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Fun Friday–Pride & Prejudice (Part 1)

Friday, February 8, 2008

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Uh . . . do I really need to explain this one? ๐Ÿ™‚

The arrival of two handsome and eligible bachelors, Mr. Bingley (Crispin Bonham Carter) and Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), stirs romantic imaginings for the girls of the Bennet household. Jane Bennet (Susannah Harker) seemingly strikes an immediate connection, while Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) finds the path to love more tortuous. Just when it seems true and abiding matches might emerge, a family scandal threatens to ruin everything. (From the PBS Masterpiece Classics website)

If you’ve never read the book nor seen a film adaptation of it (or even if you’ve seen just the 2005 version with Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy), you’re in for a treat. Originally released in 1995, the version of Pride & Prejudice which airs in three installments over the next three Sundays marked a turning point in how A&E and the BBC put classic literature on film. (I hope that recent adaptations of Austen’s novels—especially Persuasion and Mansfield Park don’t mark another turning point!) The screenplay was adapted by Andrew Davies and includes so much of the original dialogue from the film that it’s a pleasure for someone who loves the book to just listen to it. But it’s a visual feast as well. The costumes, the sets, the locations . . . this isn’t your old amateur-theater-caught-on-film BBC production!

Now, let me talk about the elephant in the room. I can always tell someone who came to Pride & Prejudice because of this miniseries. Know how I can tell? They think Colin Firth is the be-all and end-all romantic hero and the Mr. Darcy none will ever compare to. I know I’m probably about to offend about 99.999% of all P&P lovers, but Colin Firth is not my favorite Mr. Darcy. He does a good job in the role, helped out tremendously by Andrew Davies’s fabulous script and Jane Austen’s incomparable storytelling/character development. But having read the book many times before the 1995 version aired the first time, as well has having seen the 1980 BBC/Masterpiece Theatre version starring David Rintoul many, many times before the 1995 version came out, Colin Firth doesn’t fit my visual image of Mr. Darcy.

Now that I’ve just lost most of my readers, if anyone else is still around, I thought it would be fun to look at the different actors/actresses in key roles over the years. I’ve narrowed it down to the three most well-known adaptations (1980, 1995, 2005) . . .

Miss Elizabeth Bennett. Age 21. Jane Austen’s most popular heroine. Spunky, sardonic, gives as good as she gets. Would walk three miles in the mud to check on her sick sister.

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1980: Elizabeth Garvie did a creditable job in the role, though with better costuming, script, sets, direction, cinematography, and overall filmmaking quality in the 1995 version, it’s not her fault she suffers by comparison.

1995: Jennifer Ehle, my favorite Elizabeth though she was a few years too old for the role. She played the role with both the playful nature and the maturity Jane Austen described the character as possessing.

2005: Keira Knightley. Right age; horrid actress, hate looking at her, horrible posture, terrible figure for Regency gowns, awful hair, no charisma. Have I mentioned how much I hate watching the way her mouth moves when she talks?

~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, gentleman. Age 28. Inherited an enormous estate in Derbyshire from his father. Is worth a rumored 10,000 pounds/year (about 5–600,000 in today’s currency!). Described by Jane as being a “fine, tall person” with “handsome features [and] noble mien.”

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1980: David Rintoul, my favorite Mr. Darcy. Yes, he was stiff. But David Rintoul pulls off the stiffness while making it look like it’s because he’s uncomfortable in the situation, as the introverted Darcy would have been. And David Rintoul looks really good in the Regency-cut coats and trousers! (And someone agrees with me! Here’s a tribute video of David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy.)

1995: Colin Firth, everyone else’s favorite Darcy. For me, he’s too jowly and doughy-looking to fit my mental image of Mr. Darcy, developed, as I’ve already mentioned, for many years before Colin Firth was ever cast in this role.

2005: Matthew MacFadyen, who was about the correct age, and did a wonderful job with the limited script he had. As I’ve mentioned before, during the first proposal scene, even though I knew it was wrong and totally not in the book, I was hoping he was just going to go ahead and kiss Elizabeth!

~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Charles Bingley, up & comer. Age 22–24. Income, approximately 4,000/year (about 250,000).

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1980: Osmund Bullock brought a round-cheeked, boyish charm to the role. Not nearly as silly as Bingley would be portrayed in the nextย two.ย 

1995: Crispin Bonham-Carter, third cousin of Helena Bonham-Carter (they admitted at the time to being slight acquaintences). He was an older, more mature Bingley, yet still slightly silly at times—usually allowing his sister to run roughshod over him, interrupt him, and not let him get a word in edgewise.

ย 2005: Simon Woods, the first red-headed Bingley. Totally the comic character of this adaptation. He was cute and funny and quite charming.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jane Bennett, Elizabeth’s older sister and best friend. Age 22. Quiet, reserved, always believes the best about everyone, even when presented facts to the contrary.

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1980: Sabrina Franklyn, who embodied the character of Jane quite well. Again, limited by the script, sets, filmography.

1995: Bless Susannah Harker’s heart . . . Jane Bennet is supposed to be the most beautiful of all the sisters. I have no idea what the casting director was thinking when casting Susannah Harker as Jane. Because she is definitely not the prettiest of the five girls, in fact, she’s the least attractive.

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2005: Rosamund Pike, my favorite Jane Bennet. She was the prettiest, and though she was quiet and reserved, she also showed a good sense of humor. And the proposal scene with Bingley is priceless.

Your turn now. Who do you like? Who do you think was miscast? Which version is your favorite?

Update 9/3/10: I “re-cast” all of the major roles in P&P with actors/actresses who are, in 2010, the correct ages for these characters. See my picks here.

63 Comments
  1. Friday, February 8, 2008 10:24 am

    Jowly and doughy-looking? JOWLY? DOUGHY-LOOKING? Sigh. I am appalled, truly. Now I need to read the book to figure out where you’re coming from. I love the 1995 version, and the newest version is awful, simply awful! I almost couldn’t sit through it. I didn’t realize Jennifer Ehle was that much older than the Lizzie of the book. She’s someone you don’t see much of anymore.

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    • Tuesday, April 12, 2011 12:02 pm

      I agree 100%, i couldn’t sit through the newest one either, a disgrace to Jane Austen!

      Like

  2. Friday, February 8, 2008 1:01 pm

    I’ve never seen any of the versions of P & P but I did just read the novel last September for the first time…my friend has only bugged me too forever. It’s her all time favorite book and I have to say the opening line is a great one ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. Saturday, February 9, 2008 1:01 am

    Hi guys, great post! I just wanted to say that Jennifer Ehle was only 24 when they made P&P. If you’re interested in her recent activities, we have all of the news at http://www.jenniferehle.blogspot.com. Two weeks ago she appeared opposite Amber Tamblyn in a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie called The Russell Girl. And last June she won a second Tony Award for Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia. At the blog, there’s also a fabulous interview in which JE answered over a hundred questions submitted by fans. Check it out!

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  4. Saturday, February 9, 2008 11:19 pm

    “For me, heโ€™s too jowly and doughy-looking to fit my mental image of Mr. Darcy, developed, as Iโ€™ve already mentioned, for many years before Colin Firth was ever cast in this role.”

    JOWLY and DOUGHY-LOOKING?! What the HECK?!?! Were you ill when you posted this, Kaye? Out of your mind with a 107-degree fever??? That’s the only possible explanation I can come up with for describing the inimitable Colin Firth with those two adjectives. ๐Ÿ˜›

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  5. Saturday, February 9, 2008 11:22 pm

    My darling girl, I could have used a few other select adjectives, but I did not want to offend any of my dear readers’ sensibilities. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Tuesday, February 12, 2008 12:08 am

    Ha, you have a great sense of humor, Kaye. Jowly? Wish the men in my life would have a similar affliction. I agree that David Rintoul is the handsomest of the 3 Darcies, but Colin wins my heart. Matthew smolders in the “Rain Scene,” where he asks Lizzy to marry him. Goodness, but I felt myself leaning over when he gazed at Keira’s mouth, wanting him to kiss me!

    I find it interesting that none of the screen Jane Bennet’s are prettier than the Lizzys (I know, I know. You don’t think Keira is beautiful.) In my book the only Jane who was prettier than Lizzy was Maureen O’Sullivan in P&P 1940. Long- in-the-tooth Greer Garson was more suited to playing Mrs. Bennet than Lizzy!

    I loved this post on P&P, and reading your opinion.

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  7. Tuesday, February 12, 2008 12:34 am

    I dunno—I think Sabrina Franklyn is prettier than Elizabeth Garvie (1980 verson).

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  8. Milorra permalink
    Monday, February 18, 2008 12:56 am

    Here is my P&P history. Borrowed the 2005 movie from the library, knowing absolutely nothing about P&P, then bought it. Next, I bought the 1995 miniseries, then I read the book twice, lastly I bought the 1980 miniseries. Obsessed you say? Maybe, but it’s a sweet obsession! Here are my comments.

    Mr. Darcy
    I think Matthew was excellent. He was every bit as haughty as the other Darcy’s at the start, but his reformation occurred faster (maybe due to the movie’s time constraints). I also loved how you could read so much in his looks at Lizzie. When I first saw Colin’s Mr. Darcy, I thought he was “harder to read” but after subsequent viewings, I saw much more–his facial expressions are more subtle than Matthews. They both did an amazing job, but if I have to choose a favorite, it is Colin. As for David’s Rintoul’s Mr. Darcy–he was disgusting! I didn’t find him handsome at all; he has little beady eyes, two deeply set in his head. And he was so overly haughty throughout that when he declared his feelings for Lizzie, it seemed completely unbelievable. I further didn’t believe that he had changed during the course of the story. He was over-the-top repulsive in manner to me at the beginning, middle, and end.

    Lizzie
    Keira was good, but not great. Elizabeth Garvy to me was uninspired, maybe because I compare her to Jennifer Ehle, who to me really nailed the character–her facial expressions, the arched eyebrows, twinkling eyes, everything! And she didn’t seem too old, either (Lizzie was 20 in the book and Jennifer was 24 when she made it).

    Jane
    The 1980 Jane to me was NO great beauty–too tall, too skinny, too long a chin. The 1995 Jane was actually UNattractive, face and body. The 2005 Jane was the only true beauty and I loved her. The casting director really got it right with her.

    Mr. Bennet
    Donald Sutherland gave a less-witty, but more touching performance. The 1995 actor was more wryly witty. They were both good. However, the 1980 portrayal was terrible–more nasty than witty–a man who seemed to hate his wife and most of his family, too. I didn’t even feel his closeness to Lizzie, which the other two Mr. Bennet’s showed.

    Overall
    The 2005 movie was good, but I wish it could have been another 1/2 hour longer. It seemed rushed and I wanted more.
    The 1995 version is my absolute favorite, all things considered.
    The 1980 version was so bad that it was actually painful to watch. I felt no affection for it’s Lizzie or Darcy, which ruined it for me. I’ll never watch the 1980 version again–but I watch the 1995 and 2005 versions often.

    Like

    • Tom permalink
      Friday, March 5, 2010 11:18 pm

      I share your thoughts. I viewed the 1980 version and thought it too insignificant to include in my previous comments, but my sentiments concur.

      Like

      • Marcia permalink
        Saturday, February 19, 2011 12:08 am

        Tonight I happen to be watching episode 3 of the 1980 version, and will turn on episode 4 in amoment. I have not counted, but I believe I may have seen this series at least 30 times (OR MORE). Love it. See something new each time, to make me appreciate the actors even more. You have to watch David Rintoul’s facial expressions very closely (he is good, but Colin is my favorite). Also enjoy the other versions, for various reasons – and have seen them all NUMEROUS times. Watch them to relax.

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  9. Justine permalink
    Sunday, February 24, 2008 8:48 am

    I have to admit i am one of those fans totally in love with Colin firth. I love him and feel he is the better darcy not just because i find him astoundingly attractive but after reading the book i feel he captured Darcy best. He portrayed the stiff dracy from the start just as well as the altered Darcy of later on.

    As for Susannah Harkerโ€™s portrayal or Jane bennet. I agree that she was nowhere near attractive enough for the role but her presence and acting more than made up for it. I believe she has the perfect Jane bennet temprememt.

    I must say that all 1995 BBC actors are my favourites and the mini series itself is my favourite.

    I have yet to watch all of the 1980 BBC version as i could only get one episode in due because the stiffness of David Rintoul irritated me to tears. He was so stiff to the point that he couldn’t mave his head without his whole body moving with it. The no neck mobility was almost comical.

    And the less said about the 2005 movie the better. I saw it at the movies and hated in and when it was on tv last week i had to turn it off. It was wrong in almost every way. The dialogue was not right, costuming seemed too yearly for the period, you could tell the actors were acting, They eliminated crutial plot points and made up things that never happened. I know its very romantic in thepry but DARCY AND ELIZABETH DON”T KISS!!!

    As an avid historian i’m one who vales perfect things being kept as perfect as they are and not changed just for hollywood glamour.

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  10. Sunday, March 9, 2008 9:51 am

    Oh, Kaye, how could I have forgotten to include YOUR assessment of the various Darcies and Lizzies in my recent post about P&P? The mistake has been rectified, although belatedly.

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  11. Katie permalink
    Thursday, August 7, 2008 10:23 pm

    I’m going to definitely have to agree with you on thinking Jennifer Ehle as the best Lizzie. I liked Elizabeth Garvie but there was just something about the character that Jennifer was able to capture that Elizabeth was not… And as for Keira Knightley, I like her normally but I did not thing she was a good Lizzie at all. She did not fit the period at all and was nothing like Lizzie was described in the book… or at least nothing I imagined her to be like.

    For the Darcy’s, I’m going to have to disagree… While I really did like David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy (I only saw the 1980 version for the first time today…) I still think that Colin Firth is the best. There was great chemistry between Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle which definitely adds to both characters. While I did sort of like Matthew MacFadyen, he was nothing like I imagined Darcy, but since I’m open to different interpretations I did like his version (not Keira Knightley’s though…).

    As for Bingley, I’m going to (again) go with my trusty 1995 pick Crispin Bonham-Carter as my favorite (I think it hit all the characters spot on). Osmund Bullock of 1980 in second and the very funny version (which I really did enjoy, even if it’s a little too silly for Bingley) by Simon Woods in third.

    Jane…. Oh Jane… Sabrina Franklyn was a good Jane. I always imagined Jane blonde (I’m not sure why… it could be because of 1995 and 2005) but I liked her. She was definitely the pretty Jane who thinks well of everyone. Although no one seems to like her as Jane, I really enjoyed Susannah Harker’s portrayal of Jane… She’s not a modern beauty like Rosamund Pike (worst Jane in my opinion look-wise, though her acting was good), but I think in their day, she would’ve been the one looked at as beautiful. The “ideal beauty” is always changing depending on the generation. What we consider beautiful today might not be in a hundred years. But anyway, I really liked her as Jane for some reason. I liked all three though, there was no really bad Jane…

    Why did they choose Brenda Blethyn for Mrs. Bennet in 2005?? I though Alison Steadman (1995) did a fantastic job (as did Priscilla Morgan in 1980) but that’s just me…

    There’s loads more characters that I could go on and on about…. But I think I’ll stop there (and try not to bore you all) hehe =)

    Like

  12. Cristina permalink
    Tuesday, August 19, 2008 7:09 am

    Hi,

    As P&P is my favourite movie (2005 and 1995) I thought I’d give you my opinion.
    I didn’t have the occasion to see the 1980 version, but I loved the other two. I’ve read the bood and it’s also wonderfull.
    So…my favourite Mr. Darcy is Mathew (simply loved him, his looks and his expression, the way he looked as Lizzie’s mouth with the desire to kiss her makes you feel so disapointed that he didn’t. I also liked Colin very much, but Mathew is definately my favourite!
    Elizabeth Bennet…loved both of them. Much more beautifull and sweet Ehle than Keyra, but I think they both suite best with their partners in the movie.

    Loved Jane in 2005. She’s definately the best for the part. So sweet and beautifull and mercyfull and kind.

    Like

  13. Thursday, September 18, 2008 10:29 pm

    Hey y’all. I was just snoopin around for P&P pics of Jennifer Ehle (the REAL Elizabeth Bennet IMO ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) when I stumbled upon this sight. So I thought I might as well leave my 2 cents.

    For Mr. Darcy I’m torn between Colin and Mathew. both were excellent! but as Cristina said ^ they both suit their partners very well.

    As I stated above Jennifer IS Elizabeth! and I agree 100% with what was said about Keira Knightly up top! It’s very refreshing to finally find someone (outside of family) who agrees with me! everybody I know is obsessed with the 2005 version (pardon me while I hurl).

    as for Janes: I haven’t seen the 2005 version recently, so I don’t quite recall Jane all that well. But I really did like Sussanah. She was really sweet. And I have to agree with Katie – I think Sussanah (as Jane of course) would have been considered the most beautiful of the five. A more . . . elegant . . . beauty, if you will.

    Mr Bingley: as I said before I haven’t seen the 2005 version lately, so my memory is ๐Ÿ˜› at the moment. but I really did like Carter’s portrayol (you can see I lean towards the 1995 version, no?)

    as for other characters – almost always you’ll hear me say the 1995 version. espec. for Lydia and Mr. Bennet. both the other “Lydias” make me gag! the 1980’s Lydia couldn’t act!! and the 2005 was just a shallow drip! and in the 2005 version Lydia and kitty appeared to be the SAME character! No variation whatsoever!

    finally I think my biggest pet peeve of all about the 2005 version (though it may change if I get to see it more recently) is the fact that DARCY AND ELIZABETH KISSED BEFORE THEY WERE MARRIED AND IN THEIR NIGHTGOWNS NO LESS!! Excuuuuse me! I think Jane Austen would’ve had a heart attack or seizure right then and there if she could have watched it.

    well maybe that was more than 2 cents xD – but I’ll shut up now.

    Like

  14. Thursday, September 18, 2008 10:39 pm

    *sigh* no I’m sorry I have to take one thing back. I’ve resolved Colin Firth is my favorite Mr. Darcy – once and for all (or until a better one comes along, but I doubt it). He was so compassionate and heart-winning at the end that I was holding my breath when he proposed the second time!

    (sorry bout the double post ๐Ÿ˜› )

    Like

  15. thia permalink
    Monday, September 29, 2008 10:01 pm

    to Hannah –
    at the end – they WERE married then. remember Austen summarized the first year or two of their marriage in the book, without going into detail. Note they were at Pemberley, and he called her Mrs. Darcy, especially wonderfully I might add, as if he was convincing himself that he really wasn’t dreaming, Matthew is my favorite. I thought Jennifer had too much makeup to be real. Liked Keira – her script had some rougher language, but remember, Austen’s dialogue would have been considered rude (“impertintnent” they called it) back in the day. the costuming in the 2005 was more earthy and perhaps more realistic if you understand the various fashion changes going on at that time. I wish they had done some things differently, too, but all in all, it was only 2 hours, and the changes, I thought, helped toperserve the overall tone of the book, with all of its emotions and surprises.

    Like

  16. Saturday, October 25, 2008 3:28 pm

    95 P&P is the best version, with the best cast. 50s with Lawrence Oliver & Geer Garson is second, 80s is horrible and 2005 is too short! I don’t hate Keira, she is great in Pirate of the Carribean, but she is the worst Elizabeth Bennet (why was she even considered let alone cast?????). Mathew did an admirable job, but opposite Keira just killed it. Rosamund is the best Jane Bennet, if only her screen time wasn’t so short, she really could rival Susannah who isn’t as beautiful. Have you guys seen Lost in Austen yet? Gemme Arterton should have played Elizabeth Bennet for P&P 2005 version as well! And Mrs Bennet in here is my first choice, and too be honest though the story is twisted, I really like most of the cast here as well, possibly even better than the 2005.

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  17. Wednesday, January 7, 2009 1:49 pm

    Susannah harker was a terrible choice for Jane! And Keira Knightly was so awful too, gemma Aterton would have been better, she really suited the role in Lost in Austen. As to Colin Firsth being too ‘doughy-looking’, Matthew was much worse – I couldn’t see past his chubby cheeks! The only thing right with the 2005 film was Rosamund Pike as Jane. The 1995 version is the best!

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  18. Monday, January 26, 2009 9:54 pm

    How can anyone compare Colin Firth to Matthew McFayden? Matthew’s the bestest Darcy, hands down.

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  19. seba med permalink
    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:10 pm

    Love P&J-my favorite book off all times.
    David Rintoul is my favorite Mr. Darcy, however it was a pleasent surprise to see Matthew MacFadyen performing the role. I have seen all 3 versions about 100 times. The story just makes me feel good.

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  20. Franzi permalink
    Monday, February 2, 2009 4:08 pm

    I love Matthew and Keira! Although I also think, Keira is too thin…

    But in my opinion they did the best job…. and also rosamund pike was the real best Jane Bennet!!! She was (and still is) the most beautiful Jane ever!

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  21. Ann-Margret permalink
    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 6:03 pm

    I agree that David Rintoul made the best Mr. Darcy! I just watched the 1980 version for the first time this week. I watched these three P&P movies in reverse order and, as much as I love Colin Firth, thought he was the least attractive and convincing Mr. Darcy. Sorry, other ladies! ๐Ÿ™‚

    David Rintoul was infuriating at times with his lack of expression, but, yes, you could tell he was just uncomfortable and unsure of how to behave at times. There was a warmth to his eyes when he admired Elizabeth, though, which I thought was really special.

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  22. Tuesday, March 24, 2009 6:18 pm

    I’m so glad someone finally agrees with me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  23. Ann-Margret permalink
    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:25 pm

    Oh, I should add comments about the other characters mentioned…

    Favourite Jane: 2005 movie – Rosamund Pike was BRILLIANT!

    Favourite Bingley: 1980 movie in terms of being true to the character in the book… but I ADORED Simon Woods in the role!

    Favourite Elizabeth: Truthfully? I don’t think any of the three really nailed Lizzie (for me, anyway) — but what a difficult character to play (just as Jane Eyre is). Keira Knightly is one of my least favourite actresses but there were some scenes that she was great in. I liked Elizabeth Garvie but she lacked a certain spark. I’m sure Jennifer Ehle was probably the best Lizzie but… I’m sorry… I don’t like her. Just a personal chemistry thing maybe! ๐Ÿ˜€

    As for the parents, all three actresses who played Mrs. Bennett were terribly annoying, but I found Brenda Blethyn was at least the most entertaining. Benjamin Withrow (1995) was definitely the best Mr. Bennett and even looked how I would imagine Mr. Bennett. Donald Sutherland was not convincing at all and, though I thought Moray Watson was a great actor, I agree with someone else’s comment that he was a bit too mean. At least Sutherland showed warmth toward his daughters.

    Ahh… I’ve had my P&P discussion fix for today. ๐Ÿ˜€ Great post and comments! I plan to poke around and see what else you’ve got here.

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  24. SerenaCH permalink
    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:07 pm

    I actually like both Darcy in 1980 version and 1995 version. ( Am I too greedy?)
    David Rintoul is a literal interpretation of Darcy, (I really like his portrait in Pemberly. And the “warmth of his eyes” is especially precious considering how rare it is conveyed.) Colin Firth elaborated all the implied meaning of Darcy, a pleasant surprise. Every thing about him is delicate and beautiful, even the posture in writing letters seems to be carefully shot from the most beautiful angle. Alas, if only the end could be longer!
    The only reason that I will watch the 2005 version would be for Jane( Neither of 1980 or 1995 fits my mental image of Jane).
    The two added together will be close to my ideal of perfection of the adaption.

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  25. Rachel permalink
    Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:26 pm

    OMG! The 1995 version is the best no contest. Colin is and always will be my Mr. Darcy and Jennifer is completely charming as Lizzy. Plus, the costume and production design are spot on accurate and absolutely beautiful. I am a costume designer and am teaching Empire/Regency in costume history tomorrow morning and will definitely be showing the 1995 version to my students as an example of gorgeous period accurate clothes.

    I just watched 10 minutes of the 1980 version and had to stop it. It’s awful. I love Jane Austen, but couldn’t tolerate it.

    The 2005 has small positives, but on the whole was disappointing. I thought that Donald Sutherland was a fantastic Mr. Bennett, he really tapped into a father’s heart and his love for his daughters. Rosamund is certainly the prettiest of all the Janes and did reasonably good job. I despise Keira Knightly in most films and most of all in this one. I cannot watch her pout for two hours, and thank you to the person who said the thing about the way she moves her mouth, I’ve always thought that. Matthew is fine and gets better as the film goes, but can’t hold a candle to Colin Firth. Most of all, I HATE the clothes in this version. They are so inaccurate and painful to watch. P&P was written in the 1790s, but published fifteen years later. The designer decided to mix the periods, but also created the oddest silhouette for the Bennett girls that didn’t actually exist (they are far too low waisted). And also just because the Bennetts aren’t wealthy it does not mean that they should look like a hot mess, the girls are always rumpled and greasy, wild haired. Ewww. The two worst things in the movie: 1. Keira’s wig (worst wig in a movie I’ve seen in my life) 2. Weird spaghetti strap dress Miss Bingley wears to the Netherfield Ball. Spaghetti straps did not occur for another 150 years. It looked like a prom dress. Absolutely ridiculous and inexcusable.

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  26. Thursday, March 26, 2009 11:36 pm

    Rachel, thank you for confirming my suspicion about the spaghetti-strapped dress! While I’ve done a great deal of study of the period, my costume study has been more about naval officers’ uniforms (which is what Col. Fitzwilliam is wearing in the 2005 version, not an Army uniform!).

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  27. Ann-Margret permalink
    Friday, March 27, 2009 9:55 am

    I know I said I wasn’t crazy about Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy but I have to admit that if there is any actor who moves with incredible grace, it’s him. Every time I see him in a movie, I can’t help but watch his shoulders and back as he walks… or even just sits! He has perfect posture without being at all stiff about it.

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  28. eammg permalink
    Wednesday, April 8, 2009 9:23 pm

    I just wanted to chime in to defend the 2005 version. Perhaps because I had only seen snippets of the 1995 (although, now after hearing all the fuss, I feel compelled to find it and watch it from start to finish), but I found the 2005 version to be charming and romantic and sweet. I LOVED Matthew as Darcy . . . and like one of the other posters, I could not care less if it was improper, I REALLY wanted him to kiss Lizzy in the rain (or me, if he could have figured a way to do that! lol). And I like Keira as Elizabeth.

    What I think is sometimes missed by diehard Austen fans is that a movie doesn’t have to be verbatim identical to the text to do it justice. What I loved about the 2005 version is that it captured the feeling of the book and, I think, inspired many people who have never been exposed to the original to perhaps go and pick up a copy of the book and discover for themselves the brilliance of Jane Austen.

    So many of them will not know that the costumes are wrong or that the Bennetts should have been portrayed as having more money. Elizabeth was NOT of the same station as Darcy, and while that would have been obvious to those who lived in that period and were more well versed in the subtleties of rank and station, that crucial point would have been lost on many of the audience of today’s world – thus the greater visual distinction in the film drove the point home without verbal explanation (ya gotta love the pig for emphasis!). That is not necessarily a bad thing, again, if you can think of it as it inspired a new audience to fall in love with the work of Jane Austen!

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in for a defense of one of my favorite movies and on-screen couples! Thanks for an entertaining read!

    Like

  29. Franzi permalink
    Sunday, April 19, 2009 4:39 am

    Thank you, eammg! I just have the same opinion towards the 2005-version!

    And I think it the film was not nominated for 4 oscars without a reason!

    I also have to say that I LOVE(D) the music! I nearly had to cry! xD

    Like

    • AG64 permalink
      Saturday, July 25, 2009 9:12 pm

      The music in the 2005 version was the best music i’v ever heard in a movie. Every time I watch it I almost cry, because it’s so gorgeous. The 2005 version was the first one I saw so i’m still partial to it. I think Keira Knightley did a good job, and portrayed Lizzy’s stubborn side beautifully, and she has a a harsh looking face but at the same time it’s still soft and pretty.

      Like

  30. Morgaine LeFay permalink
    Sunday, April 26, 2009 1:27 pm

    Though I hardly ever post to any sites, I felt compelled to answer your questions regarding one of Austin’s more well written works. Although Jane Eyre ranks equally in my opinion.

    The best Mr. Darcy was David Rintoul, he portrayed a accurate example of how society worked at the time. Excesses of emotion were not well thought of and were in very bad taste. In some ways that British reserve is still very much in place. I speak on this with a certain degree of knowledge as the third daughter of an English mother. Tact, decorum, and silence were not just words but ways of life. Sorry to all the ladies who are so avidly in love with Mr. Firth, but I agree with the “jowls” comment. The man reminds me of a basset hound that we once had. As to the comment on the “stiffness” which Mr. Rintoul used in his movements, I found it refreshing to not have to watch yet another man slouch his way through representing Mr. Darcy, whom would have had impeccable posture. Also, ladies, if you have never been in the presence of man wearing Regency trousers, let me assure you that slouching is not a good idea. To answer the question that I am quite sure many just posed, yes, I have been around Regency garb in the form of an annual Masque that requires just such apparel.

    Good day and may all be well.

    Like

  31. Thursday, May 7, 2009 3:31 am

    Hi
    I have only watched the 1995 and the 2005 version of P&P. And i loved both Mr. Darcys but i beleive that Colin is more natural and Mathew is handsome. i thought he never smiles but he showed an immense different in the Pemberly scene where he is so happy with his sister and where Eliza sees a different person. there i think he made justice to the novel. please forgive me for saying but i think in this scene Mathew was better job compared to Colin but basically i beleive they both played their part well only the 2005 version was a rush so there wasn’t much opportunityI guess.
    i enjoyed both (Elizabeth) characters. but Jennifer Ehle was the best. she and Colin had a chemistry and it is so romantic when they are together. but i didn’t see much chemistry between Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen except the first proposal scene ;-). but it is so wrong. anyway it was was romantic.
    And like everyone else i to prefer Rosamund Pike as the best Jane. but as i have mentioned before the film was a rush there was nothing much to see in her. i wish it was longer therefore it would have given justice to all the characters.

    Like

  32. avegirl permalink
    Tuesday, May 12, 2009 3:57 pm

    Oooo – – somewhere to really talk about this! I got hooked on Little Dorrit, researched Matthew, re-rented the movie, re-read the book, and then watched the PBS and am now prowling around the web.
    In defence of the 2005 movie . . . it had to play on the big screen. Sorry, but it had to appeal to a much wider audience then just the Austin-ites, so some predictable adjustments had to be made. Any adaption, unless you’re going to be Peter Jackson and make 3 3 hr + movies, is going to be rushed, but I think the 2005 did a creditable job of including what it could and capturing the heart of the story.
    As for casting . . . I thought Matthew was, simply put, stunning. (haven’t seen the 1980). I found him much more pleasing on the eyes (then Colin), moved fabulously, and much more sympathetic in his struggle. By the end, you truly felt his exhale of happiness at having overcome his “prejudice” and given in fully to his emotion . . . I never felt that from Colin, just a much more reserved peace; and as a comment above mentioned, Matthew did a wonderful job at shifting demeanor once at his own estate. And while the end is a bit techo-color disney, it’s meant to provide a breif glimpse into what is not detailed at the end of the book. And, yes, they most certainly are married.
    Kiera I could take or leave, but she is awfully skinny and some of her smiles are rather grating. I did think, though, that she captured the spirit of Lizzie. I thought Jennifer a little too reserved. And Jane is lovely and sweet and everything she should be. I was bothered that Col. Fitzwilliam wasn’t the least bit attractive, but I suppose it was so the movie didn’t have to deal with that added piece.

    Like

  33. Heather permalink
    Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:05 pm

    I LOVE you!
    I’m also a huuuuuuuge fan of David Rintoul of Darcy, and for me he /is/ Darcy as no one else can be.
    You didn’t lose me as a reader, you gained my undying admiration. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I haven’t seen the latest Pride and Prejudice, and steadfastly refuse to do so.
    For my own part, everything about the first one is the best for me. Even if the costumes and such are a bit limited, the acting, the casting, etc.
    I suffered through the Colin Firth vehicle, and then ran back home to my good old little town library to rent my true Pride and Prejudice.
    Okay, so I’m biased by watching the first one for years. I admit it. But when I see an actor a lot in modern movies, and get used to their walk (Colin Firth has a very distinctive walk, and while I find it hot, it’s not Darcy, at least not Fitzwilliam Darcy. It works great for Mark Darcy, though), they’re not as believable to me in a period piece. Well.. anyway, I have babbled long enough.
    I was just way to excited to see a fan who appreciated David Rintoul as I do.

    Like

  34. Arianna Hoffman permalink
    Thursday, May 14, 2009 6:10 pm

    I own all three versions of P&P, and my favorite Darcy and the most accurate with the book is David Rintoul. Colin Firth on the other hand was the most sexy. I did not like Jennifer Ehle or Elizabeth Garvie.
    For some reason I found them both to plain. Crispin Bonham-Carter I taught did a great job playing Mr. Bingley, and Rosamund Pike was the best Jane Bennet. I agree with you about Susannah Harker, her neck was so masculine and her figure was not delicate. Very unattractive. As far as the last version in 2005, THAT WAS A JOKE. Keira Knightley was HORRIBLE, her hair and her clothing where so far away from that CLEAN and ROMANTIC image of a period movie that takes away all the charm of P&P.

    Like

  35. Thursday, June 18, 2009 5:01 pm

    I totally agree with almost all of what you said. I have to say, however, that Colin Firth did grow on me and by the end i found him to be adorable, despite the fact that he is not a chiseled noble-looking man.
    What about Laurence Olivier’s Darcy? Yes, the silver screen adaptation was silly but he surely had the look.
    Also– you’re right–Kiera Knightly pretty mush ruined the 2005 version for me. In fact I could barely appreciate the cinematography or even notice Darcy with her in the room–for all the same reasons you gave. Ugh!! It took subsequent viewings to realize that Matthew MacFadyen actually had a sensitive and interesting interpretation of Darcy. I believe he would have really shone if not hindered by the flimsy, watered down script and appalling toothy costar. He is a gorgeous man–after awhile. (= Totally worth following his other works.
    So who would play the main roles in your dream cast??

    Like

  36. Friday, June 19, 2009 3:28 pm

    I mostly agree with you, but I prefer Sabina Franklyn. And, to me, David Rintoul epitomizes Darcy, even though I didn’t see that adaptation until after the A&E version. Perhaps the production values were not as great, but it was, over all, a more faithful script. (Ever notice how when men get involved with the script, they always have to flesh out the male roles?) The only part of the script that really stuck out like a sore thumb was omitting Charlotte’s father and sister from the visit to Hunsford. There were some telling scenes left out, but that’s the way it goes.
    Although Jennifer Ehle appears very Elizabeth-like, I still prefer Elizabeth Garvie. For one thing, she’s younger, and seems more likely to make the mistakes about character that Elizabeth makes, whereas Ehle appears a bit too mature for that.

    Like

  37. Sarah permalink
    Monday, June 22, 2009 11:30 pm

    have never seen the 1980 version. Jennifer Ehle was my favourite of the Elizabeths–but I do not share your outright disdain for Knightley; I thought she did quite well in the role, but didn’t twinkle like Ehle.

    By FAR, my favourite Darcy was McFadyn. He was detached and cold when Darcy would be, but when he connected with Elizabeth, it was so extremely intimate and…well, I didn’t think a person could express that much emotion through a glance, a body gesture, a stare! My goodness, the first time you see him…wow. Commanding.
    It’s not that there was anything wrong with Firth, though.

    However, I believe each Elizabth and Darcy was partnered up perfectly–I don’t know if McFadyn and Ehle would have the same chemistry together they have with Firth and Knightley (Kiera completly surprised me by commanding the camera in the rain the same way McFadyn does; Colin also twinkles like Ehle on occation)

    Excuse me, but the point I MUST disagree upon is Sabrina Franklyn: HOW is she not pretty?! I loved both Janes and could never choose.

    Like

  38. Sarah permalink
    Monday, June 22, 2009 11:33 pm

    Oh! I meant Suzanah Harker–not Sabrina.

    Like

  39. chrissy permalink
    Saturday, July 18, 2009 4:42 am

    I adored David Rintoul as Darcy. Still do. I agree that he fit the regency gentleman of note and standing perfectly. Incidentally it has been purported that Austen’s Darcy was Aspergia syndrome, works for me, I’ve read P&P lots of times and he’s definately uncomfortable in social situations.
    Colin Firth was OK, but he looked bored.
    Loved Elizabeth Garvie, she delivered the role with just the right degree of irony.

    Like

  40. Elizabeth permalink
    Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:52 pm

    I just want to say that I agree with you about David Rintoul – he is my favorite Darcy. So, you are not alone! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  41. Amber permalink
    Monday, August 31, 2009 1:39 pm

    YAY!!!! Someone else who understands…DAVID RITINOUL is Darcy, hands down, Darcy…everyone else…pretenders to the throne ๐Ÿ™‚

    Like

  42. Terry permalink
    Wednesday, September 2, 2009 1:51 pm

    I love the 1980 version because it stayed closest to the book. I thought that everyone who acted in it did a great job of accurately portraying their characters and their costumer did a very good job too. I own this version and watch it frequently. I saw the 1995 version once and was very disgusted that the maker of the film decided to add in the bedroom scene in London between Lydia and Wickham, which was certainly never written about in the book. Why on earth did they throw that ugliness in, as well as Wickham with a maid? It was thoroughly pointless, his lack of character was previously well established with his gambling debts and unpaid bills, as well as his attempt to marry Miss King.

    I’m not bothering with the newest version. When I need another dose of Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, Bingley, Charlotte with her odious Mr. Collins, the Gardiners, the Bennets and all the rest of the people Jane Austen wrote about, I get my book or 1980 version on DVD and am perfectly contented.

    I also must add that while I have favorites among the actors and actresses, I’ll keep any criticisms to myself. This is a public forum and I’d feel terrible to think that any of the actors or actresses might come here and have their feelings hurt.

    It’s nice to know that there are so many Jane Austen fans out there.

    Like

    • L.K. Blizzard permalink
      Sunday, September 20, 2009 4:28 pm

      This was an interesting read. I have not seen any of the P&Ps but the 2005. I am inspired to see them all. I have become a Matthew MacFayden fan after having seen Little Dorrit as AVEGIRL mentioned. As a matter of fact, I found this site while researching him. I agree w/ others about the near kiss in the rain…wish it was me.
      I think Matthew MacFayden was an excellent Mr. Darcy. He is an excellent actor.
      I like Firth very much, however, in other movies. He was great in Bridget Jones!
      I liked Kiera Knightly’s “Lizzie.” I don’t believe she was shaping her mouth in a way to annoy anyone on purpose. I believe that is just the shape of her mouth.
      I especially liked Rosamond Pike’s “Jane” as well. Her shy smile & quiet ways were very becomming a lady.
      And Simon Wood’s Bingley was the perfect gentleman for Jane.

      Like

  43. Friday, December 4, 2009 8:58 pm

    My favorite Lizzy is Jennifer Ehle. Mr. Darcy would be neither, Matthew Macfayden is one of my favorite actors but his portrayal of Mr. Darcy isn’t how I imagine him. David Rintoul is the closest.

    Crispin Bonham-Carter is my favorite Bingley and my favorite Jane is Susannah Harker. She has much of the classical beauty that would have been admired during the regency era.

    Like

  44. Tara permalink
    Sunday, January 10, 2010 12:44 am

    First off, in the book, it definitely says jane is 23 (Lydia mention’s Janes ages and jokes about her becoming an old maid. And Elizabeth is only 20! In the book, when talking to Lady Catherine, she states that she is “not (yet) one and twenty”.

    Secondly, Keira Knightley was by far the best Elizabeth! Remember, Lizzie has a “light and pleasing figure”, not a full, pudgy one, and comes of as more wild and doesnt care quite as much about her looks as her sisters. Keira Knightley also has the perfect fiesty attitude!

    I mean, Jennifer did a good job with the “fine” expressive eyes but, shes so old. She a little too…passive in my opinion.

    Like

  45. Mark Edward permalink
    Wednesday, February 3, 2010 9:52 am

    Wow, I can not disagree more about Keira Knightley.
    Yes, Knightley is just a pop culture queen but her performance in P&P stands on it’s own. The scene at the public dance where she sees Darcy for the first time, Knightley’s eyes express more in an instant than Jennifer Ehle did in an entire film. Knightley keeps it up throughout the film, nailing the emotions with her eyes. The only other actors in the film that could stand their ground next to her were Sutherland, Pike and Hollander (ok, and Dench).
    I suppose that being a knuckle dragging testosterone driven American male disqualifies me from having a valid opinion here as I was apparently the target audience for Knightley (yes, my insecurity not yours), but I was completely blown away by her performance. Objective achieved. +1 Knightley.

    Like

  46. Wednesday, February 17, 2010 1:21 am

    I just saw the 1995 and 2005 versions and am so glad I found your post!!!

    Call me shallow, but Harker as Jane almost ruined the 1995 version for me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    I have these ideas in my head about what the characters should look like and I had imagined Jane looking a little like Kate Moss and a little like Lily Donaldson (my favorite British models!). Anyways, I googled Harker and she’s actually quite pretty! It’s just that the period hairstyles and fashions were VERY unflattering on her. I couldn’t get over the way her neck and head looked during the movie. Her head seemed too small for her neck which looked too big on her body.
    Anywhoo, my ideal Jane has yet to be found :-\

    Like

  47. Tom permalink
    Saturday, February 20, 2010 11:53 pm

    I first came to Jane Austen like many others; as a latecomer to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice. It was on television one evening as I flipped through the channels. I stopped and adored every scene, notwithstanding the rude commercial interruptions. It was the most beautiful film I had even seen, so I purchased the DVD, and watched it repeatedly. I fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett more and more every time I watched. My male sentiments were matched only by the civil pleasures I had long acquired from my adoration of Shakespeare, Marlowe, and the classics. I was aware of Jane Austen, but I had never ventured to explore her romanticism. I missed it.

    I read the book and loved it. I acquired the 1995 BBC series, and I soon learned that Jane Austen had founded and inspired something equally beautiful a decade before. So who are my favorites?

    I fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett as I fell in love with Keira Knightly, but I must admit that Jennifer Ehle fulfilled my desires more completely. Perhaps love is blind, and I cannot find fault in either, but I must give my heart to Jennifer Ehle, if only because she had more time to give, and she filled every moment with perfection.

    My sentiments are similar for our most fortunate Mister Darcy. Matthew Mcfayden was flawless, and added imeasureable dimensions to the part in record time. He is truly a prodigy, but who can underestimate Colin Firth? Forget the wet t-shirt. Who can forget the simple passion when he was first rejected?

    Judging Mister Bingley is tougher. I felt as if they both could have been played better, but I give the knod to Simon Woods (2005), perhaps because I was less distracted by his effort. We cannot forget that the role of supporting players is best served by those who make themselves invisible. They do more justice if they tell the story without imposing. For a different reason, I worship Anna Chancelor as Miss Bingley. Even if I am a rogue admirer, I am compelled to say that I thought she played the part with perfection, plus more. I was distracted by Anna Chancellor because she played her role with invisibilty, plus a whole lot more.

    I love Jane. I can only say that Jane was played well by Rosamund Pike. She is ethereally beautiful, but I would not tolerate any criticism of Susannah Harker. I’m certain she knew Jane even better.

    Like

  48. Tom permalink
    Sunday, April 4, 2010 12:23 am

    I always wonder why I am the last. It has been quite long, nad surely my words are not so conclusive. Please, somebody speak.

    Like

    • Jenn permalink
      Sunday, August 29, 2010 12:29 pm

      Watching the 2005 version is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea. I remember sitting in the theater and just exhaling with delight as that gorgeous score quietly set the tone for the whole movie. It’s an absolutely gorgeous film, and I really agree with the poster who said that it captures the feeling of P&P the best, irregardless of the costuming gaffes. I listen to that woefully short soundtrack over and over…always wishing for more!

      No, Keira Knightley isn’t the best looking Lizzie…but I loved her fiery interpretation. Her exasperation at the whole scenario with Jane and Bingley was pitch-perfect. Rosamund Pike was the PERFECT Jane! She’s absolutely classic beauty, and the shy reserve and quiet demeanor was captured perfectly! I love, love the Colin Firth miniseries, but was always disappointed in the Jane casting. Thank goodness for 2005! And Brenda Blethyn cracked me up as Mrs. Bennett…I really felt her nerves would put her in bed for days!!!! Donald Sutherland was delightful as the lone man of the house who just wanted some peace and quiet with his orchids and books. When he tears up at the end when he’s giving permission for Lizzie and Darcy to wed…how can you not get a bit weepy????

      Now…Colin vs. Mathew. So, so tough. I mean, Colin is legendary, and I like to almost think that Mathew is the Colin Firth of the next generation. That being said, I’m not even going to compare their performances, only that I loved them both equally for different reasons. Colin has the wet shirt shot, and Matthew has the striding across the dewy meadow in a long coat open shirt shot. Both got my heart fluttering ๐Ÿ™‚

      Bottom line for me (as a rabid Jane Austen fan) is that the perfect adaptation has yet to find its way to the screen, but if the right people pay attention to ALL of the critics out there (and there are a lot of us!) the ultimate adaptation will made eventually.

      Like

  49. Sunday, August 29, 2010 3:40 pm

    Hey, everyone!

    I’m thinking about starting a new “Costume Drama of the Week” feature here on KayeDacus.com. What do you think? And what movies/miniseries would you suggest?

    Click over to this post to answer: https://kayedacus.com/2010/08/28/new-weekly-feature-idea/

    Like

  50. Susan permalink
    Tuesday, October 26, 2010 4:00 pm

    Two years too late, but I agree with you about the 79/80 BBC series. When I saw it, it was as if the producers/director had opened my brain & lifted out the pictures I had formed of the characters & put them on the screen. Amazing!

    David Rintoul made Colin Firth look positively doughy – and MacFadeyn? Looks scrawny & plain. Maybe it’s partially because Rintoul looks the most like Olivier…?

    Jennifer Ehle? Too mature, & too staid (which is not the same as “too old”, mind you). & yes, that Jane was the worst of the lot. Blonde?? None of those girls looked like they were even cousins, much less sisters! Elizabeth Garvie & Sabina Franklyn own those roles.

    I could go on, but why stir things up any more? Let me just finish by saying that every single Lady Catherine has been spectacular – go figure!

    Like

  51. Salliven permalink
    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 1:22 am

    David Rintoul is my favorite Mr. Darcy, too.
    Though Colin Firth is handsome and showed much emotions than David did in portraying Mr. Darcy(and I was touched), the outlook, shape &, most important, NOBLE MIEN of David Rintoul made him the closest Jane Austenโ€™s Mr. Darcy.

    Like

  52. Tuesday, July 24, 2012 1:40 am

    Dunno if you’re still checking comments on this one, but I had to mention a P&P remake I saw for the first time last week. Titled *Bride and Prejudice* it’s a modern Bollywood retelling of the story, limited, maybe, by the script, but I thought it was very inventive in the way in managed to keep so much of the original.

    For the first time I guessed/understood how mortifying the middle daughter’s “entertaining” could be (the sister in the remake performed a dance solo) and how shamelessly flirtatious the youngest sister was.

    Makes me want to go back and watch the period pieces now that I feel a better understanding of things that just didn’t hit me as generally a big deal.

    Like

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