Thursday, April 20, 2006

Darcy Me This

Yesterday, while avoiding my job applications, I decided to finally watch the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. As far as distractions go, it was definitely a letdown... but to be fair, I'm saying that as a history major, a Social Studies teacher, and an Austen devotee.

In my mind, no two-hour movie could ever come close to the A&E miniseries. But before I launch into my complaints, please remember that the flitgirl gave this movie a much more generous review back in November. And I would like to concur with her assertion that the cinematography was gorgeous. Also, this movie had the best handling of crowded indoor scenes that I've ever enjoyed in an Austen adaptation. The Assembly Rooms and Bingley Ball were quite crowded romps!

I also liked the obvious economic stratification between Darcy and Lizzy. That's another way in which this version trumps the A&E miniseries.

However, as the flitgirl noted, the writers cut beautiful lines of Austen to make way for clunky dialogue. I found the transition between the two modes of speaking quite jarring--"now I'll speak like a Regency miss." "Now I'll translate the plot for stupid audience members." This was especially offensive when they cut true gems, such as the famous first line of the book!

I also thought the production team made ridiculous efforts to "sex up the story." Lizzy wandering over to Netherfield with uncovered bedhead, attending a ball with no gloves, or receiving visitors in her nightgown? I think not! And her visit to Pemberley... I couldn't tell whether her new feelings for Darcy were a result of honest reflection, or a lustful byproduct of looking at naked statues. Didn't mind the rainy proposal so much... I'm a sucker for wet movie stars, ever since Breakfast at Tiffany's.

This is one story I don't think should be cut and condensed. With so many pieces missing, we never really hated Caroline Bingley. The scandal of an elopement seemed minimal, and Wickham only appeared in two scenes. Moreover, without Bingley showing up at Pemberley I almost forgot he existed and wondered why he bothered proposing at all... I also wondered why Jane accepted, but that's another story.

You're right, Flitgirl. This was definitely the best portrayal of Jane I've ever seen. But Bingley was a simpering dork and I honestly questioned his intelligence. Why would she fall for such a fellow? And Mr. Bennet as the doting but absent-minded naturalist, who seems to have a healthy relationship with his wife? Ugh. It's like they took all the satire out of Austen and left an unremarkable romance story.

With all that said, I'm still glad that I saw the movie. As an Austen devotee who adores Pride and Prejudice, I consider it my joyous duty to see all permutations of the story! Next up on my viewing agenda: Pride and Prejudice, A Latter-Day Comedy, which takes place on the modern-day BYU campus. Should be interesting, and definitely worth a post!


theflitgirl said...

I've seen that Mormon-P&P has been on tv several times over the past few months, but I haven't scared up the courage to watch it yet.

I see your complaints with the movie, and I largely agree with them. But taking the movie on its own terms, not as a corrolary with the other films (and leaving asidethe fact that NOTHING can compare with Austen) I really enjoyed it.

Honestly, having a good Jane, a lively Lizzie and a suitably broody and distant Darcy who's not a total jerk goes far in my book. I even like the 1940s version, for goodness sake!

Jaime said...

Oooh. Now I totally want to see the mormon version.
Kaaaaaatie, save me from job application hell! You know what's worse than applying for jobs? Applying for jobs you DON'T EVEN WANT.

Sigrid said...

I'm with you on the movie--there were a few golden moments, but mostly it was pandering crap.
I also realized that I'm not sure what email to use for you--all I can track down is the tukwila one, but I don't know if you still use it, so I'm commenting her in the hopes of getting in touch with you. is my non-school one.

Holly said...

I rather enjoyed this movie if, like theflitgirl, I based it solely on it's own and didn't try to compare. I really enjoyed the Wet Proposal scene, but was very disappointed with the Nightgown incident...*sigh*

Overall, though, I thought it was pretty good.

Miss Scarlett said...

There is a Mormon P&P!? I have never heard of it.
I am unsure of how I think of this version. Part of me liked it - mostly the cinematography. The tree that Lizzie picnics on with her Aunt & Uncle is the best part of the whole movie. It's incredible.
But watching Keira Knightly clump around in a dress with her short hair sticking out beneath her bun - yuck.
But Mr. Darcy I did like - though he seemed a kinder gentler Darcy than previous incarnations.
Don't hate me but I really, really love Bride & Prejudice. I think the class parallels work perfectly. And it was so gosh darned happy! Plus I love Bhangara music.
A&E's version with Colin Firth is still my favourite.

Kate D. said...

Nightgown Incident... Wet Proposal... pandering crap... I love y'all. YOu really know how to capture your thoughts and feelings on the page.

Holly said...

Hmm, in retrospect, that didn't sound quite right, did it?


Dylan said...

I actually OWN the Latter Day Saint version of this and being Mormon, it's been like years since I've last watched it and I remember thinking it was cute, but since I can't remember much about the movie itself, maybe it wasn't that good...LOL. Who knows, I know it's not a favorite of mine, but if you want to check out a good movie, you should try Charly...that movie is really good.

theflitgirl said...

Pandering crap always tastes better with a little Austen sugar.

I'm sticking to my guns, dammit!

(Though the Nightgown incident was shudder-ific. So Bronte. So not Austen)