I have successfully made it through the first semester of junior year. Yay! It feels exhilarating and yet wildly strange that I should be leaning back against the couch cushions so late on a Sunday night with no essay to write or monotonous history-book chapter to outline. Instead, I am able to relax and relish the large expanse of freedom that is mine for the next two weeks.
First off, I feel the need to thank you all for your responses to my last post. It's been a while since a post has generated that much excitement and hit a hundred views in just a night. You've given me a lot to think about as well. Of course, I noted that many of you (like any other lit lover) love the comparison of adaptations, and so it wouldn't seem natural to review the 2005 P&P and leave it at that. So without further ado, I will lounge on my living room sofa and share my opinions on the second P&P I came in contact with: the '95.
|From left to right: Lydia, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty.|
It's strange that adaptations cannot be entirely perfect, and many times they have exact opposite faults of their counterparts. The 2005 P&P had the perfect array of minor characters, in my opinion. Jane, Lydia, Mary, and Kitty were all defined by the actresses who portrayed them in the '05. Brenda Blethyn was a splendid Mrs. Bennet. Donald Sutherland (though some of you have suggested otherwise) was a great Mr. Bennet. Dame Judi was, without a doubt, a definitive Lady Catherine. The '95, on the other hand, missed the mark completely when it came to these characters. All the Bennet sisters were played by actresses much older than their age. Julia Sawalha, who played the fifteen-year-old Lydia Bennet, was twenty-seven at the time! The disparity in age was something I was completely unable to recover from. I understand the idea of rendering a five-year gap for leeway, but such a difference is unforgivable in a case such as this when one can obviously tell that the actress is much too old. It strips believability from the character.
My next qualm is the distress of having to cope with a horribly miscast Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley. I'm sorry to sound harpy, rude, and (yes) bitchy, but Susannah Harker is not beautiful. I will not be persuaded otherwise because I do not see it. Even her portrayal of the character was wrong. Jane Bennet is sweet, diffident, and modest, but she is by no means boring and emotionless. Crispin Bonham-Carter had the same problem when playing Bingley: he's not handsome. Epic FAIL! The other actors I had problems with in this adaptation are also the women who played Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine, but I will refrain from expounding lest this review turn to a novel.
The hardest part of reviewing a movie once again comes to the main characters. As you can tell, I'm feeling a bit ruthless and liberal with my opinions this evening. Jennifer Ehle's spirit matched Lizzy Bennet's to perfection. I was glad to see that. Physically, she too was a failure of the greatest kind. She was seven years the "real" Lizzy Bennet's senior, and it once again deducted from the believability. However, her portrayal of the character is one that's hard not to like. Her "fine" eyes do sparkle in a way that I find characteristic of the Elizabeth in the novel. Her mischievous sarcasm, always masterfully covered by a sly smile, is endearing to the viewer. Kiera Knightley's Lizzy was much more outwardly rebellious and much less artful in her arguments. Ehle, on the other hand, delivers her tongue-in-cheek blows naturally; it is only after she has already walked away that the person really begins to understand her meaning. If only she were actually nineteen!
Colin Firth=the definitive Darcy. Is there really anything to argue? He is Darcy. The perfect amounts of pride, passion, insecurity are joined together in a single man. He fits the physical description to perfection with dark eyes that can flash from coldness to burning desire in mere seconds. His dark curls, tall build, and stately air are only bonuses. There's not much else to say about that...*sigh*.
Screenplay: Perfection itself. What did it leave out? It adhered with strict faithfulness to the novel in pretty much every aspect.
Cinematography: Bad. But it was a nineties TV adaptation, so who really expects much? Better yet, who really cares?
Costumes: Fine. Nothing amazing or particularly riveting, but true to the time period so I have no complaints.
I've already shared 95% of them. The casting was a major setback. The soundtrack was another. There were also some areas that I found slightly dry in this version. The second proposal was especially unsatisfying, with little romance and even a slight hint of awkwardness. But then again, if you compare it to Darcy walking through the fog, shirt unbuttoned, and nearly taken to tears as he exclaims, "You have bewitched me body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you" then I guess it would seem rather dry, wouldn't it? Joe Wright always said that Americans like a little more "sugar in their tea." I do seem to fit that mold.
In conclusion, the adaptation was perfectly sound and very enjoyable. The sparks between Ehle and Firth (or just emitting from Firth alone) are enough to satisfy anyone.
Grade: A-...4 out of 5 stars.