Friday, March 8, 2013

Pride and Prejudice.

Today I'm going to write about a very important and controversial topic...

Pride and Prejudice 1995 vs. Pride and Prejudice 2005.

I recently reread the book and rewatched both the mini-series and the film, so I feel capable of writing about this in a completely unbiased way. Not! I am forever an advocate for one of them, but I'll get to that later. :)

First of all, here's my P&P story. Back in 2005, when I was fourteen, I saw previews for the film. I thought it looked interesting. Though I had, of course, heard of the book, I hadn't read it. I am one of those nerds who (almost always) *must* read the book before I see the movie. So I checked out a copy from the library. That was my first ever experience with any classic literature or Jane Austen or anything of the like, and I was a bit overwhelmed. I had to keep flipping back to the notes because what on earth was a chaise and four, and exactly how much money was "ten thousand a year"? Some things I didn't quite figure out until I saw the films.

But mostly, I was just smitten. Since then, I've read the book five or six more times, and I feel comfortable saying it's my favorite book. {Single book, that is. It's tied with the entire Chronicles of Narnia series. :) If you're a bookworm, too, you know how hard it is to narrow things down to your favorite book. It's like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. :) }

When I reread P&P a couple of weeks ago, I tried to figure out why exactly I loved it so much...this is about all I could come up with. I really think it's probably Jane Austen's most readable novel (I reread S&S in January and it wasn't as readable as I remembered it being). I've never felt so connected to characters in a story as I do those in this book. I guess that's because I've read it and watched the movie adaptations so many times. I love the sassy little zingers that make me laugh out loud, that feel so timeless and modern that I can't believe they were written by a girl over two hundred years ago. I love the sentences that make me tear up because they're so profound or because there's so much emotion in them. I love the characters and their lives and thoughts, and the things that are so important to them. I love seeing them interact with each other and learn and regret stupid things they said or did in the past. I love how stunned and confused Elizabeth is after reading Darcy's letter, and how she works through her feelings and everything she thought she knew has changed ("Till this moment, I never knew myself."). Basically, I. Love. This. Book. It's perfection.

It never gets old. I never tire of reading Mr. Bennet's clever line: "From this day, you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do." I never stopped feeling shocked at Mr. Darcy's first proposal or when Elizabeth gets the bad news about Lydia. I never stop worrying during that time, after Lydia's problems have been patched up, when Lizzy's feelings start to change but she's sure Darcy will never want to see her again. I never stop wanting to beat up Miss Caroline Bingley when she's being all snarky and/or shamelessly flirting with Mr. Darcy. :)

After reading the book and promptly buying my own copy, I watched the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. A couple of months later, I saw the 1995 mini-series.

So where do I stand on this debate? Firmly on the side of the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, thank you very much. :)

I know I'm in the minority among Austen fans. I remember, years ago, reading scathing reviews by Austen purists who despised the film adaptation. So let me explain myself before you leave threatening anonymous comments. :)

The 1995 mini-series is fine. It's 6 (7?) hours long, so they had plenty of opportunity to include nearly everything from the book. There are many parts where the dialogue is word for word from the book. And I love that, I really do. Jennifer Ehle is great as Elizabeth, and sure, Colin Firth is really good-looking. And there are lots of other good things about it that aren't coming to mind right now (I should have took notes while watching :). The second half is much better than the first half. In general: it's very good because it's so closely adapted from the book.

But. Mrs. Bennet is so shrill that it gets really obnoxious. Jane Bennet isn't as pretty as she's supposed to be (or in a different way, maybe). Mr. Collins is a little too goofy, and Lady Catherine is weak and annoying rather than imposing. I don't feel quite as emotionally involved with the characters. And to be honest, the whole look of the mini-series has always felt a bit dated to me. {And this is coming from someone who watches many movies and TV shows older than this one and has never seen them as "dated."}

And now we come to my favorite. I confess I am biased about this. :) The 2005 Pride and Prejudice is the first adaptation I watched after reading the book (it seems a lot of people favor the first one they saw!). It's not only my favorite P&P adaptation or Jane Austen adaptation, but it's my favorite movie ever, and has been since I first saw it (eight years ago, people).

The casting is perfect. Keira Knightley, as Elizabeth, can be equally witty, sparkling, indignant, and repentant. Matthew Macfadyen...have you ever heard him speak? That should be enough, you guys. I could listen to him read the telephone book. But there's more. :) He's handsome, of course, but he also brings a bit more shyness to the role, which is really nice {oh, how I can relate to that: "I do not have the talent of conversing easily with people I have never met before."}. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins (not necessarily in appearance, but in personality), the sisters, Lady Catherine (amazing- "I have never been thus treated in my en-ti-re life!"), and everyone else are just as I imagined them.

The film itself is gorgeous: you could pause just about any scene and it would look lovely framed, hanging on the wall. I'm pretty sure this one will never look dated. :) The scenery is beautiful and the house seems more fitting (they're not poor by any means, but the Bennet house in other adaptations always looks a bit too grand). I love all of the darker, earthy colors...there are less white gowns and more tan and brown and blue ones (and even pastels). Which may not be completely historically accurate, but it sure is prettier than an endless sea of white, empire waist dresses. :) I love the color blue that the inside of their house is painted.

And the music...oh my. This is probably my favorite movie soundtrack. I used to listen to it nonstop while doing schoolwork or homework or any kind of writing, and I still listen to it quite often.

The 2005 film is only just over 2 hours long, so many things are cut. Bingley only has one sister, meetings amongst the characters are consolidated, Lizzy goes to visit the Collinses alone, etc. But I didn't feel like anything really necessary was cut.

I think, even with the changes, it feels true to the spirit of the novel. I feel connected to all of the characters. I've seen that movie so many times that I practically know it by heart...I know the words that are going to be spoken and the inflection and facial expression that will accompany the words. :) I know which parts of the soundtrack play during the various parts of the movie. But I never get tired of it, and I always laugh at the funny parts and get teary at (many :) other parts. And every time I watch it, I notice something different and new.

So the 2005 Pride and Prejudice will always be my favorite. Given a free day, with enough time to watch even the mini-series, I would still choose the film every single time.

So...let the debate begin. :) I'm afraid you won't change my mind on which I prefer, but I want to hear whether your favorite is the 1995 or 2005 Pride and Prejudice and why. {Or possibly even the 1940 one, which I like to refer to as the twilight zone P&P because practically the only things it has in common with the book are the characters' names. :) }

Until next time,


  1. I am CRAZY about Pride and Prejudice. The book is my favorite of all time. But, I'm firmly on the side of the 1995 miniseries. I just love that it is so historically accurate and stays true to the dialogue in the book. I find myself correcting things the characters say in the 2005 version, and it drives me nuts. This might be because I read the book and saw the miniseries several times before the 2005 film came out and I'm a stickler for accuracy.

    Though I will agree with you that the 2005 film is stunning. The costumes and sets are beautiful.

    PS - I've been following your blog for a few weeks and I just wanted to say hi! Love reading your posts :)

  2. Yay! Finally someone in the blogger universe who likes the 2005 version better! The cast is perfect, the costumes, scenery everything is absolutely beautiful. And I know what you mean about trying to pick a favorite book. Have you read the Percy Jackson series? They are so good!

  3. Ohhh! I love a good period drama debate. :D Well, in the name of full disclosure, I have to say that I saw P&P 95 first, and I'm sure that plays into my biases. After reading the book when I was 13 or 14, my Grama (who is a HUGE fan) introduced me to the movie and I fell in love with everything about it. Even though I really enjoy watching the 2005 version, in my mind, '95 will always be the best. Six hours might seem a little excessive to some, but I love all the details and conversations that they were able to include because of it. ;-) Both movie are really good for different reasons though, which is why the decision is so tough.

    I love the way that the Bennets are a more likeable/believable family in the 2005 version. I also totally agree with you on Mrs. Bennet (much more sympathetic and less silly) and Jane (much prettier!). However, I prefer the ridiculousness of Mr. Collins in '95 (he's immensely quotable and fun to impersonate, plus every time Mr. Collins comes on in '05 I can't help but see Osborne Hamley and it throws me off... somehow out of all the other actors in those movies that I've seen other places, he's the only one that I have a problem with). I can never decide who makes the better Darcy. Macfayden does have a perfectly dreamy voice, and I really like his Darcy, but sometimes he seems too likeable (not “prideful” enough, maybe? I don't know...). And on the other hand, I end up loving Firth's Darcy at the end, but he comes off as a bit harsh in the middle. I guess the main tipping point for me is Lizzy. Even though Jennifer Ehle was a little old to play Elizabeth, I think that Keira Knightley acts too modern in some parts and every once in a while her portrayal gets on my nerves.

    Gah. That makes very little sense, but I'm not going to re-write it. You get my gut reaction, un-thought out thoughts. ;-) I didn't even get around to Bingley, Wickham or Lady Catherine! Oh, well. I guess my main point is that they are both lovely films and no matter what version gets put into the dvd player, I'll watch it and like it. Jane Austen was brilliant, and any adaptation that stays true to the story and inspires people to read her books, deserves to be watched. :D

  4. I wonder if seeing the 2005 version first influenced you? I saw the '95 version first and I prefer it. (But in all fairness, my preference could also be influenced by the fact that I can't stand Keira Knightley. She always comes across to me as a petulant child. I think it's the way she moves her lips, lol!)

    But whatever the reason, I always find myself preferring BBC interpretations. I like the slower-moving, period-focused pieces because they're usually true to the book and don't feel pressured to make it appealing to an action-focused audience. I always squirm when Hollywood decides to tackle classic literature.

  5. Oh fun post! I agree with you about P&P being Austen's most readable novel -- it is SO accessible and SO funny. As for which version I prefer? Well I like them both for different reasons...and the 2005 film was a winner in my book since it did, as you say, remain true to the spirit of the novel IMO.

  6. I'm right there with you!! P&P 2005 is unquestionably superior to the '95 version IMO. I have always been in love with every aspect of the '05 version, like you said - music, costumes, actors, everything! And I can put your mind at rest about seeing '05 first "biasing" you - I saw the '95 version at least once before '05, and I was certainly interested, but not wildly intrigued. Then I saw the '05...and the rest is history! :D

    -- Victoria (Hope Writer)

  7. The walk at the end is too long- it is like he ran out of ideas about what to do. Maybe 1 min of walking would be ok, but it feels like 3. I have not timed it though. Otherwise, I do enjoy this adaptation. The 2005 movie does have better cinematography than the 1995 version.

  8. It's just your personal opinion though. You are biased, like us.

  9. I have read the book more than once, and I love it. I personally prefer the 2005 adaptation. I love the cast, Keira Knightly, Donald Sutherland, and Rosamund Pike is awesome and beautiful. I like to whatch both, the miniseries and the movie. But I definitely prefer the film over the miniseries


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