Jane Austen January – Pride and Prejudice – Film Adaptations

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite story, and the only alteration that could improve it for my particular enjoyment would be the inclusion of animal antics.  (This inclusion would not, of course, improve the book in general, but I really dig frolicking puppies and enjoy them wherever I find them.)  I can’t always be reading the book, but I do enjoy visiting its themes, characters, and story through the relative ease of its many film adaptations.  I am a fan of most Austen film adaptations, with the stunning exception of the 1986 version of Northanger Abbey.

The first adaptation of P&P that I saw was the 1995 BBC TV mini-series version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  That version is still my favorite, but I thought it would be fun to compare trailers for some of the other versions I have seen, some more derivations than strict adaptations.  I’ll start with the 1940 film production starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.

What did she say?!  This adaptation is perhaps my least favorite, but it is amusing in its own way.  At any rate, if you watch it, you’ll find out what she said.

I could not easily find an official trailer for the 1995 BBC TV mini-series version, but here is a fairly decent fan-made version.

I first saw this version in 1997, very shortly after I had first read the book, and I watched it so often (and in what I consider still to be my formative years, too) that it is very difficult for me to separate the characters of the book from their adaptation counterparts.  When I read Mrs. Bennet’s lines in the book (especially my favorites: “A little sea bathing would set me up for ever,” and “Tell him what a dreadful state I am in…and have such tremblings, such flutterings, all over me, such spasms in my side and pains in my head, and such beatings and my heart, that I can get no rest by night or day.”) I hear Alison Steadman’s voice in my head.  My imagination’s Lydia bears a stunning resemblance to Julia Sawalha.  At five hours in length, this version can easily be faithful to the book, but I wonder if it tends too strongly towards presenting caricatures rather than fleshed-out characters to be really faithful to its spirit.  It is sprightly and amusing, to be sure, but it lacks a lot of the depth that I find in the book.

By way of contrast there is, of course, the 2005 film version starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley.

My favorite thing about this version is the music, sadly not highlighted in that trailer, but I also love its portrayal of the Bennet family in general, of Mrs. Bennet and Mary Bennet in particular, and of Charlotte Lucas, and its depiction of Longbourne (that faint shabbiness that contrasts so well with the elegance of Netherfield and Pemberley).  Though I do enjoy this version, it is a teensy bit melodramatic, rather more angsty than sparkling, that melodrama perhaps best demonstrated by Darcy’s first proposal being delivered during a rainstorm… I particularly love the thunder that underscores Darcy’s comment about Elizabeth’s father.

The following adaptation, the 2003 release Bride and Prejudice, holds a special place in my heart.  Over-the-top and silly though it sometimes is, it gives an excellent portrayal of the Mr. Collins and Charlotte characters, and provides a plausible, modern twist on Wickham’s infamy toward Georgiana.  It is, further, an excellent antidote to the 2005 version’s angst and drama.

I imagine fans of P&P have seen all of these versions.  Are there any others that you can recommend?  Do you, like me, enjoy watching film adaptations of this story?

Jane Austen January

Portrait of Jane Austen in watercolor and pencil by Cassandra Austen (1773-1845), digitally restored and remastered by Amano1 Source: http://www.janeausten.co.uk/regencyworld/pdf/portrait.pdf via Wikimedia Commons

On Christmas Day in 1997, I received a collected volume of Jane Austen’s novels from my mother.  It is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  I had read Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park several times, but this volume introduced me to the other books.  In January of 1998, I read all of the books, and in every January of the following years, I made it a tradition to read at least a few Jane Austen novels.  This coming January represents the fifteenth annual Jane Austen January, and I’m hoping to make it into a somewhat informal blog event.

This year, I plan to read Pride and PrejudicePersuasion, and Northanger Abbey, but I might add in Sense and Sensibility as well, depending on how much free time I have.  My goal is to write at least one blog post about each of the books and, I hope, to engage in discussions with other readers.  I’m totally open to discussing other Jane Austen works, but I probably won’t read more than these four books, so my comments will be limited to my last reading.  (It’s been a while since I read Mansfield Park and Emma…)

Every time I read these books, I discover something new about them, though whether that is due to my changing over the years, to the books’ being that nuanced, or just to my possessing a truly terrible memory, I’ll never know.

Is anyone game to join me in this fifteenth annual Jane Austen January?  Please let me know in the comments below.  (Lurking is also totally welcome.)  Discussions can take place on Twitter, if that’s convenient, and in the comments feature on this blog.  Check the side bar for my Twitter info.  Please also feel free to do your own thang with posts on your blog, if you have one.  I do this event every year, alone; this is my first attempt to bring other folk into the mix, so we’ll see how it goes.  🙂

An epic dueling review of Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture, by Sylvain Reynard

Hands down, the niftiest side effects of my starting this blog, getting on Twitter, and discovering the book blogging community are the book-related friendships I have discovered with folk in that community.  Books are meant to be discussed, and a whole bunch of book bloggers and book enthusiasts on various blogs and on Twitter have been so welcoming and gracious as I’ve chimed in on conversations that did not include me, aired opinions that are not well-formed, and, in general, acted like the quirky nut ball that I am.

Of course, I’m not the only quirky nut ball out there.  My friend Kim over at Reflections of a Book Addict reads a heck of a lot, and I’ve noticed, through reading her blog, that a.) we tend to be drawn to the same books and b.) we tend to form similar conclusions about said books.  In other words, our taste in books is uncannily similar.  We started reading some books together and discussing them on Twitter and in Goodreads, and it’s been a blast.  A while ago, Kim read Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard and asked if I would read them also.  As it turned out, our takeaway from these books differed by rather a lot.  We decided to review the books together over on Reflections of a Book Addict, and we ended up having a lot of fun putting together our dueling review.  Even if you have absolutely no interest in reading these books (and I certainly don’t recommend them), I think you might get a kick out of our discussion.

Go check it out!