Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright, is a 2005 movie adapted from Jane Austen’s classic tale bearing the same name. The movie, rated PG for some mild thematic elements, was produced by a British film production company called Working Title Films and written by Deborah Moggach. It has a running time of one hundred and twenty-eight minutes.
The romantic film was released in September 2005 in the United Kingdom and two months later in the United States. Some of the main characters in the film include Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet), Mathew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy), Talulah Riley (Mary Bennet), and Brenda Blethyn (Mrs. Bennet). Although the film version is short, it is persuasive, witty, powerful, and entertaining that makes it to be far superior to the novel.
The movie illustrates the lives of the Bennet sisters. They consist of five young women who are looking for suitable husbands. Their overbearing mother aids them in this process. However, the father seems to be unaware of the unfolding drama. Elizabeth, the second of the five sisters, prevails in the movie. The main plot of the story depicts the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy who is the affluent owner of the pompous family estate of Permberley in Derbyshire (Austen, 2009).
As the movie begins, they seem not to be attracted to one another. However, as the story continues, circumstances compel them to scrutinize their hearts and their notions about one another, so as to dig out the truth about their lives. In addition, there is also a parallel love story between Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane (Rosamund Pike) and the amiable Mr. Charles Bingley (Simon Woods).
The story as well follows the rejection of marriage proposal made to Elizabeth by a detestable emotional clergyman known as Mr. William Collins (Tom Hollander). The underground illicit activities of the open and bighearted Mr. George Wickham (Rupert Friend) are also revealed.
The Bennets are anticipating the coming of Mr. Bingley, an affluent bachelor who recently moved to a house in their neighborhood. Mrs. Bennett is busy strategizing on how to let one of her daughters to get married to this rich neighbor, without his knowledge. Jane and Mr. Bingley seem to be attracted to each other.
However, Elizabeth seems to take an immediate dislike to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley’s reserved friend. Mr. Darcy is the kind of a person who does not like to relate to people who are not of his status in the society. And since the Bennets were not very rich, Darcy coldly rebuffed Jane’s attempts to talk to him. Thereafter, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy unexpectedly return to London leaving the Bennet family astonished at what happened of the love between Bingley and Jane (Moler, 1989).
Since Mr. Bennet does not have a son, Mr. Collins, the cousin of the five sisters, is the probable heir to the family’s estate because of his close kinship to the family. When Elizabeth refuses her proposal, her father welcomes the idea but her mother does not.
Collins ends up marrying Charlotte Lucas (Claudie Blakley), who is a good friend to Elizabeth. Charlotte married him to gain financial security. In the midst of the journeys between London and Derbyshire, the viewers are introduced to the influence of Mr. Wickham, an old friend of Darcy from childhood.
Superficially charming, he convincingly talked to Elizabeth concerning several distorted tales about Darcy. From here on, things start to take a drastic turn. Viewers witness the fall and rise of Mr. Darcy. The fall of the Bennet family is also depicted when Lydia Bennet (Jena Malone), the youngest in the family, elopes with Mr. Wickham. However, it seems that this marriage is not founded in love. As the story ends, despite the difficulties, Jane and Mr. Bingley are engaged. In addition, Elizabeth accepts Darcy’s second proposal.
Many changes are often done to literary works when they are adapted into a movie (Geraghty, 2008). Pride & Prejudice is no exception as a number of notable changes from the original novel are evident throughout the movie. To begin with, the movie was compressed into one hundred and twenty-eight minutes that significantly reduced the time for several major sequences. For example, Elizabeth’s visit to several places such as the Rosings Park and Pemberley were not adequately covered.
The filmmakers also did not include several supporting characters. Some of them are Louisa Hurst, Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, and a number of friends of the Bennett family. Numerous sections whereby the characters talk about experiences, which had already taken place, are also emitted in the film version. For instance, the chapter describing Elizabeth’s change of perspective after receiving the love letter from Darcy. This may be the only weakness in the movie.
Any person who has read Austen knows that possibly her greatest strength rests in her use of supporting characters and detailed explanations of events. Abbreviating some sections fails to convey this richness in her writing. In as much as there is a lot of sacrifice in adapting the book into a two-hour film, the pacing issue in the film makes some scenes to suddenly rush forward and fail to depict Austen’s intentions in writing the novel.
Wright and his screenwriter, Moggach, modified numerous scenes to more loving environment than the ones in the novel, for example, in the movie, Darcy first gives his proposal outside in a rainstorm near a beautiful lake, while in the novel, this scene occurs inside a church house.
In the movie, in another attempt to engage Elizabeth, Darcy proposes to her on the misty moors in the early morning, while in the novel, the scene takes place when both of them are strolling down a country lane during the day. In the United States version of the movie, the last scene depicts the newly married Darcys having a good time outside their home in Pemberley. However, this additional final scene is absent in the book.
This romantic ending received a hostile reception in the United Kingdom; therefore, it was secluded for the country and international audience. The UK film version culminates with Mr. Bennet giving Elizabeth and Darcy his blessings on their relationship. This circumvents the last chapter in the book. The book ends by summing up the lives of the main characters in the story over the next numerous years.
The tone of the movie differs from that of the novel. As the movie starts, the director and the screenwriter fail to include the author’s well-known, cunningly satirical, aphoristic opening line. This instant shift in tone continues all through the whole movie. The filmmakers placed more emphasis on romance. However, the author of the novel intended to portray the morals and the mores of a marriage relationship.
As pointed out above, several important scenes are shifted from the drawing room to the countryside. This complements and strengthens the teeming passions of the characters. Perhaps, the secret weapon for the movie’s success lies in its romantic aspect. On the other hand, Austen did not portray this in the novel. The cinematographer, Roman Osin, also did a good job in capturing the film’s skillfully designed surface. The old saying ‘beauty is only skin deep’ depicts the outstanding cinematography in the film.
As the director made full use of the spectacular scenery of England’s countryside, the cinematographer did his best in bringing the correct mood to every shot, whether it is warm, broad daylight, chill, or spring morning. The filmmakers used attractive scenes in order to allow the moviegoer to lose himself or herself in his or her engagement with the film’s captivating performers. The making of such an elegant and captivating world is likely to charm many viewers.
Credit goes to the director of the film for casting performers closer in age than the ones in the novel. However, there are some weaknesses in the characters in the film. Although the actors are handsome and talented, in some places, they fall short of hooking up with the audience.
Austen’s classic novel has an emotional pull that the movie fails to portray to the audience. Some parts are too cold and distant. It is as if the characters were deriving their cue from the brooding personality of Darcy. The movie’s older generation of actors achieved a higher caliber of performances.
Donald Sutherland, Dame Judi Dench and Brenda Blethyn headlined these veteran actors in providing the film’s best moments. Brenda Blethyn understands the significance of the quandary facing his family, but simultaneously he only wants his children to get the best husbands. The hen-pecked, world-weary Sutherland prevails in each scene he is in with his laconic dry sense of humor. This contrasts Blethyn’s restless, one-track minded display of character.
On the hand, the younger group, did not portray an engaging performance as did their more senior counterparts. For example, Austen portrays Darcy to be unapproachable; however, in the film, Macfadyen treats him so unfriendly that he fails to give an engaging performance.
Darcy is less engaged in the activities that are taking place such that Elizabeth’s attraction to him is difficult to explain. The Bennet sisters are not convincing as siblings since none of them looks alike with the other and their interactions with one another fail to sell the bond of sisterhood. Elizabeth seems to be the only one who is full of life.
The supposed relationship between Jane and Bingley seems to be existing in the films so as to maintain the same running joke. The relationship is underplayed and it lacks chemistry. It is difficult for someone to believe that the two are in love, except by closely scrutinizing the characters as the story develops.
The incarnation of Pride and Prejudice makes it to be occasional anachronistic. For example, there are moments when the performers portray very modern habits that are different from the time it is set. A number of the women characters are especially liable to instances of defiance and vivacity. This is a common behavior of women in our own age than of people in the early nineteenth century.
However, the filmmakers intended to make the performers to be more approachable to the viewers of this age with these mannerisms. Besides the weaknesses that exist in the film, it is very intriguing. In addition to its great story outline, the five star characters did an excellent job. The soundtrack as well as the costumes used portrays the setting of the 1813 classic by Austen. The film is best suited for persons aged sixteen and above, especially those who adore stories concerning love, disloyalty, guilt, and desire.
The adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is a demonstrative confirmation against any protests to the perpetual significance of Austen’s beloved classic of behavior, relationship, and riches. The movie opens up and unfurls Austen’s tightly drawn work of literature. In this manner, the actors are able to breathe and move about. This could not have been possible in a slavish version. One feels to be alive in the movie as there is a pulsating vitality, which is usually so distinct that it diverts from the story.
However, this diversion is not detrimental to the story. Yes, it is evident that several changes have been made from the original text. Some subplots have been grouped together, significant exchanges taken to unusual locales, new scenes incorporated and others taken away completely. The filmmakers also changed the overall thematic emphasis of the story. However, the movie is persuasive, witty, powerful, and entertaining that makes it to be far superior to the novel.
Austen, J., 2009. Pride and prejudice. New York: Feather Trail Press.
Geraghty, C., 2008. Now a major motion picture : film adaptations of literature and drama. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Moler, K. L., 1989. Pride and prejudice : a study in artistic economy. Boston: Twayne Publishers.