P&P & Smackdown!


On this day in 1817, Jane Austen died. We here at Frock Flicks think certain screen adaptions of her work might be causing Ms. Austen to roll about uncomfortably in her grave — but hey, let’s get some empirical data on this issue.

Thus, it’s time for an epic Pride and Prejudice smackdown: 1995 vs. 2005, the good, the bad, and the piggy!











Yeah, yeah, we didn’t mention Jane or Mr.Bingley or Lydia or the costumes specifically or a whole lot of other things. Bitch about it in the comments! That’s what we’re here for.


Pride and Prejudice, 1995 or 2005, which one would Jane Austen like better?

34 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    The Ehle-Firth P&P gets my vote, but I did love Dame Judi as Lady Catherine. And I’d choose the rest of the cast in the 1995 version over the 2005 one. Saffy, er Julia Sawalha is perfect as Lydia.
    Has anyone else noted Allison Dressmaker resembles Jennifer Saunders a bit? Or have I OD on Abfab?

  2. valkyr8

    This isn’t even something that needs to be discussed. 1995 wins hands down, without a question!

  3. Charity

    I know this is only a smackdown between the two most popular versions, but I gotta say — if I was going to run off with a Mr. Wickham, it would be the character in the zombie version. Yes, you heard me right. Every other Wickham strikes me as skeevy — that one, I could conceivably find charming.

    Between these two adaptations — when I first saw the Knightley P&P, I LOATHED it. But repeat visitations and the reduced running time have grown it on me over the years. Still, no one can touch Firth’s Darcy, that’s for sure. ;)

  4. Kay

    2005 P&P was one of only two movies I have ever walked out on in the theatre. I just couldn’t bear one more sad, wilted moment.

    I do think Matthew Mafayden could have been an awesome Darcy if he had been in a better production. He is fantastic in everything else I’ve seen him in.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      I am a huge Matthew Macfayden fan, but yeah, his Darcy was weaksauce compared to Firth’s. And I know it’s not his fault as an actor but the script and the condensed narrative, which is unfortunate.

    • Val

      Agreed. The script was terrible. And why so brown? Every costume
      in that movie was depressing

  5. Liutgard

    Kiera drives me nuts in everything she’s in. And that horrible hair! Why bother with costumes if you don’t do something about those awful bangs?

    And the 1980 version beats them both. :-)

    • Sally M

      She’s equal wit Jennifer Firth for me… wonderful, both of them.

  6. Jerome

    If only they’d filmed a version with the cast of Lost in Austen. Gemma Arteton, Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston … A lost opportunity.

  7. Katy

    I love them both! I adore the accuracy and length of the 1995 version, but the 2005 wins for me when it comes to the music and scenery. They both bring great joy to my life.

  8. Janeheiress

    1995 wins all but one…the only Wickham I’d run away with is Matthew Goode from Death Comes to Pemberley. So distracting to be rooting for him to get away unscathed!

  9. Linda Merrill

    I always thought Brenda Blethyn brought a wonderful depth to Mrs. Bennett. She wasn’t just a silly woman, she was a silly woman who had 5 daughters to see married and an estate that would go outside the family. She truly captured the essential angst of their situation. Allison Steadman, though fantastic, was a bit of a one-note for me.

  10. Nit-Picking Badgers

    The pigs! The lack of hairpins! Gnashing my teeth in horror at the memory of the 2005 adaption (one and only time I have seen it)

  11. Maggie

    I have to vote for the 1980s version, too! Still love Elizabeth Garvey and David Rintoul.

    • MoHub

      And Moray Watson’s Mr. Bennett! Also the best Mr. Collins ever!

    • LLC

      Yes, Maggie, I agree. It is hard to get over your first love. Rintoul was so repressed you see him change, Firth second, but might be the one you want to keep. Though I like Macfadyn, I feel he didn’t start cool enough to show the internal change. (can you tell I’m an actor first and a costumer second?) The historic research into the clothing has improved over the years, the 1976-ish versions are horrid, ringlets make-up and all!!!

  12. Bonnie

    Am I the only one who prefers the ’05 version? Anyone? Anyone? My very favourite Austen adaptation is the ’95 Persuasion, and part of what I love about it is the realism, it’s a little bit gritty (not The Wire gritty, but you know…). Particularly in comparison to the ’95 P&P which is very bubbly and chocolate box pretty, and not just regarding the sets and costumes, but the characterisations too just lack a little grit. I do love the ’95 Lizzie though as she’s twinkly and more arch and a little bit naughty compared to the Keira Knightley version (and that awful wig!). I also think on the whole, the characters are more believable/relatable in the ’05 P&P – Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Collins for example, are broad caricatures in the ’95 version; good fun, but not real people. All of the characters in the book are fully fleshed out and believable, and I think the ’05 film does a better job at translating that. As much as I love Colin Firth, I found his Darcy too mature and self-contained, I think Matthew Macfadyen did a better job of capturing Darcy’s vulnerability and unease. Even Jennifer Ehle seemed a little too old and knowing in that role – despite her brains, Lizzie’s still meant to be an innocent country girl. Keira Knightley on the other hand is too brittle and snappy. I also like the little romantic moments – when Bingley reaches out to touch the ribbon of Jane’s dress as she walks by, when Darcy helps Lizzie into the carriage, and the ultimate scene, the almost-kiss in the summerhouse/folly scene. Anyway, I love them both, but ’05 has the edge for me.

    • Charity

      I like the 05 version. There’s lots of little delightful moments in it. And I LOVE the long-shot in the ball. That took some serious choreography, to have everyone in their little vignettes. Plus, the moment when they dance together and everyone else in the room disappears — terrific stuff. :)

    • Alex Mercado

      You’re not alone! P&P 2005 is my favorite movie ever, I don’t know if it’s because I saw P&P ’95 after, but I just don’t like it that much. Of course I love it, the costumes especially and the Ehle/Firth couple but there’s something lacking in some characters, just like you said. My biggest complain about the ’05 version is the costumes, I hate so much Joe Wright’s dislike for the empire dress style!

  13. Susan Pola

    If I remember correctly Mrs Bennett has always been played a bit ding batty and foolish without a smidgen of sense. Or an ounce of sensibility.

    If I were to choose a second favourite, it would be the Garvey-Rintoul.

    Or the Garson-Olivier as my favourite movie adaptation. I liked Ms Knightley in the Pirate movies and Love Actually, but she’s very brittle in appearance, almost too thin in this and Anna Karenina. I find I’m more distracted by wondering if she’s anorexic or bulimic and hoping if she is, she gets help.

    Have you thought of doing a poll on both Persuasions, or both Sense and Sensibility?

  14. LE

    As much as I like a lot about the 1995 version, I have a lot of trouble with Ehle as Elizabeth. She might be only 26 but she has a maturity to her that feel really out of place not just for the character, but the way they try to portray the character. Several times I have had trouble getting past the first scene with her skipping down the hill, looking like a grown up playing at being a kid. And let’s not forget it was this versions attempt to make the Bennets look innocent which flooded the regency films of the last two decade with little white dresses. Overall I also think the family dynamics and the assembly and ball scenes are both better in the 2005 to me. A public assembly is supposed to be a little wild. That’s why Darcy was so snobby about it, anyone who could pay for the voucher and dress appropriately could attend, you might accident dance with, gasp, a butcher! And the cinematography of the Netherfield ball was wonderful. That said, Colin Firth is the Darcy I see in my head most of the time (with Alex Kingston as the ball breaking Mrs. Bennet, Hugh Bonneville as Mr., Perdita Weeks as Lydia, Christina Cole as Caroline, Matthew Goode as Wickham and some one tall as Mr. Collins (it’s his personality not his person that is supposed to be repugnant after all)).

  15. Poetryqn

    I’m a bit late to the party but I much prefer the longer adaptations of 1980 and 1995 to the 2005 movie. On the plus side, this movie has some stunning cinematography, wonderful music and the incomparable Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet. For the rest, it felt like a Cliff Notes version of the story, too much attempted in too short a time. On top of that, it seemed as though the director actually never read the book. The director and screenwriter have somehow missed that the title of the book is Pride and Prejudice, not Elizabeth and Darcy. Every character has been homogenized for mass consumption in the service of the central love story. Judy Dench does the most she can with a character whose stinger has been plucked, Tom Hollander actually makes Mr. Collins a sympathetic character and even Tallulah Riley (as pedantic sister Mary) has a screen moment where the audience feels sympathy for her. In short, they have stripped the story of all its bite, wit and context, leaving poor Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadyen nothing to do but look beautiful. (which they both manage very well, indeed) Beyond that are the glaring attempts to update the movie, adding to or changing scenes from the book.

    If you want a pretty movie with a neat happy ending, then the 2005 version is acceptable. If, on the other hand, you want a rich cinematic experience of a literary classic, skip the movie and rent either mini series.