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4 Stars Movies

What are men, compared to rocks and mountains: Pride & Prejudice

Who doesn’t have great affection for the beloved 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? But: I daresay Joe Wright’s 2005 feature film adaptation (the one with the ampersand) is my P&P. It may be less faithful to the text, but that’s fine; it’s its own thing. It’s delicious and I adore it.

It’s close to perfect, in fact, perhaps only suffering from omitting too much of the Wickham material. The cast was selected with laser-guided missile accuracy, and the necessarily highly condensed screenplay makes some welcome adjustments:

  • Mrs. Bennett is less broad, and less oblivious to Mr. Bennett’s teasing, which is tweaked to be more loving than cruel.
  • Lady Catherine is less of a cartoon villain and is instead truly imposing and powerful. She may be wrong, but you can understand where she’s coming from.
  • Lydia is more naive than an out-of-control wild child.
  • And one other adjustment that I quite like: this Caroline Bingley has a begrudging respect for Lizzie, recognizing her wit and formidability, as opposed to her all-encompassing contempt in the 1995 version.

Rewatching the 1995 and 2005 adaptations in quick succession, an important (and in retrospect, obvious) point struck me for the first time, despite having also read the novel some years ago. Charles and Caroline Bingsley inherited their fortune from their late father, a tradesman. In other words, they are nouveau riche, not landed gentry like the Darcys and the Bennets. That they look down on tradesman like Lizzie’s uncle Mr. Gardiner, a lawyer, is nakedly hypocritical. Jane Austin bringing the socioeconomic critique!

For those interested in further exploring Austen’s extensive Hollywood career, please consult her official Letterboxd page.

(We watched this on old-fashioned DVD, and it was a very stressful experience: the previews were non-anamorphic, but thankfully the feature was anamorphic. My heart!)

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4 Stars Movies

Emma Thompson & Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility repopularized Jane Austen

In this blog’s opinion, Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility is the best-of-breed within Jane Austen film adaptations. Please note, however, there are two very good reasons to discredit my opinion on this subject:

I. Despite my English major, I am ashamed to admit I have read only one Jane Austen novel: Emma. Yeah, I know, I’ve got to get working on that.

II. Sense and Sensibility features two of this blog’s all-time favorite movie crushes: Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. Any film featuring just one of these English roses automatically earns extra credit. Any film featuring Emma and Kate, together, equals porn (especially if they hop into bed together, as they do here… granted, as sisters keeping their toes warm, but still!). Any film featuring Emma and Kate, plus a screenplay by Emma, equals bliss.

A few extra notes:

  • Guest commentator (and first-class Austen aficionado) Snarkbait has coined the best phrase for this genre: “Regency Era froth”
  • Actor Greg Wise (John Willoughby) later became Mr. Emma Thompson, after Kenneth Branaugh foolishly let her get away
  • Hugh Grant’s trademark stammer, persistent interest in the carpet, and out-of-control hair are still charming even in 18th Century surroundings. But it is difficult to stifle a snicker when the devilish Grant, as Edward Ferrars, expresses an interest in joining the Church
  • I wish I had Alan Rickman’s (Col. Brandon) vocal cords
  • Hey, look! It’s Tom Wilkinson in a cameo as the soon-to-be-late Mr. Dashwood! This blog thinks Wilkinson is one of the finest actors working today
  • Required viewing: Emma Thompson’s 1996 Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar acceptance speech (not on YouTube as of this writing, but here is the text)
Categories
4 Stars Movies

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

The timeless love story between Miss Elizabeth Bewitching-yet-Blind Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Earl of Wetblanket-Upon-Broadchestshire. In the most romantic way possible, they truly deserve each other.

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