Friday, October 10, 2008

Pride & Prejudice (BBC)

pride & prejudice-020
Originally uploaded by kapvera
I know that this is not really a movie either, it’s a mini-series, but I never saw it on tv – in fact, the first time I saw Pride & Prejudice was on VHS and I checked it out from the library. Yeah, that sounds so old and gives me fond memories of high school. The reason I am including this mini-series here is that prior to the recent Joe Wright version of Pride & Prejudice the mini-series was the definitive version.

This mini-series is about six hours long and I never thought another adaptation of the book could be made that could top this version. What the BBC mini-series has that no other filmic version does is save for the books epilogue the entire story is in the mini-series. To the best of my knowledge no film version of Pride & Prejudice has been able to include everything in the novel.

However, after seeing the newest version I do have to say that I like the cast in the Joe Wright version just a little bit more. Both casts are excellent, but the BBC version uses actors that are pretty obviously not the same age as the characters, and what bothers me most is that they are semi-close to the age but obviously skew older. This stands out to me most in the character of Lizzie who is supposed to be about 20 through most of the tale and very obviously looks to be at least in her mid-twenties.

What I find most interesting though is the differences in the characters between the two versions; I think it is a perfect example of how a different director/writer can totally change the feel of something. This is most obvious through Mr. & Mrs. Bennet (played by Benjamin Whitrow & Alison Steadman in the BBC, and Donald Sutherland & Brenda Blethyn in the Wright version). In the BBC version the parents are shrill, aggravating and seem to dislike each other intensely, and very rarely seem to get along with or really care for their daughters and Mrs. Bennet seems to only want to get her daughters married to get money; in the Wright version Mr. Bennet is calm and caring, showing affection for all of his daughters and even his wife, and Mrs. Bennet’s obsession for getting her daughters married obviously seems to stem from wanting them to be taken care of.

Both versions are very good, and I highly recommend watching both if you’re interested in seeing the differences in how the same story can be adapted. However, I do have to say that if push comes to shove I would chose the Joe Wright version over the BBC version simply because of the choices that were made in putting that film together to make it a beautiful whole.

Director: Simon Langton
Writer: Andrew Davies
Lizzie: Jennifer Ehle
Mr. Darcy: Colin Firth
Jane: Susannah Harker
Lydia: Julia Sawalha
Mrs. Bennet: Alison Steadman
Mr. Bennet: Benjamin Whitrow
Mr. Bingley: Crispin Bonham-Carter
Kitty: Polly Maberly
Mary: Lucy Briers
Miss Bingley: Anna Chancellor
Mrs. Hurst: Lucy Robinson
Whickham: Adrian Lukis
Mr. Collins: David Bamber
Charlotte: Lucy Scott

Elizabeth Bennet: Lady Catherine, in marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman's daughter. So far we are equal.

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