Welcome to the Jane Austen Movie Club, where like-minded people get together (virtually, if not always virtuously) to chat about, cheer for, or chastise a different Jane Austen movie or television adaptation on the first Tuesday of every month. Newcomers always welcome!
This month: the 2005 feature film of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! Also known as:
(1) the one with Keira Knightley;
(2) the one with Matthew however-he-spells-his-last-name- oh-I-love-that-brooding-picture-of-him;
(3) the one with, you know, the, um, pig;
(4) the most-ranted-about Austen pic since Rozema’s MANSFIELD PARK…
(Yes, I know we talked about this P&P when it came out, but that was SO long ago!) 🙂
To make discussion easier, here are some names to help jog memories:
Keira Knightley — Elizabeth Bennet
Rosamund Pike — Jane Bennet
Talulah Riley — Mary Bennet
Jena Malone — Lydia Bennet
Carey Mulligan — Kitty Bennet
Donald Sutherland — Mr. Bennet
Brenda Blethyn — Mrs. Bennet
Claudie Blakley — Charlotte Lucas
Sylvester Morand — Sir William Lucas
Simon Woods — Mr. Bingley
Kelly Reilly — Caroline Bingley
Matthew Macfadyen — Mr. Darcy
Rupert Friend — Mr. Wickham
Tom Hollander — Mr. Collins
Judi Dench — Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Rosamund Stephen — Miss de Bourgh
Penelope Wilton — Mrs. Gardiner
Peter Wight — Mr. Gardiner
The DIRECTOR is JOE WRIGHT, who also directed the upcoming film “Atonement” (also starring Knightley), plus a TV miniseries about Charles II (starring Rufus Sewell — wish I’d seen that!)
DEBORAH MOGGACH is the SCREENWRITER, and as far as I can tell it was her first screenplay for a feature (she has multiple television credits, including the 2002 version of “Love in a Cold Climate,” in which Rosamund Pike [Jane Bennet] co-starred.)
In the past, I’ve often put some questions here to help start the discussion, but somehow I suspect that there is absolutely no need for them this time. 🙂
Casting, costumes, screenplay, anachronisms, scenery, houses, bonnets, gloves, hair, accessibility, humor, etc?
Let the discussion begin!
Next month, we’ll be discussing the BBC NORTHANGER ABBEY from 1986!
Cara King, author of My Lady Gamester and frequent hat wearer
I have to say that I was surprised that I liked this film given how I feel about Colin and the 1995 P&P. I thought that Matthew M. was a perfect Darcy. It was clear by his portray that for all his arrogance and snobbery, he was also kind of shy. I liked Keira Knightley, although I thought she was too beautiful for Elizabeth. I think my favorite character had to be Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennett. The only real problems I had with this film, besides the pig and the general dirtiness of the Bennett house, were the lack of development on the Wickham subplot, it was never fully fleshed out I thought. Also Lady Catherine showing up at the Bennetts in the middle of the night, what was up with that? However, I did love Darcy proposing to Lizzie in the rain, although it made me long for him to push her up against the wall and kiss the life out of her. Which he did in the tacked on American ending.
Elizabeth, we must have been separated at birth or something, because every time you post I think “Me, too!” 🙂 I thought I would really dislike this movie, especially Keira Knightley as Lizzie, and yet I enjoyed it a lot. (I read a review that said it was geared toward the mentality of a 14 year old girl, so I guess I’m really 14…)
There were somethings I think should have been “fixed”–the squalor of the Bennet house, the fact that Elizabeth didn’t wear gloves at the ball, the brevity of the Wickham plot, etc. And every time I watch it at home I stop it where I think it should have ended, the two of them holding hands at sunrise. But I loved MM’s Darcy, so intense, and thought most of the secondary performances were great.
I would type more, but a actually at work (sh, don’t tell!)
Overall, I enjoyed this version. It’s still not the 1995 version, but nothing ever will be.
I felt that Lizzie stomped through every scene. Yes, no gloves and hair freely flowing!! I understand that they weren’t titled or moneyed but their gowns were nothing to write home about. And that house looked like they needed to hire another maid or two. I didn’t understand why Lady Catherine would travel at night, either.
That being said, I love Jane in this movie. And Matthew was wonderful as Darcy. I really did like the gentler Mr. Bennett, as well as, the less shrill Mrs. Bennett. I particularly liked their own little cozy scene.
The filming was wonderful. The swirl of the ballroom. The scene in the rain. Darcy flexing his hand after he hands her up. Sutle yet powerful.
I love this movie! I don’t think it is fair to compare it to the 1995 version with Colin Firth. The mini-series had a lot more time in which to tell the story and develop characters than a 2 1/4 hour film. I watch this movie whenever it is on HBO and I own the DVD. I also own the 1995 version. I usually don’t have the time to watch it all in one sitting like I want to.
The mini-series had a lot more time in which to tell the story and develop characters than a 2 1/4 hour film.
So true, emdee! Several of the flaws I see are due to the short time — the lack of a major Wickham subplot, which Amanda mentions, and the lack of much Lydia, etc…
Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I saw it on the first weekend, on a Friday or Saturday night, and there were tons of folks there (most of whom I guessed didn’t know Austen in any way.) I laughed a lot, and had a lot of fun; but what I perhaps enjoyed even more were hearing all the teen girls in the audience giggling and whispering and getting excited about the story.
So, some things that annoyed me:
— lack of hats, and women running around with their hair down
— Lady Catherine (who always wanted things done the proper way) showing up in the middle of the night and talking to people in their nightclothes!!!
Some things I liked:
— Lizzy being amused by life; when Darcy insults her at the beginning, she seems momentarily hurt, then apparently decides to laugh at it and tell Charlotte all about it
— Mrs. Bennet still being Mrs. Bennet, and yet also defending/explaining her attitudes
— the younger girls looked like teenagers, complete with lame hair and the occasional spot
Okay, better stop before this comment gets *way* too long… 🙂
By the way, I forgot to initially put my “coming next time” notice in my post, so here it is:
Next month (January 1, actually!), we’ll be discussing the BBC 1986 Northanger Abbey!
So if you haven’t seen it, you have a month to Netflix it or pick it up at Barnes & Noble or somewhere, and then hopefully you’ll have strong enough opinions you’ll stop by even though it’s New Year’s Day! 🙂
At the risk of being given the cut direct, THIS is my favorite Pride and Prejudice. Don’t hate me. I think it has a lot to do with Matthew MacFaddyen’s performance (Welsh name, ladies – my father was half English and half Welsh as in his grandmother spoke Welsh in their home)It was a performance of moments – the flex of his hand, the way he almost kissed her in the rain, his nervousness at the vicarage and a hundred others. I just read Darcy as a very shy, vulnerable man and MM pulled it off. It would have been interesting to see how this director would have done had he had a miniseries to work with. Of course the little details do tweak at one a bit. Still I was pleasantly surprised by KK’s performance. I have to agree with Cara on the things I liked about it. And ladies, I STILL have not figured out the pig!!!
I loved this version, too. Saw it 4 times in the theatre! (in other words, as many times as I saw Gerard Butler’s 300 in the theatre)
I knew I would like it. And I’m with you, doglady, it has everything to do with Matthew MacFadyen, whose attraction to Lizzie/Keira was soooo well done.
The trailer of the movie, out for months before the release, showed that element of physical attraction between Darcy and Lizzie. I loved the idea of showing that element of their relationship.
I thought the young director did a wonderful job of making Jane Austen’s masterpiece accessible to a young movie-going audience. So, the pig, the hatlessness and glovelessness, etc. didn’t bother me, because I knew that the young audience for whom the movie was intended, would not have appreciated absolutely correct costume detail.
But, as I have said before, you could not attend this movie hoping to see Jane Austen’s book or Colin Firth’s miniseries. If you did you were bound to be disappointed. But if you attended in hopes of enjoying a lovely romance movie set in that early nineteenth century time period, you could not be disappointed.
Now, what I didn’t like.
The bust of Darcy. The sensuality of the sculpture room worked, but the bust of Darcy just didn’t fit at all.
The portrait of Mary Wollstonecroft that was prominent in one scene, displayed on an easel, of all things. Was that on purpose? Why didn’t they display some obscure 18th/19th century portrait? Or did they just not know it was one many people would recognize?
Much was made of the “Darcy on a half-shell” ending tacked on for the American audience. I read that the Brits were so mad they didn’t get that ending that the movie was briefly re-released in that version
First of all, let no one cast stones about this movie, lest they feel The Wrath of Keira. 🙂 j/k
When the movie came out, I saw it twice that first weekend, once more in the theater, and twice on DVD, after which I bought the DVD. 🙂
Yes, Elizabeth, Matthew McFadyen was the purrrrrrfect Mr. Darcy. As was Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett (sorry Todd).
I liked Mrs. Bennett here better, as well as Wickham, Jane, Mr. Collins, and Judi Dench. With the other girls, I’m more conflicted. With Dench, I’m rather biased. I’d like her in anything she starred in.
I liked Mr. Bennett far more in the 1995 miniseries, as well as Mr. Bingley.
Elizabeth: You wanted a HAWT ending, instead got a tame ending. Hm. I have to say I like your version much better. 🙂
Santa & Pam: Loved that hand flex, too. Also that almost first kiss with the proposal (heart-stopping moment).
My main problems with the movie stem from the shabbiness of the clothes and the Bennett residence. The entire movie felt far too rushed. And I hated that last scene. The kiss in the rain is where it should’ve ended, or perhaps when both of them talk to her father. Another thing: Couldn’t the two of them have worn more when going out for a walk in the rain in the night?
“I just read Darcy as a very shy, vulnerable man and MM pulled it off.”
Very well put, Doglady! I totally agree. In many ways, this is also my favorite of the P&Ps. It’s very, very romantic, and youthful in tone. I can’t wait to see the Wright/Knightley version of “Atonement”!
Amanda, I’m seeing a screening of Atonement tonight, and the screenwriter Christopher Hampton and James McAvoy are supposed to be doing a Q&A afterwards.
Cara, you must rent the Charles II miniseries with Rufus Sewell, although I understand they cut stuff for the A&E version. Still it’s worth it for Rufus, and Helen McCrory as Barbara Castlemaine.
Keira, I loved Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins, thought Wickham was much more handsome in this version (which maybe why he’s now Keira Knightley’s plus 1), I would watch Judi Dench read the phone book.
And I agree the film was very romantic, in some ways more so than the 1995 P&P. KK and MM had a great deal of chemistry.
I’m seeing a screening of Atonement tonight, and the screenwriter Christopher Hampton and James McAvoy are supposed to be doing a Q&A afterwards.
I so envy you!!!! Be sure to tell us all about it!
At the risk of being stoned, my reaction to this movie is generally: “Meh.”
I wanted to like it, but I didn’t.
On the other hand, I didn’t hate it enough to rant about it. I just think it was too short to adequately reflect the book. (And while I like the 1995 miniseries A Lot, I also will admit that it’s a bit long to wade through unless you’re a fan before the fact.)
While I liked the 2005 movie, I loved the 1995 A&E version. There was just something so right about Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth as Lizzie and Darcy that I didn’t quite feel with Knightley and MacFaddyen. She is so lovely that the initial premise felt false (Jane was clearly not the only beautiful girl there), and I must respectfully disagree that Darcy’s pride is merely a mask for his shyness. OTOH, I certainly agree that Rupert Friend made a much better-looking Wickham, and it’s a shame that the shortened time in the film didn’t allow for development of that plot. It’s certainly a testimonial to P&P that there can be so many versions, each of which enriches our understanding and provides enjoyment.
Elizabeth wrote, “I’m seeing a screening of Atonement tonight…”
Oh Elizabeth, you lucky thing!! You have to give us a full report please. I saw and interview with James McAvoy this morning and he was so sweet and terribly embarrassed about all the fuss. Tom Hollander was indeed a perfect Mr. Collins. And like many of you I could watch Dame Judi read a jelly jar and be thrilled.
I came across this just now:
Which I hopes come through, but here it is:
How to Watch “Pride & Prejudice” and Still Be Happily Married
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that thoughts of Mr. Darcy can put a temporary strain on even the happiest marriages. New editions of Pride & Prejudice (starring Keira Knightley) have just been released, and while we hope Austen fans will continue to enjoy the film, we’d like to offer these reality checks should viewers find themselves on Matthew Macfadyen-overload. (Hint: If you watch the film once through, then the highlights, then again with commentary all in a 24-hour period you should put down the remote and begin treatment immediately.)
1. The courtship period is not real life. Sure, in the beginning it’s all “I scarcely dared hope that you could love me,” but sooner than later it turns into “I scarcely dared hope that you would pick Fitzwilliam Jr. up from riding practice–and you didn’t. Thanks for nothing!”
2. How well do we really know Darcy? It’s not like we’ve spent much quality time together. A couple of balls? Those few days when Jane was sick? If we got to know him better we might find that he was into puns and cockfighting.
3. In-law trouble. We’ve all had mixed feelings about our in-laws from time to time, but imagine Mrs. Bennett and Lady Catherine sitting down together for Christmas dinner. That’s a two bromide night if there ever was one.
4. Huge castle=management challenge. What do you think Lizzie’s going to do all day? Shopping, then salon, then lunch with Charlotte? Wrong. There’s menu planning, spring cleaning for 96 rooms, and talk about the HR issues. Why is it so hard to find a decent footman??? It isn’t rocket science!
5. Your husband has his own acts of heroism. Maybe he never rescued your little sister from a lifetime of shame, but he did do almost all the dinner dishes three nights ago.
If all else fails, encourage your mate to brood every once and while. The secret to romance is mystery, so whether it’s the office or the playoffs, keeping all that pain inside–now and then–can go a long way.
“Amanda, I’m seeing a screening of Atonement tonight, and the screenwriter Christopher Hampton and James McAvoy are supposed to be doing a Q&A afterwards.”
OMG, I am soooo moving to NY. Maybe Megan would let me sleep on her sofa? 🙂 Atonement was a beautiful book, one of my favorites.
I have the Charles II movie in my Netflix queu (which is about a mile long). Guess I need to add Northanger Abbey now, too! But luckily next month PBS is starting their Oodles of Austen fest, so there will be lots more material for this film club. 🙂
Amanda, you can sleep on my sofa anytime!
No very earth-shattering opinion here, I’m afraid: I liked the movie quite a bit. I still rate it below the 1995 miniseries, but it’s not a completely fair comparison. I have a soft spot for Keira Knightley. And Matthew Whatsisname was OK, too. The humor was nice. And I have no problem with the extra scene at the end. After all, if we imagine them being happily-ever-after, shouldn’t we at least be able to see them being happily-a-few-days-after?
Matthew McFadyen was the purrrrrrfect Mr. Darcy. As was Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett (sorry Todd).
NEVER! I will defend my beloved Jennifer Ehle to the last drop of blood! Or, well, at least until the first drop. Actually, I’m not so good with blood. I think I’ll lie down for a bit.
5. Your husband has his own acts of heroism. Maybe he never rescued your little sister from a lifetime of shame, but he did do almost all the dinner dishes three nights ago.
Wow, somebody sure has a high opinion of men! 🙂 This reminds me of Dave Barry’s realistic housekeeping goals: “Woman: clean the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Man: try not to get peanut butter on the sheets.”
As it happens, I did save my little sister from a lifetime of shame. Or, well, not exactly, but she did ask me to pretend that we weren’t related.
Busy day yesterday so I’m late to the discussion. I pretty much agree with Cara’s view of things. Some of the clothing and that odd night scene with Lady Catherine bothered me but I also understood that they were trying to make the film easily accessible to people unfamiliar with the book.
I especially agree with many of your comments on Matthew McFadyen. Shyness is close to the right word, but not quite. I felt Darcy knew his own worth–an intelligent man, a good master and landlord, etc… but also knew that social situations and reading people were not his forte. He’d already been burned by Wickham and the woman hired to care for his sister. He probably knew Caroline Bingley was after him. So his pride is a combination of real self-worth with the necessary defenses of a man whose wealth will always attract fortune-hunters, sponges, etc… At the same time he really wants warm human interactions. What a delicious internal conflict.
Okay, everyone, James McAvoy has to be the most adorable, delightful actor on the planet. If he weren’t already married to Anne-Marie Duff and 15 years younger than me, I’d jump him. And his Scottish accent when he was talking after the film, I could listen to him for hours. Oh, and the film was okay, not great, but worth seeing, although Keira Knightley really needs to eat something. The scenes of her in her evening gown were painful, she’s all skin and bones. Great clotheshorse though for 30’s fashion.
I love this film! I love it because the Bennets feel like a real family and the filmmakers did a great job compressing a long story into two hours while keeping true to P&P. Also, as much as I enjoy the BBC version, this version felt real in the fact that no one wore sparkling white dresses but instead looked like they actually lived in their clothes. This version is also very accessible to non Jane Austen people. I took my husband to see it in the theater and he loved it. Also, a friend of mine who is not in to period pieces loved the film.
Doglady, I agree with you, this is my favorite version of P&P.
Okay, everyone, James McAvoy has to be the most adorable, delightful actor on the planet.
I’m delighted to have my suspicion confirmed, Elizabeth!!! And thanks for your review of Atonement. And his accent. Sigh. 🙂
this version felt real in the fact that no one wore sparkling white dresses but instead looked like they actually lived in their clothes.
Good point, Georgie. That’s also one of the reasons I like the Root/Hinds version of Persuasion so well — they look like real people, really wearing clothes.
Elizabeth–huge SIGH!!! Oh, how I wish, I were in NYC right now.
Megan posted, “we might find that he was into puns and cockfighting.”
I’m watching this again with my daughter right now.(We have to break it up over two nights due to homework, etc.) The story feels rushed this time, but the movie delivers on the romance. I even enjoy the Gothic touches. The book gives me an altogether different feeling, but I like variety.
Each P&P has something to add, or take away. Hope I don’t have to wait ten years for the next one.
Oops, well, I’m late to this party. And I totally forgot to rewatch it and write stuff down. . . because I only really remember I simply hated it, but I can’t elaborate all that much, so my opinion’s rather pointless. LOL
But I do know this — it shouldn’t be because it was short. I saw a nicely done 3 hour stage version last year, which was true to the book, but had their own changes and additions that were quite nice and bareable. So I guess I can say that this one’s changes and additions and differences from the book just annoyed me way too much to really like it. Besides that, I don’t remember much. Darn it. LOL
And hope I can get to see the next one — alas, it’s one that I haven’t been able to tackle yet. Well, if not now, one of these days. 🙂
Okay, here’s a belated comment from my friend Heather:
“I finally watched the Keira Knightly P&P. It was … different. I liked the leads, but the breakneck pace was disconcerting, esp. with all the thunderstorms thrown in for window dressing.”
I just stumbled on this blog and love reading all the discussion. Nobody has commented in so long so it’s probably pointless of me to do so now, but I just have one point to make.
A lot of people are commenting on not liking the dirtiness/shabbiness of the 2005 version and I just want to bring up the fact that I think the “dirtiness” factor was quite realistic. One has to remember that they didn’t have bleach, Lysol, shampoo, etc. etc., in 1800. The standards of cleanliness for your average person living in 1800, even a person from the privileged class like the Bennets, would be appalling to most of us now. They only bathed their persons about once a week, so one could imagine that their concern for the cleanliness of their abodes would be about the same. Back then people expected to have to live with a certain amount of dirt and grime. It was just a fact of life. Austen never mentioned these realities because for her they were not remarkable, and modern adaptations tend to gloss over them.
I suppose it all depends on how much realism you want mixed with your period films. I don’t mind a little realism about such things, nor do I mind it when adaptations ignore such realities.
I do think there were a couple of Elizabeth’s dresses that appeared shabby simply because they were not at all flattering to Knightley’s figure, as she doesn’t have much on top. They could have done a better job with that.