PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Review by Ed Nguyen
Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Anna Chancellor, Julia
Director: Simon Langton
Audio: English Stereo
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen
Features: biographies, making-of featurette
Length: 300 minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2001
am determined that nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into
are few classic novels of English literature which have been as beloved as Jane
Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
Written around the turn of the nineteenth century, this novel has
captivated generations of audiences with its imaginative accounts of affairs of
the hearts set amidst the amicable Hertfordshire countryside.
The novel's continuing universal appeal, having subsisted for nigh two
centuries, is the very endorsement of its stature as one of literature's most
the cinematic world could scarcely be expected to refrain from adapting so
popular a work of literature. Traditionally,
the 1940 Hollywood movie starring Garson Greer and Laurence Olivier has curried
the most favor among the novel's many admirers.
Of late however, a 1995 BBC miniseries production has earned the
adoration of many, young and old, in establishing itself as perhaps the
quintessential film version of Pride and
broadcast in the States by the cable channel A & E, the five-hour miniseries
vividly captures the romantically-inclined world of the Bennet sisters, five in
number and lively all. In
Hertfordshire, they reside in relative harmony, nevertheless wont to occasional
discord over the promise of future marriage.
Jane Bennet is the eldest, a lovely young debutante and the fairest among
her siblings. Elizabeth (Jennifer
Ehle) follows in age, being not yet one-and-twenty.
She is an unconventional beauty and one not so easily ruffled by the
casual acquaintances of prospective love mates.
It is Elizabeth who will be the independent and willful heroine of our
the remaining sisters, perhaps only one has the resemblance of sense about her.
She is Mary, a somewhat reflective child preoccupied more so with
literature and her own musical aspirations than with the superficialities of
courtship rituals. Of Lydia and Kittie, the two youngest sisters, the less said
of their frivolous and flirtatious ways, the better, for they do bring great
disconcertment upon their father, Mr. Bennet, who numbers his youngest daughters
among the silliest girls in all of England.
that Mr. Bennet be brave enough to include his wife in such an estimate as well,
it surely would be a legitimate claim, for Mrs. Bennet is first and foremost a
most ridiculous woman. She prattles
on so that one should wonder if any gentleman, faced with the distinction of
such a loquacious mother-in-law, would ever care to marry one of her daughters.
Furthermore, Mrs. Bennet, being fickle to a fault, is possessed of a
tendency to speak her mind without due consideration as for the actual worth of
her remarks. If she should not
sabotage the very results for which she toils, then she should at least provide
some sporting if incidental humor for this tale.
Bennets live at Longbourne, a rural manor of Hertfordshire.
Theirs is a society wherein young girls are properly raised for the
singular occupation of becoming young wives.
While love may play a part, however small, in a match of marriage, such
formalities are more often than not unions of convenience and circumstance,
arranged by parents or other such chaperons.
And so, when a certain Charles Bingley, a young man of agreeable fortune,
is lately arrived for lodgings at Netherfield Park, there is much anticipation
on Mrs. Bennet's behalf that such a gentleman should be properly in want of one
of her daughters for wife. To this
end, she entreats her husband to call upon Bingley that formal acquaintances
might henceforth be established.
social ball in Meryton affords Bingley an opportunity whereby he might introduce
himself to the Bennet girls in glad fashion.
As Jane is the fairest of the ladies at the ball, she is not long in
capturing the principal attentions of Bingley.
But if Bingley should be enjoying himself immensely in the dancing and
hospitality of the Meryton assembly, the same cannot be said of his hesitant
companions for the evening - two unenthused sisters and one reticent Mr. Darcy
(Colin Firth). Bingley's sisters look upon their rural countrymen as little
more than unpolished rabble, while Darcy stands to a side, affixed with an
expression of such inexhaustible boredom that might well slew a wild boar with
its piercing apathy.
as they might, neither Bingley nor a Mr. Lucas, father to Elizabeth's good
friend Charlotte, succeed in enticing Darcy to partake of the sociality of the
evening. Bingley, with good cheer
to ameliorate Darcy's fastidious spirits, suggests Elizabeth's availability for
a dance, only to be countered when Darcy, deeming her beneath his consideration,
flatly responds, "I am in no humor to give consequence to young ladies who
are slighted by other men."
Elizabeth of a more delicate deposition, she might not deign, behind a tearful
visage, to afford Darcy any further regard after such an uncharitable remark,
and thus would regrettably end our tale in short order.
Yet, upon overhearing Darcy's unfortunate comments, Elizabeth is instead
moved to bemusement, her spirits little affected by his impropriety.
Darcy's very supposition that she is merely "tolerable" and
"not handsome enough," even if Elizabeth should now share such
sentiments of him, will in time reveal itself to be completely erroneous. As Darcy is in truth more complaisant than Elizabeth has
surmised, so she in turn will eventually become "one of the handsomest
women of my acquaintance" in Darcy's mind. Let them for now publicly profess their disdain for one
another, while secretly stealing glances as the other's gaze is elsewhere; we
the viewers are the wiser, and we know that upon this foundation of apparent
animosity, there lingers that unmistakable emanation of blossoming young love.
so, the stage is set for a tale of passion and revelry, pride and prejudice.
We may wager for a joyous conclusion that unites our pre-ordained lovers
of Jane and Bingley and perhaps our more reluctant, sparring couple of Elizabeth
and Darcy. But, the path to such an
end will be long and filled with myriad tribulations ere true love finally
fulfills its destiny.
is partitioned into six episodes. Each
may be enjoyed separately, or the enterprising viewer, if so leisurely inclined,
conceivably may allow the episodes to run one after another without interruption
from title credits. The initial
episode introduces the Bennet family and details the arrival of Bingley to
Netherfield Park and his subsequent courtship of Jane through a succession of
dance balls and social functions. There
is also the matter of Darcy, of whom the proper ladies of Hertfordshire are of
no two opinions concerning, as his well-bred mien and handsome wealth cannot
sufficiently endear him to others for the deficiency he displays in continually
giving offence. But even as Darcy's
manners are misunderstood, so then he does reveal in confidence to his friend's
sisters, after much internal review, that the young Elizabeth Bennet is of more
pleasing quality that he had at first recommended: "I was meditating on the
very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can
second episode commences with the appearance at Longbourne of the right Reverend
Collins. Of new the Rector of
Hunsford in Kent, Mr. Collins arrives to trespass upon the friendly hospitality
of his cousin, Mr. Bennet, for but a matter of days, during which time he hopes,
God willing, to woo for marriage one of Bennet's daughters. He
fancies Jane, but being rebuffed by news of Bingley's courtship for her
affections, perceptively transfers his passion towards Elizabeth.
Undoubtedly a second rebuttal will soon await him, for Elizabeth's
opinion of the pedantic reverend - "one of the stupidest men in
England" - is not so very grand.
Elizabeth has acquired another suitor of younger age and less fumbling air - Mr.
Wickham, an officer in Her Majesty's Service and a charmed man of some pleasant
countenance and manners. Many a
maiden of Hertfordshire has already cast an approving eye upon his handsome
visage, but Wickham is perhaps more (or less) than what he seems.
Wickham's intent, for now, is the favor of Elizabeth Bennet, who, being
unawares of Darcy's change of heart, is receptive to Wickham's compliments.
The suggestion of Darcy's grievous slight of Wickham in their common past
only elevates Wickham in Elizabeth's estimate.
third episode chronicles a sad turn of affairs for Jane.
Bingley, smitten though he may be with Jane, maintains in his character a
want of proper resolution which, to his detriment, accords his sisters and Darcy
the means to convince him otherwise of Jane's true affections for him.
Bingley thereby quits Netherfield for his more familiar London, leaving
the matter to Jane to venture into the city to inquire modestly as to his sudden
finds occasion to travel beyond the confines of Hertfordshire to call upon her
dear friend, Charlotte, who is lately wed and wife to a dull man.
As Charlotte must now count among her social duties luncheon with her
neighbors, so Elizabeth is inclined to accompany her.
Twice weekly, Charlotte dines with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a most
properly-bred woman of distinguished lineage and certain financial comfort, of
whose noblesse oblige Charlotte's husband enjoys the patronage.
It is at one of these luncheons that her Ladyship reveals designs to
match her own lackluster daughter, Anne, with Mr. Darcy in marriage.
In good time, Darcy himself pays his respects to the good Lady Catherine,
his aunt, but being now quite solicitous of Elizabeth's regard, forsakes his
aunt's matrimonial plans and instead offers a startling proposal of love and
marriage to Elizabeth:
declaring myself thus I am fully aware that I will be expressively going against
the wishes of my family, my friends, and I hardly need add my own better
judgment. The relative situations
of our families is such that any alliance between us must be regarded as a
highly reprehensible connection.
fourth episode opens immediately upon Elizabeth's unceremonious dismissal of
Darcy's poorly phrased declaration of love.
Her obstinacy being well tempered by her sharpness, Elizabeth's
impression of Darcy as a conceited boor is little improved by his further
revelation of his involvement in Bingley's leave of Netherfield.
How could any man who has meddled so unwarrantedly in obstructing her own
sister's happiness ever dream to be husband to her?
Still, the general sincerity of Darcy's proposal, if not the actual
method of its delivery, leaves Elizabeth in a most confused state, as does his
parting words of advice regarding Wickham's duplicitous nature.
due time, having repaired to Longbourne to reflect upon Darcy's speech,
Elizabeth is propositioned by her visiting aunt and uncle the Gardiners to
accompany them on a tour of the Derbyshire manors, to include Pemberley as well,
the grandest of the manors. Pemberley
is in fact the home estate of Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth, lost in her revelry as
she roams the beautiful gardens of the estate, is happened upon by none other
than the lovelorn gentleman, lately made miserable by his failed attempt to
conquer his love for Elizabeth. Humility has served Darcy well, and the subtle nature of his
change, revealing itself in consideration of manners and gentleness, adorns him
well to Elizabeth's eyes.
the fifth episode, a renewal of friendship between Elizabeth and Darcy is
formed. There arises however an
unfortunate incident of the sudden and scandalous elopement of Elizabeth's
youngest sibling Lydia with the now-infamous Wickham, stationed at Brighton.
Darcy, having suffered Wickham to behave poorly for long enough, takes
the matter upon himself to address personally and unwontedly.
After all, it will not do for Wickham to spoil the good name of the
Bennet sisters, particularly if Darcy himself is enamored of one of them to wive.
so, we come to the sixth and concluding episode, wherein all wrongs will surely
be righted and the uncertainties of the heart's innermost yearnings will be
resolved in good grace. An
acceptable solution will be proposed for Lydia's dilemma.
Bingley will see just cause to return to Netherfield and with Darcy's
blessings to re-avow his affections for Jane.
And Elizabeth, with an enhanced opinion of Darcy, might finally realize
her prophecy that only the deepest love could ever induce her into matrimony.
BBC's Pride and Prejudice is an
unqualified triumph. Loyal to the
spirit and letter of the Jane Austen novel, with winning performances from all
the principals, it is a film that will delight audiences for years to come.
Colin Firth, with his handsome looks and brooding manners, is an ideal
Darcy; one senses that beneath his stern countenance, there dwells a heart of
compassion and kindness. Jennifer
Ehle is the film's true revelation. An
American-born actress, she is so disarmingly captivating as Elizabeth that any
reasonable man could surely not help but to fall in love with her.
Ehle's charming performance garnered a BAFTA award (the British
equivalence of an Oscar) for Best Actress in 1996, and young Ehle has since gone
on to further prove her equal merit as a stage actress, winning a Tony Award in
2000 for Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing.
is a tale of romance of the finest order. For
the young of heart and optimistic of mind, it is not to be missed and is
prescribed with the highest recommendation!
is presented in a new anamorphic widescreen transfer.
The aspect ratio is listed as 2.35:1, but this may be an exaggeration,
for the image looks to be more in the vicinity of 1.66:1.
the picture appears decent, although it occasionally lacks for detail, revealing
a mild blockiness upon close inspection. These defects will only be appreciable upon the very largest
viewing screens and so need not concern those among us of lesser means (and
consequently smaller television sets).
characters of Pride and Prejudice
speak with such refined elocution and elegance as to make the colloquial English
spoken in society today sound vulgar by comparison.
Be that as it may, this audio is nevertheless quite satisfactory for what
was originally a television broadcast. The
audio provides a two-channel presentation with a pleasantly clear listening
experience though without the fanfare of the louder elements of modern audio
being a five-hour miniseries, has been suitably divided between two discs.
Each disc contains three episodes (approximately fifty minutes in length
apiece) as well as individual extra features.
disc one, in addition to the film, there is a short biography section.
This section contains relevant background and brief filmographies for
Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, director Simon Langton, and producer Sue Birtwistle.
There is also a biography of Jane Austen, including a chronology of her
novels and other publications.
disc two, a "Making of" featurette (27 min.) presents viewers with a
look at the background, costume, editing, design, and casting of the miniseries.
Simon Langton, highly lauded for his previous direction on Upstairs,
Downstairs, lent his credible talents as director to this miniseries and so
serves as a commentator on this featurette.
His producer also assists in providing commentary, with the brief
participation of various other members of the cast or crew.
Regrettably, Ehle and Firth do not offer forth their own appraisal of the