If you ask women around the world who their ideal man would be, many would answer Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” has become a beloved classic not only here in her native Hampshire, but world-wide. Adapting such a well-known novel to the big screen (especially when a popular televised version already exists) is a huge challenge. Yet director Joe Write tackled Austen’s classic beautifully.
“Pride & Prejudice” stays beautifully true to the original novel. No major items are omitted, and no large liberties are taken with the story line. In fact, re-reading the novel I found it difficult not to occasionally visualize moments from the film. That is where “Pride & Prejudice” excels. It stays true to the written word, but enhances is fantastically. It is a visually stunning film with exquisite cinematography. The settings are beautiful, but it is more than that. The actual crafting of the film is flawless. There are moments where the actual filming of the movie enhances the text it is based on.
For example, when Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy dance together is a huge moment. Austen’s writing is typically controlled in the passage, leaving the reader to infer the emotional importance. In the movie adaptation of the scene, the rest of the dancers seem to fade away. It is not overplayed, and still relies on simplicity and elegance. The music and filming create one of the best crafted scenes in modern cinema.
Despite the beautiful filming, the scene could not have worked without great acting performances. Mr. Darcy has become almost a clichéd romantic hero, and Colin Firth’s career is based on the Mr. Darcy character. It was hard to imagine a different Mr. Darcy, and Matthew Macfadyen at first seemed like an odd choice. However, his mannerisms and facial expressions capture Mr. Darcy’s character.
Likewise, the Keira Knightley of “Pirates of the Caribbean” would not have been an obvious choice for Elizabeth Bennet. Yet she brings a subtlety to the role that is perfect for Austen’s story. She brings a quite introspection to the role and still portrays the sometimes headstrong character well.
The whole film comes together beautifully, and is a noteworthy Austen adaptation. I am an admitted Austen fan. I’ve read all of her novels, but more than that, I’ve walked in her footsteps. Living in Hampshire I have often seen her homes, visited her grave, and walked in places she would have frequented. For me, “Pride & Prejudice” is more than just a novel to film adaptation. It’s a sort of doorway into the society that Austen both represented and created, and allows us–if only for two hours–to experience Jane Austen’s world.