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DVD REVIEW: A&E’s “The Romance Collection: Special Edition” — “Pride...

Dear Readers,

book review Last month we received an unusual request at Dear Author. We were asked to review something other than a book — a DVD set called “The Romance Collection: Special Edition.” The 14 DVD set, which can be found here, retails for $99.95 and contains nearly 30 hours of programming (not including the special features) from A&E’s romantic films and miniseries.

The eight titles included in “The Romance Collection: Special Edition” are as follows: “Pride and Prejudice” starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, “Victoria and Albert,” starring Nigel Hawthorne, Jonathan Pryce and Sir Peter Ustinov, “Emma,” starring Kate Beckinsale, “Jane Eyre,” starring Deborah Findlay and Ciaran Hinds, “Lorna Doone,” starring Martin Clunes, Richard Coyle, Aidan Gillen and Amelia Warner, “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” starring Richard E. Grant and Elizabeth McGovern, “Tom Jones,” starring Max Beesley, Samantha Morton and Benjamin Whitrow, and “Ivanhoe,” starring Steven Waddington and Ciaran Hinds.

While we probably won’t be reviewing all eight of these films, we do hope to review a few of them and this review of “Pride and Prejudice” is the first of these reviews.

I should confess now that I volunteered to review “Pride and Prejudice” partly because (and here comes a shameful admission) the novel of the same title was the only one of the seven classic books that seven of these eight films are based on which I had actually read in its entirety. Philistine that I am, I couldn’t make it past the midpoint of Jane Eyre, and as for the other five books, I’ve never even attempted to read them.

It occurred to me only after I finished viewing “Pride and Prejudice” that perhaps I am not the best choice of reviewer, since it’s been well over a decade since I read Jane Austen’s novel, and since, while I enjoyed it, I can’t say I ever fell in love with it the way so many people have. So please keep that in mind when reading my review.

This BBC production, made in 1995 and first released in the U.S. in 1996, is directed by Simon Langton and stars Colin Firth as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

To anyone unfamiliar with the story, Elizabeth, or Lizzy as she is frequently called, is the second of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. The Bennets’ financial situation is not secure. Mr. Bennet’s estate is entailed and therefore he cannot pass it on to his daughters after his death, and for that reason it is imperative that his daughters marry well. So when “a single man in possession of a good fortune,” Mr. Bingley, moves into the nearby country estate of Netherfield Park, Mrs. Bennet begins to hope that he will marry one of her daughters.

Charles Bingley arrives at an assembly accompanied by his haughty sisters and his seemingly even haughtier friend Mr. Darcy. Bingley is quickly smitten with the oldest Bennet sister Jane. Darcy, however, remains aloof, and seems put off by Mrs. Bennet’s attempts to interest him in Lizzy. And later in the evening, Lizzy overhears him saying “She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

Lizzy takes the comment as evidence of Darcy’s excessive pride, and it prejudices her against him, as does a story told by Mr. George Wickham, an officer in a regiment that is quartered nearby, who tells Lizzy Darcy did him a great injustice.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bingley and Lizzy’s favorite sister Jane grow closer, and Darcy casts smoldering looks Lizzy’s way. Mr. Bennet’s heir, the obnoxious Mr. Collins, a clergyman who wants to marry one of the Bennet sisters, arrives in the neighborhood at this point, and he sets his mind on marrying Lizzy, who has no interest in him.

Bingley, his sisters and Darcy then unexpectedly depart the country for London, and Jane too, goes to London to stay with her aunt and uncle, in the hopes of encountering the man she loves there. But her hopes are crushed, and when Lizzy, visiting a friend, encounters Darcy again, she does not hesitate to lay the blame for that, and for Wickham’s difficulties, at Mr. Darcy’s feet.

But Darcy, against his will, has fallen in love with Elizabeth, and despite his reticence, cannot allow all her misapprehensions to stand. Will Lizzy ever change her mind? And will true love triumph over pride and prejudice? The answers to those questions are probably known to many romance readers, but that doesn’t keep us from enjoying the story.

My main criticism of this miniseries is that at five hours, its pace sometimes feels a tad too stately for me. That was true of the book as well, however, and I think it would be difficult to make a faithful adaptation much shorter. Nonetheless, there were times I wished that Langton and screenwriter Andrew Davies had found a way to make the story feel as though it was moving along at a good clip.

Another problem for me was that I didn’t love Jennifer Ehle’s portrayal of Lizzy. Ehle is clearly a good actress, and she captures Elizabeth’s wit and cynicism, as well as her loyalty to her sister Jane. But there is also something a touch too self-contained and self-satisfied for my taste about her version of Lizzy, and I can’t say I had a lot of empathy for the character as portrayed by Ehle.

A couple of secondary performances that did not work that well for me were Alison Steadman’s in the role of Mrs. Bennet, and David Bamber’s in that of Mr. Collins. I feel that Ms. Steadman plays Mrs. Bennet as a shrill and vulgar harpy who remains one dimensional throughout, and that Mr. Bamber’s Mr. Collins has so many exaggerated mannerisms that, although he is funny, it becomes difficult to believe that such a man could have actually existed.

Fortunately, the strong performances outnumber the weak ones. First and foremost among the miniseries’ diamonds is Colin Firth’s performance. His Mr. Darcy is filled with repressed passion, and when he admits to Elizabeth that he wants her despite his better judgment we can both believe that he desires her powerfully and that he wishes almost as powerfully that he did not. The storyline often requires Darcy to be silent, and yet even when he is silent, Firth compels the viewer’s attention with his heated glances.

Many of the other performances in this miniseries are also quite successful, but due to space constraints I will confine myself to listing only a few.

Anna Chancellor is especially good as Miss Caroline Bingley, who does not aid Jane Bennet’s romance with her brother and who wants Mr. Darcy for herself. The role requires Ms. Chancellor to reveal to the viewer the disappointment that she tries to conceal from Mr. Darcy, and Ms. Chancellor pulls off this feat quite well, creating a very believable antagonist in the process.

Julia Sawalha also gives a strong performance as the flaky Miss Lydia Bennet, making her character’s frivolity part of a kind of teenaged enthusiasm for good-looking men that renders Lydia’s actions more understandable.

Among the secondary male actors, Crispin Bonham Carter (who according to IMDB is Helena Bonham Carter’s cousin) is very sympathetic and likeable as the good natured Mr. Charles Bingley, and Benjamin Whitrow delivers Mr. Bennet’s wry observations with perfect comedic timing.

Though I wished for tighter editing and a more emotionally affecting score, I thought the production values were also strong for the most part. John Kenway’s cinematography nicely captures the charms of the English countryside. Actual English country houses are used to great effect both as sets and in the art direction, and the house that doubles for Darcy’s home of Pemberley is particularly impressive, just as it should be.

The costume design, by Dinah Collin, also impressed me, precisely because it didn’t seem to go out of its way to do so. I like that the Bennet sisters’ financial straits are accentuated by the way they are dressed in simpler costumes than the more sumptuous frocks worn by wealthier female characters such as Bingley’s sisters or Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

The related special features include a Jane Austen biography and bibliography, cast biographies and filmographies, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), and a behind-the-scenes featurette, “The Making of Pride and Prejudice.”

Overall, I enjoyed this “Pride and Prejudice.” though perhaps not as much as people with greater patience and avid fans of the book will. My grade for this one is a B-.

Sincerely,

Janine

Purchase link at the A&E store.

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

31 Comments

  1. Caroline
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 14:09:41

    The Scarlet Pimpernel is great–and it’s a spy romance! (I lurve spy stories)

    I have to disagree about Mr. Collins. I thought Bamber was superb in his self-conscious obliviousness, the sort of guy who’s a natural brown-noser, who wants so badly to be respected and liked that he tries way too hard to impress but is too serious to realize when he’s being ridiculous. But OH MY that Colin Firth…

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  2. Meriam
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 14:18:26

    Maybe it’s a ‘time and the place’ thing, but I have a great affection for this adaptation. Watching it originally over a period of weeks, I remember anticipating every new episode, loving the detail and discussing Colin Firth with my school friends (incidentally, my drama teacher thought he was absolutely atrocious; and in one sense I can see where she’s coming from, but it’s not like he was asked to do anything except be wooden and non-responsive).

    For that reason, I can never be too critical. I thought Jenifer Ehle was marvelous – her eyes were fine! – and I thought she captured Lizzie well. (I was particularly impressed with her heaving bosom, which was practically a character in itself.) Mrs Bennett, too, worked very well for me as a comic character (certainly, there was little depth, but I think Mrs Bennett is, and was intended to be, comic relief). Alison Steadman is an absolutely marvelous actress, I can still picture her eyes flitting about under that frilly cap.

    I think, for a five(?) part series that sought to remain faithful to the text, the enjoyment for the viewer must be in its closely observed character studies, and the steady build-up. Pacing is necessarily ponderous, but I’ve always felt that was part of the charm.

    I”m a big fan of Anna Chancellor, and I thought she was very good, too. Also liked Jane and Lydia (and Mary and Kitty!)

    It would be a solid A for me, but there’s too much nostalgia in there for me to be certain it’s objective.

    (btw, the adaptation was by Andrew Davies who adapted the recent and well received Bleak House, a very good version of Sense and Sensibility this year, Tipping the Velvet…. even Bridget Jones – etc etc)

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  3. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 14:31:42

    It’s actually kind of a relief to find someone who wasn’t 100% enamored of the 1995 P&P miniseries. My own heart belongs to the 1979 version with Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul as Lizzie and Darcy. Granted, it’s only slightly shorter than the 1995 version and not as sumptuous-looking in terms of production values, but I love Fay Weldon’s script and find some of the performances much more nuanced. I could actually feel some sympathy for Priscilla Morgan’s Mrs. Bennett, who has some genuine moments of pathos when she worries about her daughters’ fates. Sabina Franklyn is a lovely, sweet-natured Jane. Garvie is spirited without being smug–and unlike Ehle, who always seemed to me to be thisclose to screaming at Darcy like a fishwife, she manages to express her displeasure and dislike of Mr. Darcy without crossing over into shrewishness. I also prefer Marsha Fitzalan’s more subtly nasty Caroline Bingley, Judith Parfitt’s chilly Lady Catherine, and the much more equal friendship between Darcy and Bingley. They really seem like mates rather than leader and follower.

    But then I also have issues with Andrew Davies as an adaptor, period, and consider the Frith/Ehle P&P more redolent of Davies than of Austen.

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  4. Meriam
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 14:48:07

    Stephanie, what issues do you have with Davies? I don’t ask as a fan (I’m not, particularly), just interested because he’s considered the God of Adaptations in the UK.

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  5. Kathleen
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 14:52:50

    I’ll add a little review for the book,The Scarlet Pimpernel (since I’ve never seen this movie version). Put simply, it’s quite good. The Scarlet Pimpernel is, of course, the hero, and the first of fiction’s Zorro/Lone Ranger/Superman/etc class of heroes with a hidden identity. He and his band of twenty rich British aristocrats have embarked on the mission of saving as many from the French Revolution’s guillotine as they can… and all for the sport of it.

    The plot has three threads: the reader discovering who the Scarlet Pimpernel is with Marguerite (the heroine), Chauvelin’s quest to discover and destroy the Scarlet Pimpernel, and the love story (which is the re-uniting an estranged husband and wife).

    My post script… I love the book. (There are actually a dozen or more, which can be read online for free.) But I love the movie version with Jane Seymour, Anthony Andrews, and Sir Ian MacKellen even more! It’s actually my favorite movie of all time. Here’s a link to it on Amazon… with 219 5-star reviews! This version of the movie combines both The Scarlet Pimpernel and another of Baroness von Orczy’s books, Eldorado, which involves the Scarlet Pimpernel’s mission to save the French heir to the throne.

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  6. Susan/DC
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 15:00:42

    I’m sure there will be many comments re P&P (which I very much liked, BTW), but I do hope that there’s a review of “Ivanhoe”. This production is one of the best versions of the Scott novel I’ve seen, dirty and violent and romantic, and most of the credit goes to Ciaran Hinds. He is the ur-Brian de Bois Guilbert — strong, more than a little wicked (makes many of the romance novel bad boys look like novices), and sexy as all get out. He’s physically big (he actually looks like he could wield a heavy broadsword) and the clothes and hair of the period suit him perfectly. When he falls for Rebecca he’s like a force of Nature who will let nothing stand in his way. So in the end to see him try to do what is best for her and not to simply carry her away as he so clearly longs to do is Romance, with a capital R.

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  7. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 15:12:03

    Hm. Well, to make a long story short, I find his work a little too loud, a little too broad, and a little too unsubtle as a general rule, but with regard to Austen in particular. Not saying that a man can’t do justice to her work, but I’m not convinced that man is Davies. To me, he seems to think that he has to drive home his points by underlining them with the video equivalent of bright red Crayola.

    Let’s show Lizzie Is Feisty and Free-Spirited–by having her RUN down the hill in the opening scenes of P&P. Never mind that no well-bred Regency lady would run anywhere unless it was an emergency. Lizzie Bennet =/= Jo March, ‘mkay?

    Let’s show Lydia is Silly and Man-Crazy–by having her romping about Longbourn in her shift and getting caught by Mr. Collins. Never mind that even parents as neglectful as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet might have enough notion of propriety not to let their unmarried daughters run around in their underwear when they had a male guest staying in the house.

    Let’s show Darcy is Hot and Bothered by his Thoughts of Lizzie-by having him plunge fully-clothed into the lake and then run into her and her relatives visiting Pemberley. (Yeah, I know some people swoon over the wet-shirt scene in the miniseries–I’m not one of them). And if Miss Austen didn’t feel it was necessary to include scenes of naked and/or wet Darcy in her novel, how can I believe such scenes are essential to the miniseries?

    Let’s show Lady Catherine disapproves of Lizzie by Chasing Her through the Garden at Longbourn, Screeching like a Virago. Never mind that it strains credibility that a woman of Lady Catherine’s pride, status, and, above all, age would lower herself to physically pursue someone to make her point.

    Anyway, those are just a few examples of why I don’t care for Davies’ take on Austen. She’s all about subtlety, understatement, and restraint, which is why I find her so effective. Davies’s adaptation shows none of those qualities. I wonder if anyone ever suggested to him that “less is more” sometimes–if so, he probably doesn’t believe it.

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  8. Marianne McA
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 15:32:22

    I agree with Meriam, it’s hard to separate the series from the recollection of watching the series – it was such a highlight each week. I liked Ehle, thought she had chemistry with Firth, but would agree that Alison Steadman never came close to the Mrs Bennet that lives in my head. I liked David Bamber’s Mr Collins though – and I’d also disagree about Julia Sawahala’s Lydia – she’s an actress I’ve liked, since her early days in ‘The Press Gang’ but her Lydia grates on me. I can see in her performance the kind of Lydia the production aimed for – a physical and boisterous careless teenager – but, to my mind, she never achieves it – she always looks like she’s acting the part.
    Worth mentioning it’s a very close adaption of the book – my eldest was studying P&P this year, and couldn’t stand the book – and her knowledge of the TV series enabled her to fake her way through her classes.

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  9. Meriam
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 15:44:51

    Thanks, Stephanie! I’m a little more ambivalent on the points you mention: I find it cynical, and sometimes crude, but he’s adapting for the visual medium and some ‘sexing up’ is almost inevitable?? In that respect, I think the most recent version (with Kiera Knightly) was incredibly cheeky, with Lizzy wandering out in her nightgown, walking around without hat or gloves, etc etc. (I quite liked it, though, possibly because it looked so good).

    I heard him (Davies) give an interview on his adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (not my favourite Austen) and when asked how he would ‘freshen’/ update the novel for a TV audience, he spoke about introducing the male point of view – which was radical but, in one or two instances, spectacularly failed (there was a scene with Edward chopping wood with much angst that made me laugh out loud), but it was an interesting take, nonetheless. In certain parts, it was excellent (notbly the filmography and a couple of scenes with Wiloughby and Marianne).

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  10. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 16:00:14

    I didn’t like the 1979 P & P; it seemed to be much less faithful to the book in terms of both feel and the fact that whoever did the 1979 adaptation CUT one of my favorite lines and rearranged several others (can’t remember which, since I haven’t seen it in a few years, but I remember being HIGHLY irritated).

    However, the 70s “Emma” is ridiculously accurate and, because of that, awfully boring.

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  11. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 17:09:43

    I’m not surprised that Davies seems to feel more affinity for male/male scenes. I remember his adaptation of “To Serve Them All My Days”–most of the strongest scenes in it were between male characters. Austen’s world is very female-centric, though, and while it’s not a bad idea to explore the male POV in it, I don’t think it should be at the expense of the author’s voice. I suppose balance is key. I prefer the 1979 version because, even though it takes some liberties as well with the original source material (though not as many, in my opinion, as the 1995 or the 2005 versions), I can still hear Austen’s voice and recognize her world, not just in the costumes and the dialogue but the sensibility as well–the body language, the emphasis on decorum, the formality overlying the emotion. For another viewer, it may be different. Mileage varies, and fortunately, there seems to be a P&P to suit just about every taste.

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  12. Meriam
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 17:28:03

    Mileage varies, and fortunately, there seems to be a P&P to suit just about every taste.

    Heh. I confess, I haven’t seen any of the earlier versions, but I suspect you’re right.

    Which reminds me of an exercise at school, when we had to watch three different versions of Little Women (another much filmed book) from the 30s to the 90s, and compare/ contrast. I hated all of them, for various reasons.

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  13. Sherry Thomas
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 18:19:12

    I adore this adaptation of P&P, which I first got from the library to watch after hearing so much about it in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Back then I had to borrow six separate videos. I think I borrowed all of the videos more than once.

    Then I bought the DVD for myself. And last month, for a contest, I gave away a 10-year anniversary edition of the adaptation.

    And I still giggle every time I remember what Collin Firth said about the direction given him: To look at Lizzy as if he had a painful erection.

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  14. Julie Leto
    Jul 03, 2008 @ 22:49:37

    Well, I must admit that I was a student of Austen in college and one of my favorite classes was a dramatic interpretation class of all her novels. (I played Fanny in Mansfield Park, though I lusted for the role of Lizzy in P&P…the guy I was dating played Darcy, but instead, I had to REALLY act and show emotion opposite a guy who was in my brother’s fraternity and had once passed out drunk on my front lawn as Edmund.)

    But I digress…

    I loved this version of P&P and think it’s the best of the lot. I mean…Colin Firth! I do think Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins were played for comic effect in the novel, so that they’re portrayals in the miniseriew are spot on. I loved Mr. Bennett. I thought he was particularly good.

    I remember the first time I encountered this miniseries–on PBS back when I was teaching in Atlanta. I started watching as I was getting dressed one morning…needless to say, I called in (I had no first period class) and feigned illness so I could watch to the end!

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  15. SonomaLass
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 01:11:51

    I agree about the nostalgia factor, but I know the miniseries still works for me — when my daughter decided to watch it recently, I wandered into the room and got caught up in it, and we ended up doing a marathon until 4 a.m. to finish it!

    It’s funny, a friend and colleague of mine, whose scholarly specialty is the influence of and responses to Austen, says that she now divides the social response to Pride and Prejudice into two periods: pre-Colin Firth and post-Colin Firth, because that miniseries, particularly his Darcy, have had such an impact.

    I must second Susan/DC’s recommendation of this version of Ivanhoe, too. It’s very good. If you like Ciaran Hinds (or if you don’t know who he is and want to), I strongly recommend the 1995 adaptation of Austen’s Persuasion, in which he stars opposite Amanda Root. That’s my favorite of Austen’s novels anyway, because I find the romance in it so compelling. I didn’t know Hinds had been in Jane Eyre — when I rush out and buy this collection (even though I already have Pride and Prejudice), I will watch that first.

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  16. Kat
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 04:14:05

    I love this miniseries. Love. I fell in love with Colin Firth, and our (one-sided) love affair continues to this day. I waited painstakingly for each episode to screen, until finally, some friends pretended we needed to borrow the video for, ahem, research purposes. The portrayal of Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins matched what I imagined them to be, so that wasn’t an issue for me. It did take me a while to warm to Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzy, but maybe that was partly due to my Firth-lust.

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  17. Kathleen
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 08:26:17

    Hmmm!!! There’s a version of P&P I haven’t seen! (The 1979 one.)

    But no one has mentioned the old black and white with Sir Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson. That one is actually my favorite. It’s not historically accurate, and they veered from the book quite a bit, I know. But I love it because I think they captured the feel of the book the best. I think Jennifer Erhe totally missed Lizzy’s playfulness, and Colin Firth totally failed to show the passion that was simmering under the surface. (Although I will grant that that version was the most accurate to the book, in terms of script.)

    I think that’s why I liked the Kiera Knightley version, too. Yes, they changed it, and some valid points are made here… but I think they did well to capture the point of the story, and the emotions, and portray them to a modern audience that doesn’t know enough about the regency world to catch all those subtle nuances. I mean… I LOVE those nuances in the book, but my husband would never catch on to them. He had a rough time catching on to the Colin Firth nuances, too. But the other two versions that weren’t as faithful to the time period, he liked, because he understood them.

    I suppose I see it as a different way of being faithful to the book.

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  18. Estara
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 13:27:58

    If you ever want to give a BBC adaptation of this another try, can I recommend the 80ies version which at least on Amazon.co.uk is available in an NTSC format DVD: Even the boring bits are interesting due to a very strong cast for every role, and Mr. Darcy here can’t be beat even by Colin Firth I believe:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Prejudice-REGION-1-NTSC/dp/B000244FDW/

    In other words, I second Stephanie’s recommendation.

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  19. Claudia
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 14:01:14

    The great thing about the numerous versions of P&P is that I can pick one to match nearly any mood I’m in :) P&P 95 remains my favorite adaptation and P&P 40 is my favorite film. Viewing 95 always provides a lengthy, enjoyable respite and I love Lizzie’s sprit in 40.

    And I so agree with Susan/DC about Hinds in Ivanoe.

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  20. Janine
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 14:16:44

    Wow! So many comments! Apologies to be late to replying.

    Thanks for the recommendations of The Scarlet Pimpernel and the adapation of Ivanhoe. The only thing I’ve seen Ciaran Hinds in was the HBO series “Rome,” where he played Julius Caesar. I thought he was good there, but as I didn’t love the show, I should probably check him out in Ivanhoe.

    I understand that Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennet’s characters were written for comical effect, but I feel that it is possible to be very funny and at the same time convincing, and for me, Steadman and Bamber’s potrayals (Bamber’s especially) were not that convincing as real, living, breathing people. I don’t think I had that problem with the characters in the book, though it’s been a very long time since I read it.

    I did mention that the adaptation was by Andrew Davies, when I said:

    Nonetheless, there were times I wished that Langton and screenwriter Andrew Davies had found a way to make the story feel as though it was moving along at a good clip.

    I’ve heard excellent things about the 1979 BBC adptation with the Fay Weldon screenplay from a friend of mine, who says that it captures the satire of the book better than any other version. I haven’t seen it yet, but thanks, Stephanie and Estara, for the recommendation.

    This version of P&P, with Colin Firth, is quite popular and when I went to IMDB to look up the cast and find out exactly how Crispin Bonham Carter was related to Helena, I saw that there were many rave reviews from viewers. I wish I could say I loved it as much as most people seem to, but I did like it, and I do recommend it (albeit with my few caveats).

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  21. DS
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 15:32:30

    I loved Ciaran Hinds in Persuasion– which became my favorite Austen after I wrote a very in depth essay on it for Honors English lo, these many years ago. This was the first television adaptation I watched. Later I saw the 70′s one and was put off by the costuming and hair which somehow managed to look as much 70′s as Regency style. I also liked Hinds as Mr. Rochester. Timothy Dalton, while easy on the eyes, was too smooth for that role, IMO.

    However, when it comes to P&P– the 1995 version got me through a very rough period in my personal life. I came home and every night became lost in Jane Austen’s story. For me, this is THE adaptation. I also didn’t particularly care for Fay Weldon’s although I don’t remember why. I’ve read her fiction and enjoyed it, but somehow her P&P didn’t feel quite right.

    I have most of these shows on DVD and have watched them repeatedly. In fact I think this set is a reissue because I picked a set up at a Sam’s Warehouse around Christmas one wear for a very reasonable price.

    Ok, it was almost the same set– No Lorna Doone which I never liked anyway, that book was hard slogging, and no Victoria and Albert– instead it had Horatio Hornblower– more eye candy there.

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  22. Kaitlin
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 17:35:00

    I admit that I do like this version, but my favorite version of P&P is the one in 2005 with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. It may not be a true adaptation, but the powerful chemistry between the 2 main characters is much more believable. Having just read the book not all that long ago, I have to say that both actresses who play the mothers in the movies come across as 1-note characters, but honestly? Mrs. Bennett came across that way in the book, too. :)

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  23. Meriam
    Jul 04, 2008 @ 19:14:37

    I did mention that the adaptation was by Andrew Davies

    Ooops. My bad. Thanks for the review, Janine. It brought back many pleasant memories. I haven’t seen this version for years – perhaps it’s time to dust off the box set and re-evaluate the actors.

    Re: Matthew McFadayen. I thought he had a very interesting, intense, take on Darcy. He seemed more vulnerable? I don’t know if that’s a good thing to a purist, but as an interpretation of a very well known literary figure, it was different and it won me over.

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  24. mia
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 09:55:23

    I loved this version of P&P though I totally agree with those who were less than enamoured with the Jennifer Ehle version of Elizabeth. I had many friends who drooled over Colin Firth and, having googled him and seen pictures, I just didn’t get it. Then I saw Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the very next week saw A&E’s airing of P&P and everything clicked into place. (How much did I love the BBC production? Enough to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning to watch it on A&E because my VCR was broken.)

    I must say that as charming as I found the Keira Knightly film, I despised whatever idiot played Darcy. (I don’t even want to remember his name.) I don’t know whether to blame him, the script, the director, or all three but he spent the entire film looking lovesick, never once managed to look arrogant–

    And a Darcy who is not arrogant and whose attraction isn’t cloaked beneath disdain for the entire first half of the story simply is not Darcy.

    P.S. I adore the Andrew Davies script for the proposal, if for no other reason. Having read the proposal chapter in Austen’s novel and how much of it was told rather than put in actual dialogue, I think the dialogue that Davies wrote for Darcy was superb.

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  25. Janine
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 13:06:37

    Since other versions of P&P have been brought up, I wonder if anyone else has seen “Bride and Prejudice,” the recent (2004) updated Bollywood version with gorgeous Indian actress Aishwarya Rai? Though of course (since it makes the heroine a 21st century woman of Indian descent), it’s not completely faithful to the book, I thought it was a lot of fun. Martin Henderson plays the Darcy role and Naveen Andrews of television’s “Lost” is also in this version, playing “Balraj Bingley.”

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  26. mia
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 13:11:35

    I loved Bride and Prejudice and thought it a natural and effective way to update the story, by making the arrogant Darcy an “ugly American” who held everything he saw in India in great disdain. Unfortunately I thought this one suffered from the same malady as the Knightly movie–Darcy simply wasn’t disdainful enough.

    But I loved the film, and loved watching Naveen Andrews dance!

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  27. Janine
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 13:20:35

    There are two approaches for filmmakers to take. One is to have the audience, along with the heroine, think that Darcy is terribly stuffy and arrogant, and then to judge him based on that, and only late discover that he really isn’t what he first appeared to be, and that we (as well as Lizzy) were prejudiced. Another approach is to have the audience see Lizzy’s prejudice against Darcy for what it is from the beginning of the movie, and realize he isn’t as bad as she thinks he is.

    I think with movies especially (as opposed to made-for-TV miniseries) the producers invest so much $$$ going in that they have to be reasonably confident that they will recoup their investments. One way to to do that is to make the main characters in what is essentially a romantic comedy as charming and attractive as possible. They are probably afraid to make Darcy appear too arrogant. Maybe that’s why “Bride and Prejduice” used the second approach.

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  28. mia
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 13:24:34

    The best romcoms have allowed the hero and heroine to battle it out before they admit they’re in love, though. It’s a mistake if filmmakers are backing off what is classic romantic storytelling structure, but I fear you may be correct.

    Conflict allows for the greatest display of unresolved sexual tension. The harder they fight, the harder they fall.

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  29. Chicklet
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 10:05:04

    I adore Bride and Prejudice, although I wish like hell they’d cast a more charismatic actor (with a better singing voice) as Darcy. My friend and I sat through the movie wondering why the work of art known as Aishwarya Rai would end up with that lummox.

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  30. jeff (theaishwaryarai.com)
    Jan 31, 2009 @ 01:27:58

    I'm sure there will be many comments re P&P (which I very much liked, BTW), but I do hope that there's a review of “Ivanhoe”. This production is one of the best versions of the Scott novel I've seen, dirty and violent and romantic, and most of the credit goes to Ciaran Hinds. He is the ur-Brian de Bois Guilbert -’ strong, more than a little wicked (makes many of the romance novel bad boys look like novices), and sexy as all get out.

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  31. fax software
    Aug 12, 2010 @ 02:42:08

    Useful question

    ReplyReply

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