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.
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.
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:
4. Elizabeth Bennet, Homespun Princess
Elizabeth did not have Caroline Bingley’s budget. But that doesn’t make her a potato digging peasant.
5. Mrs. Bennet Looked Like a Charwoman
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.
7. Mr. Bennet Apparently Couldn’t Afford a Razor
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.
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!
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.
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!
Did we miss anything? Are there more reasons to be irritated by Pride & Prejudice (2005)? Do tell!
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.
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.
OMG and I hated the original ending! You’re saying it can be worse??
Oh man this summary made me laugh out loud!!!
“Cheezy” ? Are you mad ?
I loved this P & P. I loved the mud. (The English countryside is not a back lot in Culver City you know) The pig in Lizzy’s house. The shabby chic interior. The messy coiffs. The wrinkled, musty frocks. The costume and set design was a rare breath of fresh, English country air.
Keira was fabulous, did I say fabulous? And add to that brilliant, portraying a fresh, believable, saucy, thoughtful, and moody Elizabeth. Can you imagine what this superb film would have been without her? Fun to see visually maybe but not to follow. Ok, she’s made some dud films (bad scripts, bad directors) but this was not one of them.
Judi Dench’s best performance ever as Lady Catherine. Her crazy doo was straight out of a Joshua Reynolds portrait.
Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy, so deadpan and boring but it worked because it gave Lizzy every scene they shared. You knew she’d be bored with him as soon as she got the wedding ring. Can’t see her enjoying him long, nor the title nor Versailles. Affairs with the next door Lord instead of therapists and yoga in those days..
The dialogue (script) and the overall direction was crisp, witty yet subtle. Hollywood was a few thousand miles away, thank God, until the last five minutes with the highly unlilkely foggy meadow rendezvous (was that Jane Austin’s ending?) and the “New Equilibrium” finale of the married saps on the balustrade saying foppish nonsense. (See Happy Ending 54B, Lot 4, Building 9, Disney Studios)
Also casting an American, Don Sutherland, as papa must have been some powerful Beverly Hills agent’s finger in this authentic Shepherd’s pie. Weird choice. Just the accent alone. Ugh. And with his bright and shiny perfect dentures courtesy of Beverly Hills Dentist’s Group. Make up? Can we get someone over here, please? Hello?
Donald Sutherland is Canadian not American,
I loved this version of P & P as well, and agree with much of Tom Cies except the derision of Mr. Darcy. He was smart, loyal, well educated, a man of action (found the wayward couple), generous, and SHY. I loved the way his character developed over the course of the film, becoming more socially outward focused, while not losing himself. I think he and Elizabeth will find much to enjoy over the course of their lives together.
As for manners, spoken of in an earlier post … Elizabeth notes that they did not have a governess, nor did their mother spend much time teaching them the finer things that might have been expected of a young English woman. They were an imperfect family, which resonated well with me. This is a beautiful film which continues to give me great pleasure.
Even without a governess, I’m sure, the Bennet girls would be taught to ear without licking their fingers and putting their elbows on the tables. Otherwise, their neighbourswould never receive them, say nothing of marriage prospects, however meager they were. It’s not bout being perfect, it’s about having basic manners.
100 percent agree.My only complaint was (Canadian) Donald Sutherland’s teeth. Quite distracting!
p.s. Just wanted to clarify that I agree with Rob’s comments, not the person above my comment.
EVERYONE under the sun compares the 1995 version & 2005 not realizing that one can love BOTH, even if not equally. I love the cinematography of the 2005 version, the casting of Jane was perfect, Rosamond Pike is so beautiful I could understand why she was considered the beauty of the county! While the Bennetts are considered gentry, it is the 2005 film that hits home WHY Lady Catherine and Darcy would consider it beneath them to marry into the Bennett family. I always thought the 1995 version did not show enough of the social class distinction to make the marriage so objectionable. It is in the 2005 version where you see it depicted visually: the clothes, the hair, the manners & behaviors, the lack of social connections which make it very clear why Mr. Darcy had to overcome his initial reluctance.
P&P has been my favorite book for nearly 40 years, read it countless times and can appreciate each and every adaption for the joy it brings.
PS love Mathew MacFayden & Keira Knightly together, thought their chemistry was terrific, so there !
Oof no she didn’t fit the role at all. For one thing she outshines Jane’s beauty which isn’t supposed to be the main trait she’s identified by, although all the Bennet sisters are supposed to be very pretty, Jane is the number 1 and Elizabeth is second (so on and so forth). This movie made it seem like their family were part of the lower class when in fact they’re in the same social class as Bingley and Darcy, they just don’t make as much money!!!! Like i don’t understand why they’re portrated as being so poor?? They’re not poor whatsoever, has anybody read the book?? Their father makes 2000 a year and owns land, they are in the upper class, they are looked down upon because of their mothers inferior connections. Don’t even get me started on the historical innacuracies with the hair, the manners, the costumes. This movie was extremely Hollywood especially during the first proposal and the last scene of them walking in the field. This movie made everything 10x more dramatic then it needed to be… I mean really…. the rain proposal?? Get outta here! Makes me think the people who made the movie didn’t even bother reading the book or doing any research. This movie was a literal tragedy.
that one time bingley visited janes bedside..
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.
Thank you for keeping it genteel!
Amen, sister! Those are modern words, for sure
Mr Bingley portrayed as a half-wit. He was an affable character but not simple minded. Ughh
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?
In this version Jane doesn’t seem especially intelligent. I thought that was the idea, that they were both good-looking but stupid and therefore perfect for each other.
The fact that Darcy and Lizzie shout at one another in the rain.
Austen does not need to be Brontë.
Well that would explain a lot about this movie — perhaps the director thought he was actually making a version of Wuthering Heights.
I knew my spidey senses weren’t failing me. I don’t know how the were able to turn Pride and Prejudice into Wuthering Heights and Pigs but it really do be like that I guess
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. ?
I’ve just discovered this site too…I’m over here chuckling at all the comments.
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:
The painting, called “Madame Raymond de Verninac”, was created between 1798-99.
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.
I found this article too late! I will go so far as to say this movie offended me in how horrible it was, and it had Judy Dench in it, for crying out loud! Anyone who doesn’t know Austen will be influenced by this crap. I generally like Keira Knightly, but she made Elizabeth sound like a b!tch most of the time, and the entire movie felt rushed. Also, thanks for calling out that they looked like slobs and the property looked like an abandoned farm. My Bennett was a gentleman with 2,000 per year – their home, clothing, and hair would have all be well-kept. AND IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN WORN DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! O, the hatred I have for this movie!
It’s supposed to be set in 1813, they only made this one take place earlier because of fears it would be overshadowed by the (awful) 1995 mini-series.
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.
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!!!
Really? Are you 12?
Yes, she is :))
whine and winge go to another site an do it
WTF does this even mean? This is OUR site. By it’s very definition, we are going to say whatever we want here because this is our sandbox.
Nah, I’m pretty sure it’s your taste that sucks. Have you read the book, per chance?
Well that is a confusing (and yes, juvenile) comment! As this is entitled “…Reasons to be Irritated…”, seems to me it’s quite the right place to whine and winge about this film.
Yes, I disliked the 1995 version. For one thing Elizabeth was played by an actress both too old and too fat. That “smart” smile was very irritating. Elizabeth had the personality of a particularly docile golden retriever.
Oh, for crying out loud — Jennifer Ehle is not fat. She is on the slim side, and just happens to have large breasts. Your constant harping on her weight only makes you sound deeply misogynistic.
Um, I hate to break it to you but Elizabeth is supposed to be in her early-mid 20’s, and the body-shape preference in the late 18th century/ early 19th century was very different than what you’d expect today. By Regency standards, the actors in 2005 are all sickly and borderline anorexic. Also, Elizabeth is /supposed/ to have a smart smile because she’s /smart/???? And the coyness of her personality is supposed to be there?? She’s supposed to be a witty, playful yet composed character who’s impulsive enough to bark back but ladylike enough to do it in a mannerly way.
Well I mean that’s fair- everyone is entitled to opinions. My personal reason for liking the 1995 version better is because of better accuracy all around (plus Elizabeth was supposed to have that coy air around her it’s in the book). The 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie isn’t a bad movie, it’s just a bad Pride and Prejudice. There’s nothing to be taken away from the actors- they did a splendid job- it’s just more of a Wuthering Height in my opinion
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!!
ACTUALLY I CANT HELP BUT AGREE WITH YOU THERE. 1995 kinda did too good of a job interpreting the characters to the point where it’s really hard to see anyone else play them. I mean the traditional regency hairstyles probably didn’t suit the 2005 cast…? But like you can always change a part, plus where’s the elegance? Isn’t this supposed to be the gentry class of Regency England? The actors are good actors but come on, don’t subject them to a poor script, poor setting, AND poor appearance
“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§ion=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.
You’re right, although being pedantic. So much for comedy!
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.
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.
So basically, the 1995 costumes aren’t authentic either?
Pretty much. They’re considerably more accurate than the ones in the 2005 film, but they’re certainly not perfect.
Pedantic: narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned — http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pedantic
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.
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!
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.
Hmmm, interestsing point! More Bronte than Austen!
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.
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.
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.
A terrible waste of Judi Dench. So, so very wrong.
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.
May I ask in what way you find S&S unfraithful, excepting natural omissions….
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.
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. ;)
This can all be explained by it being a Hollywood movie, they needed to sell it to the bonehead mass audience. I didn’t like much about this one – including Keira Knightley. The way she smiles – grins, really – is especially irritating. The 1995 version sucked too, though – Elizabeth looked about 35, and fat.
Enough with the fat comments, troll. You are allowed your opinion, but Jennifer Ehle is no where near being fat. How insulting.
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!
Not to mention that she is supposed to be a very shy character. She certainly didn’t seem shy to me. The whole Pemberley part of the film was just so wrong.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Ehle was too old and too fat. I gave up on that halfway through the first episode. Mrs. Bennet was too old as well – I thought she was only supposed to be about 41 or 42.
I don’t think Ms. Ehle as fat, but I do agree with you that she was completely wrong for the part. Greer Garson in the 1940’s version, although only loosely faithful to the book and to old for the part, was a good example of Elizabeth Bennet’s personality. Witty but polite, passionate yet genteel. In fact, with the exception of Darcy, the characterization of the B&W version were spot on. Bingley, Jane, Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins, Lydia, Wickham; all good on capturing the personalities of the book. The script was what was wrong. It was a play converted to film and it showed. Also Olivier as Darcy was much to soft. If his tone had been harder it would have been better.
The only thing the 1995 mini-series got right was the script. It followed the book accurately, but that was all. Collin Firth as Darcy was BORING! Jane was insipid, Bingley an idiot, and Elizabeth a snob. Mrs. Bennet and Lydia were so exaggerated as to be unbelievable. And yes, Mr. Collins was embarrassing and stupid but he wasn’t greasy.
I know I’m attacking the most beloved version, but I wasn’t a fan. For such a long series they didn’t show much of the interaction between Darcy and Elizabeth outside of strict dialogue and stares. He was way to laid back and she was to well-pleased with herself. The book mentions several times about them walking about Rosings and him seeking her out, we find out later he was actively trying to court her. The 1995 version, I felt, was trying to focus on chemistry and it came across forced. Every meeting was wrought with awkwardness. By the proposal they were supposed to be much more natural around each other.
The 2005 version was even worse. All give and take between Darcy and Elizabeth was replaced by clumsy fidgeting and far-off looks, not to mention the dirt, the various moments of undress, and overall depressing atmosphere. It was like they were trying to be Dickens.
I understand movies rarely live up to one’s own imaginings, and capturing the essence of books can be elusive. But when depth is missed an elevated story can become common.
P&P is a moral tale that sizzles. Although Lydia and Wickham are the ones that have the Harlequin romance, it’s Darcy and Elizabeth we find more passionate. We instinctively know that their deeper characters have more romantic then the shallow ones.
Sorry about the long post, but I love P&P. I’m not mad about the various film versions, but none of them are really satisfying. I’m not a purist. There are movies that I like even though they take liberties with my favorite books. But, like I said before, P&P is supposed to sizzle with ardent movement under the surface and nothing overtly expressed. The 1995 version came across as boring, and the 2005 version had only pretty faces to recommend it.
I quite agree with you. I just watched the 1995 version for the third time now and through these re-watches, I discover new things. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth don’t have chemistry together… And his Darcy is, for me, lacking of something I can’t yet describe.
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 :)
“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.
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…
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.
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.
They have a point about the inaccuracies, but this is a Hollywood movie and was meant to appeal to people who haven’t read the book and/or have no interest in the period. I enjoyed it, whereas I disliked the more accurate but incredibly dull 1995 miniseries. The inaccuracies here are not exactly on the level of Braveheart or 300. (The Bennets didn’t need to be quite so savage, though.)
what, no fat comments this time dave?
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*
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.
Aren’t reviews generally the reviewer’s educated opinion? Isn’t that a given?
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.
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.
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.
Preach on! Call this film something else, because it is not P&P and anyone who sees it without reading the novel is being mislead as to the very basics of the story. Ugh!
“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.”
Sorry, but this is absolutely hilarious! Why is it that so many people assume that Emma Thompson would insist on fidelity to Austen’s novels (or to anything or anyone, really)? IMO, her work on Sense and Sensibility clearly shows that she is not particular about faithfulness to the source material (just as Lindsay Doran and Ang Lee were not). That film made MANY changes, some of which went against the themes and spirit of Austen’s S&S.
Similarly, some of the scenes in P&P 2005 that Joe Wright says Thompson wrote do not exactly mesh with Austen’s P&P. That is precisely why many Austen fans hate them. In the scene in the 2005 movie where Charlotte Lucas tells Elizabeth of her engagement, Charlotte is extremely defensive, frightened, and desperate (“Don’t you dare judge me!”), when, in the book, she is nothing of the sort. In the book, she is calm and collected, because she is comfortable with her pragmatic choice. She knows that she is “not romantic.” In other words, Thompson, under the direction of Wright, fundamentally altered Charlotte’s character. You are certainly welcome to enjoy the change, but you are not welcome to claim that it doesn’t exist, or that it is faithful to Austen’s intent.
They did get that across, that’s why Mr. Bennet was willing to pay that 100 pounds – the audience would have been smart enough to realize that if someone with 10,000 or even 5,000 a year is incredibly wealthy, 100 pounds is not nothing.
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!!
They wanted a broader appeal than would have been possible with greater accuracy. It’s a Hollywood movie. The 1995 version might have been more accurate, but was incredibly dull except to the diehards. This version had a few improvements – Donald Sutherland, for one. This was a version that a heterosexual guy could watch and enjoy – once, at least.
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.
I’d take this outside source with a grain or two of salt. Although the Bennets were made to look a little too savage, the pig in the house is not that far-fetched – it wasn’t exactly wandering through the drawing room. As for the novel, anyone who thinks there was anything subtle about it is delusional – it’s a romance, after all, and Austen really beats you over the head a lot.
It gets me that people keep commenting on Lizzie walking around the countryside with hair that doesn’t look like it has seen a comb but fail to notice that her hair doesn’t seem to have ever seen any kind of head covering. I don’t know much about fashion of the time period but even I know that ladies would not have gone outside with some kind of head covering be that a hat or a bonnet.
YES! That was the thing that irritated me from the start (besides the dirt, pigs, and lack of table manners). Where the hell are all the hats? Anytime they went outside they should have been wearing hats or bonnets. The other grievous offense was when Elizabeth runs away from the Pemberley estate. She wanders back to the inn ON HER OWN! a) The Pemberley estate is supposed to be huge. b) Elizabeth is new to the area. How TF is she supposed to be ABLE much less KNOW how to get back? And when she does arrive, her aunt, uncle and Darcy are casually sitting and laughing together with no concern for where Elizabeth has been for what was probably HOURS. That’s piss poor writing.
About Caroline Bingley’s dresses, didn’t some women wear sleeveless dresses in the 1790s/1800s?
I’ve seen these fashion plates, so I’m curious:
I’m not a fashion historian or anything, so I would love to learn more:)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
In the end, you have to be smart enough to realize the 2005 version is the Hollywood version – look who’s in it, for one thing. They wanted it to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. For those who want greater accuracy, there’s the dull 1995 version with the old, fat Elizabeth – and, I guess, the 1980 but I can’t comment on that one as I haven’t seen it. I might prefer it, since I didn’t like the 1995. Generally I prefer greater accuracy, but the inaccuracies here aren’t on the level of, say, Braveheart – or 300. At least the Bennet daughters in this one were closer to the age they were supposed to be. Ehle looked about 35.
Ehle was about 25 when filming of Pride & Prejudice took place. If you want to have a valid point about anyone being too old to play a part, Julia Sawalha was 26, and in no way resembles a 15 year old in the slightest. The actors were not permitted to wear make up during the filming of the miniseries, I’m sorry if the fact that at times she looked a little tired offended you, but her skin was flawless and she had the bright complexion of a young woman, not an old hag as you have intimated several times through your posts.
Beauty standards vary greatly throughout history. Although Elizabeth’s figure in the novel is described by Austen as “light & pleasing” that can take on many connotations considering what we might consider today as a “fuller figure” for a woman that wears a size 4 or 6, was considered the standard of beauty in the period. Women were supposed to have a little flesh on their bones unlike Keira Knightley, as to it was a sign of wealth and privilege. A comment that is often made by people of this time whenever watching Pride & Prejudice 1995 is that Susanah Harker – the actress that played Jane was in no way the beautiful creature that deserved such fawning by other characters. Jane Austen herself wrote to her sister that a portrait of Mrs. Quentin that she saw in a gallery was the perfect encapsulation of her Jane.
Susannah Harker is the human embodiment of that portrait. As you can see the woman in it is not bone-thin as you seem to believe these characters must be.
I’m sorry if the fact that Ehle has something called breasts offends you. Take any woman that has something resembling a bosom, shove it into costuming of previous centuries and suddenly those girls are hoicked up to their armpits and are much bigger than they might be in real life. They’re called tits, get over it.
But thank you for taking the time out to mansplain to all us ladies, and including the point that : There’s nothing cerebral about Jane Austen, it’s just a trashy 19th century romance novel. I’ll make sure to share that opinion with the hundreds of scholars over the last century that have listed Austen as one of the most influential writers of English literature. Austen has a humor that is so dry and caustic that at times, her detractors miss it altogether. I’ll include you in that group.
Even though I have seen that image cited numerous times over the years to justify Harker’s casting, I have never thought that it strongly resembled her. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t think it matters. Susannah Harker is very attractive, and I have no problem with how she looks in the 1995 P&P.
If there is a problem (and I don’t believe that there is, necessarily), then it might be that Jennifer Ehle was too pretty to play Elizabeth. Elizabeth is supposed to be attractive, sure, but she doesn’t need to be stunning, and apparently a lot of viewers find that Ehle’s good looks draw the attention away from Harker. As I said, though, I think that both women look fine, and I don’t understand why anyone would find them ugly.
The casting of actors who are too attractive for their roles is an issue that I’ve mentioned on this blog before, during the most recent Howards End discussions. Both the 1990s and the brand-new Howards End adaptations cast very conventionally-attractive actors — Emma Thompson and Hayley Atwell, respectively — as Margaret Schlegel, who, in the novel, is rather plain. Other examples are Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, a character who is referred to as ugly in the book but is frequently portrayed by extremely handsome actors in film adaptations; plain Jane Eyre herself; Maria Bolkonskaya in War and Peace; and, heck, even Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, a character who is specifically described in the book as not being beautiful. I am sure that this is largely due to successful actors in Hollywood and elsewhere being, on average, more attractive than most people, but it becomes comical when audiences are expected to accept the characters as either ugly or ordinary, as in the case of Rochester, for example.
good shut-down of a woman-hating troll, Dani!
But thank you for taking the time out to mansplain to all us ladies, and including the point that : There’s nothing cerebral about Jane Austen, it’s just a trashy 19th century romance novel. I’ll make sure to share that opinion with the hundreds of scholars over the last century that have listed Austen as one of the most influential writers of English literature. Austen has a humor that is so dry and caustic that at times, her detractors miss it altogether. I’ll include you in that group.
oh, there we go. can’t hold off on the misogyny once you realize no one’s paying attention to you anymore
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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:).
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!
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.
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.
I found Brenda Blethyn much less irritating than Alison Steadman. I found pretty much all the Bennet daughters irritating, though.
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.
Jane Austen dumbed down cause, you know, thinking is hard.
There’s nothing cerebral about Jane Austen, it’s just a trashy 19th century romance novel. Thanks for giving me a laugh, though.
Do you not have any friends, this is all you have to do?
( 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 .
Interesting list, I felt so many of the same things while watching the movie. In no particular order, just off the top of my head, Georgiana running to Elizabeth (she was 16 right? Considering she was 15 when Wickham tried to elope with her and this was a year later. Back then, woman of that age were treated and acted like..women..right? Not like today where a 15 year old may be considered a child. Considering how young women were when they married, a young woman of 16, and that too of a very refined upbringing, wouldn’t have ran like that. I don’t know much about this stuff but she seemed to be acting more like a young girl of 5 years the way she says “Miss Elizabeth!!!” and runs to her. And they totally changed her personality- made her open and talkative and very friendly when in reality Georgiana was supposed to be sweet, well-mannered and very shy. I didn’t really mind that they changed things though..it made for a nice endearing scene actually- the way Darcy seems so much more relaxed around his sister, someone who understands him well, the way Georgiana was very friendly to Lizzy and how touched Lizzy felt watching him interact with Georgiana and the Gardiners which made her realized how wrong she had been even more than before. The hair for every character was off- the stringy bangs, Georgiana and Lizzy having their hair down, Lizzy’s looking scruffy. See the thing is, Lizzy was sassy and had spunk and a lot of wit, she wasn’t your typical demure, softspoken “ideal” sort of woman at that time, but she was still LADY-like. Her hair and dressing was supposed to be like any lady’s would have at that time, not all messy. I think because the film is only 2 hrs long and the director wanted to smush everything in, he used their hair and clothing to highlight differences in the characters. For example, Jane always being in pastel sort of colors and Lizzy in dark greens and browns and greys- this was to show that Jane is more typically feminine of that time, that she’s more simple and sweet and Lizzy was a bit deeper and more complicated but this was contrasted with Mary who always wore black- Lizzy still wore colors indicating a much more lively personality than Mary. Kitty and Lydia having their hair in curled pigtails to show that they’re immature and silly and also the youngest. I think a lot of the historical inaccuracy was because of the time limitations of the film. There was barely any time to really show the characters’ personalities too well at the beginning, there was just enough time to take a look at each of the sisters to be able to know who was who later in the movie, from their faces- it immediately jumped into the Netherfield Ball and if you haven’t read the book, you had to figure each one’s personality as the film went on. It’s clearly all historically inaccurate, no doubt. This is my two cents as to WHY.
All of the pigs and mud could have been omitted and pretty funny but I think that was because the director thought it would be visually pleasing and understand that the Bennets lived in the COUNTRYSIDE, not a posh area. And also to dramatically highlight the differences in class for people watching the movie who know nothing about the story or history. The scene with Elizabeth swinging was to indicate her more playful personality, that she’s not super serious. It was also to indicate that while she is extroverted, friendly and open, she also needs her alone time to mull things over (her walks, etc). It was super weird if you’re comparing to how she was actually in the book- which is like what ladies back then acted like-, but since the director wanted to show stuff that a modern audience could understand better, he used quick things like this- showing her swinging on a swing is an easier way to visualize her playfullness as in comparison to Jane or Mary or such. It was silly though, no woman would have been swinging barefoot in the mud back then.
And tons and tons of other things- Mr. Darcy visiting her at night to give her a letter and just walking into a room as she is wearing her nightgown, Mr. Bingley coming over to Jane while she is lying in bed, Darcy and LIzzy yelling at each other.
Disregarding fashion, there were some things I liked about this movie.
1. Chemistry. This is the number one. The 1995 lacked chemistry to me. The 2005 one had chemistry, I mean forget chemistry. It had sexual tension. It may not have been the most accurate thing but it was extremely enjoyable to watch ahaha. It made all of the Darcy/ Lizzy scenes so exciting. They had this spark between them. I won’t say that the 1995 one had no chemistry but it didn’t have the spark that the 2005 one had. The 1995 one is obviously more accurate, but the 2005 is a slightly more modern take on the way two people would act around each other in their sort of situation and that made it much more intense. The 1995 one lacked that intensity of emotions- it had much more time to play with subtlety.
2. Part of the reason that people love the 2005 one is I think because of Matthew. He has great body language and is super attractive, I loved the hair on him. He’s not attractive without it actually. His portrayal of Darcy wasn’t ACCURATE, but it brought a softer, more emotional, intense romantic side that was extremely nice to see. However, its quite ironic that the film is called “pride and prejudice” and the PRIDE was missing. He seemed more SOCIALLY AWKWARD than prideful. He was barely prideful, actually. He was brooding, unsociable, reserved. His expressions were off- that scene where he is writing letters with Caroline, Lizzy and Bingley in the room, he looked sad when Lizzy said “I never saw such a woman. She would certainly be a fearsome thing to behold”. He should have looked more arrogant. Also, everything that he said “my good opinion lost is once lost forever”..it wasn’t said with that much pride. He lacked that spark of arrogance that makes him unlikeable initially. But, I think the director was trying to make a lot of the lines less theatrical/ olden/ difficult to understand. Today, if a man spoke like Matthew Macfayden in the 2005 film, if I met a guy like this, I would still consider him to be prideful. It’s just that it’s not super “in your face” the way it was supposed to be. I think the director didn’t want anyone to speak with too much of emphasizing of certain words, to make it sound more relatable. The way Firth says “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” is completely different from Macfayden’s. Macfayden’s is more soft, romantic, emotional. He sounds less sure of himself and prideful, more emotional. So many romantic films, tv shows have taken place since 1995, people are expecting bigger things from a romance film today. Most people say they wished there was a kiss in the end (its only in the American version). People are used to many happy endings in movies, American audiences only got a sense of closure upon seeing Darcy and Elizabeth as a married couple, having a cheesy convo and being romantic physically.
The music is STUNNING.
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL cinematography.
I prefer watching the 2005 one because of how moving it is. The 1995 one is good for staying true to the novel and for the accurate portrayal of Mr. Darcy and so many other things.
Rather interesting, because to me the 2005 version didn’t have any chemistry. It felt hammy and over the top and I didn’t find the feelings between Darcy or Lizzie believable. Whereas with the 1995 version, even a look was smoldering with emotion. Less was on the surface, but to me that was much more powerful and I really really felt the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzie in the 1995 version. To me, they had way better sexual tension. In a period film like this, that sexual tension often feels more potent when it is allowed to be as it probably would have been–sitting right under the surface, rather than how we tend to think about it today.
I didn’t find the 2005 one moving personally, because it was so laughably wrong. The 1995 one impacted me deeply.
Matthew MacFayden does such a wonderful job with fools and fops, over the top silly characters or people who are kind of a mess, that I think he was such an odd choice here. He’s wonderful in Anna Karenina, and likewise good in The Way We Live Now. I find him much more convincing in those sorts of roles, rather than the romantic lead. He wore too much on his sleeve. Darcy should be more reserved. That way we see the struggle more when he simply can’t hold the emotion back. Also I just don’t think he’s that attractive.
I think Kiera gets a bad rap but I don’t think she was the right choice for Elizabeth Bennet.
The music is good, yes. The cinematography is….. pretty enough, if it weren’t so distractingly wrong for this story. As others have said, this isn’t Bronte. (Thank you, however, Joe Wright for Atonement. Gorgeous.)
(My wife and I were in the theater laughing about the strolling through the mist half-dressed because it was so absurd.)
In any case, this is certainly a movie that brings out strong opinions on either side! I simply wanted to jump in and show how for some, the very things that some like about the 2005 are what others see in a totally opposite way.
There was no chemistry at all in the 1995 version. Elizabeth, 35 and 250 lbs, was as docile as a golden retriever sedated for dental surgery.
I laughed really hard on some of the points of the list although I rather like this adaptation (but I still believe 1995’s version is the queen) <3 Love Frock Flicks
I remember watching this movie and trying to have patience and a charitable attitude towards the actors and costumers. I got about halfway through and concluded that the only possible explanation for this mess was that it must have a male director with a weak and whiny ego and an inferiority complex.
Why? Because possible the most important plot point of the whole story wasn’t even there. Elizabeth’s attitude towards Darcy for more than half the book is mainly indifference, with episodes of annoyance at him turning up as a speedbump and then forgotten again as unimportant. Until Darcy makes himself worth regarding, he’s about as interesting to her as dryer lint.
Men with whiny complexes about their insecure masculinity absolutely can’t stand that. The pretty screen heroine who is clearly the rightful property of the schlub in the male lead role CAN’T regard him with mildly pained indifference! All the sad male egos will shrivel up! So instead we have Elizabeth broodingly fixated on Darcy right from the start, because hating him until learning she’s his property/reward and has to love him is acceptable to that mindset.
A female director would not skip over such an important point and aspect of Elizabeth’s character. But a male director who can’t handle the thought that women often regard men like himself with indifference at best would keep that out of the movie.
I really agree with this! The point at which I gave up on the 2005 movie is when Elizabeth gets absolutely furious with Darcy for dismissing her charms in the first ball scene. It’s an incredible misunderstanding of her character and feelings towards Darcy. The way they play that scene in the 1995 mini-series is so brilliant, with the subtle look at Darcy and accompanying laughter between Lizzie and her friend.
I would not say that Elizabeth was indifferent to Mr. Darcy. She had a strong dislike for him. Particularly after hearing Wickham’s story and then really after hearing what hand he had in ruining Jane’s chances at marriage.
This one is my favorite version (IDKW) – but I don’t disagree with you A BIT. The whole movie was as dirty as my front yard during the landscape renovation.
Enjoyed reading your review. I went to watch the 2005 movie version so excited as I loved the mini series so much and I was SO disappointed by it.
Keira Knightly ruined the movie for me. She is so far from Elizabeth’s character its not even funny. Elizabeth is witty, intelligent and she has a fine eye for social nuances and behaviour. She knows society’s rules because she’s spent her live being subject to them and she plays by them 95% of the time with the occasional outburst against them like when she talks to Mr Darcy when he proposes.
Keira plays her as someone wilful and impetuous, and bold – essentially a modern woman. That’s not Elizabeth, Elizabeth is independent but she’s also careful and mindful of proper behaviour and she is a refined lady because at that time she had to have all those qualities to be accepted in society. She spends her spare time sewing as well as out walking, duty as well as being independant and doing things she likes. Keira’s Elizabeth is only about doing whatever she wants – she is too modern. Women’s lives were very constrained then and its not realistic.
It’s Elizabeth’s social skills and her intelligence that make Austen thinks she is a suitable wife for the super rich and gentile Mr Darcy. Austen’s Elizabeth is a lady, Keira is a tomboy.
Aside from that personally I find Keira very awkward to watch as she’s so bony. Not saying all slender women no chest are unattractive, just I find her almost painful to watch and I don’t really see why she’s considered attractive. I watched the 1995 version with my family while at school and my brother thought Jennifer was “gorgeous’ so I guess everyone has different ideas of beauty. In my head before I saw the min series I imagined Elizabeth as skinnier (and no Jennifer is not fat but a little plumpish) but she captures her charm and independence as well as grace and intelligence very well.
The fringes or bangs as you call them did annoy me a lot as not historically accurate and I questioned Caroline Bingleys dress. I like MM a lot but his hairstyle made him look a little weird and I didn’t think he and Keira had chemistry in the movie.
While I preferred Jane and Bingley in the 2005 version all of the other characters were more enjoyable in the 1995 version. The snobbish Bingley sisters were wonderful as was Lydia, Mr Collins, Mr and Mrs Bennett and Mary. Loved the costumes etc.
I’m glad to finally find some like minded Austen fans. The 2005 film, is awful. Very shallow and spoon feeds you every bit of information. The characters have no development throughout the story and I was constantly annoyed with the costumes (or lack of). I hadn’t seen it since it came out, and even then I did not really like it. Anyway I decided to give it another shot and honestly couldn’t even finish it. I got to the part where Darcy is walking through the misty hills in his muddy, unkempt “costume”, to meet Elizabeth in her nightgown…..because…”Oh yeah! They are supposed to have this great love story…” Look at them, so in love they have developed physic powers!
Some of the worst character portrayals I have ever seen in any version of Jane Austen stories.
The 1980 version is definitely a low production value, but to me it is the BEST adaptation of P&P by far. It keeps close to reality of the time and language. The change that unfolds in Darcy and Elizabeth as it progresses is absolutely perfect. A must see for Austen fans who are tired of the shallow, spoon fed Hollywood adaptations. I know I am…
I absolutely hated Darcy’s hair in the P&P&Pigs version–put some guyliner on him, and he’d look just like a scene kid
Great list. I’d add that Keira Knightley was awful as Elizabeth. She was cranky and churlish whereas Elizabeth is supposed to be intelligent, fun-loving, compassionate, and a cut above her sisters. I honestly felt that she and the movie in general just didn’t get what Lizzie Bennet was supposed to be about.
I personally never got the whole pigs-and-mud-and-dirt bit. Stipulating that the Bennets aren’t aristocrats, they’re members of the gentry (Elizabeth’s best friend is the daughter of the local knight!) who are anxious to have their daughters marry as well as possible (thus making it imperative to keep up appearances), and are well-off enough to have house servants. The thing is materially impossible, as Patrick O’Brian’s Dr. Stephen Maturin once said in another context, that Mrs. Bennet, focused on finding rich, high-status husbands for her girl, should ever allow her house to look dirty or unkempt, much less allow PIGS to roam freely through it.
Absolutely brilliant that this is still being discussed as I’ve been stewing about this for 13 years :D
The sole reason for the existence of this story is the lack of ownership for women at the time. Women did not own anything. They could be thrown out of their house as soon as they lost their male benefactor. They had no rights. The only power they had were the social graces, so that behind the scenes they could rationally and strategically plot and scheme for good marriages so that they might not end up in a workhouse.
Why then, why, does 2005 Elizabeth exude ownership? She is clearly a girl that feels safe to express herself. She puts her feet up on her fathers sofa as if she owns the thing. Her facial expressions are clearly 1990’s Girl Power. All the social undercurrents are lost, and with that the entire reason for the story is lost.
This is basically Bridget Jones with old-timey frocks.
Not true that women didn’t own anything. Lady Catherine in this story shows that to be untrue. It is true that when they married, whatever they had would come under the ownership of their husband but they could inherit and they could have ownership.
Because her father gave her that, since he didn’t have much else to give her as inheritance. The book is very clear on it. Her father views her as an equal, and that was also what made Darcy fall for her. He met his equal because of her ownership mind. Him noticing her pretty eyes came after that. A lesson for all parents to never underestimate their children :). Just pay attention to the tone of the book and movies, and don’t project Bridget Jones on it, it’s different galaxies.
I like this movie only because of Judi Dench and Matthew MacFadyen whom I even prefer to white-shirt Colin Firth from 1995. Keira Knightly does her best but I feel that at no time could one really understand why Darcy (or for that matter any other man) would even notice her. And one detail (I know its just a small detail but it really bugged me) distracted me: why did Elizabeth have a fringe at the nape of her neck? Could that hair not have been grown out far enough o be tucked under the (deplorable) wig? The costumes mainly for Elizabeth (especially when she was travelling and visited Pemberley) were way too simple and did nothing for her. Overall my preference is the 1995 TV version, mainly for the much superior Elizabeth!
If I’m remembering correctly – I think the fact that Keira Knightley had that stupid fringe, was because she had cut her hair very short for another role – Domino – and there simply wasn’t time for it to grow out before filming. But really, you would think professional makeup & costume people would have been able to work around that.
Thank you! That is very interesting. I completely agree that they should have been able to do better and could have somehow concealed it.
(Really late to the party but…) Agree, agree, agree… and I have always found this version annoying. I recently rewatched and geez… feels the same. You want to love it because you know it’s a beautiful story and you can see the potential they almost tap into, but there is so much that feels wrong that you just can’t…
The cinematography is beautiful and the music is wonderful, so I get why the film appeals to so many people but they could have easily done all that while keeping the integrity and depth of the story. But they chose to alter one main point – the Bennett’s were not the wealthiest but they were far from the poor family portrayed in the 2005 film. The depiction of home life sans pigs in the corridors and general mess everywhere, clothing perhaps a notch above that of a scullery maid, and maybe the added effort of making everyone look as though they washed their hair every now and then would have made a huge difference. Even if just changing those few things, you’d have had a better film and appealed to both diehard fans AND more modern audiences. They really didn’t need to make the disparity of class SO dramatic. It’s like a dumbed down version so people get it, but it’s too much. It is not so in the book, not to mention one of the more significant things that molds who Elizabeth Bennett is. She IS a gentleman’s daughter, she knows society and it’s nuances and knows where the faults in her family lie. Taking that piece out changes the very premise of her character and the opinions of everyone else in the storyline.
There are also SO many time wasting scenes… Elizabeth spinning in a swing… Elizabeth staring off into nothingness… Elizabeth staring at so many statues in a gallery while you vaguely hear plot points in the background… watching light filter through Elizabeth’s eyelids… good grief! I fast forward through half this movie just getting through all the pointless staring-off-into-space shots…
They completely skimmed over Wickham’s treachery and why it’s a big deal, why Darcy (via his sister and close relationship they all had as children) was so emotionally involved, and the very real danger of ruination for the entire Bennett family when Lydia goes missing with Wickham.
And can I just say… what was up with her aunt and uncle ditching her at Pemberley?!! Did no one think, “hey I wonder where Lizzie is?” before heading back to Lampton in their carriage? Even by today’s standards, you wouldn’t be on holiday, touring [name any place] and leave your niece, friend, sister, [pick one] whom you are in charge of to find their own way back to the hotel. Oh, but she enjoys walking… ah yes… he knows… and then NO ONE is concerned when Darcy appears at the inn and she still isn’t there?
Actors… I actually don’t hate Matthew McFadden as Darcy. Proposal scene for him was great. Ending scene stuttering “I love you…” and abrupt, unfeeling acting… not so much. Kiera Knightley… ugh. I’m on the fence. Proposal scene for her unfortunately is the worst. She overdid the dark loathing and looked as if she had just slaughtered a kitten to prove a point. Let’s just leave it there. Ugh, actually no… one more thing… the character arc of Lizzie from loathing one minute to dumbfounded, head over heels in love the next… the beauty of the story is watching that change of heart, letting go of the prejudices and misunderstandings, and self reflection. They robbed her of the depth of who she is and what she becomes. Aaaaaand someone should have fired her agent for allowing her to chop her hair for another role before finishing the one she was currently filming (or was it vice versa?? Don’t know, don’t care). And the hair stylist. You can see the short hairs on the back of her neck in almost every scene. Ultimately not nearly enough of the verbal sparring and wit that Elizabeth naturally has…
Kitty and Lydia were annoying and if giggling and squealing was all there was to acting out a boy crazy, self absorbed character, they nailed it. Lydia and Kitty in the 1995 version were perfect.
I actually like Jane and Bingley’s characters better in the 2005 version than the 1995. Wickhams “well he loved me better” speech… (insert eye roll) Again, another way to dumb down the storyline.
I also found the abrupt delivery of lines jarring and unnatural (Darcy’s abrupt reply when Elizabeth comes to see Jane at Netherfield. “she’s upstairs” No kindness, no further information or directions, and why are you talking, Darcy? It’s not your house…. Georgiana jumping from the piano to greet a woman she doesn’t know as if they were sisters)… It just feels so clunky… like they are just rushing through lines without emotion.
End of the day… I have sheet music from the movie that I play on piano from time to time, but that’s about the only revisiting I do with the ‘05 version.
They did make Elizabeth amazingly dowdy. Young unmarried women just didn’t wear those dark colors. But the thing that griped me the most was the scene where Lady Catherine came to Longbourn. They moved that to the middle of the night, for no good reason. And that’s just CRAZY. What, did coaches have HEADLIGHTS? NO coachman would agree to a drive in the dark over unfamiliar roads, however tyrannical his employer. It would be suicidal.
How about the fact that Keira Knightley doesn’t wear a bonnet in any of her outings. Which would never of happened at that time.
I spent a number of years teaching women’s history and I used Pride and Prejudice as a source material and asked students to approach it as a historic document. Of all the filmed versions presented the 1980 program remains my favorite. One of the main reasons is that it is the only one that includes a moment when Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle are touring Pemberley.
She looks about and says, “And of this place’, thought she,” I might have been mistress! With these rooms. I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt,–But no, ” recollecting herself–” that could never be; my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me; I should not have been allowed to invite them.”
This is at the heart of the story…a story of class, wealth, prejudice, and inequality. In the other films this particular encounter is eliminated completely or truncated to make Elizabeth sound greedy and in search of wealth rather than a loving partner. Many may disagree but David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garcie are so well matched it is well worth searching this version out.
Knightly and MacFadden just don’t cut it, It is a silly, truncated attempt at a version of Pride and Prejudice that is totally forgettable. And like someone else here pointed out, what is with Elizabeth never wearing a had. So not correct for this period of time.
I loved the movie, I find it a masterpiece. And since finding out that most people in Europe did not had the habit of washing back then, I tend to view costume dramas with a different attitude. 17th and 18th century were the worse and aristocrats were worse then peasants. They were smelly and their clothes were not washed with years. There was the habit of the yearly bath….some did wash more frequent but it was still very very far from our idea of cleanliness.The aristocrats used to change often their undergarments as a method of cleaning, hence the obsession with those very white chemises. At the start of 19th century things were improving, but still I find this version more close to reality. Uk is a rainy country, and there was no asphalt then, can you imagine the country side roads and yards? It’s appalling to think we would not be able to share a “ball” with them and not faint and yes, there was supposed to be mud. Jane Austen probably did not want to talk about since it was so normal.