This version stars Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley, two really great actors. However, in my opinion, this one should have been titled Pride and Peasants, considering the costumes look like they were found in a garbage bin and the Bennet home looked no better than the pig pen. Usually one must turn to Dickens for such filth and rags.
If you can get past the general squalor, there are some totally ridiculous incidents you’ll wind up seeing. Here’s a taste of that: the Bennets en masse listening at doors to private conversations, bursting in and laughing about it like fools; and even having Lady Catherine calling to make her sentiments known to Elizabeth in the middle of the night -- as if she would do such a thing!
I must say one of the beautiful things about England, as described at the time by Austen, is how people in general conduct themselves with proper decorum, and what is portrayed here is far from it. As glaring as these are, and for me it is almost too much to bear, there is another problem that is just as bad, but that must wait until we start discussing the characters.
I also can’t help but get the impression that this version was made without sufficient time to shoot the scenes properly. So many of them give the feel of being hurried along, so that in my imagination, I picture the director saying, “OK, everybody, we have to get this in one take, because our lease is almost up.”
I know it sounds like I hate this version, but I really don’t. I guess you could say, I’m more mad than anything else. I keep asking, “When is someone going to make a Pride and Prejudice that doesn’t have so many glaring flaws? Look at Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and even Mansfield Park -- someone has been able to take these Austen novels and turn them into truly wonderful movies, so why can’t they do the same with her best?!”
Well, even though this adaptation does test the strength of my love for the story of Pride and Prejudice, the movie does redeem itself by the strength of some of the performances and some terrific scenes. And I should say, it has one of my favorite conversations from the book, which most others leave out, except the 1980 version. That is when Elizabeth says, in an effort to stop her mother from going on about Jane and some previous admirer, “I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love?” We looked for a clip of that, but couldn't find one...
To own the truth, I can hardly wait to get into the particulars of characters and scenes. I find I am having to exert myself to keep from going there in these posts about the movies in general. So keep tuned, we’ll be getting to those in just a few more posts.