Pride and Prejudice and preference

This post doesn’t have anything important to say.  You’ve been forewarned.

I checked out the two-videotape version of Pride and Prejudice from the library last week and decided to watch it today while I folded and sorted bottomless baskets of laundry.  I love the story and I’ve watched different versions of it many times.  The one I watched today was the 1980 BBC version and I’d never seen it before.  I liked it, but thought it lacked a certain spark, so I kept thinking about it today and tried to come to conclusions about what I like and dislike about each version.  (It was too cold to leave the house and thinking about laundry all day is depressing.)

1980 version:

It took me a good while at the beginning to be able to tell the characters of Jane and Lizzie apart, but at least they actually look they could really be sisters, unlike the other two versions.  I like this Mr. Darcy alright- his serious and arrogant side is very believable and well-acted, but the kinder side of him seemed less than genuine.  My biggest complaint with this version is that Elizabeth Bennett, though spunky, seemed to lack as much spirit and inner passion as I like to imagine her to have.  I guess she’s probably the most accurately Victorian of the the three Lizzie’s, but a little too cold for my taste.  Oh, and the Mrs. Bennett is great, but the father didn’t seem as warm as in other versions.  Cheesy montage of clips set to music, but the best I could find:

1995 version:

I actually haven’t seen this version for a while, but I like it a lot.  Who doesn’t love Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy?  I didn’t like the casting of Jane in this one, but Lizzie’s character is extremely likable and genuine.  I definitely prefer it as a whole over the 1980 version.  I can’t remember enough details about it to say anything very intelligent, but now I definitely want to watch it again.

2005 version:

I really love this version.  Maybe I’m not a purist because the characters are quite modernized in their expressions, rather than the fiercely traditional Victorian restraint.  I love Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett– just the right blend of charm and passion and spunk.  I would totally love to hang out with her, if I could wear pants.  It still bugs me that Jane and Elizabeth don’t even look related, but they are both well-developed characters.  I love the dad in this movie, as well as Mr. Collins and Mr. Bingley– all well cast.  And I really like this Mr. Darcy’; he portrays all sides of his character  earnestly.  (Whenever I watch a period movie like this, I find myself talking Victorian vocabulary in my brain for the rest of the day.)  Except for the last 10 seconds of the movie, which are far too cheesy for my taste, I could watch this movie over and over again and still feel the suspense of it.

And while it’s true that I spent too long watching the movie and almost as long writing this post, I’m not to blame.  It’s totally Jane Austen’s fault.  Any other fans out there?


38 thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice and preference

  1. I’ve never seen the 1980’s version, and I’ve only seen the 1985 version once. Love Collin Firth as Mr. Darcy. 🙂 And I LOVE the new version with Keira Knightley. The music and the shots are breathtaking. I LOVE when Mr. Darcy comes to see her in the rain! And I actually like the cheesy last 10 seconds. 🙂 I have the book on audiobook and it’s so fun to listen to!

  2. Oh, yes, huge fan here. I love the third version, too. The music is breathtaking at times, which is something I rarely say about a movie score.

    But honestly? This is one of those stories I enjoy mostly in my head. While there are some (like Lord of the Rings) that were actually more understandable for me in the movie versions, there’s nothing to compare with just curling up with the paper version of Pride and Prejudice.

    I ordered the one with Zombies for my daughter. Yes, I’m a Philistine.

  3. Total fan. I mostly agree with all that you said, although I think I love the 95 version best. It was the one I first loved.
    I cannot believe that they ruined the new one with such a cheesy ending. If they hadn’t, it could probably be my favorite.
    And, lucky me, I have converted my husband and girls to the 2005 and 1995 versions so they don’t even grumble when I get them out anymore. 🙂

  4. I LOVE Jane Austen. I HATE the 2005 version. Not because I’m a purist, but because it is the worst made movie I saw all year. Everyone talks so fast like they are trying to fit in all the dialog they can while still having a shorter movie. If someone watched it who didn’t know the story it would take them several minutes into the movie before they could figure out who was playing which part and how they were all related to each other. If your going to shorten a story for a movie just shorten it, don’t try to race through things so they don’t get left out!

  5. The Keira Knightly is about my least favorite. I don’t like how they do her hair and makeup. I think they take way too much away from the language of the book by setting up scenes that use no language and just looks. I like the 1980 version except the scenery. It takes away from the good acting and well-written adaptation. I don’t like how they never kiss but only walk arm in arm at the end—mmmmm. The Colin Firth version, in my opinion, is definitely the best. Well-written, well-acted, scenery and costumes add to the production. They do a great job at having looks show their feelings. I’ve never seen the very old black and white version which doesn’t follow the book very well, and the costumes are from the civil war era rather than the regency period, but oh well. Love, love this movie. Love, love Jane Austin. Masterpiece Theatre is doing another version of Emma this winter. It is much needed because the BBC 1980 version, Gweneth Paltrow, and Kate Beckenstile’s versions don’t really match up to the book. I am hoping that this new version will be the best. OK–I think I know a little too much about the subject I will sign off!

  6. I, oddly enough, never met Jane Austen until I was an adult. It had the fortunate side effect of not pre-prejudicing me against her works, and I loved almost all of them immediately. I have watched many of the movies and found them thoroughly entertaining. Have you ever watched the old (really old) P&P? It’s actually quite comical. I also LOVE “Persuasion.” After we read & watched this for our ward book club I dreamed in victorian language. Such as “I implore you earnestly…” Can it get better than that?

    I must say that my favorite Austen movie is “Emma,” and that is because I am totally and completely in love with Mr. Knightley. (Except for the unfortunate fact that his name is George!)

  7. I agree that the book is far better than the movie, (at least the newest version, which is the only one I’ve seen…..but I like). But I have got to get my hands on the Colin Firth version! Who doesn’t love Colin Firth? Him as Mr. Darcy = me in love!

  8. I’ve been a fan since I was thirteen and, while discovering the library at my new school grabbed the first book on the “A” shelf that caught my eye. I’ve owned the 1995 version for years and watch it often, so I quite detested the 2005 version the first time I saw it (though I would grudgingly admit that the music and casting are superb). It’s grown on me now and alas, Colin Firth is no longer my favourite Mr. Darcy. Shocking, I know!

    Recently saw a fairly new version of Persuasion – loved it!

  9. Love Colin Firth. Hate Keira Knightly. (Did you see her in King Arthur? Don’t.) But I love the rest of the 2005, and am . . . okay with the rest of the 1995 version. So . . . I’m still looking for a good Lizzy. Maybe in another 15 years they’ll remake it with one I like.

  10. I thought I’d seen at least one of these, but I don’t recognize a single one of them. I’ve read the book plenty, though. My viewing choice of late for laundry folding has been Fawlty Towers–a fair piece down the ladder of culture from Jane Austen movies, but it is British. Do I get any points for that?

  11. You should know that when I pulled up your blog this morning my husband walked by and said, “What IS it with you and that movie?”

    Ummm, so maybe I’ve seen it a few times. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the 1995 version on PBS, but I could watch the 2005 version over and over again and never get tired of it. Never seen the older version.

    But my absolute favorite movie of all time is Sense and Sensibility- the version with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I like to pretend that I am Marianne Dashwood. I also had an experience with a Willoughby type guy in my life (Or as I like to call him, Willoughdork.) So, yeah, I may be a little obsessed with Jane Austen.

  12. Sigh. Colin Firth is dreamy. I have to say, I actually also like the newest version, and I’m not a huge Kiera Knightly fan. Mr. Darcy is dreamy in that one too.

    That’s how I rate my P&P. In Mr Darcy dreaminess.

  13. My favorite is the Colin Firth one. By a mile. You know me well. I am a purist. The First one runs like a play, not so much like a movie. I can appricate that. But if I want to see a play. I would go see a play. I just LOVE the BBC. I dont like Hollywood versions of any novel meant to be read with an english accent.
    Although there is a black dance floor in the 2005 one, that I thought was awesome. Apparently, there was a lot of metephoric retoric in the 2005 version. I am all for that – but I thought the attempt at it was lacking.
    What makes Jane Autsen, or any author from the regency era so great – is that you have such social restraints, and she just verbally plows right through them. When you remove the mannerisms, speech patterns, hairstyles, and the clothing styles – you lose why Jane Autsen is so wonderful. She was a women. Words were the only social weapon she had – or any woman in that era had to distinquish themselves, and close ranks on the ladder that left them lower than the house servants.
    But I digress…what I really meant to say, is that a white shirt wearing, pond-drenched Colin Firth = HOTTIE!!!!!!!

  14. I was in a class on the Bronte family and learned just how much Charlotte Bronte disliked the works of Jane Austen. Isn’t that interesting? She thought the characters were dull and their activities mundane. Not entirely surprising, though.


    I really like Matthew Macfayden as Darcy in 2005’s movie. Especially when he says “I love – love – Love you.” Like he can’t quite get it out because the words are so important not to mess up. SO fantastic.

    But I love Colin Firth. As an actor in general and especially as Mr Darcy. Too bad he’s had a hard time distinguishing himself from that role. 🙂 He’s just so fantastic for it, though! Favorite thing he says: “I must tell you how ardently I admire and LOVE you.” while his face is still saying ‘I am calm and poised, no emotion shall escape me.’ So good.

  15. I just love that you talk Victorian in your brain! I thought I was the only coo coo that did that! I am in the midst of reading the Anne of Green Gable saga and am forever speaking as she in my mind!

  16. Oh, I have to comment before reading the others… The 1995 version is DEFINITELY my favorite!! Very true to the book. And the music IS Pride and Prejudice to me. The 1980 version is okay, but I’ve found that all of those older ones aren’t very exciting – just very true to the book. (I own the set.) I actually really hated the newest version. I guess I’m a purist… But you make me want to re-consider… The modern Emma and Sense & Sensibility are good ones, though. The one positive thing about that – Judy Dench makes the PERFECT Lady Catherine de Burgh!!

    Okay, I read the previous comments. I totally agree with April and Shantel!!

    And Persuasion is my favorite Austen book, by far! I’ve found that I have to watch one of the movies BEFORE reading any Austen book, just because I get lost on which characters are really important, when I’ve never heard the story before… But reading them is my favorite why to experience Jane Austen. The only true way, I suppose!

  17. I don’t mind the latest version myself. I recently saw Lost in Austen and loved it, and then found out that Natalie Portman has signed on to produce/play Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I also loved and can’t wait to see.

  18. I’m a purist. Must have the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version. I like aspects of Keira Knightly’s version but others just make me squirm, especially the ending. Gag. Ever seen Miss Austen Regrets? It’s supposed to biographical but I’m not sure how accurate it is. But watching it gives an interesting perspective to her life and writing. I love getting caught up in the subtlety, language, wit, and romance of her novels. But I am SO thankful I don’t actually live in that time period!

  19. Love P&P. When my husband was gone this summer, my sister and I had a British click flick-a-thon. Ones I highly recommend: the BBC versions of Persuasion, North & South (not the Patrick Swayze civil war thing–this one is based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s book) and Jane Eyre. All of them have leading men that will make you swoon!

  20. I haven’t seen the 1980 version in eons! But I did just order the 1995 version on netflix, much to the chagrin of my husband. I love it. Colin Firth is so perfect as Mr. Darcy. I also agree about the casting of Jane in this one…she just doesn’t seem quite right.

    I also love the Keira Knightly version. It’s wonderful.

    Have you seen Bride and Prejudice? It’s a “musical” based on the book, set in modern-day India. I found it absurd, but I guess a lot of people liked it. At least that’s what the reveiws online seem to think.

  21. I enjoy reading Jane Austen. I have seen and enjoyed the 2005 version. I’m sure I must have seen the 1995 version at some point, the clip seemed familiar, but I don’t remember it. And I will undoubtedly be hunted down and tarred and feathered but I can’t imagine Colin Firth being dreamy. Guess I’ll have to watch it and find out. I’m definitely open to dreamy leading men.

  22. While Mr. Firth is great, I have to say that the new Mr. Darcy is downright STEAMY!! That scene at the end, with him walking across the marsh? I nearly made my husband grow his hair out and move us someplace foggy.

  23. I’m with Kristina P — for me it’s all about the Mr. Darcy dreaminess. And Matthew McFadyen totally makes my teeth sweat. (You can thank my mother for that choice little bit of phrasing.)

    I can always tell when MommyJ has been reading something old because her vocab is peppered with . . . a somewhat more refined smattering of language than my aforementioned sweating teeth. She says I do the same thing, and she’s probably right. After all, isn’t that part of the reason we read in the first place?

  24. I love P&P. I love Jane Austen. I love period dramas! Love it all!! My fellow P&P friend recommend North & South. it’s one of those movies that you just want to rewind the ending again, and again, and again…just like with Pride and Prejudice.
    I think I need to go and get another dose of Bronte, Austen and Gaskell!!!!

  25. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Hmmm….

    I wonder, sometimes, if Ms. Austen had any inkling of how much her novels would affect generations of women in the future. It’s almost like… (dare I say it?) …scripture for the modern woman. We want to be independent and self-reliant, and yet we always swoon at the mere mention of “Mr. Darcy”. We study her novels and immerse ourselves in every single film production of her works as if our very lives depend upon it. Will Elizabeth and Darcy get together? Will they live happily ever after? We KNOW the answer to this question, and yet we STILL have to watch! It’s a necessity!

    You did it, didn’t you? Youjust swooned when you read his name — don’t deny it! Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy!!

    As for the films, I like them all…and I don’t like parts of all of them. I’m way too addicted, and I don’t get to watch them as much as I like. I’m a walking oxymoron.

    I think we all need to join a rehab or something.

  26. P.S. — Have you ever seen “Lost In Austen”? Not my favorite, due to the overwhelming use of modern day British profanity and innuendo, but the concept behind the story is interesting. I think we’ve all fantasized about what it would be like to go back in time and be Elizabeth Bennett.

  27. I love love love the newest P&P version. I thought the Colin Firth Jane wasn’t right—she is supposed to be drop-dead gorgeous. I watch the new one just about everytime I get behind on my laundry…which is a lot.

  28. I’m embarassed to admit I’ve never read a Jane Austen book or seen any of the movies. I feel like a total loser! However, after Christmas I shall mend my ways and rent all of the versions…….after I’ve read the book.
    Enjoyed wandering around your blog. I love your writing style.

  29. I’m not a big Keira Knightley fan, but her Elizabeth Bennet has launched the most recent P&P version into my favorite movie of all time. Bar none.

    I cannot watch Mr. Collins without giggling. Charlotte is perfect. Jane is perfect. I admit that Mr. Darcy gets a little “here’s the part where I say my line” (think their conversation about his “faults” at Netherfield), but otherwise perfect. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett – perfect.

    I’ve never seen such an admirable vegetable!


  30. I love the newest version as it does an amazing job at proving you can have sensuality and romance between two people who NEVER EVEN TOUCH EACH OTHER. The scene where Darcy is walking across the field ~ he is suddenly an amazingly attractive man, where at the beginning of the movie we who were watching it thought, “eh ~ really?” And because we, the audience, know the plot it just makes the scene fill with sensual-ness (is that a word) that much more. Yeow!

    Our hands-down P&P favorite is the “Utah” version ~ set in Provo. This is happily next to the other version on our shelf, but we love love love this one so much that there are quotes from it that have made it into our family vernacular.

  31. I love, love, love the Kiera Knightley version of P&P myself. I saw it before I saw the A&E version, so I think that’s why. I think the mom and dad are perfectly cast in the more recent one, and I adore the music. Great post!

  32. Alright, I don’t mean to be picky but I feel compelled to point out that Jane Austen and her works are not Victorian. Jane lived and wrote long before the Victorian era. Her works are generally considered Regency (when the Prince Regent was ruling before his crazy dad, King George died and he became king) but the early ones were technically written in the Georgian period.
    I am far from an Austen scholar but thought I’d point it out. Regency and Victorian eras were vastly different culturally speaking.
    As far as the movies go, 1995 is my favorite but the one from the 1980s is pretty good at interpreting the novel. But frankly I think too many people (women) are Dacry crazy when Henry Tilney is *the* dreamiest Austen hero! Funny, witty, smart (and he actually talks to people!) 😛

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