SNARK WEEK: 11 Reasons to Be Irritated by Pride & Prejudice (2005)

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Pride & Prejudice (2005), starring Keira Knightley, is known as Pride & Prejudice & Pigs around here. Why? Because it seems far more interested in pig shots than in adapting the original Jane Austen novel. Here are 11 reasons to be irritated by Pride & Prejudice (2005).

Yes, there are some good things in the film. Rosamund Pike as Jane and Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins were both perfect. Keira Knightley was actually pretty cute. And Rupert Friend as Wickham and Simon Woods as Mr. Bingley are both HAWT.

But these things are totally outweighed by the following:

1. The Sad Lack of Manners

No, the Bennets aren’t aristocracy. They aren’t even the Bingleys or the Darcys. But they ARE a gentleman and his family, and they would therefore have some level of table manners.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

2. The Sad Lack of Decent Hairstyles

Apparently the Bennets don’t own a comb, or more than 5 hairpins amongst them. Or maybe they were part of a strange religious sect that only allowed them to comb and restyle their hair once a week. Because this was far beyond wisps. This was rode hard and put away wet. And, bangs — yes, some small tendrils (usually curly but not always) were fashionable in this era. But a big shock of bangs, a la Elizabeth, Lydia, and Kitty? NO.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes
Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

The idea of Elizabeth turning up at Netherfield Park with, essentially, her hair down, is beyond implausible.

3. Constant Mud/Pig Shots

Again, the Bennets aren’t the top of the top. BUT THEY’RE NOT LIVING WITH PIGS IN THE HOUSE. And, as I’ll rant below, key plot points were downplayed in order to make room for more of this:

Pig.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

Mud.

Dirt.

4. Elizabeth Bennet, Homespun Princess

Elizabeth did not have Caroline Bingley’s budget. But that doesn’t make her a potato digging peasant.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

5. Mrs. Bennet Looked Like a Charwoman

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

6. Caroline Bingley Turned Up at 2 Balls in Her Shift

Shift. Chemise. UNDERWEAR. Unless Caroline was the most fashion forward woman of Revolutionary Paris, these sleeveless dresses would have been considered the equivalent of showing up in a bra and thong at the Oscars.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

7. Mr. Bennet Apparently Couldn’t Afford a Razor

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

8. Matthew MacFadyen Is Homely and Sallow

Okay, this is a matter of opinion, but I’m not a fan. He’s a decent actor, and I actually got a little pitter-patty at the first proposal scene, but I have a hard time getting excited about this Darcy.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

9. Being Hit Over the Head With What Should Be Unspoken

The need to constantly hit us over the head with what should be unspoken themes really grated — i.e. “Jane is just shy!” and “I’m afraid I’ll be a spinster, so don’t you judge me!”  The whole point of Austen’s era, and the joy of reading the books/watching the adaptations, is that THINGS ARE NOT DISCUSSED the way they are now.  If they were, there’d be no story!  Elizabeth and Darcy would have one knock down fight, everything would come out, they’d live happily ever after!

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

10. Psychic Darcy and Elizabeth

I love a good romance. I love a good “After all this nonsense, we’re finally gonna smooch.” But I’m totally confused as to how both Darcy AND Elizabeth managed to be so psychic as to know that the other would be tromping across the pre-dawn, misty fields in order to enfold each other in their manly/womanly arms.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

11. Focusing on Mud/Pigs at the Expense of Important Plot Points

Yes one must cut out/compress unnecessary plot bits to fit ye olde movie time limit, but establishing Wickham as a viable love interest for Elizabeth, and the full implications of Lydia’s elopement, are MAJOR PLOT POINTS. And modern audiences may not immediately get just how bad Lydia’s ruination would be for the entire family in this era. This stuff should not be skipped in order to make room for more pig/mud shots!

Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie costumes

 

Did we miss anything? Are there more reasons to be irritated by Pride & Prejudice (2005)? Do tell!

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

75 Responses

  1. Eronn

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head with why I dislike this adaptation. Although I would also add the super-cheesy end scene (which IIRC, was only in the American theatrical release?), and the fact that I just didn’t buy Keira as the witty and clever Elizabeth.

    Reply
    • Ella

      Yes, in Australia that ending was just a “deleted scene” on the DVD. I actually wish I hadn’t even seen it, because I can’t get rid of the mental image of Darcy and Lizzie perched barefoot on the balcony in their pyjamas while she rubs his hairy leg. Weird.

      Reply
      • Maya Crabtree

        OMG and I hated the original ending! You’re saying it can be worse??

        Reply
  2. Donald

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. You summarized my reactions very nicely. “Don’t you judge me, Lizzy! Don’t you dare judge me!” moved me to violence. Genteel, properly expressed violence, but violence nonetheless.

    Reply
  3. Michelle

    Mr Bingley portrayed as a half-wit. He was an affable character but not simple minded. Ughh

    Reply
    • Maya Crabtree

      Exactly. Didn’t agree with Kendra there. He’s supposed to be amiable and spontanepus, not stupid and somewhat wierd. Jane is intelligent. Why would she go for him?

      Reply
  4. Jill

    The fact that Darcy and Lizzie shout at one another in the rain.

    Austen does not need to be Brontë.

    Reply
    • Helen Huntingdon

      Well that would explain a lot about this movie — perhaps the director thought he was actually making a version of Wuthering Heights.

      Reply
  5. Maureen

    I so agree with your aversion to Keira Knightly (in this or just about anything else). I’m sorry. I find her to be an annoying, vacuous mouth-breather. And casting her as Elizabeth Bennet? A travesty.

    Oh, and P.S. — only just stumbled across this blog yesterday and absolutely LOVE it. Thanks for all the hours I’ve wasted reading back posts. ?

    Reply
  6. ladylavinia1932

    I’m a little irritated by this article. Are you saying that you simply disliked it? If so, why not say it and not mince words? And I find some of your criticisms rather questionable . . . especially the ball gowns worn by the Caroline Bingley character.

    Please remember that despite being published in 1813, “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” is foremost a story set at the end of the 1790s. Many productions, with the exception of this version, seemed to forget this. Caroline’s ball gowns is reminiscent of women’s gowns that were popular with younger wealthy women in the late 1790s. Think I’m joking? Take a look at the following:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Portrait_de_madame_de_Verninac_by_David_Louvre_RF1942-16_n2.jpg

    The painting, called “Madame Raymond de Verninac”, was created between 1798-99.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      You’re welcome to be irritated by my article — I was irritated by the film, and it shows! And, the point of the article was to elucidate the reasons why I didn’t like the movie. Just saying “I didn’t like it” doesn’t make for interesting reading.

      Absolutely, Caroline Bingley’s ball gowns would be appropriate for a merveilleuse, an extremely fashion-forward, politically active Parisian woman. But Caroline Bingley isn’t French, let alone Parisian, and she’s no Juliette Récamier or Madame Tallien. These were women who led salons filled with intellectuals, politicians, and artists during a period of huge social upheaval. Caroline Bingley is a rich merchant’s daughter who is living in the country in a rented house.

      Reply
  7. Bella

    I’m sorry, I absolutely loved the 2005 and hated the 1990s P&P… I know this isn’t the common view. In the 1990s one, I found Elizabeth unbearable with her stupid “smart” smile, the costumes were maybe accurate but so boring. I’m fond of Joe Wright’s work because he always focus on atmospheres. His P&P is simply charming.

    Reply
    • claudette dalton

      i dont care what you say, i love pride and prejudice 2005, best adaption of it and mr darcylisious is yumbo if you want to whine and winge go to another site an do it, love love love this movie, you are the one that sucks!!!

      Reply
  8. Katie

    I found this blog post after googling “P&P 2005 hair”, and I agree with so many of your points. But my biggest beef is the hair; who in the world was in charge of the hair in this film? From Bingley’s wind-blown bouffant to Elizabeth’s stringy bangs to Mr. Bennet’s hobo-esque locks….And I think that one of the main reasons I find Darcy unattractive is his over-hairsprayed helmet head. BUT to be fair, Colin Firth spoiled me for any other Darcy. He’s the one and only in my mind. 1990s P&P all the way!!

    Reply
  9. Kristina

    “6. Caroline Bingley Turned Up at 2 Balls in Her Shift”

    Shifts during this period had short sleeves (e.g., http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/126840 and http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/viewobject.php?Lang=1&section=196&accessnumber=M974.38.1&imageID=315998&pageMulti=1). Interestingly, costumers of period dramas set in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries almost never bother to include these. In the images here http://www.cap-that.com/austen/prideandprejudice/1995/5/images/cap0655.jpg and here http://www.cap-that.com/austen/emma/1996/beckinsale/images/emma1996_4985.jpg, the actresses are very clearly not wearing shifts under their gowns, and those are just two examples. There are hundreds more that I could have used.

    So is the 2005 film’s Caroline Bingley wearing her shift in those photos? No. The gowns she wears bear far more resemblance to bodiced petticoats than to shifts, although they are not constructed quite properly for that, either. Are they historically accurate? No, they are not. But it is misleading to refer to them as shifts.

    Reply
      • Kristina

        The average viewer who watches these kinds of films probably has no idea that the majority of women should be wearing shifts under their corsets/stays, and that the shift during the Regency era had short sleeves. However, it appears that most Regency fashion hobbyists know about and understand the importance of the shift or chemise, and I am sure that the vast majority of professional costume designers do, as well. I can only assume that the lack of appropriate shifts in virtually all films set in the 1795-1820 time period (I know, I know – the true Regency wasn’t until 1811) is primarily due to filmmakers’ desire to conform to audiences’ expectations; many of the gowns in these films are made of light, delicate, translucent materials, and shift sleeves would certainly show through the material and – at least in the eyes of people unfamiliar with Regency fashions – mar the overall effect. Another possible reason I have considered is that it may be much easier for actors to dress and undress with one less undergarment to worry about.

        I linked to screencaps from the Kate Beckinsale Emma and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice because the general consensus is that those adaptations are two of the most historically accurate Regency period dramas, especially in terms of the costumes. For what it’s worth, I happen to agree, but I am also aware that the lack of shifts isn’t accurate. It is possible, I suppose, that the actresses are wearing sleeveless undergarments of some sort under their stays, but even if that is the case, it is still an example of historical inaccuracy. There are many portraits from the era showing women wearing gowns with very sheer sleeves and no visible shifts, but these are mostly from the earlier years (i.e., the latter half of the 1790s), when the Empire fashion was still being defined, and the majority of them are French, not English.

        I am not trying to defend the costumes in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice – many of them are egregiously inaccurate, and even the somewhat more accurate ones are accurate only for an earlier period than the 1796-1797 setting of the film. I only wanted to point out the differences between shifts and bodiced petticoats (which Caroline Bingley’s gowns somewhat resemble), because this is a misconception that bothers me. I know that you understand the difference, but most people do not.

        Reply
        • Kendra

          Okay! I get you. I was making generalizations for comedic effect, but you’re right, it is something that doesn’t make it to screen and should.

          Reply
          • Kristina

            Pretty much. They’re considerably more accurate than the ones in the 2005 film, but they’re certainly not perfect.

            Reply
  10. Teev

    Late to the party but I only just found this wonderful site (courtesy of link from Go Fug YOurself), Oh that pig is my mother’s special enemy she hates this version for many reasons but the pig is the most egregious for sure (“everything is so dirty, and that pig!” and then alot of sputtering).

    I don’t like it either, for all the reasons listed above and I’ll add another: Lady Catherine showing up in the middle of the night banging on the door. NOPE. Stuff like that and the running in the rain and as you say the spelling out of things is all exactly NOT how that world worked and most certainly not how Austen presented it. One operated within narrow strictures and the thing is our Lizzie sparkles while doing it. She’s so awesome she’ll fling a barb and cut you and maybe you’ll parse it out and realize you’re bleeding and maybe you won’t. Lizzie don’t care if you know. She knows.

    Really Knightley whiffed this hard and I don’t know if the choices were hers or Ang Lee’s but the raising of voice, the jutting of the chin no no no.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      YES and YES. Lizzie is the honey badger (she don’t give a fuck) of intelligent, cutting barbs. Note, however, Ang Lee directed Sense & Sensibility, not this travesty!

      Reply
    • Ella

      I heard someone else say once that the ending of this adaptation was more Wuthering Heights than Pride and Prejudice. All that tramping around meadows before sunrise half-dressed, and wild long hair, bare feet etc.

      Reply
        • Gill

          The whole standing windswept on Stanage Edge thing is totally Wuthering Heights. The film is utterly out of period, whatever period the idiot director thought he was setting it in.

          Reply
      • Kathleen Ryan

        Yesyesyes! I’ve always said this – in fact, I immediately thought upon watching this “version” of P&P (if one can at all consider it a serious adaptation) that Matthew Macfadyen would make a passable Heathcliffe. But not a Darcy. Heathcliffe is brooding; Darcy glowers. And, let’s face it — it’s inconceivable that anyone can out-Darcy Colin Firth. Looks aside, his clipped, imperious manner of speaking defines the character.

        Reply
        • Sarah Lorraine

          See, I’m torn over Matthew Macfadyen… I recently discovered that he’s that actor who I always enjoy in every movie he’s in, but I still can’t bring myself to watch P&P (AND PIGS), despite knowing that I’ll at least like watching him, if nothing else.

          Reply
    • Kristina

      My feeling about Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility is that it’s about as faithful to the novel as Joe Wright’s P&P is to its particular source material – i.e., not very faithful at all. So I think I understand where your confusion is coming from. Of course, Ang Lee is, in my opinion, a better director than Joe Wright.

      Both movies are absolutely riddled with anachronisms and unnecessary alterations to Jane Austen’s writing, but S&S has slightly “better” costumes (in terms of accuracy, anyhow) and is a far superior film, so I guess that makes it a bit easier to forgive its faults.

      Reply
      • Maya Crabtree

        May I ask in what way you find S&S unfraithful, excepting natural omissions….

        Reply
        • Kristina

          The Ang Lee version of S&S is a good movie but not such a great adaptation. Besides the arguably minor omissions made for the sake of time, there are unnecessary changes to characters’ ages (for example, in the film, Elinor is obviously older than 19, while Margaret is younger than the 13 years that she is in the book) and unnecessary personality changes to the characters (Lucy Steele is made to be much less sly, Elinor lacks artistic talent and is less innocent, Mr. Palmer is gentler, etc.). Also, some of the omitted scenes, such as Willoughby’s confession, are pretty important to the plot. Leaving them out makes the film feel quite different from the book.

          Most of the costumes are good, although there are a number of historical inaccuracies. I would rate S&S‘s costuming about the same as that of the 1995 P&P. The most historically accurate “Regency” costuming I’ve seen would probably be in the 1996 ITV Emma (with Kate Beckinsale), but even that film failed to include proper chemises.

          Reply
        • Kristina

          I want to clarify that I think Ang Lee’s S&S and Joe Wright’s P&P are similar in terms of how far they stray from both their source material and the historical record. They are not particularly faithful adaptations.

          That said, 1995’s S&S is clearly superior to 2005’s P&P in terms of the period-appropriateness of its characters’ behavior – most of the characters act the way I would imagine gentry of the late 18th to early 19th century to act. I’m not sure what to make of some of the behavior in P&P. Elizabeth really should not wander through Meryton without her bonnet and go barefoot in her family’s muddy barnyard. I’m not a fan of Darcy’s bizarre morning stroll, either. ;)

          Reply
  11. erin13mc

    When Georgiana RUNS to Elizabeth when they first meet, I wanted to throw something at my TV. No young lady of her upbringing would show that much emotion upon meeting a stranger, no matter how excited they are on the inside. There’s just so much wrong about this adaptation and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks so!

    Reply
  12. Mama3ways

    I agree with Gill, such a terrible waste of Judi Dench! The bad wig jobs drive me crazy. Could they not see it when they were filming? However there is one thing I do love about this movie…the music. It really is beautiful.

    Reply
  13. Ann Myers

    I have FIVE copies of the 1995 (Colin Firth) edition (in case I wear one out)- and I still watch it- commercials and all- every time they show it on Ovation. I have one copy each of the Garson/ Olivier version, the ’80s version (Garvey/ Rintoul), the 2005 version, and Death Comes to Pemberley. The ’40s version (costumes totally out of timeframe) and the feminist 2005 mess drive me crazy. Keira Knightly is as wrong here as Hugh Grant and his ill-fitting costume is in Sense & Sensibility. I re-read P & P every year and I have taught it to high school seniors. It is my favorite book. I know every nuance. The 1995 version is so good at following the book, yet bringing more understanding to Darcy. Colin Firth says so much without uttering a word that he is perfection. Elizabeth Ehle is so good at her interpretation of Elizabeth. You can’t beat Mr. Collins or Mrs. Bennet for silliness in the 1995 version. If only that version had Judi Dench, it would have been so wonderful. ( Look at how well she played off Colin in Shakespeare in Love.) You have nailed most of my major objections to the 2005 version perfectly (especially that they must have used Nora Batty as their hairdresser). My main objection to Matthew Macfadyen is that he isn’t forceful enough as the master of Pemberley and of the whole world, as Austen wrote him. Austen portrayed Darcy as “the bigger they are, the harder they fall,” which is precisely the point. He has to be humbled. Matthew M. never comes through as that strong a character in the 2005 version, which is a shame because he is a dynamic actor. Keira Knightly just doesn’t get it as a Regency Elizabeth. She is sassy, but NOT a lady. I don’t even know what Darcy would have seen in her. In the 1995 version, there is a scene at the Lucases’ soiree where Darcy is standing against a fireplace, reflected in the mirror. He is staring at Elizabeth like he is mentally undressing her- yet still maintaining that hauteur of a ton gentleman. THAT is Darcy! I don’t think anyone besides Colin Firth could ever pull off that combination. Later at the same event is when he makes his “fine eyes” comment ( and, oh, the look on his face!) If you read the book, Austen intimates how Darcy is a “goner” for Elizabeth fairly early in the book. Colin gives off that vibe, where Matthew never quite gets there. Andrew Davies and Simon Langton obviously get it. The 2005 director missed the boat. And my eternal gratitude to Producer Sue Birtwistle for convincing Colin Firth that he couldn’t say no to being Darcy.

    Reply
  14. Kirsten

    I get that you wrote this to be entertaining and funny, but I think your dislike is based on personal preference and not on any actual faults of the 2005 movie. It seems to me that you prefer an extremely accurate and thorough period piece, which is cool. But that doesn’t make this movie any less amazing. Doing a movie that adheres strictly to its source material is just one way of making a good film (although of course that doesn’t always guarantee a success).
    1995 had six episodes in which to include exponentially more material and dialogue and to draw out scenes with all the subtlety of the book. Obviously that wasn’t true of 2005 so of course more has to be conveyed with words and emotion! Miss Darcy running to Lizzie and the yelling in the rain added context and emotion to a condensed story that still needed to capture its audience. For example, my ex bf had never read or seen P&P and he was not the type to like this kind of movie or even to understand the language and customs, but when he saw 2005 he instantly fell in love. He cried at the end. It was literally one of his favorite movies of all time. When he watched 1995 he was bored and appalled. 2005 was able to convey the story and feeling to him much, much better. It brought Austen to a wider audience.
    Also, movies are not made with the sole intention of being clones of their books and the movies before them. The cinematography, costumes, sets, speeches, hair, etc were meant to establish a beautiful atmosphere unique to THIS film– and it succeeded wonderfully. All of the dirt and the pigs provided a great visual and imo added to the beauty and provided great juxtaposition.
    Think of the Marie Antoinette movie with Kirsten Dunst– there were modern and inaccurate elements added to give the film a flavor all its own and it worked very well! Look at cult classic Clueless as well. Is it anywhere near the same universe of greatness as Emma? Heck no! But it’s a different fresh take on the story and not being a long, boring, extremely accurate copy of the book doesn’t make it a bad movie (other things do make it a bad movie but it’s good/entertaining bad haha).
    As far as preferring the cast of 1995 over 2005, that’s your opinion to have but I’d like to just throw it out there that the cast (and many other elements) of 1995 were dull and did not inspire any feeling on their own that wasn’t provided by the material they so closely followed. All of the Bennett girls were ugly except Lizzie, whose expressions and weird smirk had none of Austen’s Lizzie in them, to me. She was definitely missing Lizzie’s fire. And Jane was HIDEOUS and conveyed no sweetness. The costumes, while perhaps accurate, were boring. The acting was subpar and Mrs. Bennett was way too OTT and grating. I thought Firth played a bland, stiff Darcy and I felt as if his feelings were always spoken rather than acted out. But I loved the casting for 2005 and I think Keira WAS Elizabeth Bennett. She was mischievous and captivating and playful. Jane was beautiful and sweet and Mrs. Bennett was just ridiculous enough. Bingley was positively endearing and Mr. Collins was probably my favorite.
    Anyway sorry for the novel but I just wanted to point out that all of your reasons seem to be because you prefer a certain type of film over something more loosely based… Although to be honest it’s still a pretty faithful retelling. As for me, I can’t wait until another version and interpretation and perhaps a new way to view the story that will make me fall in love in a new way :)

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      “It seems to me that you prefer an extremely accurate and thorough period piece” — ding, ding, ding! You seem to have clued in to the whole reason for our blog & podcast! Thanks for playing.

      Reply
      • Kirsten

        Well I’ve never read your blog or heard your podcast, but if it is only about movies that are extremely tight period pieces that encompass entire novels of dialogue then I wonder at your reviewing a film that was not meant to fit into that category.
        My point was that your opinions are valid, of course, but you didn’t write this article as “this is my opinion, it’s nothing like what we like on this site, it sucks bc it doesn’t have these elements that we like, etc”. You wrote it as a regular review as if all of the elements you listed are just flat out crappy filmmaking when that is really not case. That’s like me having a site about loving cats and then I review a dog and say it’s a bad dog bc it doesn’t meow…

        Reply
        • Trystan L. Bass

          You might want to become familiar with a site before writing a diatribe disagreeing with its very premise. A) Yes, we are looking at historical costume drama precisely for historical accuracy & also B) this specific article is part of our Snark Week series where we let fly about particularly bad examples of historical costume dramas. Thus, your defense of said film is misplaced at best.

          Reply
        • Kendra

          No. We review historically-set films from the point of view of history. This is like being critics who are interested in cats, who review a movie in which cats bark, and saying, “Uh, cat’s don’t bark.” Of course, if you don’t care about cats, then you’ll be fine with that movie! Us, not so much.

          Reply
    • Kendra

      What Trystan said, but also — okay, so all your reasons for disliking the 1995 version (boring performances, boring costumes) are personal preferences. All of my reasons for disliking the 2005 are personal preferences. Different things resonate with different people. Yes, when it comes to Austen, I’m looking for something less loosely based. You’re not. *shrug*

      Reply
      • Kirsten

        This was literally my only point besides the point that the article wasn’t written as “I don’t like it” it was written as “this was just bad”. I was pointing out that the only reason you thought those things were bad was bc of your personal preference but they are not considered bad movie elements in and of themselves and were mostly done quite intentionally to lend to the unique atmosphere of the film. It was pretty well received by critics and audiences IIRC.

        Reply
        • Kendra

          And, while yes, 1-10 are coming at this film from the point of view of history and knowing the works of Jane Austen, I’d say that #11 — not developing key plot points — is a sign of bad filmmaking. If the viewer doesn’t understand that Wickham is a viable option for Elizabeth, or that Lydia’s elopement will basically ruin her sisters, the rest of the plot doesn’t make much sense.

          Reply
          • Jillian

            I don’t understand what makes you say that the two plot points involving Wickham aren’t clearly developed in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice. I thought the movie made both aspects of the Wickham portions of the story quite clear, and I would understand if you had included them in #9 “Being Hit Over the Head with What Should Be Unspoken”. It has been some time since I have seen the movie, but if I recall correctly, both Elizabeth and Mrs. Bennet specifically state that Lydia’s actions have ruined all of them, and conversations between Elizabeth and several others, including Mr. Bennet, indicate that Wickham is a possible option for marriage. Please elaborate on what more needed to be shown or said that would have changed your mind about this.

            In regards to this being an (irritating, in your opinion) historical movie based on a Jane Austen novel, it is my opinion that art, whether it be filmmaking, novel writing, or costume designing, is ultimately meant to invoke feeling in the audience, and because people in 2005 are obviously not contemporaries of Jane Austen, different visual and verbal clues are needed in the movie to engender feeling in a modern audience that will be similar to the feeling engendered in someone reading the novel immediately after its publication. Perhaps a modern audience needs more drastic signals to understand things like the class difference between the Bennets and the Darcys, i.e. the pigs and mud at the Bennets’ house contrast wonderfully with the pristine marble statuary at Pemberley.

            I think the 2005 interpretation of the Jane Austen story admirably shows a modern audience the essence of the novel through the aforementioned visual and verbal cues, and in my opinion, improves the dialogue in several ways. Reportedly, Emma Thompson is mainly responsible for writing the scene in which Charlotte Lucas tells Elizabeth about her engagement to Mr. Collins that seems to have irritated so many here. Emma Thompson is a great fan of Austen’s work, and I can’t believe that she would have stood for inventing dialogue that doesn’t accurately convey Austen’s intent in the novel. I think the situation that all of the Bennet girls are in would have been less clear without that scene in particular.

            In regards to costuming, of course everything in a modern movie will not be accurate unless that is the specific intent of the filmmakers, and accuracy usually is not one of the aims when making a period film of this type, specifically a comedy of manners. Because the novel is a comedy of manners, in which Jane Austen is satirizing the social constructs that the British gentry used around the turn of the 19th century, having explicit clues to the social position of each character is essential. Jane Austen is describing many of habits and manners of these characters with irony, and I believe that Joe Wright’s film reliably shows the irony to be found in a story like this with its costumes and hairstyles. If we didn’t see the distinct differences in clothing and hair, both within the Bennet family (Mr. and Mrs. Bennet wear clothing that is old-fashioned for the time while their daughters have hemlines that are a little more modern) and without (comparing Elizabeth’s look to Charlotte’s, Caroline Bingley’s, Georgiana Darcy’s, or Anne de Bourgh’s looks reveals interesting details about Elizabeth’s place in society), we as the audience would likely not notice the irony inherent in this comedy of manners, and therefore would miss the entire point of Jane Austen’s story.

            I think it’s also important to note that the director specifically set this film earlier than most adaptations do. Usually the story is set c. 1813, when the novel was published, but the 2005 film is set c. 1797, when the first draft was written by Austen. The difference of approximately 15 years affects the costuming in an interesting way, and I for one appreciated it. I am honestly a little bored with the typical style of costuming for most Austen adaptations, with Empire waistlines and poodle-like hairstyles everywhere. I thought the 2005 movie was a breath of fresh air, visually.

            Reply
            • Kendra

              I’m sorry, but I’m at “can’t even” with the fans of this movie. We’re critics, not in the sense of “we hate everything,” but in the sense of “we analyze things.” Criticism is, in part, an informed opinion. You are certainly welcome to have your own opinion, but I’m not going to have an endless debate on this film. In my EDUCATED OPINION, this film does a disservice to many elements of Austen’s original work, especially when compared with other (1995, 1981) adaptations. I’ve written out why above.

              I’m sorry to be short with you, you’re just the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back! Maybe someday I’ll watch the film again (ugh), and take copious notes about all the ways it underwhelmed me. At this point, it’s been a good 5+ years since I’ve seen it, and I’m not going to be able to argue every since nuance with its rabid fans without watching it again.

              In the meantime, I recommend rereading the original source novel, and watching the 1995 and 1981 versions.

              Reply
  15. Syrira

    Thanks for writing this!! The P&P 2005 was absolutely terrible, my sister works as a costume theater in Atlanta and told me to never see it (due to horrifying costumes). I was trying to avoid seeing it but it finally happened.

    What probably shocked me most was the filth, the pig and how dirty they depicted the environment. The hair was uniformly horrifying and none of the women’s costume (Lizzy’s in particular) said anything but ‘we went to a thrift store and this is what we found’. Yes the Bennet’s were less wealthy than Darcy however the disparity is so large it’s completely unbelievable. It made the Bennet’s seem quasi-homeless which makes little sense considering they had help working for them.

    Honestly speaking ‘Bride and Prejudice’ had more relevance to the book than that horror show. At least it focused on relevant story line not 3 minutes of her turning in a swing.

    My fiancee, who absolutely loved Colin Firth’s Darcy said the movie would have been more with a card board cut out of Darcy.

    Thanks so much for pointing out the inconsistencies!!

    Reply
  16. Emily Michelle

    I read this article with great pleasure. I’ve always had issues with the movie, but every time I started to articulate why, I’d second-guess myself. “I’m no historical expert,” I’d say to myself, “and presumably the filmmakers would have made some effort at historical accuracy. So maybe the Bennets WERE poor enough to have pigs in the house, and maybe those WERE period-appropriate costumes.” So I’m really glad to have an outside source confirm that no, that’s all nonsense. Although I never for a second bought Lizzie tromping around the countryside like she doesn’t own a hairbrush, let alone a hairpin. Seriously.

    I will say for the show, the cinematography and music are occasionally breathtaking, so I still sometimes watch the movie for those glorious moments where a perfect shot is paired with a perfect musical cue. And it had some great actors, and there were moments where I found Darcy’s total awkwardness to be a slightly charming and interesting take on Darcy, and Keira Knightley wasn’t as bad as I expected her to be . . .

    But mostly it just should have been subtitled “Jane Austen For People Who Don’t Like Jane Austen.” Austen’s novels have too much subtext for you? LET US TRANSLATE THAT SUBTEXT INTO VERY SIMPLE ENGLISH AND SHOUT IT AT YOU. You can’t keep straight how rich everyone is and how everyone else feels about that? LET US MAKE THE SLIGHTLY-LESS-RICH PEOPLE KEEP A PIG IN THEIR HOUSE SO YOU REMEMBER THEY’RE NOT AS RICH AS DARCY. You prefer modern romances with a lot less subtlety and a lot more Hollywood? LET US CHANGE THE FINAL SCENE INTO A DRAMATICALLY LIT, DRAMATICALLY FOG-WREATHED, (INEXPLICABLE) DRAMATIC MEETING ON THE MOORS. AND ALSO WHATEVER THE HECK THAT MRS. DARCY SCENE WAS. (Dang, but the dramatic meeting on the moor is beautifully shot, isn’t it?)

    Also, you left out my favorite part of the movie to hate: “I love—I love—I love you.” I cannot hear that line without cackling with laughter.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      I think the 1st one is tight sleeves — the arm color looks different than the wrist color (on my monitor) & also there’s the red band at the wrist, same as the neck & hem trim. The second one looks like short sleeves, but it’s such a tiny image, it’s hard to tell.

      However, the principle for figuring out what was typically done in a historical period is to find a preponderance of evidence. One or two examples of method A vs. dozens upon dozens of examples of method B doesn’t mean that A is equally valid to B. If anything, it further proves that A was rarely done, & B is the more common, historically accurate method.

      Reply
      • Martha

        Thank you so much for answering!
        So it is possible some women wore sleeveless dresses, but that it was frowned upon? Like wearing cream to a wedding?
        Or that it was only fashionable for a short period of time?

        Reply
        • Kendra

          I think either of those. Take a look at our war and peace top 5 post. I posted a round up of images of the skimpiest dresses I could find. I’ve seen one (included in that collage) where it looks like wide straps that have fallen off the shoulders. There’s also one that looks very Greek/roman without sleeves. I’ve seen a very few images that look like that, but I’m not sure if they’re wearing costume or real dress.

          Reply
        • Julian Keys

          It’s less about it being frowned upon than it being frowned up on depending on who the lady wearing such a dress was, and where she was. You have to remember that when such dresses first appeared they were quite shocking. Like when flappers started wearing short dresses and 60’s mini-skirts (girls in school in the early 60’s had to kneel on the floor and if their skirt didn’t touch the floor they were sent home).

          Such Grecian dresses worn in uber-fashionable, uber-sexy, uber-Avant Garde Paris is one thing, especially among the upper class. Like movie stars wearing crazy fashion dresses to a movie premiere. BUT a respectable English girl, even a wealthy one, wearing it to a ball in the country? If she even had such a dress, that would certainly be the wrong place to wear it. Who, after all, in this church-going and generally quiet town is going to appreciate it? This isn’t London. Carolyn would have played it down, because it would only shock and create gossip, not gain her the regal respect and awe she desires.

          And just to add, remember that ladies wearing such dresses (sleeveless and very grecian) in paintings…well, they’re being painted. A revealing and artful dress is appropriate for that. In short, whether the dress existed and was worn by any lady in 1797 isn’t the point. Carolyn is not getting her picture painted. She’s hosting a ball for her brother at his country home for his country neighbors.

          Thinking as an 18th century lady, even a young, fashionable and arrogant one, such a ball is hardly the time or place to wear such a dress.

          Reply
  17. Melissa Brown

    In my experience, which is teaching Brit lit and working reenactments, those painting you see where they are practically wearing togas are family paintings done in costume. They didn’t actually wear those clothes anywhere.

    Reply
  18. Dani

    Little late to the game, but just felt like saying something. To those coming here to rant because you’re offended or don’t agree with this post, the beauty of opinions, is that everyone is allowed to have one. If you adore the 2005 version because it’s really pretty visually, has (some) better looking actors, and has nice music, that’s great. But for those that are a bit more discerning and knowledgable (like the lovely ladies writing here), and like for their entertainments to at least resemble the source material, and the period, stop getting miffed because we don’t agree.

    I’ll admit, at the age of 20, I saw this in theaters 3 times. Then my Jane Austen adoring roommate made me sit down and watch the 1995 version, and I suppose I fell down the rabbit hole as all these years later I can’t even begin to count how many novels I’ve read written during the 17th/18th/19th centuries, or how many movies/miniseries/tv shows I’ve watched set in those periods. I won’t confess to how many I own either, suffice it to say, it’s a lot.

    The 2005 version (to me), is like the really attractive person who dazzles, and then you scratch the surface and realize there’s no substance whatsoever beneath the pretty facade. It’s fine if you love it, but if you don’t watch other versions because filming was different in the 40 years leading up to the early aughts, then you’re missing out on a lot of really amazing productions that though aren’t shot outside mostly, the wonderful acting, the rich stories, the accurate and sumptuous costumes more than make up for it. I’m not going to miss out on seeing Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R. because it was shot on a different kind of film, and a soundstage, it’s just a different type of flavor of production that you have to get used to to appreciate if you haven’t grown up with it.

    Personally, while I really, really like the 1995 version, I actually prefer the 1980. Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul are my Lizzy and Darcy, and that’s totally ok because it’s my opinion, and I’m not asking anyone else to agree with me. 2005 is Jane Austen-lite, and I think that’s what this incredibly articulate, and well thought out post illuminate’s. Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think audiences are really that dumb that we need to be hit over the head with the facts like Wright’s version does to me. This is after all the Golden Age of TV, and audiences are a lot more sophisticated than we give them credit for.

    Like another poster said, I too am greatly looking forward to (hopefully) the next miniseries version of P&P, as maybe it will somehow combine the beauty of filming today with the proper representation of what world Jane Austen lived in, and so beautifully captured. And I shall continue to come here when I want a little thoughtfulness with my reviews. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Kim Meath

      Well said! Personally, I liked all versions. They each appealed in their own way. Sure, not all of them religiously followed the book, but that’s the whole point behind “creative license”. Take the 1943 version, for instance. It’s glaringly apparent that the costumes and hats (oi, the hats!) were from a different era. I read somewhere that they had to use the leftover costumes from Gone With the Wind because the movie’s budget wouldn’t allow for new costumes. Regardless, I think the movie was great. Greer Garson was perfect as Elizabeth Bennett. Granted, they went over the top with creative license but it still appealed in its own way.

      I completely agree that everyone has a right to their own opinion but seriously, just enjoy the bloody movies as they are and quit picking them apart. They are entertainment, not the Holy Grail.

      Reply
  19. Julian Keys

    One thing that bothered me, and has not been mentioned yet, is scene of Elizabeth at Pemberley.. I’m all for it being a regal place, but I always thought of it as more akin to what we see in Downton Abbey. Family Portraits everywhere, yes, works of art, marble, etc. But a room filled with statues? I know that stately homes in England were and still are part museum, but that statue room seemed over the top.

    I grant, by the way, that I’ve no idea if it *is* over-the-top. I’m sure they filmed that scene in someone’s stately home (rather than a museum). So maybe a room filled with so many sculptures is par for the course. But Darcy strides through the mist in his shirt (no waistcoat, no cravat, no jacket under the coat)…THIS is the master of such a home? Who raised him? If he was born into such a palace, raised as its heir, there’s no way he’d be dressed like that, let alone striding through a country meadow unattended. Men of who owned houses like that just didn’t do such things that outside of their own parklands.

    Reply
    • Caitie Emm

      Fun fact: The house used for Pemberley in the 2005 adaption is Chatsworth House, formerly the home of the Duchess Georgiana that Keira Knightly *also* played, in (you guessed it) The Duchess! It’s used quite a bit in period pieces because it’s a stunning example of grandeur and architecture…and, yes, has a statue room! The former owners through the years were quite the collectors. There’s a mineral collection in the upstairs, just all kinds of things. So it’s both stately home and museum, complete with extensive gardens (as seen in some of the moor scenes, because Derbyshire, the 2011 Jane Eyre, and several times in Peaky Blinders).

      It’s open for tours, and is truly breathtaking in person if you ever get the chance!

      Reply
  20. ladylavinia1932

    Absolutely, Caroline Bingley’s ball gowns would be appropriate for a merveilleuse, an extremely fashion-forward, politically active Parisian woman. But Caroline Bingley isn’t French, let alone Parisian, and she’s no Juliette Récamier or Madame Tallien.

    Although Caroline Bingley’s family was English and came from trade, her family was also wealthy and she was educated to become a sophisticated woman of her time – which also meant keeping an eye on the latest fashions from Paris.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Yes, but if the MOST cutting-edge London society women aren’t wearing Merveilleuse fashion, then Caroline Bingley certainly isn’t going to be either.

      Reply
  21. Tania

    Well I agree with some of your points. And I feel this adaptation going a lil bit too far from the book. It’s just like watching another story (the Jane Austen’s characters are a bit different in my head from this adaptation). But I dont know I like this version! I watched it over and over. I cant decide, i love both

    Reply
  22. Marina

    Thank you for the thorough analysis – I absolutely support you on all counts, especially about the the dirt, grime and PIGS EVERYWHERE !!! (Ugh!), not to mention Lizzy’s ugly dresses (with sleeves rolled up to the elbows – what even?!). That being said, objectively, if I hadn’t read the book, or watched earlier adaptations, or known anything at all about the period, I would have loved the movie – it is beautifully shot. I feel much the same about Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma – it was the movie that introduced me to all things Austen way back when I was an impressionable girl of 14. After rewatching it now, it doesn’t make the cut… So I generally try to treat P&P 2005 as not really an adaptation but a completely separate creation, set roughly during the same period as Ms. Austen’s novels, with characters having same names (just for the sake of my sanity really, that’s how I deal with things – reject the reality and replace it with the one to my own liking :LOL:).

    Reply
  23. SharonD

    I will definitely echo what most have said here about the 2005 version just being unnecessarily grimey and just generally ugly to look at in every way. I won’t rewrite a diatribe about it, Although I could!

    My main gripe is that one of the things I adore about the novel and the 1995 version is the sweet relationship between Lizzy and her father. How he loves her and is proud of her intelligence in spite of himself. Fathers were not supposed to hold mere daughters in a high level of regard in this era, they exist solely to marry well and advance the family fortunes…but Mr. Bennet and Lizzy have a high regard for one another, and it is conveyed in their glances to each other, as if they are sharing an inside joke. They “get” each other. The tone for this is set in the first 3 minutes of the 1995 version, when Lizzy stops by the window and exchanges a knowing look with her father as her mother is wailing. In the 2005 version, there is no sense of this, and it really made me angry to the point that i will never suffer through that one again! It ruined the whole story for me. Even more than that blasted pig!

    And to the Kirsten person who said above that Jane in this version was ugly, Well, I beg to differ! As a matter of fact, she looks very much like the standard of beauty for that era. Her features look very much like the portraits and likenesses of women from that time who were considered great beauties. I enjoy it very much when casting directors choose actors based on other standards of beauty than what the current one happens to be and really think about what was considered attractive at that time. It adds so much to the story telling!

    Kiera K and her gritted teeth and jutting jaw would have been considered the homely one in 1800. Too skinny, gangly, and hair too stringy!

    Reply
  24. Tamara

    I couldn’t have sat through this movie except for JASNA members had a free previewing of it, and we had just toured Chatsworth and Stourhead, and the music is pretty good. That’s it. Pretty awful except the locations and music. I’ve seen MacFadyen really act well in Little Dorrit and The Way We Live Now but in this it was as if he was resentful about playing the part for some reason.

    Reply
  25. Katy B

    I just watched this film for the first time in a long time after being off sick from work and running out of period dramas! I don’t think it’s terrible but I do agree with a lot of comments being said, namely:

    The hair – oh god it’s awful. Matthew McFadyen is an attractive man, and yet the horrendous hair they gave him somehow makes him just looks terrible. Elizabeth Bennet tramping around with her hair down too – I’m not too bothered by slight historical inaccuracies, but it just looks scruffy
    The pigs & dirt everywhere!! It seems they wanted to bat viewers over the head with the difference in Darcy and Elizabeth’s upbringing, but it just makes it seem implausible.
    Brenda Blethyn – I like her in other things, but she was just so annoying in this. I know the character is silly, but she was just unlikeable. Compare her to Alison Steadman, who managed just the right balance, and Blethyn is just whiny and often extremely rude with the things she says.
    The speed – at first I thought it was the comparison between 6 hours of the 1995 version and 2 1/4 hour film, but actually I don’t think it is. Is anyone else irritated by the speed of the character’s speech? It’s like they are racing to get through all the lines as fast as possible! In particular, when Darcy declares his love for Elizabeth, they could actually be doing that bit at the end of a radio advert where they speed talk the T&Cs.
    The modern behaviour – Bingley walking into Jane’s room as she lies in bed?! Darcy delivering Elizabeth a letter to her room at night?! Lady Catherine arriving in the dark?!

    There are many positives about this adaptation. The casting is pretty good – particularly 4/5 of the Bennet sisters (Lydia, not so much) and when not caked in dirt and pigs it looks very pretty. It’s a shame the positives are smothered by a few pretty basic errors.

    Reply
  26. Deb

    I loved this movie–the last time I laughed this hard watching a movie was when I watched the DaVinci Code. Seriously–we had to pause the movie for a good 5 minutes because of the Lizzie on the Swings scene–could not stop laughing at the pile of mud (or was it pig poo?) against the wall. I mean really–who mucks out the pig pen and then throws the dirt against the wall??! Especially when in nearly the same scene they show all the peasants/gardeners working for them? It reminded me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“Dennis, there’s some lovely filth down here!”)

    You also forgot to note Mrs Bennett saying they dine with 4 and 20 families–and then at the assembly ball there’s what looks to be 1000 people, and the street scene where the girls are in town looks about as busy as London, not some country town.

    Your criticisms are spot on–Jane Austen dumbed down cause, you know, thinking is hard. If I couldn’t laugh at all the idiotic garbage in this movie, I’d be really angry. So thanks for posting.

    Reply
  27. Ashten

    ( Its a truth universaly acknowledged that the movie which was made in 2005 must be in want of a fan )

    Although I’m late but I would like to comment because that was WHAT I needed to read after the disaster that I have watched last night my god I cant believe it why did they call it Pride and prejudice when there was NO PRIDE at all no misunderstanding it was just a love story of a teenage or maybe even a younger girl .
    AND THE PIGS ?? Her sister jane’s personality which was close to the real Lydia’s personality ?? CHARLOTTE ?? And for god sake where is Mrs. hurst ? miss caroline was looking so lonely and maybe thats what raised her bitchy attitude u know XD

    And why did the so called DARCY explain everything for her before writing the message ? I mean it was ridiculous Darcy never defended himself verbally !! Also anyone who watched this movie and was not familiar with the novel will find it extremely pointless why its called pride and prejudice ..instead it had to be called ” SHAME AND SHAMELESS”

    Finally ..her father o.0 seriously ? I felt the guy never memorized his lines or knew who he is ..jane austen would be disapointed indeed .

    Reply

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