12 February 2008

February Movie: Pride and Prejudice

I'm actually quite pleased this film was chosen. Val was out of town last week and I got on a Jane Austen kick. So I watched this just a few days ago. On the other hand it is hard for me to review this film without comparing it to either the book (which is simply one of the greatest pieces of English literature period), or the 6 hour BBC version. I'll do my best.

Pride and Prejudice is a film about the Bennet family in Georgian England. Their plight is that there is no son to inherit the estate. So one of them must marry well. However, they have no dowry or social connections to entice such a suitor. Salvation seems to arrive when a Mr. Bingley arrives to settle down and falls in love with Jane, the eldest sister. However, Bingley is accompanied by a friend, Mr. Darcy, who has a proud demeanor and seems to disapprove  of everyone as being beneath him. Elizabeth Bennet (who we named our last daughter after, incidentally) immediately dislikes Darcy. What she doesn't know is that he is falling in love with her. Mr. Darcy convinces Bingley  that Jane does not love him and they leave for London. All seems lost until Elizabeth, visiting her friend Charlotte Lucas, runs into Mr. Darcy again. He confesses that he loves her and she rejects him. Lots of other plot turns etc we find out that Darcy is a very honorable gentleman and saves the Bennet family from never ending shame at his own considerable expense. Long story short: Jane marries Bingley and Elizabeth marries Darcy.

This really is a very good film. Very well acted and considering they fit such a plot heavy story into 2 hours it really is an amazing feat of screenplay writing. The parts of Mr. Collins and Jane Bennet are especially well played. Whereas you can read the character of Collins as being a bumbling fool, he is portrayed here as a character who you can not help but feel the utmost pity for. It is painful to watch him. I also like that Elizabeth is portrayed as a little more free spirited and almost wild at times. Elizabeth is one of the strongest female characters in English literature and a Keira Knightly gives a fiery performance.

On to complaints. First of all, apparently Keira Knightly is the most beautiful woman I the world and I was not told. I don't see it. She is very pretty, but her cheekbones are so pronounced that she reminds me of Eric Stoltz in MASK. I just can't help it. And yet that seems to be the one feature everyone loves in her. Go figure. Mr. Bennet is not very sharp. He is portrayed more as pitiable. But he is supposed to be the equal of Elizabeth in the Bennet family as far as intellect and wit is concerned. He just comes across as tired and constantly overwhelmed. Now my biggest complaint comes from one scene in the film. When Darcy comes upon Elizabeth just as she has learned that her youngest sister has run off to do adult things with the villain, we are supposed to be left with the impression that he wants nothing more to do with the Elizabeth owing to this scandal. Instead we know exactly how he feels and what he is going to do. I want to find things out for myself and not be told how to feel. This scene gives me step by step instructions. Harumph!

OK so even though the complaints section is twice as long as my comments about what I liked, I really did like this film. Expectations are so high for a film based on a piece of work of this caliber and for the most part this movie comes through. I hope you all enjoyed it and have a happy Valentine's Day. Tell me what you think.

The March movie category is Biographical Films. I'm submitting Amadeus. Don't forget to suggest a movie yourself. If you don't then you have no one to blame but yourself if you don't like the poll (Chapmans). 


Maria said...

I hated this movie when I saw it in the theater - I don't know why. I think the sauntering down the hill scene was about 20 seconds too long. Having said that, "I love, love, love" the movie now.

I'm a little confused by your complaint about "the letter" scene. I didn't get the feeling that Darcy didn't want anything to do with the situation. I think he left her because it was such a devastating and personal moment she was going through and he excused himself so Elizabeth could be with her family ( and to go hunt for the bratty Lydia). I probably just didn't understand what you were saying, but was interested in your response.

I usually don't like Keira, but I thought she did well in this movie. I've never seen better casting for Jane. I wanted to punch Kitty and Lydia, so I guess they did their job.

I love the music in this movie. Jon can vouch that I had the soundtrack playing in my car for at least a month. I think the cinematography was beautiful as well; it makes me want to go visit the English countryside.

I'm very happy that this movie made the cut; I've been wanting Jon to watch this movie for a while; there was no way he could deny the movie of the month.

Jamie & Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chapman Family said...

okay okay. So here's our vote : Hildalgo! And who doesn't like this movie, huh? This is one of our favorite biographical flicks. I was actually surprised that this was a Biography, but it says it is in Wikipedia. And if you need help finding a Biographical film to choose here is the site I went to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Biographical_films

Maria said...

I forgot to add my suggestion for the next movie! Walk the Line. Please. Thank you.

J.R. said...

Maria you misunderstood me. I was upset BECAUSE you are left with the feeling that he wants to leave her with her family and to go right the wrongs. But you should (feeling as Elizabeth does) be left feeling that he wants nothing further to do with her. So that JUST as she is beginning to love him he discovers this terrible secret that will drive him away forever. That makes it all the sweeter when we learn that his inner reaction is just the opposite. OK I wasn't gonna compare but in the BBC version he politely excuses himself and Elizabeth remarks to Jane that Darcy made it clear that he wanted nothing more than to be out of her site. That's how you SHOULD feel after that scene. I guess they did it the way they did in the interest of time. Probably unable to add another scene to develop it the way I like. Is that clear or still muddy as mud? BTW if ANY of you have not seen the BBC version I must insist that you do. I know it is (6 hours) long but it is nearly word for word from the book and is wonderfully done.

Maria said...

Ah yes....thank you for the clarification. I did not realize you are such a proficeint when it comes to this story; well done! I can see how that would be annoying now.


joN. said...

this was almost my first exposure to the story. the first time was the lds film re-telling (which was made by an acquaintance of mine in college who informed me that the movie 'strange brew' is actually a remake of 'hamlet').

anyway, maria was surprised to hear me say that i thought the movie would be a lot more intimately romantic. elizabeth fell for darcy not because she spent time with him and got to know his character intimately, but because she'd heard that he had done these wonderful, noble deeds. hey, wonderful noble deeds are wonderful and everything, but i tend to expect in my love stories to have the chemistry based on interaction (plus a montage akin to that one part in 'naked gun' when leslie nielsen and priscilla presley spend the day together like running on the beach and getting hot dogs and laughing on the way out of seeing the movie 'platoon'). we didn't get that much spending of time together between the two leads. in fact i'm pretty sure that from the time they met from the beginning of the movie to the end of the movie, we as an audience witnessed every single conversation the two people had in their lives during that time.

after i've typed all that i did honestly feel like this movie was refreshing. we witnessed a wonderful sense of pragmatism in the leads that seemed to be lacking in all the chaos around them.

oh, and keira did an adequate job, but i know if just about anybody else played elizabeth it would have been a better movie. i'm still not a fan of the girl.

joN. said...

oh and i also forgot to mention that i thought darcy was pretty cool and i'd probably hang out with him because he's sort of anti-social at parties.

also, i think i'd like to nominate CINDERELLA MAN for the movie o' the month because i haven't seen it and i heard it's brilliant.

but i'll probably vote for 'amadeus' anyway.

Amanda said...

I thought this movie was OK. I'm a much bigger fan of the BBC version. My main complaint was that they made the family look kind of dirty and slovenly. I was always dark and dingy looking in their house. They were also a little bit free in their interpretation of some things. For example, Bingley going into Jane's room while she was sick. That would not have happened; it would have been improper. I also didn't think Keira Knightly was a very good Elizabeth. I did love the scene where the Bennett women are all lounging around and Bingley shows up and they have to run around to make themselves presentable. I hated the ending, "My Mr. Darcy." Blah. Why can't any of these movies ever put in the actual ending of the book? It's the best ending of them all, if you ask me. So all in all, I liked the movie because, come on, it is Pride & Prejudice, and a good way to get my fix when I don't have 5 hours, but the BBD has been and will always be my #1.

I don't have a nomination for next month.

And JR, it wasn't Anton waking up screaming, it was Alex. And besides, Anton's not an aviator anymore so he can act however he wants. :)

joN. said...

what the hey. i also want to see 'chariots of fire' next month.