International Writers Magazine: Film
and Prejudice (2005)
Director: Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland
and Judi Dench
films are one of the easiest ways to learn how times have changed.
In Pride and Prejudice we are taken into Georgian England;
a time when transport was a carriage, hobbies were reading and
walking and the first touch between a man and a woman was through
Pride and Prejudice
is the third film adaptation of Jane Austens classic novel. This
version sees Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen playing the delights
of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Although I feel it is hard to replace
Colin Firths masterful portrayal of Mr Darcy in the BBCs
television adaptation, MacFadyen does a surprisingly good job. Macfadyen
creates a strong, domineering Mr Darcy, the key to his character. I
have never had a great opinion of Keira Knightley and after my first
viewing of the film I still had my doubts. However, I have realised
that it was merely because she was not Jennifer Ehle, the last Elizabeth
Bennet who I adored, and actually Knightley portrayed an astounding
likeness, in my mind, to Jane Austens original heroine.
The costumes and settings are what make this film so believable: the
gentlemen are dressed in top hats and coats whilst the ladies swirl
in ballroom gowns and abundant bonnets. I noticed that the musicians
at the local town Ball had long wavy hair while those at the Netherfield
Ball were wearing wigs to cover up their locks; a pure sign of the hierarchy
of the time. The locations used for the film are breathtaking. Mr Darcys
home, Pemberley, is shot at Chatsworth House and Wilton House while
the Bennets home is set in the enchanting Groombridge Place: a
moated manor house. Through all these elements we are guided into Austens
18th Century living.
What makes this film historical, regardless of the obvious: the wonderful
costumes, the spoken language and the astounding rural settings in the
English countryside? I would say the beautiful piano melodies. The music
takes us on a journey with Elizabeth and the key moment in the film;
when Elizabeth believes that she will never see Mr Darcy again, just
after realising she has misjudged him completely, presents us with the
loudest piece of composition within the film. It is dramatic, it is
full bodied and it is heart wrenching. So many words were unspoken during
this time; life was all about securing a husband or wife through dancing,
through literature and through meaningful glances across ballrooms.
In my mind, the music illustrates all these unspoken words that in todays
society we would not think twice about.
In regard to portraying the hierarchy, the setting and the necessity
for a worthy marriage that the late 18th Century required, this film
is a great success. Wrights added personal touches; like Mr Darcy
and Elizabeths first dance, bring this adaptation into the 21st
Century. In this scene he represents the great moment of attraction
between them by fading out the other dancers around them. I may have
felt it had changed too much from Ehle and Firths version when
I first watched it, but on reflection, if it had stayed too close to
the BBCs, I am sure I would have accused it of being unoriginal.
© Jo Green December 2006
Jo is studying Creative Writing at the University Portsmouth
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