Christmas Confessions

I have two confessions to make: this year, I asked for the 2005 Pride & Prejudice on Blu-Ray (because I do not own it) and… I have actually come around to liking it. That might not seem like such a big deal to some of you, but when it first came out, I could not stand it. I hated everything about it minus how pretty it was. It felt way too condensed, the situation with Lydia and Wickham did not take nearly enough screen time, and I thought Matthew was all wrong for Darcy.

Okay, maybe that hasn’t changed; he doesn’t embody the part in my opinion, but instead seems to be “playing at Darcy.” It feels stiff and unnatural, as if he doesn’t quite know what to do with Darcy, and cannot understand him, his motivations, his personality, or his feelings for Lizzy. You know how evident the difference is between someone who truly understands Shakespeare and someone who has just learned the lines? That’s how I feel about Matthew’s Darcy, as if he is merely quoting lines that he doesn’t fully understand. (And before you hang me up by my thumbnails and torture me, I do not dislike Matthew – in fact, I really adore him in Little Dorrit, among many other roles he has undertaken. It’s just that… he’s not my Darcy, not even close.)

But other aspects of the movie have grown on me. I like how pretty Jane and Lizzy both are, but Jane is more so than Lizzy. That was the one major thing that always bothered me in the miniseries, how the obviously much prettier Lizzy was always talking about how gorgeous the ultra-plain and rather dour looking Jane was. I like how very young everyone seems to be, both in their mannerisms and their behavior – even Bingley comes across as very young and inexperienced, besotted by love (and with a goofy expression most of the time), a harsh comparison with his dour, grimacing best friend. Even though the modern mannerisms still make me groan (and why is it that Caroline Bingley has no sleeves on her dress?), I think the subtle nuances of the period still stand out: such as the gasp-worthy moment when Mr. Collins has the audacity to approach Darcy without an introduction and blather on about Lady Catherine.

Then there is that glorious moving camera arc through the house, in which every actor and actress had to be in a certain place at a certain time, all on their marks, and we see everything that is happening in the ball, from Darcy avoiding Lizzy to Collins searching for her, Mrs. Bennet making the typical fool of herself, Mary crying because she’s been pulled off the piano, Lydia and Kitty drinking up a storm, and various flirtations and such going on. That is a masterful shot. I still lament that it is so short in comparison to the miniseries, but on the other hand, at times that is something of a relief. I sat through the six hour version a few weeks ago and while it was as always an enjoyable experience with a real spark between the leads, I found that also as usual, the plot began to drag a bit in the last hour. This adaptation propels right through to the end, even if it does end on an unbearably sappy note.

Much complaining has surfaced about Keira Knightley as Lizzy, but I like her in the part. Is she the very sweet Jennifer Ehle with her “fine eyes”? No, she isn’t, but I think she is a mischievous and delightful Elizabeth, painting her into someone I would very much like to be friends with. I think this adaptation has settled quite comfortably on the same level as the miseries; they are different but equally enjoyable, in much the same way I enjoy both the long and shorter versions of Emma and how the new Jane Eyre adaptation has been growing on me over the last few months. (I find it ironic that my “firsts” in each instance are the preferred actors in the lead, and the same goes for Sense & Sensibility adaptations. I like Firth, Northam, and Rickman over MacFayden, Miller, and Morrissey.)

So, did this movie wind up in the stack of presents for me under the Christmas tree? Yes, it did. It is beautiful on Blu-Ray, and it was a lovely way to spend my Christmas afternoon.

17 Replies to “Christmas Confessions”

  1. I’m so glad you’ve come around to liking the 2005 P&P! I like it equally with the miniseries, because they are so different I feel I can. Telling most people that is liable to cause gasps and glares, though. I, too, still dislike the 2005 Darcy, too. Ugh. He’s not even attractive. Apart from him though, it’s a *gorgeous* movie. It was the first movie we watched on our LCD TV for that reason.

  2. “That was the one major thing that always bothered me in the miniseries, how the obviously much prettier Lizzy was always talking about how gorgeous the ultra-plain and rather dour looking Jane was.”

    Yes. 0.0 I never quite understood this.

    I agree that the 2005 P&P is quite a bit condensed. I liked it the first time I watched it, but I have enjoyed it the more times I have seen it, mainly because the more times I watched it, the less I compared it to the book, lol. 😉

    I haven’t quite figured out why I like the Matthew MacFadyen rendition of Mr. Darcy better than Colin Firth’s, however. I do think the former more handsom, but that is besides the point. 😉 Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I saw the 2005 version before the miniseries (sort of like seeing the Phantom of the Opera film before the play might predispose you to like aspects of the film better, despite the lower quality vocals). Thus possibly it is more because of my initial attachment to the 2005 version. Though I always thought that Firth’s Darcy was a little grey, dour and boring. Not bad. Just bland.

    On the other hand, I like both Kiera and Ehle’s versions of Elizabeth Bennet. I do like Kiera’s “mischievous” role best, though, probably because I can relate to her portrayal better. It feels more real.

    And excuse the length of this comment.. I am only *very slightly* a Jane Austen fan..
    (heavy sarcasm)

  3. This was a fun read since I really like both versions, but for entirely different reasons…the same with the different versions of Emma and Sense and Sensibility, I like how each new version, whether in film or miniseries format, manages to bring something new to the table.

  4. I hated the P&P movie for a long time, until last winter when I was snowed in and it was the only thing available that I hadn’t watched a dozen times. It finally won me over – the cinematography is gorgeous, and I like that it’s less starched-up and formal than the miniseries.

    (This is costume-drama blasphemy, I know, but I prefer Matthew MacFadyen to Colin Firth. He’s much better looking (to me, anyway), and his portrayal of Darcy has a nice vulnerability that makes him more likeable.)

    1. Well, I’m glad it managed to win you over as it did me. I think waiting a long time between viewings and then watching it with a good attitude helped my opinion of it a great deal!

      That’s… well, not surprising, because a LOT of people feel that way. Poor things, they don’t appreciate Colin Firth nearly enough. 😉

  5. So glad you like this version a bit better, Charity!

    I think it is lovely, yes, but also that writers did a wonderful job with it in the time they were given. My mom and I actually watch this version most simply because it is so short and therefore can be watched in one evening rather than prolonged over a couple of weeks. I walked out of the theater after seeing this and “liked” it but each viewing has endeared it a little bit more – so sweet. Matthew has definitely grown on me too as Darcy kind of like David has become “better” as Col. Brandon in the new version of “S&S.” =)

    1. I had a real time of it when P&P came out in theaters. Saw it opening day by myself, hated it. Saw it with my parents the next day, loved it. Saw it when it came out on DVD, hated it again. So I have gone back and forth so many times, and am now contentedly settling somewhere in the middle, which is a good place to be. There are things I don’t like about it, but overall it’s quite good. =)

    1. OH. MY. GOSH. You don’t like Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon, Ella!? How could you even say that…? LOL! ;D

      You are SO right about Dan as Edward – way better and Hugh is just… well awful!

  6. CHARITY!!!! This cannot have supplanted our man, Colin Firth, can it?! I do love several things about this version better than the miniseries. (Top would be the AMAZING musical score ;-)), but the miniseries will always be my first love ❤

    But you already knew that 😉

    1. Since I dedicated an entire paragraph to dismissing Matthew as a decent Darcy, I’d say Colin Firth is safe. I enjoy the nuances of both — this one is much prettier and more romantic, and I really like the supporting cast, but the other tells the story more fully and maintains more of Austen’s wit and charm.

      Dan Stevens is indeed superior to Hugh Grant (it’s not hard to be — I hate Hugh Grant, and he’s awful in S&S) but… no, David Morissey is a poor substitute for Alan Rickman, my first cinematic love (well, along with Mr. Knightley, of course). So I’m very sorry, darling, but you are perfecty wrong about that. 😉

  7. Bravo! You know me, I’ve always liked it. Just as it took me awhile to enjoy the miniseries, it took you awhile to like the 2005 version. Both are utterly unique and special and fun in their own ways. 🙂

  8. I haven’t seen the miniseries (gasp) and I liked this movie okay but it just didn’t have that shine to it. Keira Knightley does a great job of playing Lizzy but she comes off as a snob sometimes.

    1. You should sometime. It’s quite an accomplishment and one of Colin Firth’s finest early performances.

      I don’t know that Keira comes off as a snob so much as constantly distressed that the majority of her family are dead set on making total morons of themselves. 😉

      1. That’s true; her mother was just dying to hook her up with Rev. Collins so much that she dragged her out to the backyard to get her to consent. I guess that could be seen as embarrassing to Lizzy. 🙂

        My co-worker HATED the 2005 movie version and declared it “blasphemous.” In fact, I’m probably the only one of my Austen-fanatic friends that hasn’t seen the 1995 miniseries.

        I guess I’m going to have to rent the miniseries then.

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