Thursday, 18 February 2016

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies opens in cinemas soon, so I thought it might be time to watch this, probably the most famous screen version of the tale.  Before now, the only adaptation of Jane Austen's novel that I had seen was youtube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which by virtue of its modern-day setting and format as a series of video-blog posts, made numerous changes to the specific events.  And honestly, having watched and enjoyed this more 'faithful' version, my admiration for The LBD has risen even higher: they made so many smart decisions in their adaptation.

However, I am not here to sing the praises of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  I already did that.  I'm here to discuss the merits of this adaptation.  And as I said above, I did enjoy it.  It profits greatly from excellent casting.  Colin Firth was born to play the fundamentally decent but stuffy and awkward Mr Darcy character, as he would do again in Bridget Jones's Diary (I mean that quite literally: Helen Fielding's novel is a re-imagining of Austen's, and if wikipedia is to be believed it was this adaptation that inspired her to write it).  Jennifer Ehle meanwhile is a fine and feisty Elizabeth Bennet, capable of delivering the meticulously proper but scathingly barbed verbal jabs the role demands.  It's fun to watch their relationship evolve over the course of the show.

The rest of the cast is also very good, though I do think that there are perhaps too many minor characters flitting in and out the narrative, and that they largely lack depth and complexity.  I'm sure that in large part the very broadness of their character traits was a deliberate narrative device on the part of Ms Austen ... but just because an author does something deliberately does not mean I have to like it.

Still, any complaints I might have are very mild: this is a fine piece of television.  Well-acted and written, and often surprisingly funny.  Good stuff.

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