on her.
    I did love Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Perfect.
    And love on Mr and Mrs Gardiner; especially Mrs Gardiner. They're just wonderful.

    I shall stop now, before I go into detailed analyzation of every moment of these five hours (I probably could). I love this version and I am certain no-one else could live up to it. I don't like older movies and I'm not often particularly fond of newer ones; the 90s were perfect in every way.

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    1. Hi Rebecka. Thanks for the great P&P comments. Sorry I am late responding. I'm just going to add my nod to the 1995 Lady Catherine, Mr. Bennet and the Gardiners. Perfection!

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  29. The 1980 BBC version of P&P was my first intro to Jane Austen and I was hooked after the first episode - which amazed myself since the entire show was basically dialogue, dancing, or preparing for dancing. I'm not an expert on film but I do know what scenes stick in my mind - and I can never forget the scene where Elizabeth is playing and singing at the piano and Mr. Darcy, the only person moving, circles about the room totally focused on Lizzie. The other memorable scene is where Lizzie is reading Darcy's letter as he disappears towards the distant horizon. In my mind, the story and characters are so strong that it would be difficult to totally mess it up - and I like all the versions for their portrayals. But I guess the first one is the most impressive.

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    1. Hi Bill. Sorry for my late response to your great P&P comment. So happy to hear a vote for the 1980 version. I think a lot of us need to go back and see that one. I can remember the scene where Lizzie is reading Darcy's letter and he walks away into the trees. That is amazing. I can't recall the other scene where Elizabeth is playing and singing. What a great reason to bring out the old VHS tapes and see it again!

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  30. I much prefer the 1995 version. Jennifer Ehle's character comes off as very mature and dignified, her hairstyle is impeccable. Mrs. Bennet is hillarious. The Mr. Collins from this version is SO funny! Jane is very gentle and never laughs at anyone. Lydia works well as an irritant to the older Bennet girls' sense of propriety. The ball room, the costumes, the setting is so much statelier in that version. Colin Firth plays one of his best roles ever in 1995 P&P

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    1. Hi Burningbear. I love Lydia from 1995 too. Julia Sawalha deserves some kudos for her Lydia. "I want to go to Brighton!" And Colin Firth...well, say no more.

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  31. The 2005 version. I think it has more emotion, better interaction between the characters, and overall more feeling and soul. Firth as Mr. Darcy is just a stiff and annoying character, and he doesn't evolve at all it seems, until someone turns a switch at the end of the mini-series and he suddenly becomes a bit more loveable.

    Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy, however, is another matter completely. He evolves, he shows more emotion as the plot goes along, and the chemistry between him and Elizabeth is lovely. I really like it. And he's so awkward, it's really cute. Compared to the 2005 version, I think the 1995 movie is to stiff, the dialogue seems like something they just said to get over with it while they try to change their facial expressions to suit the situation. I don't like the stiffness. However, the 1995 movie does follow the book more closely, but I don't feel anything in particular while watching it.
    The 2005 version has lovely scenery (the camera crew knew what they were doing!) and the characters are so lovely even though Lydia and Kitty may be a bit over the top, they're somewhat annoying. Jane is adorable in 2005, though 1995 Jane isn't bad either!

    I'm left with the feeling that the 2005 version has more soul, more development of the characters, and overall more emotion. No, it's not as faithful to the book when it comes to the plot (as the 1995 version), but I think it's more accurate when it comes to the feeling it gives and the soul of the book.

    This might be a bit rushed and I might not explain as well as I wished to, but the last comment I tried to post somehow got deleted. In addition to that, my opinion also is really subjective because I like the 2005 version over the 1995 one because of something as subjective as feelings. But that's what makes movies or book appeal to us, isn't it? Because of the feelings it gives us?

    That being said, I haven't seen the 1980 or 1940 version, but I'd love to see them, too.

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    1. Hi Irene. What a great endorsement of the 2005 P&P. Go with your feelings and just enjoy!

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  32. I was looking for something about a specific scene in the 1995 P&P and stumbled across this, I wasn't sure if I should comment since it was over a year old but since I've noticed people are still commenting I thought I'd put in my two cents-though I have a feeling this might be long so a dollar worth?

    The first P&P I saw was the 1940 version because I like old movies. I had never read the book at that point so I think it makes a difference how you feel about that particular film. I liked it but I still didn't read the book after I saw it. So I guess it didn't make me curious enough.

    Fast forward years and years, and a funny thing, I was a member of a message board where a lot of the women ADORED Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, and particularly would post photos of the swimming scene. And I thought he was horrible. Then I watched Bridget Jones and I finally got it (years after it had been released in the theater). So since I knew that was a weird P&P in a way, I decided to read the book at this point. I read it and liked it enough that I read several other Austen books as well.

    Then I stumbled upon the 1995 series on TV and LOVED it. I think if I had not decided before this that I did like Colin Firth after all, I probably wouldn't have stopped long enough to watch it. Luckily I caught it right at the beginning so I saw the whole thing. This is actually my favorite version, it feels more complete to me. I love practically every actor in it, though both Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins both make me very uncomfortable I think they did in the book as well. I think the aloof Colin Firth Darcy is very much how I pictured him in the book. I have read people saying things about Jane not being beautiful but I think casting her was actually smart because she was beautiful by the standards of Jane Austen's time. I love Mr. Bennet in this one, he's so funny, and kind of snotty sometimes, and I definitely see why he and Lizzie get along so well, and where Lizzie gets her personality.

    The 2005 film I saw a few years ago, and I think Keira Knightly is just so aggressive sometimes as Lizzie that it doesn't feel like she fits into the period of the time. In the 1995 version (and the book) I feel like she is a bit different from a woman of that time because she speaks her mind a bit more freely but she still adheres to the basic morals/principles of the times. I do like MacFadyen as Darcy though, I like the shyness he portrays, though Colin Firth still wins for me. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is my favorite but probably because I adore Judi Dench so it is hard to pick someone over her. I liked the actor who portrayed Mr. Collins much better in the film than I did in the 1995 version as well as Mr. Wickham I thought was better in the film. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet was creepy to me though.

    I think the 1995 and the 2005 have great scenery so hard to choose for that.

    I've never seen the 1980 version so I can't say anything about it.

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    1. Hello Sharon. Great comments on your fave P&P versions. I love the fact that Bridget Jones got you back to P&P. I love both BJ books and I adore the first film although the second film left me a little cold. I did read the latest Bridget book (meh) but I wonder if they will do another film. Probably not.

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  33. Just another guy with an opinion!

    1940: A product of its time (as you mentioned) and, to me at least, it doesn't hold up. It seemed to use "P&P" as a mere "jumping off point" for its significantly altered story. Cast in point: The revelation that (Spoiler Alert?) Lady Catherine was just "pretending to be mean" all along to "test" Elizabeth! Next!

    1980: A labor to get through. Again, I realize budgets were much smaller back then, but from a production value standpoint, this is like watching a high school play. Even worse, the staging, direction, AND performances are lackluster and even, at times, monotonic.

    1995: An excellent miniseries. It obviously has the luxury of a 6 hour format in which to tell a more detailed version of "P&P". I will also go out on a limb and state that, in my experience, most women seem to prefer Colin Firth over every other Mr. Darcy. I say "out on a limb" because when I express a preference for a different version of "P&P", I am often met with a laundry list of "non-canon" story points about the version I prefer, at which point I sometimes offer up that Colin Firth's bathtub and lake-swimming scenes aren't exactly "canon", either - and the discussion can heat up quickly from there! In any case, Colin Firth gave a fine performance worthy of admiration. I have nothing really against him or this version of "P&P".

    It's just that I like the 2005 version better.

    2005: Here's why:

    1. Performances: Several actors in this version are the best - IMO - in their given "P&P" roles, among them Brenda Brethyn as Mrs. Bennet, Tom Holland as Mr. Collins, and Judy Dench as Lady Catherine.

    Of course, the most important role is that of Elizabeth Bennet, and here... yes, I think Keira Knightly is the best of the lot. I have nothing against Jennifer Ehle! She was also fine, and I enjoyed her performance. But I like Keira Knightley's "more emotional" performance better.

    I will, however, allow that, as many others have pointed out, that (ahem) Donald Sutherland was probably not the best choice for Mr. Bennet. I know why it was done - to help lure an American audience - but, uh... "bad form, Smee".

    2. Production Value: Hands down the 2005 version. Yes, they had more money to spend, but they spent it well. As an example of a specific point of contrast to the 1995 version, I'll offer the lighting of the dance scenes. Lighting takes a lot of time to do well, and is therefore potentially very expensive. The 1995 version does the best it can on a TV budget and schedule, but during the (night time) dances the lighting is very uniform and flat, with no illusion that these scenes are (supposedly) being illuminated by candlelight.

    3. Writing and Direction: Deborah Moggach, the screenwriter of the 2005 version, did a very good job, IMO, of condensing the story into a necessarily restrictive 2 hour format. In particular, she minimized the Lydia portions, which are the scenes I most dread and often want to skip.

    Similarly, Joe Wright, the director, took a great many risks with the way he presented the story, e.g., the way he shot the initial Darcy proposal in the rain, and the Darcy letter of explanation.

    And finally, I'd like to address the ending of the 2005 version, which has been vilified as being "tacked on for American audiences".

    I liked it.

    There, I said it! Of COURSE, it's not canon to the novel. Neither was the freeze frame kiss of the 1995 version (nor the opening shot, BTW, of that same version). But the "tacked on" ending worked for me. MUCH better than to have ended it on Donald Sutherland saying, "I am quite at my leisure." Now THAT would have been a let down.

    Anyway, that's my opinion - the irony being...

    ...my favorite Austen adaptation of all is actually the 1995 version of "Sense and Sensibility"!

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    1. Hi Todd! Thanks so much for another male view. And thank you for saying you liked the ending of the 2005 version. I loved it! "And how are you this evening Mrs. Darcy...Mrs. Darcy...Mrs. Darcy" xxx But then one of my fave scenes from the 1995 version is when he looks out the Netherfield window and she is playing with the Great Dane. Well, that and "The Look" over the piano.
      Glad to hear you are a fan of Emma Thompson's masterpiece. I am emotionally attached to that one!

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    2. I find it interesting that you are told something in the film is not canon in order to justify why one version is better than the other, because in order to take a book and turn it into live action, there is always going to be non-canon scenes. Can you imagine a book being followed exactly? There would be very little movement from the actors at all, because authors cannot put every little movement a character makes into the book, it'd be longer than War and Peace if they did. When we read a book, we imagine the characters moving around, animate, if it says they are making dinner, we imagine the movements but they are not there. Movies require these movements as well as transitions more than a book does, unless the director uses a lot of fade outs to indicate time passing. While I am partial to the 1995 miniseries, the fact that they added things in the film (and of course they did in the 95 series) doesn't mean that they weren't true to the story.

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    3. My view exactly. Thanks Sharon!

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  34. Ok . Thank you all for your comments and replies, it's been good reading. My first version was with Greer Garson, she being a favorite actress of mine. I would watch is several times a year, ok monthly, until
    the 1995 version. The 1940 version was fun, on the comedy side,






    therefore I didn't mind Lady Catherine's change of heart. I put this in now when I want to laugh especially her quips with Lady C.
    At times I will put on 1980's version with I enjoy when I want to see
    it played slightly different. I love, repeat, love 1995 version. Enough said on 1995. I hate 2005 version. Is that too strong ? I don't like the way the family is portrayed, even mr collins appear to live better. Although I love the way Macfayden looks coming out of the mist, he is not intimidating, as a Mr.Darcy.Mr Bennet looked like the character from independence day (data) while Mrs Bennet was in her cups.Keira Knightly just didn't fit the part. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

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    1. Hi Deana. I'm glad you like Greer Garson and the 1940 version. It is fun isn't it?

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  35. Bill Tiernan one more time:

    It was fun to read all of your comments. I saw 2005 P&P twice and 1995 P&P once last year. Then last night I saw the1995 version a second time.

    I have subjected you all to my rambling opinions more than enough. But my unbiased conclusion after watching both versions twice now, is that 2005 wins, hands down.

    My conclusion also, is that I wish the plot of both versions would have Mr. Bennet strangling his shrill wife early on, so we could all be sparred her irritating over acting.

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    1. Hi Bill. Oh, I love that this discussion continues. I would agree with you about 1995 Mrs. Bennet Alison Steadman. But Brenda Blethyn? I thought she nailed it in the 2005 version. In any case, according to history, we should get another P&P in 2015 right? :)

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    2. We, and I include myself, are all quibbling about relatively minor gripes. On balance, I think we are all agreeing that all film versions are first rate efforts in filming a timeless love story.

      Lets face it, IMHO opinion, Hollywood today is producing relative junk.

      Does any one know of a good list of films that may be on a par with P&P? I want to watch them instead of wasting time on far lesser efforts!

      And I'll also agree that Brenda Blethyn is a great actress.

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  36. I do love this forum and the discussions.

    But on with it.. I must say that the 1995 version is my favorite hands down.. and so many of you have already pointed out why.
    I love the satiric, at times underplayed dialogues and the acting.

    The only thing I want to add is how the viewer is thought to be some what stupid in the 2005 version in regards to the explicit emotions and dialogues e.g., the scene with Mr. Collins and the Bennet family, where Jane kicks Elizabeth under the table.. Not necessary! As it is written in the book: "Mr. Bennet´s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, maintaining at the same time the most resolute composure of countenance, and except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure".
    That is a pity, but the beautiful music is a plus.

    Now I will widen my horizon with "Cranford" and "Wives and Daughters" as suggested.

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  37. Great discussion. I just want to weigh in on the question of whether the first P&P a person sees is necessarily the one they will always prefer. I saw the 2005 version first and liked it. There were some issues I had with it - namely, in not keeping totally true to the book, but that's a problem with most movies made from books. Overall, I thought it was a good effort. In particular, beautiful scenery and music. I'm ashamed to admit that I resisted the 1995 version because so much of what people seemed to like was the actor, Colin Firth. I thought, well, okay, maybe he's handsome but if that's all there is to recommend the movie, forget it. I also resisted b/c I saw a particularly bad photo of "the wig" and thought that the rest of the movie would have bad wigs and costumes. I finally gave in one day when I was bedridden with bronchitis. Am I ever glad I did. I love, love, love this version to the point where I may not want to watch 2005 again. The infamous 'wig' really wasn't that bad; the costumes were nice, and yes, I will admit that Colin Firth is stunningly beautiful (IMO) to look at. But it's the acting that's really to be admired. Firth gives a very true characterization of Darcy; and who can fail to be impressed by the way he can convey so much with his eyes and facial expressions? I've always been impressed by the ability of English actors (Alan Rickman comes to mind) who can express so much with their eyes, but Firth blows them all out of the water. When his character is mad, his eyes flash anger; when he is happy, they twinkle; and when he looks at Lizzie at the piano with his sister at pemberly, it's as though you can actually see his heart swelling with love - his eyes truly amaze me in that scene. Both of the actors are to be commended for their total performance, but especially in that scene. not one word is spoken, but so much is "spoken" through their eyes and facial expressions. Drawbacks: Julia Sawalha - I wished her character didn't giggle annoying quite so much and Alison Steadman - her voice and crying make me want to punch a wall. Toning it down a little would have gone a long way, I think. Kudos also to creepy, obsequious Mr. Collins (David Bamber) and Mr. Bennett (Benjamin Whitrow), who was fantastic.

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    1. Hi Anon! Sorry it took me so long to respond. Great P&P comments! I once went to a Mozart concert just to hear the Aria that Lizzie sings in the piano at Pemberley scene. My god I love that scene. But I too sometimes have problems with Alison Steadman's Mrs B. I may mute her next time I watch it!
      And wouldn't we all love to have Benjamin Whitrow's Mr. B as a father figure. Even if his parenting skills are a bit lax!

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  38. I just re-watched the 2005, the 1995, and the 1980 versions. I think they each have their strengths and weaknesses. I first saw the 1940 and 1980 versions when reading the book in high school. I really enjoyed watching the 1995 when it first came out.

    Story –
    The 1980 version is the closest to the original text. It has several wonderful lines that the other versions lack. Both the feature films had to truncate far too much. The 1995 is pretty good, but not perfect.
    Setting –
    I think the settings in the 2005 version were too stylized. The indoor tent room in Netherfield, the pigsty Longbourn, even the barn-like Assembly Room all seemed over the top to me. The costumes also seemed noteworthy. The number of powdered wigs at the first ball was interesting (country fashions being a decade out of date?). IT was pretty but kept kicking me out of the story. The 1980 and 1940 were too much shot in studio or low budget locations. I liked the 1995 best.

    Casting –
    This was a mixed bag for me. I really liked some of the casting in the 1980 version – Mr. Collins & Lady Catherine in particular. Mr. Collins was played as a large, somewhat goofy and pretentious but ultimately a good man. This contrasts to 1995’s obsequious (possibly evil) toad and 2005’s somewhat sleazy nebbish (and I like Tom Hollander in many roles). Lady Catherine in the 1980 version was played by a woman of mature beauty and regal bearing, who seemed more human and believable than the 1995 version. Dame Judy in 2005 got so little screen time she made too little of an impression to count. Caroline Bingley in 1980 was (ironically) played by the daughter of the real life Duke of Norfolk. She pulls off the condescending role well, but I prefer the 1995 version. She is deliciously hatful. The 2005 version is aristocratic and beautiful enough that he seems to fit well with Darcy, but again she got too little screen time to build the character. Mr. Bennet – 1995 takes the case for a subtle performance, though 2005 showcases the idea that Mr. B was really an absent father. The 1980 version was more bombastic and dictatorial, but showed a stronger presence in the lives of the girls. Mrs. Bennet – 2005 is the most human and sympathetic, but I would love to see the role played by a 45-50 year old beauty to reflect why Mr. B married her and where the girls get their looks. 1995 is too shrill and over the top, more a caricature than a character. I can’t even recall the 1980 version. The Bennet sisters are all played by actresses of the right age in the 2005 version. I found that nice to see, but I was not particularly fond of any of them except Carrie Mulligan, who I thought was Lydia for 1/2 of the movie. The 1995 sisters were, I thought, well cast. The 1980 Jane (a brunette beauty played by a former model) and Mary played with some personality that made her more than a cardboard cut-out would be my choices for those roles. 1995 had the best Bingley, cheerful but not goofy, and handsome as well. Finally the main couple – 1995 all the way. Ehle was too old, but still carried the intelligence and vivacity that the role really needs. Knightly was the right age, but too pretty and, in my opinion, not a good enough actress to pull it off. Garvie was good, but a little stilted. And Firth I thought embodied the role of both the proud, disagreeable man and the love struck fool. Rintoul was too blank and wooden to show the change over time and Macfadyen (who I like in many other roles) seemed both too blank and too rushed to show the character to good effect.

    I do recommend watching the 1980 version if you have not seen it or not seen it recently. I found it on Amazon Instant Video. But the 1995 is still my special favorite.

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  39. Great comments Thomas, thanks! I love that this post is still attracting lots of varied opinions on the versions we have of P&P. I do think the time for another miniseries may be getting closer. I think the story is too wonderful to squish it into 2 hours as the rushed 2005 version is proof. It is 20 years since we have had a miniseries and now 10 years on from the cinema version. Do you think the BBC would do it again?
    I love your suggestion about a really pretty Mrs. Bennet. It is such a great role for the right person. Cheers!

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    1. I was discussing this with my wife and started looking for British beauties aged 40-50, with enough acting chops to pull off the role.

      Examples from our discussion –
      Elizabeth Hurley – Age 49/ Great beauty, not the best actress

      Helena Bonham Carter – Age 48/ Great actress from a peerage/gentry political family, even a distant cousin of Crispin Bonham-Carter, who played Mr. Bingley in the 1995 P&P

      Emily Watson – Age 48/ Another good actress, though not model pretty

      Geraldine Somerville – Age 47/ Was wonderful in the Aristocrats

      Minnie Driver – Age 44/ A personal favorite

      Jennifer Ehle – Age 45/ Would be too funny. Especially if Colin Firth (Age 54) played Mr. Bennet

      I am sure there are many who I am leaving out, but I think you get the idea.

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  40. 1995 is the ONLY one I watch (over and over and over..). Knightly and Mcfayden would have poor Jane spinning in her grave with their overwrought, unregencylike behavior. I just returned from England where I watched a version of the 1995 with MANY scenes not included in our versions here in the USA. I was ecstatic! Could you PLEASE PLEASE find out HOW one can obtain this longer extended version! I am getting no where searching the internet. I cannot even figure out how long this extended version is. It seems like no one has addressed the differences in length/ completeness of different versions of the 1995 film. It would be absolutely wonderful if you could solve this problem and direct us to this longer edition!

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    1. You mean the whole PP mini-series 327 minutes) Correct? I do have a link to a site (with the making of too) in case you are still interested after 1 year has passed. You can contact me on my profile.

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  41. I'm quite late to the party... but I joined to comment as I'm quite surprised that my opinion is this time so different from the majority. So here are my impressions:

    1995: I watched it once and I don't think I will watch it again. Certainly a lot of love and effort has gone into it, but there were things that reduced my enjoyment way too much.

    With the risk of alienating many people here, I must say I didn't think Jennifer Ehle was a good choice for Lizzy. Her facial expression is way too bland most of the time, except for the constant vague beatific smile that didn't fit my imagination of Lizzie at all. Lizzie is supposed to be energetic, a little bit stubborn and with a ready sense of humor. Ehle just doesn't show it. Keira Knightley does.

    Also, as somebody else said above, Ehle looks and acts matronly, not at all as a spirited 21 ys old. Susannah Harker as Jane Bennet is similar. Her physical looks are less important than the fact that she barely changes her expression. She comes across like she has no identity at all. She seems to look at the floor most of the time, again with a vague sheepish smile. Rosamund Pike in 2005 version comes across as genuinely sweet and acts naturally.

    Keira Knightley is a very good Lizzie for me. Some commenters here say she was aggressive, but I don't see a good reason for that. Yes, she shows some subdued irritation and occasional defiance, but never over the top, and exactly the way I imagine cheerful but proud, no-nonsense Lizzie should be when facing stupidity and hypocrisy. Her little chuckle in the scene when Darcy appears at the ball is just right for Lizzie's fun-loving character that does not quite fit the rigid norms of society.

    I'm one of the few women who don't prefer Colin Firth as Darcy. Don't get me wrong, Firth is just fine. His performance was all right and I have nothing to criticize. I personally thought that the scenes with him in the bath and the lake were unnecessary and distracting, and I'm glad that 2005 movie focused much more on emotions between the protagonists than on Darcy's physical attributes.

    Continues in the next post...

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  42. 2. part:

    Did Firth really flirt with Ehle while making the show? I thought they did a decent job, but the chemistry was lacking IMO, mostly due to lack of expressiveness from both. I thought Knightley and Macfadyen created that chemistry very well. They both showed strong emotions but in very subtle ways, appropriate to the circumstances, with their expressions, postures and non-verbal communication. They just radiated the relationship that was forming between them. I half expected my screen to burst in flames with all the sparks.

    When Knightly as Lizzie tells Jane about how wrong she was about Darcy, she almost laughs and cries in the same time. Ehle just keeps her mild smile.

    Both casts had overly formal, posh communication style to struggle with, and while neither could do it perfectly (which is understandable) again i think that 2005 cast did it better. There were quite a few occasions when lines sounded exceedingly stiff and scripted in 1995 version and you could see the actors feeling the same.

    As for the rest of the cast, I mostly agree with previous posters. 2005 version Mrs Bennet over 1995 version. 1995 version Mr Bennet over Donald Sutherland (I didn't dislike him, but he lacked the spark and sarcasm, especially in that beloved line when he says Lizzie that "from now on, she must be a stranger to one of her parents"). And those teeth... those white teeth... Even he was uncomfortable and hiding his mouth with his hand when laughing. Very distracting.

    1995 Mr Collins slightly better, although both were good. Mr Bingley was better in 1995, even if i thought that Woods in 2005 had a more natural looking smile. But Woods came across too much as a clueless teenager.

    Caroline Bingley - definitely 2005. Her looks down her nose, her arrogant and condescending attitude, her posture and movements were perfect. I enjoyed disliking her.

    Well, that's it and hope I didn't irritate anybody by disliking their favorite actors.

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  43. I grew up watching the 1940 and 1980 versions (my Mom was a Jane Austen nut) but we both agreed the 1995 version is by far the best! She liked the 2005 version, but I can't stand it at all. It was too modern (if you're going to modernize, then do a remake)--I didn't care for the acting or the script. To me, Colin Firth is the best Mr. Darcy, Jennifer Ehle the best Elizabeth, and from top to bottom, I think the 1995 cast was superior and I loved the script. For me 1995 rules!

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  44. I have seen 2005, 1995, 1980 and part of 1940.
    SETTINGS:
    I wonder about the settings. I don’t recall any actual descriptions in the book except for Pemberley. So, in what way are any of the P&P versions historically accurate for the Regency period? . Presumably, the set designers have used their knowledge of historical periods. However, I have also viewed the illustrations created by C.E. Brock and H.M. Brock as a guide. I think that they establish the wardrobe and fresh estates sufficiently. Here are the links for viewing the illustrations.

    (http://austenonly.com/2013/02/04/c-e-brocks-original-water-colour-illustrations-for-pride-and-prejudice-for-sale/ and http://www.mollands.net/etexts/prideandprejudice/pnpillus.html)
    2005 – Dilapidation, lighting, and wardrobe.
    • I wonder about the estates of 1797, would they have appeared so dilapidated. Generally, the estates in this P&P version do NOT convey a “sense” of wealth, since dilapidation is indicative of falling on hard times. Examination of the Illustrations do not reveal shabbiness. So the settings falls short for me in this regard.
    • Further, I remember from childhood that lighting from the 50s was not as bright as it is now, though I speak of light bulbs. So I definitely appreciate the candle-like lighting, which gives an authentic touch.
    • The costumes for Jane and Elizabeth are terrible in their fitting. I have not seen Lizzy’s style of dress in any of the illustrations. Also, since the book refers to Elizabeth Bennet having a nice figure, the dresses for her ought to flatter her body.
    1995 – Lighting
    The bright lighting does not support the regency period, although the condition of the estates support a well to do life style. The wardrobes match the illustrations by the Brocks.
    1980 – Film and wardrobe
    The filming was terrible, and as others have said, seems a low budget film. The wardrobes fall a little short of the mark as well.
    1940 – Wardrobe
    The wardrobe reminds me of the dresses from Gone with the
    Wind – terrible!
    Best CASTINGS
    The Brocks illustrations do not support Jane Austen’s description of the Bennet girls being handsome. Also, I do not think anyone has played Lydia well, IMO. To me, the best portrayal of a character is listed below in the P&P version in which it happens, with a blurb.

    2005
    • Lizzy – young, lively, and attractive, passionate – not too old and reserved
    • Jane – young, gentle and beautify.
    • Mrs. Bennet – just right, crude and foolish, but not too irritating. (In the scene with the pig,
    Mr. Bennet refers to her as Blossom – “Who is, Blossom?”, he says. Is he using her first name?
    • Mr. Collins – loved him, but he was not Mr. Collins from the book
    • Charlotte – just right
    • Mr. Darcy – perfect. Reserved, yet his eyes betray his passion. I can only imagine if he had had
    the 1995 script
    • Caroline – Perfect in every way.
    • Georgiana – just right if she were “handsome”
    • Kitty – The best Kitty
    1995
    • Mary – bookish and not awkward
    • Mr. Bennet – Perfect in every way
    • Mr. Bingly – just right
    • Catherine De Berge – Perfect. Exquisitely portrays this character as Controlling, authoritative, meddlesome, and, condescending, … easy to see that the mother is what ails the daughter.
    • Mr. Wickham – just right
    • The Garners – both of them are just right
    1980
    • Mr. Collins – Not the best Mr. Collins IMO, but he is closest to the book
    Storyline
    2005 – Good script for only focusing on the essential scenes.
    1995 – Some of the extra scenes are a nice added touch – Darcy in the bathroom looking out and seeing Lizzy,
    and the dive into the water at Pemberly.
    1980 – Script closest to the book
    Lizzy’s and Darcy’s characters are portrayed best, IMO, in 2005. Of course, if I had my druthers, I’d see the best of each version in the next remake. I hope all of our feedback is helpful.

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  45. I think this might be about as close as I come to ever reading an Austen novel, Stefania, but I enjoyed your review. The novel of manners isn't for me, and every time I see an Austen adaptation on TV or DVD, I always wind up annoyed at the characters (even though Keira Knightley is quite cute, and I would forgive her for annoying me!). Unfortunately for me, Austen

    is really hard to avoid on the U.S. blog scene, where she seems to be the most popular foreign author ever. How boring...

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  46. I just re-watched the 1940 version last night. As an adaptation it sucks! But I really like movies from the 1930' and 1940's so I enjoyed it! The thing that irritates me about it is Jane, she comes off a bit air-headed in this version. In the book she is very nice and sweet she's also quite intelligent.

    I really liked this take on Mr. Darcy though. I don't particularly like him in the book or the other movie versions (until the ending when he's nice and he actually talks more). So I liked that he try's to be nice to Lizzy near the beginning, but his snobbery keeps coming back. Rather than in the newer versions where Darcy is just a snob and stares a lot, until the end where becomes nicer.

    The 1995 version is my favorite for sure though!

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  47. I believe your theory of the first version you see being a favorite may be correct for most but in my case (always the odd one) I will have to disagree. I remember taking a class back in high school and a teacher commenting on whether "Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth could both be either pride or prejudice". One night I was up late and the 1940 version came on TV and I thought it was a nice funny romantic film. I do love the black and white films. I hadn't seen another version until 2005 with Keira Knightly.

    I really was interested in this version and decided to read the book. Later I started trying to find other films and came across a modern american version, indie version and then Colin Firth 1995 movie. I have also seen the 1980 adaptation as well. But I will have to say that I habitually watch Colin 1995 version for like 6 months or more. My husband plays D&D and decided that I loved it so much, he read the book then incorporated the Netherfield ball scene into his game.

    As to whom my favorite Darcy is, well Colin was truly Mr. Darcy and shy Matthew was endearing but David is such a handsome Darcy. If I stop time and pull David in with Jennifer in a redo of P&P I would.

    On another note I have often imagine Gardiners as the version from the 1995 film along with Mr. Bennet and Georgianna Darcy. We could pull in Miss Bingley from the 2005 film. Its been 10 plus years, aren't we do for another. Although I have recently seen and enjoyed P&P&Zombies it is not the same. So if there is any director or producer reading this. Hear us. We are ready for another mini series type.

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  48. I must say I prefer the 1995 mini-series, the subtle chemistry between the two leads is strong. The supporting cast is also perfectly cast, Bingley, the sisters etc. Collins in the 1995 version is simply perfect, I love to hear him jabber on. I can almost imagine how insufferable it must be to listen to a sermon of his.

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  49. Having watched all the versions and owning most of them I feel that the 1980 mini series is the clear winner.

    I can't get enough of watching the scenes where Elizabeth and Darcy are together.

    Firstly at the Lucas's ball where Darcy is mesmerised when Elizabeth plays the piano.

    Then at Bingleys house where he can't help but watch Elizabeth and fights her corner against Miss Bingleys attacks. The 1995 Miss Bingley is also good but I prefer the 1980 portrayal for the doomed attempts to attract Mr Darcy 'let me mend your pen'

    Colin Firth does watch Elizabeth but it's not the same.

    And who could not fall in love with Garvey's portrayal of Elizabeth. Even when she is refusing to dance with Darcy, Garvey is charming and delightful. Ehle is a bit too modern for me.

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  50. I will always be faithful to the 1995 Mini series of P&P and although I really enjoy watching other versions just to see how they all do, I find myself always comparing them against this one.:D The thing I most like about the 1995 version is how they show the emotions of Darcy after the events. You really see the anguish on his face after he is rejected by Elizabeth and come to realise the depth of his feelings well before Elizabeth does! This does not really come across in the book and makes his character seem so much more real. As far as the 1940's version goes I found it to forced and Fluffy I'm afraid! Compare it to any other version ending and you will find the emotion lacking in any real depth and sickly sweet as well as totally unbelievable that the leads are in Love.
    I will be in the minority of course but I must confess to a great liking of the mini series Lost in Austen! I found it a fantastic fun take on the book and although the characters in the series were a pale shade of what the 1995 series were I strangely started wanting her to end up with Wickham as he turned out to be a miss understood bad boy who I REALLY would have prefered to have seen in a wet shirt:D I loved the way the story got all messed up and actually prefered the version of Jane and Bingley story for some reason! Weird I know!

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  51. I saw all three major versions - 1980, 1995 and 2005. I saw the 1995 first, then 2005 and recently the 1980 one, and as 1995 is my first one, it may hold true that the first is more special. However, my reasons for liking the 1995 best is not just because of the actors, chemistry, etc.

    When it comes to movie/show adaptations of books, especially books taking place in important historical time periods, it's very important to me that the adaptations do them justice.

    The only good thing going for the 2005 one is the music and scenery. Otherwise, it's an epic fail when it comes to faithfulness to the book and time period. I have no idea how people find it a "realistic" portrayal, when it did not portray Regency society at all. The Bennets were not paupers like the movie made them out to be. My heart nearly stopped when I saw a big running through the house, and Mrs. Bennet dressed like a housekeeper! They were not rich by any means, but they were middle class gentry. Mr. Bennet was not a farmer. He was a gentleman, and the family lived as gentry would. The girls were so unkempt! Their hair was always messy, their clothing was faded, and their manners were horrible. Even Lydia and Kitty were so unrealistic. In the book, they are described as lively and silly, but not out of control, giggling freaks like they were shown, who could never sit still and ran around shamelessly.

    Keira Knightley's Elizabeth was irritating to no end. Elizabeth in the book was witty and intelligent, and she was a tomboy for that era, but she was still feminine, graceful and sophisticated. Keira's Elizabeth was giggly, annoying and at times downright rude. She was hardly ever witty, and behaved like bookLydia many times. Austen's Mr. Darcy would've been annoyed with her.

    As for Macfayden, I know many people liked him because he was so expressive, but that's the reason he failed as Mr. Darcy. Austen's Mr. Darcy was not supposed to be expressive, not in the beginning, not in the end. He was supposed to appear as proud, stiff and daunting. That's WHY Elizabeth misunderstood him so quickly. Had he been expressive like Macfayden, Austen's Elizabeth would have examined his character more carefully. Mr. Darcy was not supposed to make it so evident that he cared for Elizabeth. His feelings were always under good regulation. That's what defines Mr. Darcy's character, and what's what makes Colin Firth so perfect.

    So the very reason people like Macfayden's expressive Mr. Darcy is the same reason I dislike him.

    The 1995 cast was perfect, and so was the characterization. One thing I can accept is that the 2005 Jane was prettier than the 1995 one. However, I was able to overlook that because the characterization of Jane in the 1995 one is so perfect. She was sweet and naive just like how I'd imagine Jane to be, whereas the 2005 one was too lively and silly at times. She didn't seem as innocent as Austen's Jane.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mistres of Pemberley,
      I agree with your sentiments about all major versions, I loved the 1995 version the best for all the reasons you stated. The 2005 version was good, but it really didn't measure up to the '95 version.

      Delete
  52. I do like the 2005 movie. It’s emotional, gorgeous, well-acted, and full of beautiful scenery and witty visual details. I appreciate Keira Knightley’s “fire,” as someone called it on this board, and Matthew Macfadyen is tolerable, I suppose, especially in humid outdoor settings (though it’s hard to imagine the whole community offended by his disagreeableness, since he is obviously just shy).

    I don’t really mind that the movie skips so much of the Lydia-induced hysteria in the last part of the plot.

    BUT . . . I was really bothered by the anachronisms and bizarrely rude behavior by Lizzy and other characters who should know better. Most notably, why is Lizzy wandering all through Pemberley by herself, invading the family’s private rooms and peeking through doorways??? Another example: when Uncle and Aunt Gardiner arrive at the house for the first time, having been invited there to meet Georgiana, the young people chatter away completely ignoring the older generation -- not even introducing them. That’s Lydia behavior, otherwise known as 21st century behavior. And bizarrely, Mr. Bingley marches right into where Jane lies IN BED in her NIGHTGOWN, knocking only after he has opened the door and peered in! Even nowadays that would be bad manners! In the movie, neither girl bats an eye.

    The fact is, the 2005 movie is not very concerned with good manners or propriety. Therefore Lizzy is not. She actually licks her fingers at dinner -- in front of a guest! And she asks Mr. Darcy (having only just met him) “Do you dance?” She is, in effect, asking him to dance, which is completely anachronistic. It’s impossible to imagine the 2005 Elizabeth really caring if Darcy expresses himself in a “gentlemanlike manner,” since she doesn’t seem to care a fig about such things.

    In the book and in the 1995 version, Elizabeth manages to speak her mind but she is never improper. The fact is, Jane Austen took propriety very seriously. You could argue that the novel centers on the question of what is and what is not truly genteel behavior — and what are the perils of disregarding it?

    Needless to say, our society does not much care about genteel behavior (except, perhaps, in the area of “political correctness” -- for many people, at least).

    The 2005 movie is a great movie and lots of fun, but it’s at cross-purposes with Jane Austen. The question is -- does that matter?

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