After at least ten film and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, notably the renowned series of 1995, Joe Wright managed to revive interest with a successful modern remake.
In the English countryside, Mrs. Bennet dreams of marrying her five daughters. When two single young men, Mr. Bingley and his friend Mr. Darcy, become their neighbors, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet experience stormy love affairs. Elizabeth and the rich Mr. Darcy both have to cope with their pride and biases to be finally able to love.
With Pride & Prejudice, Joe Wright signs here a little masterpiece. Adapted from Jane Austen’s most famous novel, this movie can be enjoyed by the novel’s fans as well as by amateurs of historical romance. Anyone would be pleased by the old lifestyle in the English countryside, which is represented through a wide range of themes, including family, realism, society, romanticism, marriage, customs and social status.
Besides, Pride & prejudice earned many nominations and won quite a few awards, particularly thanks to the talent of the outstanding cast, with famous actors such as Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland and the lead role, Keira Knightley, who won the NYFCO (New York Film Critics, Online) award for Best Actress in 2005. Her natural and yet strong performance brings realism to the story.
The movie also exhibits bold shots whose framing quality and depth enhance the film, as, for instance, in the long shots that are used to show the different natural landscapes. This charming scenery gives an impression of peace. Furthermore, Joe Wright focuses not only on the settings, but also on the walk and talk technique with which he enriches the dialogues with lots of emotions.
Pride & Prejudice is an authentic illustration of a petty bourgeois family life during the late 18th century, which offers a glimpse of a bygone way of living through the picturesque habits of the Bennet house, including not only the family’s occupations, but also the roles of maids, farmers, etc. This allows contemporary viewers to discover a whole new world, as well as to understand how social ranks functioned at the time. This question of hierarchy is, indeed, at the heart of the marriage issue: in a century where social status was so important and where marriage was a business, the movie highlights how Elizabeth Bennet and the wealthy Mr. Darcy manage to overcome their social rank to be together. This happy ending is true to the book. Through this story, Jane Austen demonstrated that marriage should be based on love and not on social status, and that is what Joe Wright also managed to show in this film through Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy‘s characters: love should overcome all obstacles, and this regardless of the century.
The costumes and dances during ball are another reflection of art and entertainment during that century: the beautiful and elegant Empire dresses mirror the Regency fashion, while the English country dances reveal how people socialized and what the social etiquette was at the time. Also, dance choreography is lively and well-orchestrated. In fact, every lover of historical customs, beauty and elegance will be left in awe.
Pride & Prejudice grants an important place to music, and the soundtrack embellishes the film quality with its wonderful classical piano music. Indeed, during the 18th century, ladies were expected to be accomplished musicians, as we can see in the film: they sing and play the piano with skill. Working harmoniously with the pictures of the beautiful landscape and the film’s rhythm, the piano music creates a romantic atmosphere and brings a soothing feeling all along the film.
In a nutshell, the love stories of the Bennet daughters during the late 18th century offer a mythical historical romance, and this well-known remake gathered all the ingredients for a successful adaptation with a modern touch. So, Pride & Prejudice is definitely worth watching, especially if you are curious about old customs and lifestyle in the English countryside.
Pride and Prejudice (2005):
•Directed by: Joe Wright
•Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster
•Screenplay by: Deborah Moggach and Emma Thompson
•Adapted from the novel of Jane Austen
•Soundtrack by: Dario Marianelli
•Running time: 2h07
•Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet
•Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy
•Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet
•Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet