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International Writers Magazine: Reviews
and Prejudice (BBC 1995)
Director: Simon Langton
Starring: Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle
a big lover of studying history. Text books and never ending documentaries
provoke little interest for me. But I do find it fascinating that
a book, film or TV series can convey a whole world beyond my own
imagination and understanding. To be able to experience the past
as if you were there, living in those times with those people, is
a wonderful gift. And out of all the historical fiction out there,
my favourite has to be the 1995 BBCs six hour adaptation of
Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice.
A tale of forbidden love due to class, status and one mans pride,
Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer
Ehle), a strong and sensible minded adult who is treated like a puppet
in her cupid mothers wishes to marry off all her five daughters.
Despite marriage offers from her creepy but established cousin, Mr Collins,
Miss Bennett finds herself falling for the arrogantly wealthy Mr Darcy
Set in the 19th century with beautiful cinematic landscapes and a series
of traditional balls, Pride and Prejudice is a marvel to watch.
It creates a world that no modern teenagers could ever imagine, captivating
its audience with witty humour, grand mansions and quaint speech and gowns.
Bennett tries to hide her secret love for Mr Darcy from her friends,
family and even herself, her sister Jane openly falls for Mr Darcys
closest friend Mr Bingley. Comedy is created through this matching
as Mrs Bennett pushes desperate to a new level, proving that embarrassing
parents is not a new convention.
In this sense,
young people of today can relate to the story itself, identifying
with the need to impress those around them and the trials of succumbing
to peer pressure versus doing whats best for oneself. So
despite the historic period, the elegant clothing, diffident servants
and different living standards, modern viewers could certainly
connect to the plot, if not the setting.
As Lizzie battles her affections for the proud Mr Darcy, deciding his
uptight manner most disagreeable, she learns of his meddling actions against
Mr Bingleys affections for her sister Jane. Mr Darcy, believing
the Bennetts to be below his and Bingleys status, ensures
Miss Jane Bennetts arrival in London to be kept secret from his
old friend. However, Mr Darcy soon is revealed as a hypocrite when he
proposes to Lizzie, stating that despite his own judgment and the inferiority
of her birth, he most ardently loves her.
Lizzie, in a rage against his meddlings, and the belief that he wielded
a good man, Mr Wickham, out of his fortune, declines his hand, choosing
to stand by her sister and sensible morals. Perhaps Lizzie here is showing
the first glimpses of the modern day woman, putting her own beliefs and
values before that of her mothers.
As the story moves from the older sisters to the younger girls of the
family, the focus moves to flirty Lydia Bennett, the slut of her time.
The shame of her wildest antic with Mr Wickham, proves very unpopular
with her older sister, who feels the family name has been tarnished and
believes her hope of romance is forever dashed. This aspect of the story
conjures ideas of sibling rivalry and the bitchiness of the female world,
showing women then werent far different from females today.
After revelations that Mr Wickham is the bad party, not Mr Darcy, Lizzie
begins to re-evaluate her feelings, thinking she may have made a mistake.
These affections are confirmed for Lizzie when Mr Darcy fixes the situation
with Jane and Bingley, and forces his enemy Mr Wickham to marry Lydia,
making a decent woman of her. Lizzie, despite her early indications of
independent womanhood, marries Mr Darcy, fulfilling a typical fairytale
ending; captivating the hearts of Colin Firth fans across Britain.
Pride and Prejudice may be historical fiction but it relates very
closely to modern truths. With themes of sibling rivalry, female bitchiness,
peer pressure, family values and ones own beliefs, Jane Austens
story is one of beauty, charm and delightful comic banter, which the BBC
adaptation offers with lavish views, magnificent settings and a loveable
cast. I cant think of a better way to spend my Sunday afternoons.
© Emma King November 2007
emmathewriter at hotmail.co.uk
I looked over the books I own; stack upon stack of over predictable, classically
cheesy and a somewhat pathetic collection of chick-lit novels. I love
chick-lit - I am an addict
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