Monday, July 13, 2009

Pride and Prejudice (1995) - Episodes 1 and 2

It's amazing how Austen turns up suddenly and reaches out when you least expect it.

Sample this: I got home early, with a burning headache. I couldn't sleep, so I decided I'll read Pride and Prejudice. I made myself a hot cup of tea( while sorely wishing that I had this fabulous mug), settled down on my couch and started reading. After a while, I decided I'll check what's on TV. And voila!- the famous BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was about to begin. I couldn't believe my good luck- I'd always wanted to see for myself what most Austenites claimed to be a fantastic if not the best adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I also couldn't believe how I always end up seeing and reviewing Austen-related things that are not on my list ;) I'm not complaining though.



The first two episodes were on today, that is, till the scene where Charlotte invites Mr. Collins to stay at Lucas Lodge, after Lizzie had rejected his proposal.

I have to say here that I'm a great fan of Pride and Prejudice (2005 version) and Matthew Macfadyen is totally my favourite part of the film. Not as much Keira Knightley. So I was wondering how I'm going to get used to this new cast and this version.

As there is no need to summarize the story, let me just go to how the characters were handled in this series.
Let me start by saying that Jennifer Ehle is a brilliant Lizzie Bennet and totally trumps Keira Knightley's version, in my opinion. I love the fact that they establish the great relationship between Mr. Bennet and Lizzie in this TV series. Be it rolling her eyes at her mother's absurdity, playing around, arguing with Mr. Darcy or walking all the way to Netherfield Park covered in mud, Ehle has captured the Lizzie that Austen wrote, perfectly.


Jane Bennet as played by Susannah Harker was effective, though Rosamund Pike will always be the most beautiful Jane in my book.


Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet totally stole the show. She was loud, brash, impolite, socially naive and an absolutely great performer. Jumping around with Lydia and Kitty, chastising Mr. Bennet for not meeting Mr. Bingley, calling Darcy the most handsome man and within just minutes after this exorbitant praise, calling him exactly the opposite- she's brilliant as Mrs. Bennet, so much so that as I saw her on the screen, I could recall Mrs. Bennet's lines and description from the book. I could feel the character in the book, in her performance.

Kitty and Lydia were perfectly cast and did exactly what they ought to- make me feel so embarassed by their silliness. Mary was apt, and even looked like how I imagined her to.

David Bamber is hilarious as the obnoxious Mr. Collins, while Anna Chancellor is perfectly wicked as Caroline Bingley. Mr. Wickham is a disappointment- I don't find him handsome at all and I didn't find Adrian Lukis' portrayal very convincing either.

Crispin Bonham Carter is an impressive Bingley- always smiling, sort of naive and very believing. Benjamin Whitrow is great as Mr. Bennet. I used to love Donald Sutherland's Mr. Bennet in the 2005 version, but I think when I finish watching this series, I'd appreciate Whitrow more.

And yes, I deliberately saved Colin Firth for the last :P

I'm probably not going to find too many people who agree with me, but Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy did nothing to me in these first two episodes. Yes, he spoke his lines well, he was brooding, he kept staring at people well,he did 'brooding', 'haughty', 'arrogant' well, but there was something missing. It's probably too early to judge his Darcy( after all the famous wet white shirt scene is yet to come ;) ), but as of now, I'm not too much of a fan. I'm not saying that he wasn't good as Darcy. He just wasn't great so far.

I loved the fact that unlike the 2005 version, this TV series had the luxury of going in-depth to some of my favourite scenes from the book- scenes that I read and re-read with joy. There were some scenes for which I prefer the 2005 version. Like Darcy and Lizzie dancing at the ball- I thought the 2005 version had more of a chemistry and the music was just so brilliant.

But it was a delight watching the first two episodes of the BBC series. This is mostly truthful to the book, an Austenite's delight and has some brilliant performances. To sum it up, it was- let me borrow from Sir Lucas' vocabulary- 'capital' ;)

I can't wait to watch and review the rest of this series. The remaining episodes are being telecast tomorrow and the day after and I hope to review them on the same days :)

8 comments:

thewrittenword said...

I prefer the BBC version of P&P only because it is so much more in-depth (being a TV mini-series) although have to agree with you that the Darcy & Lizzie scene dancing in the Keira Knightly version was really well done!

Kals said...

Yeah, it has the opportunity to be in-depth which is such a pleasure for fans like us who don't want anything Austen to end :)

hmsgofita said...

I also have to agree that it's my favorite TV version of P&P, but 2005 is my overall favorite. I just loved Keira Knightley as Lizzie and Matthew McFadyen as Darcy. I like Colin Firth, but as Darcy, to me, he just didn't have the passion there. At the the end I just don't really feel that he loves Lizzie. Just my opinion!

Kals said...

I agree with you! From what I've seen of him, Firth doesn't seem to have the passion, the chemistry. Matthew Macfadyen on the other hand, I think, is not only brooding, proud and arrogant but is also very passionate. Or so I felt :)

Mari said...

I don't know why, but I have never liked the choice of actress for Jane. The other actors are brilliant. Love Mr. Collins especially (who you mention in your next post).

I love both versions for different reasons. :)

Kals said...

I agree. Though the actress who played Jane did justice to her character, I thought she didn't look the way I imagined Jane to be. That's why I prefer Rosamund Pike :)

Agree with this too- both versions are marvellous in their own way. While the 2005 version is the quick, visually pleasing watch, the BBC version is, I'd say, an in-depth must-watch version for any Janeite :)

yesterdaystuna said...

Hmmm what was that? Oh, right, sorry. I was stari...uh, looking at the lovely cover with Colin Firth. I must admit that I have never seen another adaptation OTHER than the BBC version and I really need to broaden my horizons. That being said, I am not excited about seeing Kiera Knightley as Lizzie but I may have to suffer through it for the good of the challenge :P Great comments on the characters! Now, back to staring at Colin Firth.

Kals said...

Lol. Good to see I've been of some help :P Firth does grow on me now that I've seen 4 episodes of this adaptation.

Yeah, Keira Knightley is okay, nothing compared to Jennifer Ehle. But Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy is quite exciting :D

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