“I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow”
So, I saw P&P the other night with the Fox. It was actually very good. It was not the BBC miniseries, and I could go on and on about how Knightly isn’t Ehle, yadda yadda, but anyone who was expecting the miniseries should know that they’re in for a disappointment. That miniseries is hand’s down the best film adaptation of Austen evar.
On its own merits, however, this version of P&P was really very enjoyable. It was much grittier than Jane Austen is usually presented. They did a rather interesting reverse thing with costumes and setting where instead of making the richer gentry look more chic than the well-dressed but understated country folk (as you see in most period flicks, they made the poorer country gentry much more earthy. The local balls had rather the feel of dances in Hobbiton or on Cold Comfort Farm. The acting was very good. There were some pretty hefty sparks between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, especially during the scenes at Rosings. The Mr. Collins and the Mrs. Bennett were played a little more subtly and a little less ridiculous than I’m used to seeing (actually, all the ridiculous characters were a little less out there). In Mr. Collins’ case in particular it made him a much more sympathetic character. He reminded me of a few slightly backward geekboys I’ve known, and I really felt bad for him that the Bennett girls kept laughing at him. This is the first version I’ve seen where the Jane was prettier than the Lizzie (which is how it should be). I had to go to IMDB to place the actress, but when I did I was very happy to see that it was Miranda Frost from “Die Another Day” (one of the few reasons to see that film was her presence in it). I really would like to see more from that actress.
The music was rather over-the-top in some places, and although the camerawork was amazing, in some places it diminished the impact of the action that I knew was supposed to be taking place (in particular, the Ball at Netherfields, where the entire Bennett Family is making themselves ridiculous, was done in an extremely well-choreographed single shot that had the fox gasping in amazement, and me rather disappointed that it diminished the painfully comedic impact that this scene is supposed to have). They did do a very good job of catching the quick back and forths between Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, so I suppose it evens out.
My greatest disappointment would be that they cut what I feel to be one of the most important lines in the story, where Mr. Darcy is first realizing that he doesn’t actually despise Miss Elizabeth Bennett, and puts down Miss Bingly’s presumptuous comment by remarking on Lizzie’s “fine eyes”. It is such a major line, such a pivotal moment in the story, so revealing on Mr. Darcy’s character, and really such a fan favorite that I think cutting this line was a very big mistake, almost as big as never mentioning the opening line (the “It is a truth universally acknowleged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” one).
Watching this film made me recognize something that drakerocket has been saying for some time, which is that one of the difficulties in playing a noble in this game is how much people don’t understand how to play commoners. The pain that Mr. Darcy and the Bingleys undergo on being exposed to a country gathering where the common people are jockeying for their recognition is really very delicious, all the more so because the bumpkins don’t realize how bumpkinny they really are, how presumptuous they are being, but Darcy and Miss Bingley do, and we the audience does, and that awareness that Austen draws from us about class difference is what makes the story so good. It saddens me that this is not a story we are able to tell in the Changeling game.
Be that as it may, I’m thinking about organizing a film day where we watch the BBC P&P. I will keep peoples posted.