Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: "Pride and Prejudice" (2005)

Welcome to Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema!

Several times a year, NineteenTeen will be hosting a discussion of a historical movie set during the Nineteenth Century.  Today's discussion:  the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Mathew Macfadyen.

So whether you saw it recently or long ago, whether you have watched it many times or just once, we'd love to know what you think!

And if you want to add some context, go ahead.

For example...have you read the book?

Have you seen any other adaptations of Pride and Prejudice?

If you've read the book, what did you think of this interpretation?

Were the characters how you envisioned them?

Do you miss what was cut out?

If you've seen another adaptation, which did you prefer? Why?

If you've never read or seen any other version of Pride and Prejudice, I'd particularly love to hear your opinion!

Could you follow the story? Did you feel you knew the characters?

In particular, did you feel you knew Lydia and Wickham well enough that their story had a real impact?  (I'm really curious about this point!)

To help the discussion, here's a list of the major characters, and the actors who played them.


Keira Knightley -- Elizabeth Bennet

Rosamund Pike -- Jane Bennet

Talulah Riley -- Mary Bennet

Jena Malone -- Lydia Bennet

Carey Mulligan -- Kitty Bennet

Donald Sutherland -- Mr. Bennet

Brenda Blethyn -- Mrs. Bennet

Claudie Blakley -- Charlotte Lucas

Simon Woods -- Mr. Bingley

Kelly Reilly -- Caroline Bingley

Matthew Macfadyen -- Mr. Darcy

Rupert Friend -- Mr. Wickham

Tom Hollander -- Mr. Collins

Judi Dench -- Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Now that I've poured you a cup of the most delicate Darjeeling, along with rich seedcake and the creamiest syllabub in London, do let us know what you think!

(All images copyright Focus Features.)


J.Grace said...

I have read Pride and Prejudice a few times. As I mentioned before I prefer BBC production instead because it follows the book very closely.

With that said, I do believe they did an excellent job showing the various estates and the English countryside. I really enjoyed Mrs. Bennet, Jane Bennet, Mr Bingley, Lady Catherine and Mr. Darcy. They are just is I pictured them.

Marissa Doyle said...

Er, have to say that I really disliked this movie for several reasons, especially the way that the Lydia/Wickham subplot, which is so vital to the story, was so truncated that it got lost. The director could have removed some of the "arty" cinematographic bits and put the time they used up to better use, I think. And I found the actor who played Darcy very unappealing.

Me, opinionated much? :)

Cara King said...

You don't find Matthew Macfadyen appealing, Marissa??? Okay, more for me, I guess.

Ahem. Sorry. I'll behave myself. :-) (But I did find him very attractive! Intense and brooding under the surface, and great chemistry with Knightley.)

Liviania said...

I liked this version, although I prefer the BBC. It does a good job of translating the story into a single movie.

I must disagree with you, Marissa - I thought this was a good Darcy, especially having to live up to the shadow of Colin Firth.

While the Lydia/Wickham plot was truncated, I liked the casting of Wickham. Too often he's cast to look like his personality, instead of being hot and initially charming as he should be. (Although he has nothing on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries' Wickham.)

Todd Brun said...

While my heart will forever belong to Jennifer Ehle, I did like this movie quite a bit. And Macfadyen had the brooding thing down to an art. Brood, brood. Why does no one understand me? Brood. And Keira Knightley has a very appealing, impish quality that works well for Elizabeth.

Unfortunately, it's been too long for me to remember what I thought of the Wickham/Lydia subplot. And since I've read the book more than once and have seen more than one earlier adaptation, I'm not sure I'd be a good judge of how well it worked on its own...

Marissa Doyle said...

No, not appealing in the least, Cara. He struck as more befuddled than brooding. All a matter of individual taste and perception, I suppose. :)

Cara King said...

J. Grace and Liviana, I agree with you on preferring the BBC version (the Firth/Ehle one, not the Rintoul/Garvie one) -- it's my favorite version, and it's hard for me to imagine any version ever surpassing it for me. (Not counting the book!)

That said, I do like this version. J Grace, I'm with you on liking the actors you like, especially Jane; she manages to be sweet without being actually stupid, and she's as beautiful as everyone says she is.

Liviana, I totally agree with you on the casting of Wickham! He shouldn't look like a weasel, but like a storybook hero -- at first glance, he's all good looks and open countenance and earnest confidences.

BTW, Liviana, I'd never heard of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries until you mentioned it here! (Glad to hear about it -- thanks!) I went and looked on imdb and I see what you mean about their Wickham. :-)

Cara King said...

I've been trying to restrain myself, because I can talk for days about Jane Austen movies...but here goes.

Some things I liked about this movie:

1) The young characters actually look young. Just take a look at that picture of Lydia (in the carriage at the bottom of the post) -- doesn't she look exactly like a fifteen-year-old dressed up in fancy adult clothes and insanely smug now that she can show off for her older sisters? Don't you just want to slap her, while also feeling terribly worried because she's really just a kid, and has no idea what she's gotten herself locked into for the rest of her life?

2) Things look real. The Bennet sisters' hair looks like they curled it at home. Gowns get muddy. Girls in their teens sometimes have bad complexions. Things get messy!

3) Our heroine has a good laugh. I love the part at the ball where our Elizabeth is insulted, and then decides the best way to handle it is to laugh at it. There are lots of ways to interpret Austen's heroine, and Knightley's worked for me.

4) Mary has a crush on Mr Collins. When I first read the book, I thought they were the perfect match, so I'm glad to see someone agreed with me! :-)

5) Mary Reilly's Miss Bingley. She's sly and subtle, and you can believe Mr Darcy might have been attracted to her.

Regina Scott said...

I loved Keira Knightley as Lizzie. The scene where she rejects Mr. Collins is priceless! Like Marissa, I had some trouble with Darcy--too disheveled. He looks more like a cowboy than a British aristocrat to me. I rather liked the scene at the end, even it it wasn't in the book. How many times have we wished to confirm that the characters in a beloved book lived happily ever after? The scenery was divine. I thought perhaps they took the "real" portion a bit too far--for example, the pig that walks through part of the house.

I too prefer the BBC version, although the Darcy in the "Lost in Austen" take on the story is wonderful too!

Cara King said...

Ooh, who could forget the pig! ;-)

Regina, I like the scene at the end, too, despite what some folks say. It was very sweet and romantic.

Okay, here's some things I did not like about this version:

-- the characters seemed to have a strong aversion to wearing their gloves, hats, bonnets, and, in some cases, coat/waistcoat/cravat! (And England is cold!) And I wish the women weren't always running around with their hair down.

-- speaking of lack of decorum, what's with Lady Catherine showing up in the middle of the night, and talking to people wearing nightclothes?

-- I also could have done without the Gothic flourishes. Gothic + Jane Austen = comedy, not romance. (Just ask Mr Tilney!)

-- I understand trying to make certain things clear for folks who don't know the book or the period, but even so, I thought they made the Bennets too poor.

Oh, and I do wish they'd had more time to really establish Lydia and Wickham.

That said, I did enjoy it a lot. I found it funny and pretty and romantic, and really liked the chemistry between Knightley and Macfadyen.

QNPoohBear said...

I agree with the things Cara liked. The filmmaker deliberate chose to cast actors who were around the same ages as their characters. It was the first time that had ever been done and I really liked seeing characters my age played by actors my age. When I first saw the movie in theaters I thought it was a pretty good adaptation. It followed the basic story as far as I could remember. Since then, I've read the book so many more times, seen the BBC/A&E version (Colin Firth jumps in a lake trumps Matthew Macfadyen's brooding), etc. etc. My biggest problem with this movie is that it strips away Jane Austen's beautiful language. I understand the need to appeal to the masses but I miss her words. The very last scene, which was later cut out, was silly and unnecessary. This version is preferable to the Olivier version which not only takes away Jane Austen's words but her plot. Lost in Austen is an excellent adaptation. I ALMOST like that Darcy better than Colin Firth's Darcy. I like Lost in Austen's Wickham and Caroline Bingley the best.

Cara King said...

Lost in Austen is an excellent adaptation. I ALMOST like that Darcy better than Colin Firth's Darcy. I like Lost in Austen's Wickham and Caroline Bingley the best.

Wow, QNPoohBear! I already knew I had to watch Lost in Austen sometime, but now I'm really curious about it. (And Regina also was talking about that Darcy! Hmmm....very intriguing.)

And I think I agree with you about preferring the 2005 P&P to the Olivier/Garson version...though I do enjoy the latter one, too. (I find Olivier's interpretation of a shy Darcy quite interesting, and Garson is intelligent and combative. It was of its time, though, and broader than I prefer.)

Marissa Doyle said...

Not to mention the outrageous 1830s fashions in the Olivier/Garson version... :)

Cara King said...

Ooh, I know, Marissa!

Then again, if you look at the picture of Miss Bingley here, you'll see why I call her "sleeveless hussy." That's a dress that doesn't even pretend to be period. :-)

QNPoohBear said...

Everyone complains about the 1830s costumes in the Olivier version but in the first scene Mrs. Bennet (or her sister), says the news of Mr. Bingley moving in is the best news since the Battle of Waterloo, so it's not meant to be set in 1813.

Cara, find a time to watch Lost in Austen with no one else at home except other ardent Janeites. Or look on YouTube. I nearly fell off the couch laughing so hard. I think Miss Austen would approve since she seems to have had a wicked sense of humor but some people violently hate the twisted story with a passion. Their Darcy is pretty much how I pictured him when I first read the book. Mr. Collins is much ickier but very funny. Spoiler alerts my favorite scenes!
Caroline Bingley

Amanda's Post-Modern Moment

Cara King said...

QNPoohBear, I've now moved Lost in Austen to the top of my Netflix queue. Thanks for the tip!

QNPoohBear said...

ooh I forgot Bride and Prejudice. Best Mr. Collins! I liked the parts of the movie that directly copied the original and thus Mr. Coli made me laugh.
Cara I hope you enjoy Lost in Austen. There were some parts (one part?) left out of the American DVD but if you want it, you can find it on YouTube "Amanda singing."

Cara King said...

Will do, QNPoohBear. And I totally agree with you on the Mr Collins in Bride and Prejudice! The part when he's showing off his tract house are hilarious -- particularly because those sorts of houses have always scared me a bit anyway. ;-)

Anonymous said...

As far as story goes (and length, I prefer LONG films) I'd go with the BBC version. I do really love this version though as the actors are much younger and I think did a wonderful job. Had it been longer I think I'd consider it the best.

Oh, and I have to say I rather liked the women having their hair down so much. But then I'm a guy so..... :-)

Anonymous Again said...

And another thing, for whatever reason I loved the evil Caroline Bingley in this film while loathing the BBC character.