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The new Pride and Prejudice movie

So a few friends and I went to see the new Pride and Prejudice movie today. I've seen the BBC mini-series several times, so I was predisposed to be a bit judgmental. But I enjoyed the movie. As I told Shannon today, if the mini-series is an A, then I'd give this a C+. Maybe I was being a bit harsh. Perhaps a B-.

The things I liked about the movie included the new Darcy (played by Matthew MacFadyen, whom I'd never heard of before). I didn't want to like him for two reasons: (1) he isn't Colin Firth, and (2) he plays Darcy as too vulnerable right from the start. But I liked him anyway, because the vulnerability of his portrayal grew on me. It didn't give the lovely startling sense of discovery you get from slowly seeing that vulnerability emerge from an initially pompous Darcy, but it was nice in its own way. I ended up liking the actor quite a bit.

Now that I think about it, that's the main thing I liked about the movie. Well, that and the basic story, which I already knew I liked.

The biggest thing I didn't like was Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett. My primary reason for disliking her in the film is a purely cosmetic quibble: she doesn't look the part. Elizabeth Bennett is supposed to be considered by her contemporaries to be a great beauty ... but Keira Knightley is built like a 10-year-old boy. The period clothing only serves to emphasize her complete lack of breastage, making her look like a scarecrow (as in the photo I've referenced). In this period in England, no one would have wanted to marry someone with such a figure, let alone consider them a great beauty. I can understand how the casting folks would have wanted someone skinny to appeal to modern tastes, but they could have at least found someone with a little bit of a figure. Even just the tiniest bit. Just a hint of cleavage, at least. But Keira Knightley has none to offer. I thought she looked terrible throughout the movie (particularly as the period clothing fit her so ill), except when they focused exclusively on her face. In fact, I found her ugliness in the clothing frequently distracted me from my enjoyment of the film.

The second thing I didn't like was the Hollywoodization of the whole thing. The romance was pushed even more to the forefront, with scenes like Darcy striding through the mist (perhaps even in slow motion, I can't quite remember) while the music swelled dramatically. It made me want to roll my eyes. Much of the plot that didn't center exclusively around the romance was cut (for obvious reasons, since they had to make a 2-hour movie out of a 300-page book) and dialogue was often rattled off as if everyone was in a race to speak as quickly as possible, often at the same time as someone else speaking equally as quickly. Though I know the book and mini-series quite well, even I sometimes could not understand what characters were saying. The beginning of the film, in particular seemed like Pride and Prejudice on Speed, with only a few minutes cursory introduction to the characters before they were forceably thrust into the scene where Darcy and Lizzie meet for the first time. It was all a bit of a blur.

Other than that, I found the movie pretty enjoyable. Donald Sutherland is wonderful as Mr. Bennett, and all the other actors were perfectly adequate. The scenery, of course, is gorgeous. And I even thought that Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen had good chemistry.

Mr. Darcy never dove into a lake and then walked around with a wet shirt on. This was a grave disappointment. (Here I'm joking, in reference to one of my favorite scenes in the mini-series.)

It didn't live up to the BBC mini-series, but then I knew it couldn't. Not in 2 hours. Still, I liked it enough to recommend it ... especially if you haven't read the book or seen the mini-series. It's a good introduction to the story.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
Actually, I may remember this wrongly, but isn't it Lizzy's older sister Jane who is regarded the beauty? I thought Elizabeth's charm was based on her charisma rather than her classic beauty. I recall thinking that much as I liked the casting in the BBC series, Lizzy was rather too pretty and Jane rather too plain... It's been a while since I've read P&P, though, so I may be wrong.
Dec. 5th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
No, you're right that Jane is the one who is reputed to be the great beauty in the area, but my memory is that Lizzy is reputed to be quite pretty, as well. I may be wrong. I do know that Mr. Bingley describes her as "very pretty," but he would probably say that about anybody. :)
Dec. 6th, 2005 12:15 am (UTC)
Oh, and I completely agree with you about the comparative beauty of Jane and Lizzy in the BBC mini-series. I didn't think Jane was very pretty at all!
Dec. 5th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see this, because my 13-year-old niece is over the moon about the movie, and I have been hoping that she wasn't loving complete trash (on the other hand, she's thirteen!)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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