Friday, March 10, 2006

The New "Pride & Prejudice"

We went to see the new Pride & Prejudice last night, and just as I hoped it is soooooooooooo romantic! Somehow this movie also manages to be hilarious, but in an understated, un-American sort of way.
Keira Knightly did an outstanding job of being her usual independent, outspoken, beautiful self in the part of Lizzy, she certainly re-defined the role from the A&E version, a little less refined and more earthy.
Matthew MacFayden did a fantastic job of minimizing Mr. Darcy's flaws to simply being shy. He doesn't ever seem really pompous or prideful and is altogether quite adorable.
Donald Southerland was Mr. Bennett and though I didn't like him quite as much as the father in the A&E version he still did an outstanding job.
One of the flaws in this movie is that everyone but Kiera Knightly is so plain! Even Jane (played by Rosamund Pike - isn't that a beautiful name?), who is my favorite character in the story, seemed like she was trying to look like the A&E Jane. She was very sweet but also silly and not so very beautiful, also Bingly wasn't handsome at all. It wouldn't have been so striking if Keira Knightly wasn't so very pretty but as it was it almost seemed intentional.
The costumes are extremely well done, each character's wardrobe helps to further define his or her character - for instance moody Lizzy wears earth tones and sweet Jane wears pastels, Caroline Bingly wears fancy dresses made of rich looking material in much brighter colors and sleeker styles whereas the Bennetts wear simple dresses of rougher material.
The cinematography is fantastic, there are several scenes that are just amazing, I'm thinking especially of the scenes after Lizzy has rejected Mr. Darcy, the mirror scene, the walking through the mist scene and the viewing the landscape scene. This movie was filmed at some wonderful locations and we are given a few moments here and there to enjoy it.
Of course when turning a novel into a movie there has to be an enormous amount of editing, paring the book down into a manageable 2 hour long movie, so one or two characters have been cut out (I especially noticed Mr. Bingly's other sister & husband were missing) and others marginalized (Mr. Wickham's character especially) or under-developed (as in the Mr. & Miss Bingly) one would expect that, however the script of this movie uncanily echoes the A&E version, there were at least a dozen time when I knew word for word what the character was going to say in a given scene. On the other hand there were some wonderful interpretations of scenes, especially during Mr. Darcy's proposals.
There were also a couple of additional lines that were stuck in as sort of an explanation for modern viewers as to what's going on, like when Miss Lucas accepts Mr. Collins proposal or another time when Lizzy and Mrs. Bennett are together, talking about Lydia's upcoming marriage, Lizzy says "Is that all you think about?" and Mrs. Bennett says to Lizzy "Wait until you have five daughters."It was quite comical.
There were moments that seemed horribly anachronistic, especially attitudes and ways of speaking that are very modern, it might have been better to not to try to be so authentically "Jane Austen" and let the whole thing be modern. Sometimes they would curtsey, sometimes not, sometimes they had such a refined air, most of the time not. It would have been better to try not to be refined at all.
Thankfully, the movie remains pure and honorable. The flirts get themselves into awful trouble, the passive father receives his cupful of due shame, the aggressive silly mother, as silly as ever and never justified. The state of marriage is honored and physical affection between couples are, amazingly, kept sacred - they don't even kiss until after they are married! Marriage and family are honored, rather than belittled, and portrayed frankly but beautifully.
On the whole, this movie is just lovely! Daniel even watched it with me and enjoyed it. I am sure I'll buy it when it comes out to own and will watch it over and over.
I found a nice little gallery of images here, another one is here & the yahoo one is here
Christianity Today's review is here and Focus on the Family PluggedIn review is here.

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