Mrs Darcy's Message Forum

Image hosted by

Copyright held by Renée OAll rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the administrator.

Gift suggestions from Mrs Darcy's Online Store

website design company page
website design company

General Forum
This Forum is Locked
1 2
Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Visitors of Mrs. Darcy from the UK, go to Working Title Films and get yourself a free ticket for one of the many screenings of Pride and Prejudice!

A movie not to be missed, to be sure!


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Girls, here's a long review from

Colin Firth was born to play Mr Darcy. So can anyone else shine in the lead role?
By Chris Hastings, Arts Correspondent
(Filed: 28/08/2005)

It is universally acknowledged that Colin Firth was born to play Mr Darcy.

Colin Firth: ‘definitive’
Despite a new "sexed-up" film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Matthew Macfadyen in the leading role, Firth remains synonymous with the role.

Andrew Davies, who wrote the screenplay for the renowned BBC adaptation, last night concurred with Jane Austen aficionados and said: "Matthew Macfadyen is a brilliant actor, but I cannot imagine him being as good as Colin Firth."

Austen followers say the latest version of the classic, on general release on September 16 and starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett and Macfadyen as Darcy, does nothing to undermine the appeal of the BBC's Bafta-winning adaptation, which featured a dripping Firth emerging from a lake.

Matthew Macfadyen: ‘sulk’
The film has also been criticised for taking "unacceptable liberties" with the novel and for portraying Darcy as if he is in a "perpetual sulk".

Joan Klingel Ray, a professor of English at the University of Colorado and the president of the Jane Austen Society of North America, who has seen a preview of the £20 million film, said Macfadyen wasn't a patch on Firth who was "simply more attractive".

She said: "The Darcy in the film does not have the quality of attractiveness that Colin Firth has. I don't want to cause any offence but Colin is simply a much better looking man than Matthew."

She added: "I think Colin had the huge advantage of working with a terrific script which gave him glamour scenes which were not in the novel. The scene where he emerges from the lake is a case in point. The genius of these extra scenes was that they were in keeping with the book and the characters.

"There is simply nothing in the film to compete with anything like that. The new Darcy is too sullen for far too long. We do not see the gradual shift in his emotions which is an important part of the novel. He spends too much of the film looking like a young Heathcliff."

Prof Klingel Ray thought that the film's deviations from the 1813 novel were a step too far. She said the rustic look of the film and the obsession with pitting the action against the elements ensured that the film felt like an adaptation of a Brontë or Bridget Jones novel. "The film is full of sexual imagery which is totally inappropriate to Austen's novel," she said. "In one scene a wild boar, which I assume is supposed to represent Darcy, wobbles through a farm with its sexual equipment on show. Also much of the action takes place against tempestuous weather which simply isn't in the novel. None of this is Jane Austen. The passion in Pride and Prejudice is more of a linguistic affair. I read an interview with the writer when she said she was trying to be honest but honest to whom. I feel the whole thing has been de-Austenised."

Prof Klingel Ray said transplanting the famous proposal scene from the cottage to a ruined temple gave the film a feel of Jane Eyre rather than Pride and Prejudice. "I felt we were watching Rochester and Jane meet for the very first time. Later on there is a scene of Darcy and Elizabeth talking and there is a painting of gods and goddesses cavorting behind them. That also has nothing to do with Jane Austen."

The academic was, however, full of praise for Knightley as Elizabeth and Rosamund Pike who stars as her sister, Jane. She thought Jennifer Ehle, who played Elizabeth in the BBC series had been a little too "heavy" for the role.

The new film which has been directed by Joe Wright, a relative newcomer to the industry, is due to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Davies last night revealed that he had been doubtful about casting Firth but said the actor had delivered a superlative performance. "Darcy was Colin's peak achievement and he was born to play the role. He gave a superlative performance which I do not think Matthew will come up to. Colin burnt his way into the hearts of England's womanhood."

David Bamber, who played Mr Collins for the television adaptation, agreed that Firth, and Ehle, would be a tough act to follow. "I do think these things stand or fall on casting," he said. "I think Jennifer was amazing even though she was comparatively inexperienced. Colin, I think, was the definitive Darcy.

"I think meeting an actual aristocrat in 1809 or whenever the novel was set must have been an absolutely monstrous experience. I think Colin understood the social side of the story and managed to capture an element of that without going too over the top. He had the voice, the chin and the manner and slowly he let you in on the change he was going through."

He added: "All too often, nowadays, there is a tendency to say, 'Let's drop the accent, after all it is just a story about two edgy people.' But if it was just about two edgy people, there would be no story to tell. The social context is

everything to this story. Without that there would be no struggle or tension. If you have an estuary English Darcy, what is the point?"

Ehle said: "I remember when we were about to make our version of Pride and Prejudice, there were so many letters to The Times and other newspapers saying how dare the BBC spend money on remaking this when the definitive film version already exists with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. So you never know. Nobody owns Pride and Prejudice. It's out there in the public domain, and it's good that people are taking a fresh look at it."

Deborah Moggach, the writer of the new film, said: "We have two wonderful stars and we are very pleased with their performances. I am not going to say whether either of our leads are better or worse. I will just say we have our own Mr Darcy.

"Matthew has put in a very complex performance and he has a very interesting journey in the film. His performance works on so many different levels and we do not react to him in a simplistic manner. He has a whole history behind him."

There were signs last night, however, that Macfadyen had managed to win the support of some diehard Firth fans. Members of the Republic of Pemberley Society, which was founded in honour of Firth, have been pleasantly surprised by the usurper.

A spokesman said: "The BBC version is highly cherished and Firth's Darcy was the reason why we are here as a society. A number of our members, however, have attended previews of the film and have been pleasantly surprised by what they have seen. They think he has done a very good job. We have reports that he is absolutely wonderful."

I liked Ehle's reaction, very sensible IMHO.


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And here's some information on filming at Chatsworth...

Stately setting for filming of a classic Chatsworth House plays host to Jane Austen Tessa Humphrys.

These are the first pictures of the new film production of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, partly shot at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Staff at Chatsworth were delighted when movie company Working Title Film suggested using the stately home for a week of filming last September.

Chatsworth marketing manager Simon Seligman said: "The filming was very simply done and the crew were very easy to worth with. The Chatsworth staff all loved it. It was great fun."

The latest film version of the novel stars Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. This is the first time Chatsworth has been used in any film or TV version of the book. The BBC's famous TV production was filmed at Lyme Park in Cheshire and Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire.

The exterior of Chatsworth and two important rooms inside, the Painted Hall and the Sculpture Gallery, were used to depict Pemberley, the great Derbyshire mansion belonging to the film's hero, Mr Darcy.
The production team gave Chatsworth a marble bust of Mr Darcy, played by Matthew Macfayden, which was made especially for the film. It is now on display at the house along with a first edition of Jane Austen's book from the Chatsworth library.

Chatsworth has a long association with the book, which was published in 1813. Many readers and scholars believe that Jane Austen's description of Pemberley House is based on Chatsworth as it was in the early 19th century.
The writer is known to have visited Derbyshire, but there is no evidence to confirm that she saw or visited Chatsworth.

Although the initial filming was kept a secret to avoid large crowds disrupting proceedings, Chatsworth hopes to benefit from increased publicity once the film has been released globally. "We hope that we'll get more visitors when the film opens," said Mr Seligman.

Many of the outdoor scenes were filmed on the dramatic clifftops near Stanage in the Peak District National Park. Derbyshire currently receives 28 million visitors each year. The county council is hoping to use the success of the film to offer weekend packages, where fans will be able to visit locations associated with the film.

The tourism officer for Derbyshire County Council, Kate Richardson, said: "The idea is to use the film to encourage people to stay in Derbyshire for a couple of days and see a little more of the area."
Although dramatised for TV several times, Jane Austen's classic novel has been made into a feature film only once before, in 1940, directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.

The new film also stars Judi Dench, Penelope Wilton and Donald Sutherland and is directed by Joe Wright. Pride and Prejudice has its British premiere on September 5 and will be released in Britain on September 16.

Source: Yorkshire Post, 27 August 2005

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie


PRIDE AND PREJUDICE star MATTHEW MacFADYEN refused to watch COLIN FIRTH's classic TV performance as dashing hero MR DARCY, because he was determined to make the character his own.

Firth, who starred in the 1995 British TV series of JANE AUSTEN's romantic tale, is often hailed as the ultimate Darcy, and MacFadyen knows he has a lot to live up to.

He says, "I hadn't seen the TV series when I was given the part so I decided not to watch it in case it influenced my own performance.

"I know that everyone loved Colin's portrayal and that kind of comparison is going to be hard to live with.

"So the moment some of the audience see me on screen as Mr Darcy, they're going to say,'Oh, that's not him.'"


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Screen life of a romcom
(Filed: 02/09/2005)

Jane Austen's enduring novel has inspired 11 screen versions, finds Robert Colvile


Even in its infancy, the BBC knew the value of a good costume drama. This pioneering one-hour adaptation featured Andrew Osborn as Darcy. Elizabeth was played by Curigwen Lewis, who rose to fame as the star of Helen Jerome's stage adaptation of Jane Eyre.

A dripping-wet Colin Firth starred in the most famous version to date

This first film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starred Laurence Olivier as Darcy (although Clark Gable was the studio's first choice) and Greer Garson as Elizabeth. The screenplay, by Aldous Huxley, was based on a stage version as much as the original book, so this was not an especially faithful adaptation.

The New Yorker found it "happy and carefree", but complained that it felt "more Dickens than Austen". Others bridled at the insertion of a carriage race and the US Civil War-era costumes straight from Gone With the Wind. Nevertheless, it remains the book's standard-bearer on the big screen.


After the war Austen's masterpiece was firmly reclaimed by the BBC, which mounted a series of episodic adaptations. To modern eyes, the casting choices for this five-part version were distinctly odd - Peter Cushing played the dashing Darcy, while the flirty young Lydia was played by Prunella Scales, who grew up into that legendary harridan Sybil Fawlty.


This BBC's third crack at P&P came in six parts, but is lost to us, unless a copy survives in the depths of the archives. Judging by this newspaper's review, it is no great loss - the Telegraph's critic judged that the production contained too much "obvious posing". Alan Badel's Darcy was "played… to the point almost of farce", while 23-year-old Jane Downs as Elizabeth "neither rose to [the part] nor sank beneath it but floated on the surface like an unhatched mayfly". A Broadway musical version that year was equally forgettable.


This six-part serial, shown on children's television, was much more like it. Produced by the BBC to mark the 150th anniversary of Austen's death, it was the first colour adaptation. The Telegraph's reviewer found it "lucid and intelligent", and had particular praise for Michael Gough (then a Hammer horror star, and later Batman's butler) as Mr Bennet. Celia Bannerman and Lewis Fiander were Lizzie and Darcy, while Ian Fleming's niece Lucy, playing Lydia, wore the same costumes used in a 1936 stage production by her mother, Celia Johnson, who played Elizabeth.


Writer Fay Weldon wanted to rescue Austen from "the English cottage garden where she is marooned", and did so with great success with this witty BBC2 mini-series. Given that Weldon used large chunks of Austen's own dialogue, it is probably the most faithful adaptation of the book to date. In a sign of things to come, David Rintoul, later television's Dr Finlay, was deluged with fan letters for his portrayal of Darcy, opposite Elizabeth Garvie's Elizabeth.


The most famous adaptation of all starred a dripping-wet Colin Firth emerging from a lake and into the hearts of the female population. More than 10 million viewers tuned in to see Firth's Darcy and Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth tie the knot. Video sales shot through the roof, despite complaints about Andrew Davies's liberties with the script. The production also had a unique Austen connection - Anna Chancellor, who played Caroline Bingley, is a distant relative of the author.


Bridget Jones's Diary was the first modern reinterpretation of the story. Based on Helen Fielding's newspaper column, the film saw singleton Bridget choose between Hugh Grant's Daniel (the Wickham character) and Mark Darcy, played by none other than Colin Firth.


Just as Clueless retold the story of Emma within an American high school, the little-known Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy saw Elizabeth Bennet as a college student, sharing a flat with her buddies Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia and forced to choose between roguish Wickham and young businessman Darcy. This idiosyncratic adaptation was made by and for Mormons. Fortunately, the filmmakers avoid the temptation to resolve the romantic tension between Darcy, Lizzie and the Bingley sisters by joining them together in a polygynous relationship.


Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha fused Bollywood and Regency for Bride and Prejudice, a colourful, light-hearted tale of the unmarried Bakshi girls and their relationships with William Darcy and Balraj Bingley. To get the flavour of this caste-meets-class comedy, consider that Austen's "truth universally acknowledged" was replaced by a Grease-style musical number built around one of Chadha's father's sayings - "No life without wife". Despite the presence of Aishwarya Rai, one of Bollywood's biggest stars, the film failed to impress at the international box office.


It's back to basics for this adaptation, the first film to use the original setting since 1940. Keira Knightley and Spooks's Matthew Macfadyen step into the petticoats and breeches of Elizabeth and Darcy, joined by an impressive cast that includes Judi Dench, Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn. Although shot on location at an array of England's finest country houses, the film's makers have made much of their version's grittier, "muddy-hemmed" aesthetic, with make-up toned down and realism to the fore. This hasn't stopped them sneaking in dramatic scenes atop Peak District cliffs - not a notable feature of the original book.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

From BBC News 5 September 2005

Star takes pride in new Prejudice
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter

Actor Matthew Macfadyen explains what attracted him to the Mr Darcy role in the new film version of Pride and Prejudice, which receives its UK premiere in London's West End on Monday.

Macfadyen (l) appears with Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice
Millions of viewers, many of them female, swooned at the sight of Colin Firth and his soggy shirt in the BBC's 1995 version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

How could any actor hope to follow in his iconic footsteps? Step forward, Spooks star Matthew Macfadyen.

"People are very proprietorial about the BBC version," says the Rada-trained 31-year-old.

"But it is a great part to play. It's like anything - you'd never play Hamlet if you worried about all the people who'd played it before."

It helped that Macfadyen had never seen the Firth version, or the 1940 Laurence Olivier film that preceded it.

Indeed, he hadn't even read the book before accepting the role - an oversight he attributes to "just laziness, really".

"I've read it since and I don't think I would have done anything differently," he adds defensively.

'Sympathetic character'

"Matthew was the only man for me," says Joe Wright, the acclaimed TV director who makes his feature debut with Working Title's film adaptation.

"I had no interest in casting just a pretty boy. Darcy is much more interesting and complicated than that.

"Matthew incarnated Darcy as a layered person who isn't easy to love, yet who is a good person with a sense of honour and integrity."

Colin Firth played the Darcy role in the BBC version of the novel

As seen through the eyes of 'Lizzie' Bennet (Keira Knightley), Mr Darcy initially appeals stand-offish and aloof.

Macfadyen suggests this is because the character is in mourning for his parents and is "still working out who he is in the world".

"I find him a very sympathetic character," says the actor.

"He's a young man who thinks very deeply about everything and can appear callous without meaning to be.

"Like all of us he rushes to judgement, as does Lizzie. We like to pigeonhole people so we feel better about ourselves."

So did any of the character's arrogance rub off on set? Macfadyen thinks hard before answering the question.

"I'm much less contained than Darcy," he says eventually. "I hope I'm less haughty. But Darcy's character probably spilled over a little bit."


Colin Firth has found it hard to shake off the Darcy image - although that may be because he subsequently played a modern version of the character in the Bridget Jones films.

But his successor says he is not concerned about being typecast as a frock-coated Regency gentleman.

"I would worry if it were all consuming and you were stuck with the character, but I haven't really worried about it.

Macfadyen married his Spooks co-star Keeley Hawes (r) in 2004

Having received rave reviews for his work in New Zealand drama In My Father's Den, finding work is not something Macfadyen has had to worry about recently.

Indeed, he has spent the summer at London's National Theatre, playing Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 opposite his Perfect Strangers co-star, Sir Michael Gambon.

If all else fails, though, he could always - like every British actor of a certain age - put his name forward as a potential 007.

Despite his role as a M15 agent in Spooks and his admiration for Matt Damon's Jason Bourne thrillers, however, Macfadyen will not be drawn on the subject.

"Being Bond would definitely change your life," says the actor, who has a one-year-old daughter with his Spooks co-star, Keeley Hawes.

"People talk about it, but it's not something I've thought about a great deal."

Were someone to offer him something in a more contemporary vein, though, his response might be more enthusiastic.

"It would be great fun to do a thriller like The Bourne Supremacy," he says.

"The car chases were fantastic. They make James Bond look ridiculous!"

Pride and Prejudice opens in the UK on 16 September.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Interesting article in The Guardian. not to be skipped!,6000,1563477,00.html?gusrc=rss


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And this one is really cool. Don't skip it!


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

From the Independant: 11 September 2005

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Oh, Mr Darcy
What is it about the trouser interest in 'Pride and Prejudice' that so captivates women? Surely not just the literarily incorrect sight of our hero in a wet shirt (the small screen Colin Firth about to be outdripped by Matthew MacFadyen in the cinema). Read on, dear reader, read on...
By Melanie McDonagh
Published: 11 September 2005
If Pride And Prejudice has an extraordinary hold on the imagination of women - and every survey suggests it does - one reason for our obsession is the nature of its hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy. And if the televised version of the novel, with Colin Firth in the role, captivated half the women in the country, the release this Friday of the film version of the novel, with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy, should have much the same effect.

Women's infatuation with Darcy is, by and large, a mystery to men. When record numbers of female viewers watched Colin Firth emerge dripping from a lake - a scene that would have been wildly out of place in the novel - male commentators tried to explain the appeal of the whole thing by comparing their girlfriends' fixation with their own about the World Cup. In fact, I know one otherwise sane woman who bid £500 for the irresistible white shirt he wore for that very scene in a charity auction.

But for all the female obsession with the character, it's remarkable how some women - including Knightley - get it wrong about Darcy. Praising MacFadyen's sheer sex appeal, she says, "you need to see that kind of rugged beauty in Darcy, to know that here is a man who strides across fields ... and very much manages his own estate. With Matthew, you can see that etched across his face, yet he's also got this extraordinary vulnerability. On the page, Darcy reads as being very cold, but Matthew is so vulnerable through his big manliness, that he gives Darcy extra qualities."

I'd dispute that. Darcy has endless vulnerability in the novel - and his coldness is merely the cover of a shy, proud man. It's precisely the apparent aloofness of Darcy - think smouldering volcanoes under icecaps - that is crucial to his appeal.

In the novel, Darcy is a rich, proud gentleman with a large estate in Derbyshire and an income of £30,000 a year. We encounter him at a ball, very much in the shadow of his outgoing friend, Mr Bingley.

"Mr Darcy," we are told, "soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having 10,000 a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance."

And he duly bears this out by dismissing Bennet, in her hearing, as only "tolerable" in the way of looks. Naturally, he revises his view almost immediately, but the damage is done.

As events develop, Darcy finds himself becoming more and more taken with the mixture of archness and sweetness that is Bennet. When she comes to stay at Bingley's house, he is drawn to her against his will. Her vulgar connections, her more than vulgar mother and younger sisters, conspire to make her an unlikely object of his affections. She teases him, and she is, we observe, more effective in capturing his attention precisely because she does not give a fig about his opinion.

Bennet's treatment of Darcy thus bears out the contention of books like The Rules about the relations between the sexes - treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen - because we are quite conscious that had she pursued him rather than mocked him he would not have found himself attracted to her. For a man in his position it is very necessary that he should be chastened by encountering a woman who is indifferent to his looks and status. As Bennet finally declares, "The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of odious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them." Spot on, Miss Elizabeth.

But in order to compound the prejudice - of the title - which Elizabeth nurses towards him, her wilful deception by Mr Wickham must come into play; a military gentleman who tells her that he was unjustly denied preferment in the Church of England because of Darcy's animosity towards him. Elizabeth's disdain for Darcy for his arrogance is compounded by her indignation at his treatment of Wickham. And when she discovers that he was the means of separating his friend Bingley from her delightful sister Jane, her resentment is unbounded. The scene is set, then, for Elizabeth's first, indignant rejection of his offer of marriage, which is made, she observes, by a man who expects to be accepted.

So it is that pride gets its fall, and Darcy is sent packing, after declaring his passion for a woman whom he admits he loves against his better judgement. That scene in the film takes place against the sensually potent backdrop of a temple in the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in a rainstorm. MacFadyen, like Firth, is never more alluring than when he is soaked to the skin.

But no sooner does Elizabeth send him about his business, than he disarms her with a letter that explains why he detests Wickham, as the man had tried to seduce his young sister. She finds she has been unjustly prejudiced, though she is still far from being in love.

That love comes later, when she finds herself by chance in his Derbyshire home. She naturally falls for the sheer elegance and wealth of the estate - a very human reaction - but she is also taken by the testimony of his housekeeper about his goodness to the poor and to his tenants. She encounters Darcy on home ground, where his real worth is made clear.

The reassessment is complete when he rescues the reputation of her sister, Lydia, who had run off with the abominable Wickham. Now it is Elizabeth's turn to have her pride humbled, and when he asks her to marry him, she receives his offer "with gratitude and pleasure".

The beauty of Darcy is that he reassures women of their transformative powers. He is a reminder that the right woman may bring out the emotional depths in a reserved man and can humble the pride of a rich one - though, as in all her novels, Jane Austen is blunt about the economic realities underlying relations between the sexes. As Darcy ruefully acknowledges, at 28 he thought "meanly of all the world", and his pride is duly humbled by his passion for a good woman. "What do I not owe you?" he exclaims. You know, most women would quite like to hear that. It's one of the manifold reasons why his appeal won't ever really diminish.

If Pride And Prejudice has an extraordinary hold on the imagination of women - and every survey suggests it does - one reason for our obsession is the nature of its hero, Fitzwilliam Darcy. And if the televised version of the novel, with Colin Firth in the role, captivated half the women in the country, the release this Friday of the film version of the novel, with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy, should have much the same effect.

Women's infatuation with Darcy is, by and large, a mystery to men. When record numbers of female viewers watched Colin Firth emerge dripping from a lake - a scene that would have been wildly out of place in the novel - male commentators tried to explain the appeal of the whole thing by comparing their girlfriends' fixation with their own about the World Cup. In fact, I know one otherwise sane woman who bid £500 for the irresistible white shirt he wore for that very scene in a charity auction.

But for all the female obsession with the character, it's remarkable how some women - including Knightley - get it wrong about Darcy. Praising MacFadyen's sheer sex appeal, she says, "you need to see that kind of rugged beauty in Darcy, to know that here is a man who strides across fields ... and very much manages his own estate. With Matthew, you can see that etched across his face, yet he's also got this extraordinary vulnerability. On the page, Darcy reads as being very cold, but Matthew is so vulnerable through his big manliness, that he gives Darcy extra qualities."

I'd dispute that. Darcy has endless vulnerability in the novel - and his coldness is merely the cover of a shy, proud man. It's precisely the apparent aloofness of Darcy - think smouldering volcanoes under icecaps - that is crucial to his appeal.

In the novel, Darcy is a rich, proud gentleman with a large estate in Derbyshire and an income of £30,000 a year. We encounter him at a ball, very much in the shadow of his outgoing friend, Mr Bingley.

"Mr Darcy," we are told, "soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having 10,000 a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance."

And he duly bears this out by dismissing Bennet, in her hearing, as only "tolerable" in the way of looks. Naturally, he revises his view almost immediately, but the damage is done.

As events develop, Darcy finds himself becoming more and more taken with the mixture of archness and sweetness that is Bennet. When she comes to stay at Bingley's house, he is drawn to her against his will. Her vulgar connections, her more than vulgar mother and younger sisters, conspire to make her an unlikely object of his affections. She teases him, and she is, we observe, more effective in capturing his attention precisely because she does not give a fig about his opinion.
Bennet's treatment of Darcy thus bears out the contention of books like The Rules about the relations between the sexes - treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen - because we are quite conscious that had she pursued him rather than mocked him he would not have found himself attracted to her. For a man in his position it is very necessary that he should be chastened by encountering a woman who is indifferent to his looks and status. As Bennet finally declares, "The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of odious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused and interested you because I was so unlike them." Spot on, Miss Elizabeth.

But in order to compound the prejudice - of the title - which Elizabeth nurses towards him, her wilful deception by Mr Wickham must come into play; a military gentleman who tells her that he was unjustly denied preferment in the Church of England because of Darcy's animosity towards him. Elizabeth's disdain for Darcy for his arrogance is compounded by her indignation at his treatment of Wickham. And when she discovers that he was the means of separating his friend Bingley from her delightful sister Jane, her resentment is unbounded. The scene is set, then, for Elizabeth's first, indignant rejection of his offer of marriage, which is made, she observes, by a man who expects to be accepted.

So it is that pride gets its fall, and Darcy is sent packing, after declaring his passion for a woman whom he admits he loves against his better judgement. That scene in the film takes place against the sensually potent backdrop of a temple in the estate of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, in a rainstorm. MacFadyen, like Firth, is never more alluring than when he is soaked to the skin.

But no sooner does Elizabeth send him about his business, than he disarms her with a letter that explains why he detests Wickham, as the man had tried to seduce his young sister. She finds she has been unjustly prejudiced, though she is still far from being in love.

That love comes later, when she finds herself by chance in his Derbyshire home. She naturally falls for the sheer elegance and wealth of the estate - a very human reaction - but she is also taken by the testimony of his housekeeper about his goodness to the poor and to his tenants. She encounters Darcy on home ground, where his real worth is made clear.

The reassessment is complete when he rescues the reputation of her sister, Lydia, who had run off with the abominable Wickham. Now it is Elizabeth's turn to have her pride humbled, and when he asks her to marry him, she receives his offer "with gratitude and pleasure".

The beauty of Darcy is that he reassures women of their transformative powers. He is a reminder that the right woman may bring out the emotional depths in a reserved man and can humble the pride of a rich one - though, as in all her novels, Jane Austen is blunt about the economic realities underlying relations between the sexes. As Darcy ruefully acknowledges, at 28 he thought "meanly of all the world", and his pride is duly humbled by his passion for a good woman. "What do I not owe you?" he exclaims. You know, most women would quite like to hear that. It's one of the manifold reasons why his appeal won't ever really diminish.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And another interesting review:

More cinematic proof of the longevity of Austen's powers


Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland

HEAR that gulping sound? That's just me swallowing my pride and admitting that, when it comes to Jane Austen adaptations, my natural prejudice against the corset-strewn British costume drama has once again proved unjustified. This began a couple of years ago when I accidentally found myself enjoying Ang Lee's adaptation of Sense and Sensibility on TV. At the time I put it down to Lee also being the director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but recently I found myself being sucked into the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on video and, even though I still don't get the whole Colin Firth as Mr Darcy thing, I can see why Andrew Davies's mini-series has become the equivalent of Star Wars for Austen geeks.

Given the high esteem in which that adaptation is still held, a new cinematic version might seem slightly unnecessary, especially since modern updates such as Bridget Jones' Diary and last year's woeful Bollywood extravaganza Bride and Prejudice have ensured that the basic story has never been far from our screens in the last few years.

When you also consider that Pride and Prejudice is the most popular of Austen's books, any new version is going to have its work cut out trying to surprise audiences on a narrative level - which is perhaps why this one doesn't bother trying.

Aside from a few trims to accommodate the two-hour running time, director Joe Wright hasn't deviated much from Austen's elegantly convoluted plot. It still follows the attempts of the overbearing Mrs Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) to marry off at least one of her five daughters to secure the future of her fortuneless family.

The meat of the story is still the smouldering will-they-won't-they relationship between the witty, spirited Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and the rich, arrogant Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). There are misunderstandings and scandals aplenty, and lots of witty repartee and 18th-century frocks. Indeed, factor in the involvement of Working Title (the studio responsible for the aforementioned Bridget Jones films as well as the collected output of Richard Curtis), and Pride and Prejudice 2005 is either going to sound like manna from heaven or cinematic hell.

Yet, beneath the surface chatter and frivolity, in Austen's book darker undercurrents of loneliness and helplessness exist, and it's these that Wright and his screenwriter Deborah Moggach have successfully excavated.

There's a great scene early on when Elizabeth rejects a proposal of marriage from her odious though well-meaning cousin, Mr Collins. It could easily have been played for laughs, yet Wright gets some poignancy out of it by letting his camera linger on Elizabeth's younger sister Mary. Described in the book as "the only plain one in the family", Mary knows that, for someone like her, Collins is a catch and her sister's instant rejection of him leaves her feeling bewildered, angry and full of despair. She's barely in the rest of the film, but this one brief moment turns her into the story's most tragic figure.

It also neatly reinforces the genuine sense of heartache and pain that Elizabeth experiences when she later rejects Darcy's proposal of marriage then comes to realise she may have mistakenly sacrificed the thing she craves most.

If this makes the film sound unnecessarily weighty and dour, rest assured it's not, but nor is it the sparkling comedy you were probably expecting. I wouldn't go as far as to describe the film as gritty, but the way Wright focuses on smaller details and quieter moments rather than overdosing on grand period designs ensures that the film has more in common with Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy and Robert Altman's Gosford Park than anything by Merchant Ivory. Actually, Altman has clearly been the biggest influence on Wright's naturalistic shooting style. He frequently appropriates the veteran maverick's fondness for lengthy tracking shots, sometimes to quite stunning effect.

The end result is an energetic film complemented by a cast that's younger than we're used to seeing in such films. Keira Knightley, who has always seemed like such a slight screen presence when compared to actresses such as Kate Winslet, is actually in her element here, deftly handling the verbal jousts with Darcy and even managing to banish memories of that ridiculous sports corset she wore in the film King Arthur.

As for Mr Darcy, Spooks star MacFadyen is suitably brooding and inscrutable (if you like, he's Pierce Brosnan to Firth's Sean Connery). There's solid support, too, from Jenna Malone, an obligatory cameo from Dame Judi Dench and a wonderfully wily turn from Donald Sutherland as the long-suffering patriarch of the Bennet clan. Indeed only Brenda Blethyn strikes a wrong note as his wife; her hysteria feels slightly out of place given the low-key tone adopted by the film as a whole. That's a minor quibble. For the most part this is an intelligent and artful addition to the Austen film canon.

Source: 15/09/05

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Girls, I just returned from the pre-premiere here in The Hague, and I LOVED the movie. I truly truly loved it, in one word. Will write a review later.

After the show UIP offered the audience a package of five postcards of which I posted two above.


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

source: The Observer 18-9-2005

Pride & Prejudice

Joe Wright's cinematic debut takes Austen's classic at a brisk pace, underpinned by a brace of outstanding performances

Philip French
Sunday September 18, 2005
The Observer

It is a truth by Universal acknowledged that a British producer in possession of Hollywood finance must be in want of a period screenplay. So it's scarcely surprising that the British production company Working Title, having disappointed its American financiers Universal Studios with the contemporary comedy, Wimbledon, should turn to Jane Austen's perennially popular 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice
Admittedly, Merchant-Ivory fell on their elegant faces with their foolish miscalculation Jane Austen in Manhattan, but generally Austen adaptations have gone down well, especially Pride and Prejudice. There was a chocolate-box MGM version in 1940 starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, both well into their 30s, as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet; a Broadway musical used to launch the reopened Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1991 featuring Patricia Routledge as Mrs Bennet; numerous broadcast adaptations (most famously, the Andrew Davis treatment featuring Colin Firth's Darcy); and Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood extravaganza, Bride and Prejudice

The first film for the cinema by Joe Wright, an established TV director, working from a script by novelist and TV playwright Deborah Moggach, this widescreen Pride & Prejudice is a brisk affair with a narrative drive that finds relatively little time for reflection. It plunges straight into the story of Mrs Bennet's justified obsession with marrying off her five daughters by having Mr Bennet reveal that he's already visited the wealthy, eligible young newcomer, Mr Bingley, before his wife has urged him.
Within minutes, we're at the unfashionable ball at the local assembly rooms where the boisterous proceedings are immediately silenced by the arrival of Bingley, his sister (he has only one here) and his best friend, the even richer bachelor, Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). The latter's pride and arrogance immediately antagonise the spirited Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), second eldest Bennet daughter and the one, for obvious reasons, best liked by her sardonic, ironic father (Donald Sutherland).

It is Bennet's inability to produce a male heir that has exposed his family to possible future poverty as their relatively humble Hertfordshire estate is entailed so that a cousin, the Reverend Collins (Tom Hollander), will inherit it on Bennet's death. It is appropriate, therefore, that after endless intrigues, proposals made and rejected, social signals misunderstood, lives enhanced and depressed, and an elopement, the film version ends not with marriages but with Bennet's final resigned quip to Elizabeth after giving his blessing to her forthcoming union with Darcy. Having seen three daughters married off, he says: 'If any young men come for Marty or Kitty, send them in for I am quite at leisure', and the film fades to black.

There is, presumably, no way of making Mrs Bennet sympathetic and in Brenda Blethyn's uningratiating performance, she's the mother from Hertfordshire as the mother from hell and more grotesque than funny.

Oddly enough, the outstanding figures in the movie, and the best performances, are both male. Not Darcy or Bingley or Wickham, who are all on the callow side, but the pair at the opposite ends of the spectrum, the wise, witty, understanding Mr Bennet, whose best characteristics Elizabeth has inherited, and the odious Reverend Collins, a man as unctuous as Uriah Heep, though sad and self-deceiving rather than hypocritical. Hollander's performance is a comic study in embarrassment and there is a peculiarly painful moment when the diminutive Collins stands behind the tall, imposing Darcy at a ball, attempting to attract his attention as a prelude to a terrible rebuff.

The strength of McFadyen's Darcy is that he's not so obviously charismatic as to make Elizabeth's initial rejection implausible. The strength of Knightley's Elizabeth is the way we see her grow in self-knowledge and confidence, concluding in her celebrated showdown with Darcy's imperious aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, played by Judi Dench like Lady Bracknell without the jokes.

Knightley, with her small features and physical fragility, bears a strong resemblance to Winona Ryder as Jo in Little Women, though at one point she's placed on a promontory in the Peak District during her visit to Darcy's Derbyshire mansion, which makes her resemble a Bronte heroine.

The movie is well designed and its locations intelligently chosen. Most importantly, the various houses accurately reflect the social gradations of their owners: the red-brick and tile of Langbourne, where the Bennets live in rough comfort at the centre of a working farm where pigs, ducks and chickens cavort around the doorsteps; Collins's dark, repressive vicarage; Bingley's fine country house with its polished floors, footmen and neoclassical furniture; and the contrasted grandeur of Darcy's place in Derbyshire, light, tasteful, welcoming, and Lady Catherine's mansion in Kent, deliberately overwhelming in its heavy furnishing, murals and platoon of liveried servants. The production designer is Sarah Greenwood.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And another interesting article in London24, 19 September 2005

Deborah’s pride and joy
19 September 2005

At home in Hampstead... Deborah Moggach. Picture by Polly Hancock
Deborah Moggach is looking tall tanned and toned, as befits the screenwriter of Pride and Prejudice, a glittering star-studded production with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth, Brenda Blethyn as Mrs Bennet and Donald Sutherland as a surprisingly sexy Mr Bennet.

Despite its Hollywood names, the film, the first of Jane Austen's best loved novel for more than 50 years, has been dubbed the 'muddy-hem' version, for having the courage to take a more honest look at the messy realities of middle class 18th century life than we are used to from our normal viewpoint from the sofa on a cold Sunday evening. Out goes Darcy's heaving chest, and in come bouncy dogs and puddles. Out go beautifully cut scenes of repressed needlepoint and bleached muslin, and in come gabbling girls with red noses desperately dying ribbons in beetroot to get the look for yet another ball they can't afford but dare not miss.

Keira Knightley makes an exquisite Lizzie Bennet, but thanks to her lack of make-up and her unruly curls, one we can believe in and truly care about. Matthew MacFadyen makes a darkly brooding Darcy, a less instantly steamy hero than Colin Firth, who stole the show in the now 10-year-old television version, but simmeringly unattainable all the same. If anyone were to prise the Quality Street tin away from the period drama it's Deborah Moggach.

Her home and surroundings have a tumbledown carefree beauty which epitomises the muddy hem version of Regency Hampstead. You'll find the Merchant Ivory version down the road in Primrose Hill with Sienna Miller. Deborah's muscles aren't the work of a personal trainer at dawn (unless of course her social life has taken a turn she hasn't told me about), but the result of her religiously regular walks on the Heath and cycle rides round Hampstead on her boneshaker of a bike. Her house was built in 1815, but unlike its neighbours, whose lawns are manicured to within an inch of their turf, you swish up to her front door along a brick path lined with black-eyed Susans, columbines and discarded pewter watering cans.

The only sign of modernity is yesterday's empty milk bottles waiting on the doorstep. Once inside you find yourself squinting inside a dark oak-lined hall, with plenty of room for all the Bennet sisters to eavesdrop on you from the staircase above. Below stairs is the kitchen, which leads out to the kitchen garden and henhouse, a perfect retreat for Lizzie to escape her squabbling sisters, especially when the hens are feeling sociable.

Mr Bennet would find a comfy corner in her wood panelled study at the top of the house, though he might find the four-poster bath a bit disconcerting. Even the studious Mary would never run short of books in her sitting room, heated by a real fire in winter and candle lit in summer.

Director Joe Wright could have filmed practically all the home life of the Bennets from her kitchen and garden and saved a fortune on location bills. Getting to the truth of what life must have been like for the Bennet family was what was uppermost in her mind during her writing of the screenplay, which is why she is so delighted with the finished film, with its overcrowded rooms, muddy entrances, and dung heaps, describing it as "breathtaking".

But she is refreshingly candid about the jumble of coincidences and business decisions that brings a film from conception into life. She had her eye on the young Joe Wright as director herself and put a word in for him.

"I'm sure I wasn't the only one, but I still think he owes me a drink," she said, giving one of her huge, generous laughs. The beauty of having Joe Wright as director, who had never seen the television adaptation or even read the book ("Lots of boys haven't read it," she explained) was, she said, that he came to it completely fresh with no preconceptions about people sitting silently round the edges of the room playing tense games of patience.

"He's very truthful, he's very much part of the world of social reality television. I wanted it to be very truthful with muddy hems and dung heaps, because these things mattered.

"The Bennet family was in a very precarious situation, with five unmarried daughters and the ghastly Mr Collins waiting to inherit the house. It wasn't just a fluffy social comedy," she said, adding that the reason the book was so funny was that the comedy arose from real pain, the real prospect that unless Mrs Bennet did her stuff and found suitably wealthy respectable husbands for her daughters, the consequences were dire. "And we see those consequences with Charlotte Lucas, over the hill at 27, who makes a conscious decision to marry a physically repulsive man she doesn't love because the alternatives are even worse - total dependence on her family, not being able to go anywhere unless someone else is going too, or a job as a governess, how grim is that? Mr Bennet was a gentleman farmer, although they were very middle class and had servants and a big house and a carriage, they were a very provincial, old fashioned rural family."

The contrast between the genteel but down at heel Bennets and the glamorous, fashionable and wealthy new arrivals at Netherfield was crucial to the plot of the book but something she feels had become blurred in the previous film (starring Laurence Olivier in 1940) and the television adaptation.

Unless we see the difference in the two families' circumstances, the boisterous overcrowded assembly dance in the village where Darcy is so devastatingly rude about Lizzie, we have no possible understanding of Darcy and his London crowd. "Of course he would be bored stupid there," she said, adding that, to be blunt, the Bennets wouldn't have been the most fascinating companions in the world. "They couldn't be, there was nothing for them to do but visit their neighbours and endlessly trim their hats."

The beauty of the work lies in its timeless obsession with family life. "Those sort of things never change - mothers are always embarrassing, we all want to see our daughters settled." Austen equally understood the powers of attraction "She understood the sexual charge of antagonism and quarrels. We don't fall in love with our best friends," she said.

She loves Austen, but not excessively, which allowed her a coolness and distance which seems to have stopped her work being too reverential, unlike some.

"Those Jane Austen people are so nerdy" she said, describing some critics' trainspotting obsession with period detail. "But just because they were a Regency family didn't mean everything was exactly of its time - they were very old-fashioned, like me," she said, waving a hand round her sitting room. "This is the 21st century but everything in this house isn't exactly 21st century." Apart from yesterday's paper I hadn't spotted a single thing that was. Writing the screenplay involved, she said, turning Austen's own dialogue from paper into drama, as if it were the simplest thing in the world, keeping the best lines. Many of which belonged to Mr Bennet such as his "You have delighted us long enough" to the unfortunate but accomplished Mary, and sacrificing some of the best loved. Try as she might, she couldn't put the words of the best-known lines in literature into anyone's voice but Jane Austen. So what happened to: "It is a truth universally acknowledged..."

"We cut it" she mouthed, half horrified, half delighted at the sacrilege. Until Pride and Prejudice came her way Deborah herself was best known for her novels, deceptively well-crafted social comedies like Ex-Wives, until she hit the mother lode with Tulip Fever, her seductive tale of a romance which blooms in the hothouse atmosphere of the 17th century Dutch bulb trade. She came within a whisper of Hollywood-style fame last year when Jude Law and Keira Knightley were to star in the film version of Tulip Fever and were days away from filming the first scenes when the chancellor Gordon Brown closed a tax loophole which made the whole thing commercially unviable and the production, not to mention several lorry loads of tulips, were scrapped.

Meanwhile Deborah was trundling away in her bedroom reworking her screenplay of Pride and Prejudice. She is thrilled with the finished film, but modest about her own part in it. "Most of the dialogue was already there," she said. She didn't do too much hanging round the set but admitted to a quickening of her heart when Donald Sutherland took her by the hand, praised her screenplay to the skies and led her round a potato field in Lincolnshire to meet the extras. And she wouldn't have missed the premiere in Leicester Square for the world.

But the real excitement will come when she sees the film properly, at the Screen on the Hill with her friends. She doesn't mind admitting that she will be hanging round the bar eavesdropping as she did in Liverpool when she had a play on there. She doesn't recommend it, but she can't help herself. "They're never talking about what they like about it or what they think will happen next - all you hear is 'Can you get me a gin and tonic while I go to the loo'."

Should Pride and Prejudice open some doors for her she will be the first to celebrate, but she won't be taking the first limo to Hollywood. "I wouldn't live there for a million pounds," she said. "I'd miss everyone too much and I'd miss my house and my dog." Not to mention her hens.

Meanwhile she's too busy worrying about not having a new novel in her head and planning the rest of her day. "I've got an acapella audition at the City Lit later, then I'm having tea with a prostitute," she says, pressing a box of this morning's eggs into my hand: "Laid this morning".

Pride and Prejudice opens today at cinemas all over London. Deborah Moggach will be introducing the film at a special screening at The Screen on the Hill, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead on Sunday. The screening is to raise money for the charity Connections, part of World Jewish Relief, to raise funds for student scholarships in the former Yugoslavia.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

"Only a snob, a curmudgeon, or someone with necrophiliac loyalty to the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle could fail to enjoy her performance"

Quote taken from this article in The Guardian of 16 September last.

No offense meant, but I couldn't help chuckling a little after having read so many comments, particularly by P&P fans who haven't even seen this movie.

Pride & Prejudice
Peter Bradshaw
Friday September 16, 2005
The Guardian

Clever and elegant ... Pride and Prejudice

"Everyone behave naturally!" chirrups Mrs Bennet at a crucial moment in this new Jane Austen adaptation, a gentleman caller's knock on the door having sent her into the statutory tizzy on her marriageable daughters' behalf. Natural behaviour is not, however, what we have paid to see. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach's adroit version of Pride and Prejudice cheerfully satisfies the traditional demand for the conventions of bowing and bonnets and breeches and balls - these last held in rooms the size of the House of Commons debating chamber. It is a world in which swoon-inducing countryside is seen bathed in a golden sunset or the hazy dew of morning, in which there is hardly a footfall out of doors that does not dislodge a hen or a goose, and in which no door opens without a toppling entry of eavesdropping sisters.

This is a movie from Working Title and the word has been that Jane Austen, that ancestress of romcom, would here find herself being influenced retrospectively by Working Title's great authors Richard Curtis and Helen Fielding. I could only see one touch of this: a silent moment at the end of a ball in which kindly Mr Bennet comforts one of his plainer daughters for not having had a romantic success. Pure Curtis!
Jane Austen is a writer about whom pundits of all ages and sexes tend to get precious and proprietorial in a way they don't about, say, Charlotte Brontë or George Eliot. I can only say I thoroughly enjoyed this lucid version of Austen's novel, in which two headstrong characters, Lizzy Bennet (Keira Knightley) and Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), provoke, expose and finally purge each other's two famous sins - by falling in love. This new adaptation may not find favour everywhere, and it is not obviously daring or revisionist in the Andrew Davies manner; there is nothing to remind you of the classic Punch cartoon about Jane Austen's shocked editor telling her to take out all the effing and blinding. Neither does it quite have the sinew of Emma Thompson's superlative version of Sense and Sensibility, with the punch of those tearful scenes with Thompson comforting the jilted Kate Winslet. It is a clever, elegant rendering none the less.

And this is because of an outstanding performance from Knightley as Lizzy Bennet, which lifts the whole movie. She gives a performance of beauty, delicacy, spirit and wit; in her growing lustre and confidence she is British cinema's answer to Kate Moss, but Moss is a star from the silent era. Knightley is from the talkies. Only a snob, a curmudgeon, or someone with necrophiliac loyalty to the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle could fail to enjoy her performance.

Knightley's Lizzy is a naughty sceptic, a droll outsider; a team leader from the awkward squad, much given to fits of giggles and pert backtalk, with sisterly kicks under the table given and received. It is a great moment when she overhears Darcy describe her as merely "tolerable" in looks, and then flings the word in his face before walking insouciantly away. Knightley has demanding, emotional scenes in searching closeup and handles them triumphantly. Her star quality will quite simply roll over you like a tank.

Granted, the casting of Knightley and MacFadyen as Mr Darcy is arguably a little more callow than Firth and Ehle, and Knightley is better looking than Lizzy should strictly be, the original's looks being what fashion magazine editors call merely "editorial". But what a coup for Knightley. As for MacFadyen's Darcy, he plays his conceit and hauteur well, though his surrender to love is still a little on the reticent side. Nobody says the famous line about the truth universally acknowledged, but MacFadyen acts out its importance by enforcing utter silence at a ball by his mere entrance, like a drag queen in a wild west saloon. It is a pity that MacFadyen's real glow of uninhibited emotion - his reunion with his sister - is seen only fleetingly.

Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn provide yeoman support as Lizzy's parent's but the movie's big incidental pleasure is Tom Hollander playing the ghastly cleric Mr Collins, a pop-eyed social climber with money to spend in the marriage market, and a droning Olivier-ish voice. Hollander gets big laughs and comes close to walking off with the whole film, upstaging every one else on screen, even the mighty Judi Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Director Joe Wright cheekily shoots his excruciating "proposal" scene with Lizzy so that it's not clear that Collins has gone down on one knee, and he appears to have shrunk to the size of a hobbit.

There are no great textual variations or interpretative liberties in this Pride & Prejudice, but both of its key ingredients are there in generous qualities, and it is very nicely acted with a terrific above-the-title turn from Knightley. It canters along like a thoroughbred racehorse, switching to a gallop or a rising trot where necessary. It's an invigorating ride.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And another review which will add to your anticipation...

Pride and Prejudice (U)
16 September 2005 | 07:15
The superb 1995 BBC series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth has cast such a long shadow that it seems almost sacrilege that anyone should want to remake this most English of stories, so soon. And yet, debut director Joe Wright has successfully recast this classic story for the 21st century by taking it back to basics.

Whereas the television series was a generally sunny affair with, at the time unknown actors, this is a typically British, damp, grey rainy adaptation with plenty of sharp dialogue and a raft of A-list actors.

British actress of the moment Keira Knightley does a wonderful job in her first leading role as feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet - all her other successes have been as a supporting players or as part of an ensemble.

She is well matched by Spooks actor Matthew MacFayden as the sullen Mr Darcy. But the story is more than just the brooding resentment between two individuals which eventually blossoms into love.

It is an examination of people and relationships which is just as revelant now as well as being an examination of the social background of the time.

As well as being an excellent romantic drama it also supplies a timeless collection of laughs which are provided by a series of well-drawn characters - from the obsequious cleric Mr Collins (Tom Hollander), to the twittering, neurotic Mrs Bennet (Brenda Blethyn).

Donald Sutherland makes for a kindly and benevolent father, while Judi Dench is suitably domineering as the ferocious Lady Catherine De Burgh.

Knightley receives excellent support from Rosamund Pike, who made her name as the sword-fighting ice maiden in the James Bond film Die Another Day. Pike plays Elizabeth's beautiful and less judgmental elder sister Jane, whose romance with the equally beautiful but far more dim Mr Bingley is brought to an abrupt halt by Darcy's interference.

It takes a special actress to play innate goodness without making her character seem dull or bland. Rosamund turns Jane into a bright, intelligent self-sufficient young woman who appears resourceful, but it is not out of her time.

The screenplay by Deborah Moggach ensures that the action moves along at the speed of a carriage in full flight. The photography is superb and creates a wonderfully atmospheric world for Joe Wright to reinvent this delicious story.

The costumes, like the photography, sets and the locations, are very down to earth. This is Pride and Prejudice brought back to the real world - a world of rain, tumbledown country houses that have seen better days, hand-me-down clothes and muddy farm yards.

This is the world that the Bennet family inhabits. They can afford a cook and a servant, but they are obviously not as rich as they once were - a situation emphasised by the fact that when Mr Bennett dies the family estate will be inherited by his loathsome nephew Mr Collins.

But the real heart of the film lies in the battle of wills between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Both seem intelligent and judgemental, but in retrospect they are destined for one another but the fun lies in seeing the pair dance round one another as they are inevitably drawn towards one another.

What makes this film compelling is the strength of the writing and the performances. Even when the character of Wickham is skated over very superficially, it doesn't really matter because, there's enough of the sub-plot for it to make sense and we are, by that time, locked into the Bingley/Jane and Elizabeth/Darcy saga not to care.

Pride and Prejudice shows once again that when it comes to literary adaptations and period film-making that the UK film industry is the best in the world.

For far too long academic critics have decried our period/literary dramas but when they are as good as this, why not simply sit back and enjoy them. We've recaptured the ashes and now let's celebrate something else we are good at - period film-making.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

These are not my words, so don't shoot! I've found this in the Church of england Newsletter... and I don't believe anyone had the audacity to say this...

"Next week: to entrust Pride and Prejudice to a first-time director took some nerve, but Joe Wright has come up with a delicious adaptation – even if the ending is a bit predictable. Matthew MacFadyen outdoes Colin Firth’s enigmatic Darcy, Keira Knightley is a delightful Elizabeth Bennet, but Donald Sutherland as her father steals the show. Steve Parish "

True, DS steals the show, BTW! A very poignant Mr. Bennet.


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Interesting article and announcement of new P&P sequel in the Courier Mail of 24 September...

Image hosted by

PERFECT prose awaits . . . Keira Knightley in the new Pride and Prejudice

Pride on the line
Rosemary Sorensen

LAURENCE Olivier, one of the world's greatest actors, reportedly said of the character Mr Darcy, which Olivier played in the sweet but errant 1940 screen version of Pride and Prejudice, that it was not much of a role and difficult to do well.

Darcy, in his reading, was not very interesting.

Maybe not in that adulterated version where Greer Garson's stunning beauty as Lizzy Bennet was supposed to be insufficient to "tempt" the rich snob Mr Darcy, and where the fabulously vile Lady Catherine de Bourgh, instead of getting her comeuppance in one of the most subtly satisfying scenes written for a feisty heroine, turned out to be just testing the mettle of the woman she sees her nephew has fallen for.

But times have changed since Olivier muffed that particular line.

Austen aficionados preparing to take their seats for another round of Regency romantic comedy are ready with the obvious questions: will Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen live up to Austen's perfect prose in the new film due out next month? Can anyone squeeze the entire Pride and Prejudice plot into a couple of hours?

And, most importantly, is it too soon to bother revisiting one of the most endearing screen adaptations yet filmed – the BBC's elegant Pride and Prejudice starring an almost faultless Jennifer Ehle, who embodied Lizzy's "pert opinions and fine eyes" with glorious control, and an equally triumphant Colin Firth, who was Mr Darcy?

While no one would claim Firth to be a better actor than Olivier, he had not only the benefit of a brilliant script adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen's 1813 novel but also the advantages bestowed on men post-feminism.

Davies' script restored the balance of Austen's novel, which presents us with a view of the world which is as interested in what Lizzy is thinking and her valuation of Darcy as it is in his opinions.

In 1940, the masculinist world-view had become so dominant that Olivier's character had been flattened to a cut-out, as the scriptwriters and director obviously couldn't imagine anything as subtle as both these lovely flawed people having to battle with their own versions of pride and prejudice.

Where Olivier's Darcy was the observer, the powerful centre, who looked, rejected, looked again, then accepted Garson's gorgeous Lizzy, Firth's Darcy was a vulnerable, emotionally delicate cocoon of a man, who would blossom, despite the mixed metaphor, under the influence of Lizzy Bennet – and what a delightful blossoming we witnessed in those six glorious episodes created by BBC-TV 10 years ago.

If all Olivier had to do was grow from haughty to nice, Firth's Darcy had much more scope: He would get out of a bathtub to watch Lizzy play with a fine hound; he would feel a shot of adrenalin as he clasped her gloved hand at Mr Bingley's ball; and, most memorably, he would emerge from a slimy pond, his shirt clinging in a manner one can only describe as seductive, to be confronted by the object of his growing obsession – Miss Bennet, neat as a pin, and fresh from a visit to his rather handsome home.

Later, when sister Jane worries at Lizzy's change of heart towards a man she had vowed she would never dance with, let alone marry, Lizzy pertly jokes that her change of heart came around the time she first sighted Mr Darcy's beautiful grounds at Pemberley. And no doubt, his shoulders.

Nearly every report and review that's appeared so far about the new film version of Pride and Prejudice in Britain, where it opened last week, has made reference to Firth's wet shirt scene.

One British reviewer has suggested that "only a snob, curmudgeon or someone with necrophilic loyalty to the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle could fail to enjoy Keira Knightley's performance", but even snippets of the new film, available on the website, make it clear that the 20-year-old British actor owes a great deal to Ehle. There's something in her air, in her bearing, and indeed in her timing, that is so like Ehle that the necrophiliacs among us are hopeful this homage will revive the joy of that production, not frustrate it.

And the true fanatics are welcoming the new film with the verve of Mrs Bennet embracing her new son-in-law Mr Wikham – no matter his flaws, it's always good to see him.

"I'm hoping to enjoy it, I've read that it's lovely," says Helen Halstead, a member of Adelaide's Jane Austen Society and the author of a sequel to Pride and Prejudice which she's called A Private Performance, just published. "I think there's just so much to gain from Pride and Prejudice that people never will leave it alone.

"This is supposed to be the down-and-dirty version, the real Austen times. Goodness knows how they know what it was like."

Halstead, who will be at the Brisbane Writers Festival next week to talk about all things Austen, says she believes that it's the Cinderella elements of the plot that make Pride and Prejudice, of all Austen's novels, so evergreen.

"Darcy is connected to aristocracy and very rich – he's almost a Mills & Boon hero," she says. "He's more complex, but he's still the difficult, unapproachable, tall, handsome, powerful guy.

"Only one woman has the key to his heart. Is she a princess? No! She could almost be you or me, if we were as clever and charming and witty as she is."

Curiously, this "she could be you or me" notion attached to Lizzy Bennet, who is probably, even more than Emma or Anne (from Persuasion), the fictional avatar of Austen herself, has attached to the 20-year-old Knightley, whose past performances in Bend It Like Beckam, and Love, Actually don't add up to what you might call an apprenticeship for such a role.

According to Knightley: "The beauty of Elizabeth is that every woman who ever reads the book seems to recognise herself, with all her faults."

It's the script and the direction that will legislate the performance of Knightley and the rest of the cast, which includes Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench. Halstead agrees that it will be tough to create a script as good as that of Davies, who, she says, used "lots of quotes from Austen's dialogue and when they made it up, it was still in keeping".

"I've heard the new film has not retained much of Austen's language. I can't understand that," she says. "It's fabulous language, a brilliant dialogue handed to them on a plate."

Halstead shudders at one rumour that when Lizzy rejects Mr Collins' proposal of marriage, she stands up to her mother by saying: "I won't marry him and you can't make me."

As for MacFadyen, Halstead is prepared to keep an open mind on whether the unlikely looking lad, described in one review as "projecting an air not so much lofty as queasy, as though he'd just swallowed a bad oyster", can cut the mustard as Darcy.

But at least, in Halstead's mind, he doesn't have to overcome the wet shirt factor.

"I'm not at all keen on the wet-shirt business in the BBC serial," Halstead says. "It was the only thing that really struck me as out of keeping with the era and Darcy's character.

"I think Firth was very good, he's a very talented actor, but his interpretation was for me not the Darcy I know from the book. Too scowling. My Darcy is a bit drier, I guess, and does sometimes smile."

A Private Performance by Helen Halstead is published by Random. She is a guest at the Brisbane Writers Festival and will talk about romance fiction next Saturday, 11.30am and 2.30pm, at the Rooftop Terrace of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright, will be released in cinemas nationally on October 20

Keiraweb and P&P

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but on keiraweb you'll find loads and loads of information, trailers, interviews etc. Not to be missed!


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

I found this article in my mailbox today on the use of subtitles for the deaf in Ireland. But it's a review on P&P at the same time. Check it out!

Did the subtitles prejudice enjoyment?
Deaf talkabout

Bob McCullough

30 September 2005
PRIDE and Prejudice was screened all last week at Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast, and Evelyn and I jumped at the chance to see the special sub-titled showing at 6.30pm on Wednesday.

We got there early and found seats near the back after being assured by the manager that we would have a good view of the subtitles there.

We had no idea where they would appear on the screen and I wanted to keep my eye on audience responses as well as getting a good view of the action. Would hearing patrons find the subtitles obtrusive?

The room filled up quickly and was full by the time the film began. I noticed a small group of sight-impaired people at the front, taking advantage of the special audio descriptive facility provided in conjunction with the subtitles. We seemed to be the only deaf folk there but, of course, it was impossible to spot the hard of hearing.

Beautiful yet unpretentious Keira Knightly was superb as Elizabeth Bennett and my wife thought Mr Darcy was a more realistic and sensitive character than in the famous 1995 TV production. The glorious colour and rustic scenery formed a wonderful backdrop to Jane Austen's subtle humour, coupled to the engrossing story, and when I risked a glance at the audience there was no sign at all that the subtitles were a problem. As far as I could see, everyone was enthralled to the very end.

The film finished all too quickly for us and we were left wanting more. TV has almost blanket coverage now of subtitled programmes and, like most other deaf people, it has been many years since we last went to the cinema.

The subtitled showings are not new and cinemas in Banbridge and Omagh have joined with a few in Belfast to take advantage of the new technology becoming available. I am not sure of the prevalent position, but when it first started subtitles were reserved for special screenings at rather unsuitable times, which is why I have been so interested in testing the reaction of the audience when subtitles are added to an ordinary scheduled performance.

The subtitles for Pride and Prejudice were unobtrusive, yet clearly visible at the bottom of the screen, and the gently sloping seating arrangement at the Queen's Theatre gives relaxed and comfortable viewing. On purchasing our tickets we were asked if we needed earphones and the staff seemed well versed in deaf awareness.

Can this technology be modified to cope with the more difficult environment of the theatre? The Grand Opera House has customarily arranged for sign language interpreters for some of its shows and in November the signed performance of Miss Saigon will be accompanied by Stage Text, a new development with captions and audio descriptions which will be of special interest to the hard of hearing and sight impaired.

If this new technology proves popular more of us may be tempted away from our television sets to enjoy the latest films and plays, and it would be great to attend Christmas pantomimes with the younger hearing members of our families and enjoy the fun just as much as they do.

All modern television sets have a facility for switching subtitles on and off by means of the 888 button and I notice my 11-year-old grandson prefers to watch with the subtitles off. It will be interesting to see how the general public reacts to a more general use of them in films or theatre.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Renee - thanks for posting all these articles and reviews. I've been enjoying them immensely. I still have to wait till November to see the film and the more I read about it, the more I look forwards to it. I'm especially intrigued to note how well DS has been accepted as MrBennet. And I am already convinced that MM ismuch closer to my personal idea of Darcy than CF - as wonderful as CF was. (I still think they make way too much out of the wet shirt scene in all the reviews)

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Sofie, you're welcome! I'm glad you appreciate it. Did you already browse the P&P companion book? If not, here's the link:

P&P Companion Book


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie


Thank you for the articles and interviews of P&P3 on the forum.
I enjoy them all and they are helpful with their diverse opinions.
I have not seen the film yet but hope to do so this next week. Until then I will keep an open mind.
I am a Jane Austen nut and it is wonderful to hear that Andrew Davies is thinking of writing the script for Sense and Sensibility. By all accounts, it is a good way off before it reaches the screens. I am looking forward to it.
Here is a thought, do you think P&P3 will still be talked about in ten years time and have an anniversary edition on DVD?


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Here is a thought, do you think P&P3 will still be talked about in ten years time and have an anniversary edition on DVD?

Good question, Maria! I'm convinced that there will still be discussions on this one in ten years time, as there's still even talk about Laurence Olivier's movie! To tell you the truth, I hope that many fans of the BBC series of 1995 who are violently opposed to this movie will acknowledge that, at least, it's an interesting interpretation, and, apart from it's beautiful cinematography, admit that it's well acted and well directed.

I can't speculate on an anniversary edition, but if I follow my own feelings, I wouldn't buy it even it would happen. I have not the least inclination to buy the BBC anniversary edition (I think owning one edition is enough), and I truly wonder if it'll be a success commercially.

My expectation, and hope, is that an entirely new generation of Austen readers will emerge and that they, when they've finished all her books, start searching for fanfiction...!


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Renee, thanks for linking the book. I enjoyed it except for one thing - way more pictures of Lizzy than Darcy - don't they know we want to see Darcy?????? Actually I like the way KK looks as Lizzy - she seems very sweet and lively.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Sofie, did you see the posters in the other P&P thread? They've been taken at my cinema by Jana who recently visited me. They're so lovely.

As far as more Darcy is concerned, did you already download the beautiful screensavers from the official site. They're exquisite! :)

Here's the link: P&P downloads


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Here's a link to a website with lots of information on the Pride & Prejudice locations and other fun stuff.

Thanks for the tip, Clare!


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

I did see the posters Renee, and I think they are spectacular. The theatre looks wonderful too. I couldn't get that link to work, but I think you may have posted it somewhere else so I'll try there.


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

You're right, Sofie, oddly enough the link to the official site doesn't work.

Hope this one will...

P&P official site


Finally... a comment by Colin Firth...


British screen star COLIN FIRTH is delighted MATTHEW McFADYEN has replaced him as the actor synonymous with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE heart-throb MR DARCY, because he wants to move on from the role.

Firth delighted millions of female British viewers when he played the JANE AUSTEN hero in a 1995 TV dramatisation, and he is grateful for the exposure the part gave him. He hopes the new film adaptation will help McFadyen's career in a similar way.

The 45-year-old says, "I hear Matthew is fantastic. I knew he would be. That role was fantastic to me 10 years ago but I think it's other people, not me, who have found it weird that someone else should play it.

"I played HAMLET once and I've seen others play that too. I don't own the Darcy role and never wanted to. I'm very happy to let as brilliant an actor as Matthew take on the mantle." 11 October 2005

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Not really a review of the movie, more a nice, contemplative article on the book in anticipation of the movie.


Source: New Zealand Herald

Austen's classic love story
By Joanne Wilkes

When I was at high school and our class read Pride and Prejudice, one of my classmates rejected the book with disdain. Once she came to Mr Darcy’s first judgment of Elizabeth Bennet — “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” — and then Elizabeth’s annoyed reaction to this, she said she just knew how the novel would finish: Elizabeth and Darcy would discover they were really attracted to each other, and would end up married. She’d read a lot of romances, and that was what always happened when the hero and heroine started at loggerheads.

What we didn’t realise then, was that Pride and Prejudice was the novel that had contributed most to establishing the narrative pattern my friend had so easily predicted. Countless novels — and films — since Pride and Prejudice appeared nearly 200 years ago, have featured couples who’ve begun by sparring, realised they’d misread each other, and then, after coming to understand and appreciate each other, have acknowledged their love. Beneath the initial sparring, of course, have been the beginnings of sexual attraction.

So Pride and Prejudice has a storyline that readers can recognise, and usually don’t disdain. That the storyline has been so popular, too, suggests that it reflects many people’s experience of love, or more likely, what many hope the experience might be.

Elizabeth and Darcy, during their mutual misunderstanding, target each other with a wit and intelligence that reveal their underlying affinity. Then they’re obliged by circumstances to re-evaluate each other, and, in so doing, to re-evaluate themselves. Consequently, both realise that they’ve not only gained self-knowledge from their courtship, but have had their true selves recognised and valued by the other. And isn’t this sense of being truly understood, one of the feelings we often seek in relationships?

But to use a word like courtship of Elizabeth and Darcy is to recall that Pride and Prejudice is set two centuries ago. Although the novel’s exploration of how men and women learn to understand one another, and themselves, speaks to contemporary readers, it is also the remoteness of the world Jane Austen creates that is now one source of her novels’ popularity. Since at least the late 19th century, some readers have turned to her works partly as a refuge from the complexities of their own era. They seem to embody a simpler, more serene, self-contained kind of community, one apparently little troubled by the impact of national and international events, or the problems of poverty and inequality.

Some screen adaptations of the novels, too, with their meticulous attention to period costume, opulent meals, lavish interiors, and the stately homes of England, have fostered this sort of nostalgia.

There is also a strong drawcard in the extended development of the central romance — how the attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy emerges gradually, in a series of scenes where decorum requires that emotion be kept under the surface. In novels, the spectacle of desire kept under restraint, and revealing itself only slowly and even against the conscious wishes of those involved, can be very appealing. It is particularly satisfying for those who consider modern relationships — whether in fiction or in life — too rapidly formed and too casual. Moreover, Austen’s narrative voice in representing her characters’ feelings is itself a model of understatement, and sometimes amusingly ironic. Each word has its force, and less can express more.

Austen’s omission of poverty and the working-classes was typical of novelists of her day. But she hardly needed to mention the Napoleonic Wars explicitly: her readers were living through them, and well knew that the man-shortage so striking in Pride and Prejudice was partly due to that conflict. Although not all contemporary readers identify the cause, they do register that the Bennet girls need husbands, and that a good man is hard to find.

Modern interpretations of Austen’s novels, including some screen adaptations, emphasise the economic disadvantages suffered by women in her period. Some of the most chilling paragraphs in the novel describe the selfish relief of the Lucas family when the plain oldest daughter Charlotte engages herself to the bumptious clergyman Mr Collins, perceiving him purely as a meal-ticket.

Elizabeth Bennet won’t accept just anyone: she has already turned down Collins herself. But with little money of her own, no way of gaining financial security except through marriage, and a mother and two sisters whose overt man-chasing deters suitors, her situation is difficult.

Nowadays, readers recognise that things are better for women. Although we might wonder how much, given the vogue of Bridget Jones’s Diary, which is so clearly based on Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet’s drawbacks in courtship are largely external, whereas Bridget Jones is consumed with self-contempt over her weight and her drinking, and is barely able to function in the workforce.

In any case, one reason for Elizabeth Bennet’s appeal to readers, and especially to women, is their awareness of the odds she must overcome. As well as the embarrassing family and the financial pressure, there’s the overbearing Collins, plus the snobbery of the Bingley sisters and of Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Readers enjoy these characters immensely — Judi Dench should be a treat as Lady Catherine in the new film — while hoping that Elizabeth will marry Darcy despite all the obstacles they pose. We relish the spectacle of a Cinderella who turns out to be smart enough not to need a fairy godmother. No wonder Keira Knightley was so anxious to get this role!

Most of all, perhaps, we appreciate the style of the woman writer who could pack so much into a sentence — such as the celebrated one that launches the novel: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pages have been written in analysis of that sentence. My schoolfriend, of course, got at least that far into the book. And she did make a good match in the end.

* Dr Joanne Wilkes is an associate professor of English at the University of Auckland.

Interview with 'Mr. Bennet' ... :)

Donald Sutherland

Sutherland making waves in film and TV
Jamie Portman
CanWest News Service
Monday, October 17, 2005

NEW YORK -- Donald Sutherland appreciates the irony of the situation. He received some of the best reviews of his career when the latest film version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice opened in Britain; critics were rhapsodic about his performance as Mr. Bennet, embattled father of five marriageable daughters.

Yet this is the role he definitely didn't want to play.

"I did turn it down a bunch of times," Sutherland tells CanWest News. "I said to them: 'I'm too old, too busy -- and too Canadian.' " But the film's youthful director Joe Wright persisted. "Listen to me!" he told Sutherland. "You're the person who can play it."

Even after he finally capitulated and signed for the film, which arrives in Canada Nov. 11, Sutherland was still having second thoughts.

"Even when I went to start on it, I said: 'Please get me out of this. This is wrong. I made a wrong decision.'

"But they had this wonderful woman -- a woman named Joan McCulloch -- who assured me she would be able to give me the voice of the character, and she did. And, as it turned out, I was very happy to be doing it. I loved doing it."

He also adores his new White House TV series, Commander In Chief, in which he portrays the powerful House Speaker who seems intent on thwarting newly installed president Geena Davis at every turn.

He has a high regard for Rod Lurie, the Hollywood maverick who created the hit ABC series. "He's a wild card, but when you're dealt one, it's terrific."

Even so, he's surprised by the show's success.

"To be absolutely frank, I didn't think it was going to be picked up. I thought it was a wonderful script, but I didn't think anyone would go for it -- certainly not one of the four big networks. And I'm not a television watcher, except for baseball, so I wasn't up to speed on the medium.

"I did it just because I wanted to do it, and then they picked it up, and I thought: oh golly, what am I going to do? But I'm having a wonderful time."

He's amazed it's all happening to him at the age of 70. After all, Commander In Chief is his first experience with series television, a career path he assumed was closed to him. And he's triumphing in a movie role for which he thought he was patently unsuited.

He's also amazed that he's been doing this for so long -- 51 years, to be precise.

"It started in 1954 with the Straw Hat Players in Port Carling, Ont. In the Muskokas. That's not counting radio because I worked in radio from the time I was 14."

By the time he was working after school as a teenage announcer in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, the acting ambitions had taken hold of him. These days, Sutherland carries the aura and the authority of a white-maned patriarch, but as he reminisces about the past, the fervent youth of more than half a century keeps re-emerging. He's still puzzled about where this acting thing came from.

"Acting was in my head, but we didn't have a theatre, and I don't think they did plays in school."

But he knows it was connected with a sickly Maritimes childhood when he was forced to live much of the time with his imagination -- and with an earlier ambition to be a sculptor.

"I'd been sick when a kid, in bed for years with rheumatic fever and polio and other crap, and I remember lying in bed and dreaming these things about sculpting. I drew pretty well and I had this fantasy about being a sculptor."

It was an encounter with a charcoal drawing of Winston Churchill that forced him to redirect his ambitions.

"Everyone was saying it was wonderful, and I looked at it and thought it was terrible. And in a second I realized that my perception was so different from anyone else's that I would never do anything that anyone liked. And I needed people to like what I did. So I transferred in my head from being a sculptor to being an actor because I liked to tell stories."

He ended up taking a degree at the University of Toronto and was in England by the early 1960s. It was there that he realized that he was outside the mould.

The first film he auditioned for there was called Three In The Morning, and he remembers leaving the audition convinced he'd done really well. Shortly afterwards he received a phone call from the producer, director and writer.

"They were all on the phone together, saying how much my performance had informed them, how terrific it was, how ideal. I was thrilled.

"And then they said: 'We're calling you together because we loved so much what you did and we wanted each of us to explain to you why we're not giving you the job. We feel this is the sort of guy-next-door sort of character, and to be perfectly truthful, you don't look like you've ever lived next door to anybody.' "

Sutherland also likes to tell the story of the Italian astrologer who -- on the basis of the actor's birthday particulars -- predicted he would become a big star. Then when the young Canadian went to visit him, this expert took one look at him, said, "I must have made a mistake" and shut the door.

But Sutherland persevered, and started landing small roles in British movies like the 1964 Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. He was content simply to be working. "I didn't have ambition per se. I didn't think of anything other than working as an actor."

But then along came Robert Aldrich's gritty thriller, The Dirty Dozen, and the role of a psychopath, and it proved to be a career-changing event leading to starring roles in such seminal films as M*A*S*H and Klute.

The Dirty Dozen underlined those qualities which explain why he would never be a guy-next-door type, unsettling qualities also present in The Day of the Locust, The Eagle Has Landed and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- movies which emphasized what film historian Robert Brustein has called his "gaunt, disturbing and disturbed appearance." Yet, this is the same actor who has given some of the most erotic performances on celluloid in Fellini's Casanova and Nicholas Roeg's steamy Don't Look Now.

Sutherland is still the proud Canadian, and he and his third wife, actress Francine Racette, still keep a home in Quebec. "I have an American green card, because I pay taxes here, and I can't give it up because if I did, they won't let me in," he says matter-of-factly.

Furthermore, the political and social firebrand who once joined Jane Fonda in anti-Vietnam protests still lingers. Sutherland is proud that Canada resisted Washington pressures to join in the war on Iraq, and he gets indignant when some Canadians say it was an economically bad decision.

"We have to be more than economic profiteers," he snorts. "Those deaths in Louisiana -- a lot of those wouldn't have happened if there hadn't been Iraq because then you would have had the National Guard, you would have had an administration that was bettered prepared. You know, they gutted FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the course of the last six years. They gutted every government institution because they don't like government. They lied. They lied every day."

But just as swiftly, Sutherland's anger changes to serenity when he takes stock of his own situation.

"I've got a marriage that's as good as it can be. What could be better?"

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

This is fun! Women's comments after a screening in New-Zealand!

Who's the sexiest Mr Darcy?
By Julie Middleton / NZHerald online

Forget the new Government, Air New Zealand layoffs, Saddam Hussein or bird flu - the big issue of the week may be who makes the sexier Mr Darcy: Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?

The new (and umpteenth) version of Jane Austen's 1813 novel of manners and marriage, Pride and Prejudice, sees Macfadyen - last seen in the film of Maurice Gee's novel In My Father's Den - challenging Firth for the prize of sexiest thing to fill a pair of 18th-century breeches.

The BBC's 1995 television series made Firth a surprised and rather reluctant sex symbol.
It's the story, you see.
Austen's tale of middle-class Elizabeth Bennet and the repressed, considerably wealthier Mr Darcy creates the most romantic and erotic tension possible between fully clothed characters.

The new film, also starring Keira Knightley and directed by Joe Wright, opened in Auckland on Thursday night.

A highly unscientific survey on Queen St didn't find a hands-down winner, but did reveal that women knew why they had a favourite.

"I'd say deffo Matthew Macfadyen," said one.
"Colin Firth just isn't, well, manly. Charming, perhaps, but that's not enough to ring one's bell and wave one's knickers in the air.
"Matthew Macfadyen is much more the smouldering type. Colin Firth did make an excellent arrogant twat, though. I'll give him that."

Here's Amy Baker, an avowed Firth fan: "If you saw him in Girl with a Pearl Earring [in 2003], his eyes were like milk chocolate buttons that were melting, and you just wanted to pick them out and eat them!"

Er, right you are then.

For Jackie Wadham, 51, it's also about Firth's eyes.
"They talk to you more [than Macfadyen's]. They say 'come hither', definitely."

Funny what some people will reveal to a complete stranger on the street.
"Oooh!" shuddered one woman, rolling her eyes. "Colin Firth ... him in leather pants on a motorbike!"

But a couple of 18-year-olds plumped immediately for Macfadyen.

Sorry Colin, they said, you lost some of your sex appeal playing such a dork in the film Bridget Jones' Diary, which leans very heavily on Austen's story.

Some women who had gone into Pride and Prejudice as avowed Firth fans were wavering.

"Ooh," said a colleague, "I have to say I'm leaning very heavily towards Matthew.
"I never thought I would say it, but I really thought the movie was better than the TV show. Matthew's voice is spectacular, so deep and caramelly."

Another admitted she just couldn't choose.

"In the afterglow of the film, I'd say Matthew. But I think that might be a bit unfair on poor Colin, whose breeches I would happily have jumped a few years ago."

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

I found this article in the Chicago Sun-Times online.

The new movie is the reason, but it's so much more. Enjoy!

Austen's powers: 'Pride and Prejudice' casts spell

October 23, 2005

There once was a time when the novels of Jane Austen were in vogue only in the classroom and the hearts of her ardent fans. But in the mid-'90s all that changed when the 19th century British author's works became part of popular culture with well-received television and film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

But among her novels, it is Pride and Prejudice, Austen's most popular work, that continues to spread "Austenmania" to new generations. It all started with the 1995 British miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, in a performance that continues to make hearts flutter to this day.

"This series captured Austen's interest in showing the feelings of desire between Elizabeth and Darcy," said Helen Thompson, assistant professor of English at Northwestern University and a fan of the miniseries. "The director managed to communicate that this is a book about what constitutes a good marriage, and that is love."

Jumping on the Pride and Prejudice bandwagon earlier this year was director Gurinder Chadha, whose Bollywood film adaptation, "Bride and Prejudice," transferred Austen's British tableau to modern-day India. Now the latest entry in the Austen film library, the first straightforward film version of the novel since the 1940 Greer Garson-Laurence Olivier movie, is scheduled to open on Nov. 11 in area theaters.

Meanwhile, the city's One Book, One Chicago series, currently under way, chose Pride and Prejudiceas its fall selection. And in a bit of serendipity, Skokie's Northlight Theatre is currently staging Alan Stanford's adaptation of Austen's novel. It's all things Austen in Chicago, but what brings theater, film and book people back to Pride and Prejudice again and again?

According to Thompson, Austen was the first English novelist to write a novel that would later be recognized as modern for its time; her stories still resonate today. She created the prototype for the modern-realist character and helped popularize the third person narrative style, which, at the time, transformed the novel.

"Austen is a really beautiful writer when it comes to narrative and dialogue," said Thompson, who is using the author's novels in three classes this year. "Her writing is beautiful and elegant. As a novelist, she's one of the best."

Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey, who chose Pride and Prejudice as the ninth selection for One Book, One Chicago, agrees: "Austen is a writer who makes us see the beauty of words. Her writing is so good that you reread a sentence over and over because it's evocative and funny."


Pride and Prejudice has easily transcended time; its story is hard to resist. To this day, Austen's characters continue to strike an intriguing chord of familiarity.

Published on Jan. 22, 1813, it follows the unpredictable course laid out by the novel's opening line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Mrs. Bennet is a silly, vacuous mother bent on finding husbands for her five daughters: Jane is sweet; Elizabeth is witty and clever; Mary is studious and Lydia and Kitty are just plain silly. As the machinations of matchmaking get under way, the story centers on Elizabeth and her relationship with the handsome and wealthy Mr. Darcy. Fireworks ensue.

British director Joe Wright admits he hadn't read the novel when approached about the idea of directing the new film.

"I really didn't think I was going to like it, that it was only for girls," said Wright. "I was shocked by its sense of observation and its careful study. It felt very modern and very fresh."

So it's not just the writing that attracts film and stage directors; it's also the story that, despite being set in the early 18th century, resonates to this day. One of the keys to the book's enduring success is that Austen, perhaps unwittingly, followed the adage "Write about what you know." She rarely makes mention of the world outside of the Bennet's circle and when she does it is carefully calibrated into her story.

"The outside world is kept at bay, but by doing that she illuminated the deep importance of everyday life," said Peter Amster, director of the Northlight production. "This kind of domestic comedy is particularly engaging and amusing."

Austen was an astute social critic. She had a sharp, critical eye for the people, places and things around her, which gives her writing a sense of realism that was fairly new in its time.

"I think she was observing people very carefully and wrote very much from firsthand experience in terms of her characters," said Wright. "There is an atmosphere of realism to her writing and that's what we tried to achieve in the film as well, to make it a close study of the Bennet's world."

Austen had insight into not only the silliness of some men and women but also the independence and forthrightness of others. In her novels, she freely took pokes at society, organized religion and the whims of the heart.

"For the first time, you had novels that represented this domain of private feelings and women's lives," said Thompson. "She examined how people act in private and how that affected the way they act in public."


In today's world, Austen is perhaps the only women author from her period in time who is granted great literary value. That may be in part because in some ways Pride and Prejudice is radical, a very feminist text. Austen slyly parodied the rigid moral constraints that bound women, a topic that continues to hit home today.

"Elizabeth transcends all those rules," said Thompson, referring to the novel's heroine. "The more I read it, the more I see it as not only showing an alternative to social and sexual behavior but also making a comment on marriage.

"Austen has a strong feminist vision of marital happiness. And that was a radical viewpoint for its time."

Any actress portraying Elizabeth, a beloved character to Austen fans, has a big challenge before her. Wright says Keira Knightley, who stars in the new film, was terrified about taking on the character. "But she couldn't resist the challenge," he said. "She has a great intelligence and a great independence of spirit perfect for the role."

Pride and Prejudice is a very clear-eyed story with no gauze of romance draped over it. Instead, in it Austen embraces inherent emotional truths about love, family and commitment that are the same now as they were 200 years ago.

Elizabeth is a dynamic heroine who somehow within the strictures of a restricted society manages to do things her way. But she is not perfect. She misreads people and judges others too quickly.

"She's really the best and worst of us," said Carey Cannon, who portrays Elizabeth in the Northlight production. "She's a real person and makes mistakes. But she admits to her mistakes and has this marvelous ability to learn and to grow."

"In the end, you know things will not be that easy for Elizabeth and Darcy," added Amster. "They are two very stubborn people. The best relationships are the testy ones. Jane Austen proves that in this book."

A Life gets to the heart of her passion
Many books have been written about Jane Austen and the quiet, observant life she lived in the English countryside. But by far the most revealing biography has been Claire Tomalin's intricately researched 1996 tome, Jane Austen: A Life.

Austen's life will always be a puzzle with missing pieces. Many of her letters have been destroyed but Tomalin manages to capture the details of the writer's life by piecing together her everyday routines. While many harbor a vision of Austen as a spinster sitting at her desk writing, Tomalin unveils an independent woman who partook of her world and captured glorious vignettes of it in her books.

Austen was born Dec. 16, 1775, the seventh of eight children. Her father was a rector, farmer and teacher who, along with his wife, Cassandra, instilled in the children a propensity for success. With both the boys and girls, education was stressed. Reading and writing was a love of several of the brothers, as well as Jane.

Jane and her sister, Cassandra, were close all their lives. Both were expected to marry at an early age and settle into a life of housekeeping and child-rearing. Neither did. Instead they lived a quiet life woven among their nieces and nephews and cousins and a circle of country friends.

By the time she was 16, Austen was turning out stories and plays for her families' amusement. Her father's encouragement in her writing pursuits was an admirable gesture for a man of his time.

Throughout Tomalin's detailed research, an intriguing picture of Austen begins to take shape. "She was never prim," Tomalin writes. Here was a woman who read and enjoyed Fielding's Tom Jones and Sterne's Tristram Shandy, two works considered unsuitable reading for a young lady of the time.

Tomalin also shows that Austen was more complicated emotionally. She suffered from bouts of depression that left her unable to write for long stretches. Her relief at a life lived without the constrictions of motherhood is often hinted at. Yet she was a loving sister and aunt who found time for her family when she would rather have been left alone with her writing.

When success finally came with the publication of her novels, Austen accepted it with modesty, never seeking the limelight. The novels were published anonymously.

Mary Houlihan

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

For honesty's sake, here's a more critical review...

P&P review by Sandra Hall


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And a few positive ones in the Australian magazine The Age...

three PP reviews

Image hosted by

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

He is a brilliant Mr Darcy – and, dare I say, as good as Firth. I was so easily swayed, I felt cheap.

read more below...

Source: Sunday Mail (Australia)

Pride in the name of love
ONE of the main differences between this adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and others is that there's hardly a heaving bosom in sight. Director Joe Wright has gone for a naturalistic look in his telling of this cherished 19th century love story.

Rather than ringlets, alabaster cleavages and manicured gardens, he gives us characters with ruddy complexions and messy hair. Farmyard scenes show grunting pigs and chickens scratching in the dirt.

It's an interesting difference that in no way detracts from what is a beautiful realisation of the classic.

The screenplay was adapted by the talented Deborah Moggach (Love in a Cold Climate, Final Demand). She tells the story humorously and effortlessly. It's a delightful cinematic experience.

There are many magnificent exterior shots of Lizzy Bennet (Keira Knightley). She looks tiny against the vast backdrop and the image may remind you more of an Emily Bronte novel than a Jane Austen one.Knightley is good as the quick-witted Lizzy. She can be an irritatingly affected actor, as we saw in films such as Love Actually and King Arthur. Here, she holds her own and you come to enjoy her charming, measured performance.

Lizzy is the second of five sisters. Her older sister, Jane (Rosamund Pike), is gentle and sensible.
She's one of those annoying women who is always sweet and never gossips about anyone.
When she is rejected by a suitor, you can tell it is breaking her heart.

Mary (Talulah Riley), their next sister, is a priggish bore. The two youngest girls, Kitty (Carey Mulligan) and Lydia (Jena Malone), are giggling airheads.

Their parents are the ambitious Mrs Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) and Mr Bennet (Donald Sutherland).
Longing for peace and quiet, Mr Bennet lets his wife and girls do as they please. It's a mistake, as the youngest girls and his wife prove a social hindrance to Lizzy and Jane.

Lizzy catches the eye of wealthy landowner Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). She misjudges him on his cold, aloof exterior and their first meetings are awkward, even though it's obvious the attraction between them is strong.

Their clever put-downs of one another and those around them are delicious to watch. Austen's storytelling is magnificent and the excellent cast do her justice.

Purists may believe Colin Firth is the definitive Mr Darcy after his drop-dead gorgeous portrayal in the 1995 mini-series opposite Jennifer Ehle. But I say take the challenge and accept Matthew MacFadyen into your heart. He is a brilliant Mr Darcy – and, dare I say, as good as Firth. I was so easily swayed, I felt cheap.

Also well cast is Tom Hollander as the blithering Mr Collins, a dull priest in awe of his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Judi Dench).
"I am not someone to be trifled with," Lady Catherine warns Lizzy. But Miss Bennet's not bothered. Not much intimidates her. It's one of the many reasons she's such a brilliant heroine.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Renee - thanks for continuing to bring these reviews to us - such a pleasure to read.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

You're very welcome, dear Sofie, I'm so thrilled with this movie that it's entirely my pleasure to collect and post all reviews I think worthwhile, have a certain substance, are well argumented (good and bad!)

Here's another one al the way from New-Zealand

"For those who consider some roles to belong to an actor, Firth will always be the arrogant, wealthy and snobbish Darcy; but while he mastered the arrogant Darcy, MacFadyen masters the vulnerable Darcy and somehow makes this charmless character charming."

Image hosted by Photobucket.comvulnerable Darcy


Image hosted by Photobucket.comarrogant Darcy

Pride and Prejudice
Reviewed by Francesca Rudkin

The question on most people's lips is whether Matthew MacFadyen is a better Mr Darcy than Colin Firth was in the 1995 BBC mini-series, indicating the film's potential audience is more interested in romantic thrills than an impressive and just interpretation of Jane Austen's literary classic.

This is exactly how this film should be approached in order to avoid disappointment. Director Joe Wright isn't a newcomer to period dramas (he directed the mini-series Charles II: The Power and the Passion). However, this is his first attempt at a feature film and he couldn't have picked a more beloved story of romance hindered by misunderstandings and a rigid class pecking order to make his mark.

Those appalled by the Bollywood adaptation Bride and Prejudice will be relieved that Wright has taken a safe option with this adaptation, remaining faithful to Austen's sentiment and retaining the late 18th-century English setting.

Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn steals the show as Mrs Bennet, desperate to marry off her five daughters, and Donald Sutherland is surprisingly well-suited to the role of her worn down, gentle husband. Would-be suitors Mr Collins (Tom Hollander) and Mr Bingley (Simon Woods) put a smile on your face, but these performances are nothing less than expected from a cast of this calibre.

The most controversial casting must be Knightley and MacFadyen. Purists will find Knightley too beautiful to play plain Elizabeth Bennet, but she is surprisingly natural, fresh and spirited as the second Bennet daughter, and is perfectly accompanied by Rosamund Pike as her elder, more eligible sister Jane.

For those who consider some roles to belong to an actor, Firth will always be the arrogant, wealthy and snobbish Darcy; but while he mastered the arrogant Darcy, MacFadyen masters the vulnerable Darcy and somehow makes this charmless character charming.

Wright does attempt to offer us something new. His Pride & Prejudice has a grittier feel about it, an added element of realism highlighting the class differences between the modest, middle-class country folk and the wealthy landowners.

However, the addition of mud and farm animals to the Bennet's yard isn't enough to make this Pride & Prejudice a standout.

Funny that her conclusion is somewhat contrary to the enthusiasm of the rest of the review, but I understand what she means, there are indeed some flaws from a cinematographical point of view (I deliberately do not compare the 'real' story and the movie, I look at the film as a film.) I prefer to overlook because the enjoyment the movie has given me as an entirety.


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Oops I forgot! Both Darcys definitely are fabulous, lovely, wonderful and great. The difference is... they're so different. A thing BTW I'm most happy about. Imagine MM would have been some sort of a clone of CF, IMHO there wouldn't have been a point of making the new movie at all...


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

Wow, they like Matthew... and P&P in New Zealand, something to do with My Father's Den perhaps...


Review: Pride and Prejudice
03 November 2005

Colin Firth's cottage industry of sub-Darcy roles finally appears to be under serious threat.

Intensely charismatic as Paul Prior In My Father's Den, Matthew MacFadyen's Mr Darcy is a contender. Like Prior, Darcy needs to surrender to the sky his heart of anger.

After the interesting but mixed transposition to contemporary Bollywood styles with Bride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's 1812 novel is taken back to its roots with Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice.

Unlike the peculiarly flat A Good Woman, which had much of the juice sucked out of it, this spin on classic Brit lit is a passionate, kicking thoroughbred; a streamlined, more cinematic model of the excellent but overloved 1995 BBC tele-version starring Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

It's not just MacFadyen who's perceptively cast and rewardingly played. At the centre of it all is the lovely Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. Knightley is feisty, graceful and winsome. Her delivery, such as the riposte when he she overhears Darcy carelessly dismiss her looks as just "tolerable", is stiletto sharp.

"I could more easily forgive his vanity had he not wounded mine". The text's the thing; the movie is true to Austen's wit and fluency, vibrantly fleshing it out.

The pride and prejudice Elizabeth and Darcy must overcome before they hook up is piquant. This is the sophisticated, fiery bloodsport of romantic sparring that the likes of Closer wish they had.

I'm not overly fond of Brenda Blethyn, but she's just the trick for Mrs Bennet, the incorrigible, hysterical guppy, ever coming up with new ways to be inappropriate and irritating.

As Mr Bennet, Donald Sutherland has the right mixture of stoicism and dry humour for dealing with his family - "Mary, dear. You have delighted us long enough", to his daughter plodding at the piano.

Fifteen-year old party-girl Lydia (Jena Malone) is more vacuous than his wife. Judi Dench, the grand old dame, plumbs belligerent aristo Lady Catherine de Bourg.

AdvertisementAdvertisementTom Hollander oils vicar Mr Collins, with his excruciatingly funny marriage proposal. The detailed, lavish production design more sharply draws Pride and Prejudice's property/class hierarchy.

Like the film, the Bennet residence has a bit of grit as well as elegance.

Article in Rolling Stone... cool!

Source: Rolling Stone / 03/11/05

Pride and Prejudice
Granted that screen and tv adaptations of Jane Austen's most popular novel are nothing new, the last being the 2004 Bollywood musical Bride and Prejudice. And granted that the peak is still the five-hour 1995 BBC miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and a never-better Colin Firth. But even the most rabid Janeites must allow that director Joe Wright, 33, has given Austen's novel a beguilingly youthful spin without compromising the novel's late-eighteenth-century manners.

Beneath his formal puffy shirts and snobbish demeanor, Mr. Darcy, as played by the persuasively impassioned Matthew Macfadyen, burns for Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) , the second of five daughters of a mother (Brenda Blethyn) who is desperate to marry them all off and a father (a wryly funny Donald Sutherland) who makes his influence felt more quietly.

Wright and screenwriter Deborah Moggach deftly keep the convoluted plot buzzing -- the early ball scene is a marvel of swirling amorous intrigue. But it's the erotic battle of wits between Darcy and Elizabeth that really kicks in. Knightley, 20, is possessed of the longest swanlike neck since Audrey Hepburn. But since her lively 2002 breakthrough in Bend It Like Beckham, she's been told to posture (Domino) or just look pretty (Pirates of the Caribbean). As the strong-willed Elizabeth, Knightley is a lippy, tantalizing ball of fire. Just watch her reject an unsuitable suitor (a wonderfully comic Tom Hollander) or take on Darcy's formidable aunt Lady Catherine (Dame Judi Dench in ham heaven). Better yet, watch her frosty rejection of Darcy thaw when he confesses his ardor for her on a misty moor. Romantic yearning hasn't looked this sexy onscreen in years.

Posted Nov 03, 2005)

Goodie, an interview with MM in NY Times!


Mr. Darcy, next generation
By Sarah Lyall The New York Times


LONDON Anyone signing up to play Mr. Darcy in a film version of "Pride and Prejudice" naturally takes on a lot of baggage. First he must contend with the character himself, one of literature's great romantic heroes and a man almost too exquisitely drawn on the page to be rendered faithfully on film.

Then there are also the ghosts of Darcys past. These include the gorgeous Laurence Olivier, whose long-lashed, Byronic performance in the 1940 film opposite Greer Garson shouted "Hollywood Leading Man." Forty-five years later, the gorgeous-in-a-different-way Colin Firth captivated a generation of British women when he emerged, dripping and fully dressed, from a lake in the 1995 BBC version - a moment as indelible in its way as the one in which Marlon Brando shouts "Stella!" in his undershirt.

In the latest "Pride & Prejudice," which opened in London in September and opens in the United States this month, Matthew MacFadyen emerges as a moodier, subtler, more tormented Mr. Darcy than either of his predecessors. He has his own wet-T-shirt-moment equivalent, when he strides romantically from the mist toward the end of the film. But he says that - in his own mind, at least - he was not an obvious choice for the part.

"I don't feel like a romantic lead; I guess I feel more like a character actor," MacFadyen confessed recently. Dressed down for an interview in jeans and a sweatshirt, he lived up to his advance billing as the epitome of non-starry casualness.

"I don't look like Mr. Darcy in my head," he went on. "If I could paint Darcy, he would be dishier, darker-haired than I am."

In tackling the part, MacFadyen, a classically trained actor who enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art just after high school, tried not to be unnerved by the specter of his predecessors, particularly Firth, universally acknowledged to be the gold standard of Darcyness until now. Nor did he read Jane Austen's novel in advance, lest it muddy his understanding of the script. (He has since read "Pride and Prejudice.") It helped, too, to think of Mr. Darcy as human rather than iconic, as suffering not just from the pride of the film's title but also from an unease and awkwardness in his own skin.

"Nobody's just arrogant," MacFadyen said. "I've met people who are embattled and dismissive, but when you get to know them you find that they're vulnerable - that that hauteur or standoffishness is because they're pedaling furiously underneath.

"I found it heartbreaking and sympathetic," he went on, speaking of Mr. Darcy's emotional fragility. "He's a young man who doesn't know who he is yet. Even though he's 28 and comes from this ancient family and has a huge estate, he has that adolescent quality of taking himself very seriously and being very passionate. I don't see him not caring about anybody. I think he cares very deeply. He's just locked up."

At first blush, MacFadyen, 31, seems to share Mr. Darcy's brooding inarticulateness. Silences fall while he gropes for words, starts and fails to finish sentences, lets his thoughts trail off. It's not that he doesn't like to be pinned down, exactly; it's more that he can't verbalize what he truly wants to say.

With mostly television and stage experience, he is not yet schooled in the Hollywood publicity convention wherein a movie star earnestly defines his craft and describes his extensive preparation for a part.

"Everyone goes, 'How did you prepare for the role, how did you approach it?"' MacFadyen said. "Well, you turn up, learn your lines, grow some sideburns, play the scene and go home. I got on with it. It really is as simple as that. You have to think about it and everything, but you can't describe your own workings out or thinkings or wonderings."

But then he tried: "The simpler it gets, the more difficult it gets," he said, referring to film acting. "Trying to be very simple and truthful is hard, because the tendency is to want to color it and add on."

MacFadyen specializes in playing characters with reservoirs of emotion beneath deceptively cool surfaces: a conflicted but deadly MI5 spy in "Spooks," on the BBC; Prince Hal in both parts of "Henry IV," opposite Michael Gambon's Falstaff at the National Theatre. More recently, in the film "In My Father's Den," he played a troubled New Zealand war photographer who returns home when his father dies and unearths terrible, long-buried family secrets.

While many male stars turn out to be disappointingly delicate in person, MacFadyen is 6-foot-3, or about 1.9 meters, of brawn. "I wanted someone who is a proper manly man, and not just a pretty boy," said the director, Joe Wright. MacFadyen also impressed Wright and Paul Webster, the film's producer, by his lustful chemistry with Keira Knightley, who plays Elizabeth Bennet.

"He was our first choice, but it's equally true that we were making a fairly expensive film by British standards, for Universal, and we owed it to them to make sure that many of the more established actors around were given a shot," Webster said. "Once he auditioned against Keira, it was clear that there was no competition."

When "Pride and Prejudice" opened in London, it threw the new Mr. Darcy into a raging argument about whether he was as good as Firth. "The Great Darcy Debate," read the headline in the Daily Mail, with women lining up behind the two men.

What of Mr. Darcy and Lizzy after the story is over? There are two endings to the film: the British version ends with a witticism by Mr. Bennet, taken directly from the novel; the American version ends with the two leads canoodling in a very un-Austenian manner. "I think it seems like a perfect marriage," MacFadyen said. "It's the classic attraction of opposites, you know - pulling and pushing at each other. And fascinated by each other."

Alas for moviegoers with crushes, MacFadyen has his own object of marital fascination: the actor Keely Hawes, his co-star in "Spooks" and the mother of his child. But his settled home life has not helped him feel comfortable in his new role of Big Star, no more than his good reviews have.

As an example, MacFadyen described seeing Gambon - who has replaced the late Richard Harris in the role of Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" films - answer a fan's question about the difficulties of filling Harris's shoes. When Gambon responded that yes, it had been difficult, not least because he has a different foot size, everyone laughed at the joke.

But MacFadyen had no such luck when he tried the same ploy at the "Pride & Prejudice" premiere in London, in response to a similar question about stepping into the shoes of Firth. It fell completely flat, he said.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

The movie has opened in England a month ago, where it jumped to the top of the box office charts.

"It also opened in Holland, but it was only No. 2 there," he said, adding with a laugh: "We lost out to a movie called 'My Hot Sausage Paradise.' How can Jane Austen compete with a movie like that?"

My Hot Sausage Paradise is a hilarious Dutch blockbuster, so funny he mentions it... Anyway, enjoy this interview with Joe Wirght!

Jeff Strickler, Star Tribune, Minneapolis
Last update: November 3, 2005 at 5:59 PM

A fresh look at an Austen classic

Why do we need yet another version of "Pride and Prejudice"? Between feature films, made-for-TV movies and miniseries, the Jane Austen classic has been adapted eight times -- and that's not counting numerous spinoffs, including last year's "Bride and Prejudice."

But director Joe Wright says his movie is necessary because it boasts something that none of the others can match: Even though the book was written about teenagers, he's the first director to cast teens in the main roles.

"This is a story about young people feeling things for each other that they don't completely understand," he said during a visit to the Twin Cities to promote this week's opening of the film. "It doesn't make sense to have older actors playing the roles. This isn't 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin.' "

Before Austen devotees launch a campaign to beatify Wright for his insistence of remaining true to the source material, he needs to make a confession: He's not one of those elitist Brits who grew up lambasting Hollywood for corrupting his homeland's classic literature. Until two years ago, he hadn't seen any of the earlier Austen movies. And he hadn't read the books.

"I had never read the book before I got the script," he admitted. "I read the script first, and I was so moved by it that I went back and read the book. I was deeply shamed at my ignorance. When I was growing up, there was a bias against this book that it wasn't for boys. Then I read it, and I discovered that there is so much in there for everyone."

He dug up some of the adaptations and was in the process of watching them when he had, if not an epiphany, at least an "aha" moment.

"I watched the Laurence Olivier version [from 1940] and the Colin Firth version [from 1995] before it hit me: Why do we call them the Laurence Olivier and Colin Firth versions?" he said. "This isn't a story about a man. It's a story about a young woman. I want my movie to be known as the Keira Knightley version."

A 'scruffy kid' in jeans

Knightley was 18 when Wright met her.

"She was this scruffy kid with holes in her jeans," he recalled. "I knew right away that she was what I was looking for. You have to remember that Jane Austen was 21 when she wrote the first draft of the novel. She was writing about her peers, young women Keira's age. By casting actors the right age, we gave the movie a sense of reality, a sense of truth and a sense of youthful energy."

But in the next breath, he cautions Austen fans against expecting too accurate an interpretation. While he's proud of how closely the movie reflects the tone of the book, there's no way that it can match the breadth of the context.

"The movie is only two hours and seven minutes," he said. "We had to focus on Elizabeth and Darcy [her suitor], and that detracted from the other stories. The most unfortunate is Jane [Elizabeth's older sister]. I would have liked to have done more with her story."

This is the first feature film Wright has directed, but it's not his first period piece. Before starting work on this, he wrapped up post-production on a TV miniseries on British King Charles II that was broadcast by PBS as "The Last King."

"I love doing period pieces," he said. "I love all the little details. And I like to assimilate a sense of the cultural and political landscapes."

"Pride and Prejudice" turned out to be a fertile subject for a filmmaker.

"An Austen adaptation allows you a lot of space visually," he said. "She didn't write visually; at least, not at that point, although she did later. This book has a very tight focus on the story structure, leaving you free to imagine what things looked like."

The movie has opened in England a month ago, where it jumped to the top of the box office charts.

"It also opened in Holland, but it was only No. 2 there," he said, adding with a laugh: "We lost out to a movie called 'My Hot Sausage Paradise.' How can Jane Austen compete with a movie like that?"

Getting serious about Mrs. Bennet... :)

"When I would tell people I was hoping to play this part, they'd say, oh, she's a wonderful cartoon, an over-the-top character. I'd say, no she's not! She's the only one taking the problem seriously, and it's a real problem." Brenda Blythen

Exactly my thoughts, and I've often expressed them during PP discussions. A woman of 'mean understanding' she may be, but she is far more responsibile than her husband who's supposed to be an intelligent man... R~

The Seattle Times: 11/06/05
Getting serious about the role of Mrs. Bennet
By Moira Macdonald

She was, Jane Austen tells us, "a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news."

She is, of course, Mrs. Bennet, mother of five daughters in Austen's beloved novel "Pride and Prejudice." On screen, in the many film and television versions of the novel, her obsession with improving the lot of her girls is often played for laughs; she's a meddling, comical yenta. But British actress Brenda Blethyn, who plays the role in Joe Wright's new film version of "Pride & Prejudice," wanted to do something different.

"I thought it was important not to trivialize her," said Blethyn, in Toronto after the film's North American premiere (it opens here Friday). "When I would tell people I was hoping to play this part, they'd say, oh, she's a wonderful cartoon, an over-the-top character. I'd say, no she's not! She's the only one taking the problem seriously, and it's a real problem."

The two-time Oscar nominee (for "Secrets and Lies" and "Little Voice") said she gave much thought to the sober reality of Mrs. Bennet's predicament as the matriarch of a not-wealthy family without a male heir in Regency England, in the late 18th century. "This was before any kind of social benefits," Blethyn said. "The money goes down the male line. There's no problem as long as Mr. Bennet's alive, so he wasn't too concerned. But [Mrs. Bennet] keeps reminding him."

Mrs. Bennet, it turns out, is a bit of a blank slate for an actress. The character — whose first name we never learn — is mostly revealed in the novel through dialogue, with Austen providing little description or editorializing. Blethyn also notes that we are seeing Mrs. Bennet from the perspective of a young woman, barely out of her teens. (Austen was 21 when she wrote the original manuscript.)

"I think most of us at some point in our lives found our mothers embarrassing, their pride and their boasting," said Blethyn, laughing. "My mum certainly embarrassed me!"

Though Blethyn longed for the role — she'd loved the novel since reading it as a girl — she worried that her vision might not fit with that of Wright's. She remembers her first meeting with the director: "I said to Joe, I would love to play this part, but you're not going to make her a caricature, are you? I think you have to understand her problem. He said, 'absolutely. I wouldn't want you to play it that way, I'm asking you because I think you won't do that.'"

Wright's approach to the material emphasized realism over caricature, even in the details. The cast, which also includes Keira Knightley as Elizabeth, Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy and Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet, assembled last year to shoot the film on location at several stately homes in the British countryside. Blethyn and the rest of the Bennet family got a bonus: a pre-shooting weekend at Groombridge Place, nearby in southern English, which played the role of the Bennet family home.

The property, with its 1660 house (it's a modern dwelling, so to speak; the estate dates from around 1200), was in the process of changing hands, for only the second time in 400 years. "Joe had the wonderful idea of us all going down to Groombridge Place the weekend before we started filming, to get to know the house more," said Blethyn. "We played hide and seek in the house for the best part of the day." Once production started, cast members not being filmed would retreat not to trailers but to their character's bedrooms.

Wright encouraged the cast to ad-lib lines and talk all at once, as a real family would — particularly one with five chatty daughters. And at family meals, the Bennets dove in with gusto, compared with more formal manners when company was present. "They're kind of like a scrum, when they're on their own," said Blethyn fondly.

The costumes, by Jacqueline Durran, added to the realistic effect. The hems of the skirts are dirty, and if you look closely, you can see that many of the dresses are mended. "There are little patches in [Mrs. Bennet's] dresses that have been made with the new fabric from the girls' dresses," remembered Blethyn. "The dresses are all handmade, as they would have been."

Blethyn, who'll next be seen opposite Peter Mullan in the contemporary British drama "On a Clear Day," recently saw the completed "Pride & Prejudice" for the first time, and, like the legions of other readers and viewers of this story over the years, she found herself caught up in its central romance. "The scenes between Matthew and Keira, I hadn't seen until I watched the film," she said, "and I just got that feeling in my tummy, of longing for them to work it out."

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

"One doesn't try to make it modern, one just tries to make it honest," he says. "But I think it is relevant to the modern age. In a sense, the story of Pride & Prejudice is about the triumph of the imagination. It is about people who have the imagination to be able to picture a world in which they can transcend social barriers and economic barriers and find a love that wouldn't have been possible before.

"And that is as relevant now as it would have been then."

Read the rest of the interviews here: A Renewed Sense of Pride


Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

source: New York Daily News 11/06/05


As giddy Lydia in 'Pride & Prejudice,'
Jena Malone steals every scene she's in

HOLLYWOOD - As the only American in the latest version of Jane Austen's classic novel "Pride and Prejudice," opening Friday, Jena Malone felt intimidated. "I was 19, and I didn't feel I'd be able to be 15-year-old Lydia," Malone says of playing the youngest and giddiest of the five Bennet sisters. "But I found her through this very particular giggle. It just came from nowhere, and it took over."

It defines her hormonally stoked, recklessly flirtatious character, who, as one of the most thoughtless young females Austen ever wrote, brings moral shame on her family.

"If you took Lydia out of 'Pride and Prejudice' and put her into today, she'd be one of the popular girls," Malone says. "She loves soldiers, dressing up, silly games and laughter. She's so concerned about the things she likes to do that she doesn't see how they affect others. She's basically a carbon copy of her mother" - the indiscreet Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), whose one goal is to find husbands for her brood. "She's not embarrassed by her. She's inspired by her," Malone adds.

Joe Wright, the director of "Pride & Prejudice," says that "a lot of people who came in to read for Lydia's part had perfectly ironed hair, sat very nicely and said the things they thought you wanted to hear.

"Then this little scruffbag who had driven seven hours from Lake Tahoe came in and had these extraordinary ideas. Jena was the only person on both sides of the Atlantic who was perfect for the part. It was important that Lydia look like a child, so that her elopement with Mr. Wickham would be shocking."

"If they made 'Pride & Prejudice 2,' Lydia would become more of a tragic figure," Malone says. "Her innocence and the way she views the world will crumble. She'll be able to see more clearly the man she married. As they drive off, she has an inkling of an abusive relationship.

"But Lydia is the type of girl who will make things happen. If she has to go live with her sister Lizzie and Darcy, she'll just show up on their doorstep. She's a feisty little monkey."

Malone is not normally a giggler. A serious actress, she came to notice at age 11 when she gave a devastating performance as a sexually abused child in 1996's "******* Out of Carolina." She has since played a number of troubled and precocious young women.

Her credits include the cult movie "Donnie Darko," "Life as a House," "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" and "Saved!" In "Cold Mountain," she rowed the deserter hero Inman (Jude Law) and Rev. Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) across a river and was then shot by a sniper - yet she managed to create a memorable character in her few seconds of screen time.

When Malone was 10, she convinced her mother to move to Hollywood. She sued for emancipation when she was 14 and then left town at 18 - though she hasn't stopped working.

"It wasn't worth sifting through such excessive b.s.," Malone says. "I tried to fit in and put on makeup and pretty dresses, but I always felt like a weirdo."

Malone bought a house in Northern California. "I wake up in the morning, shovel snow and build things with my hands," she says. "It's the 31st place I've lived in my life, and it's mine. I like having such a stable foundation. Other 20-year-olds are going to school, but I'm excited about taking the trash out every Tuesday."

Critical but written with wit... ;)

Enjoy this critical review, that's written however with 'esprit' and most certainly doesn't run it down.

The New Yorker
Issue of 2005-11-14
Posted 2005-11-07

“Pride and Prejudice” and “Bee Season.”

The new film of “Pride and Prejudice,” directed by Joe Wright, plays fast and loose with the novel. This is a good thing, the fast being as welcome as the loose. You can hear the creaks and scrapes as the screenwriter, Deborah Moggach, moves around the furniture of the plot and tosses out—not without regret, presumably—many of the charming inessentials. Still, the lovers and the loathers stay intact. Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) despises, tolerates, and eventually melts before Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), whose country pad is the size of a small planet—not that Lizzie cares a fig for such ephemera. Meanwhile, her sister Jane (Rosamund Pike) makes timid eyes at a carroty chump named Bingley (Simon Woods), who has taken a house nearby. There are three more Bennet sisters, whose idiocy thickens in inverse proportion to their age; a mewing mother (Brenda Blethyn), her cheeks prawn-pink with the exertion of marrying off her brood; and a father (Donald Sutherland), who listens to the farmlike cacklings of the household and, quite properly, shuts his study door. I know that we are meant to treat Mr. Bennet’s disengagement from the fray as moral cowardice, but he remains my favorite character in fiction, and anybody who has raised children will applaud his penchant for bookish retreat as a mark of tactical sanity.

What would Mr. Bennet make of the film? He would be left wondering, I suspect, why God gave him only two eyebrows to raise. Let us not even ponder the likely reactions of Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Judi Dench), Darcy’s glacier of an aunt, or those of Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander), the reverend munchkin who resides on Lady Catherine’s estate and slithers beneath her gaze. What they would find incomprehensible in the movie is not the storytelling, which charts with commendable briskness the motions of various hearts, but the prevailing mood. Who is this figure, complete with steed and flying cape, who canters through the dusky woods as if eager to get home before the moon turns him into a wolf? Why, it is our friend Mr. Darcy, who has just popped round to deliver a letter. What is the purpose of this tangerine glow that fills the screen? Has the movie taken an unheralded commercial break, in which tanning lotion is being hawked to the audience? No, this is the view from inside Lizzie’s closed eyelids on a sunny day. And whence this knocking at the door after dark, which brings the nightshirted Bennets downstairs with quivering candles? It is Lady Catherine, come to bawl and bark at Lizzie in a surprising reënactment of the drill-sergeant routine from “Full Metal Jacket.”

What has happened is perfectly clear: Jane Austen has been Brontëfied. In the book, Lady Catherine appears in daylight, “too early in the morning for visitors.” The film has rightly kept the hint of social insolence but switched the hour, so that the dramatic may be shaded and inked into melodrama. The question is not whether the director was justified in that transmutation but whether he had the choice; whether any of us, as moviemakers, viewers, or readers, retain the ability—not so much the scholarly equipment as the imaginative clairvoyance—to see Austen clearly. Maybe we are doomed to view her through the smoked glass of the intervening centuries, during which the spirit of romance, and the role of the body within it, have evolved out of all recognition. Why, when Lizzie accompanies her aunt and uncle to the Peak District of England, should the film take care to set her silent upon a peak, her dress and tresses stirring in the wind, if not to drop the clanging hint that Mr. Darcy is less an icy gentleman of means than a britches-busting Heathcliff in the making?

The hint becomes a yodel toward the end, as Matthew Macfadyen strides grimly through a wet meadow, at some ungodly hour, with Keira Knightley squarely in his sights. He has donned a long coat, which sways fetchingly in the mist; obviously it was copied from a Human League video of the nineteen-eighties, but I’m ****ed if I can remember which one. For her part, Knightley has been crisp and quick throughout—more girl than woman than seems fit, perhaps, and a boyish girl to boot, but ready and able to hold her own in any rally of wits. Now, like the queen in “Aliens,” she extends her famous underbite and gets down to business. Widening her eyes to maximum chocolaty hue, she stares into his, which are of that sea-cold, grayish blue favored by Gestapo officers in war movies. Hero and heroine bare their feelings to each other; every misunderstanding dissolves in the dawn. In a last, despairing gesture to Georgian England, they do not kiss. Oddly, however, they do rub noses, like well-bred Eskimos, while the rising sun gleams between the tips. Elsewhere in the meadow, the world’s leading Richard Clayderman impersonator is pounding away at the keys. All in all, a heavenly moment, and only hard-asses like Lady Catherine and me will fail to be affected. Any resemblance to scenes and characters created by Miss Austen is, of course, entirely coincidental.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

And another long article with a few nice pictures of the other productions, hence the link.
US Today

And this one... in The MIT Tech

film review ***1/2: Two Centuries Later, ...Pride and Prejudice... Still Delightful
Jane Austen Novel Adapted Perfectly for Modern Moviegoers
By Yong-yi Zhu

Pride and Prejudice

Directed by Joe Wright

Written by Deborah Moggach

Based on the novel by Jane Austen

Starring Keira Knightley,
Matthew MacFayden

Rated PG-13

Opens Friday, Nov. 11, 2005

Much as a tender heart can be touched and transformed by love, so your moviegoing experience will be enlightened and enchanted by the brilliance of Joe Wright’s “Pride and Prejudice.” His adaptation is absolutely perfect for the big screen; from the music to the camerawork to the casting, everything about this film will absolutely dazzle you.

The story is a classic. Mrs. Bennett (Brenda Blethyn) wants all of her daughters to marry rich, successful men. Unfortunately, she has five of them to send off. Jane (Rosamund Pike) is the eldest, and the best prospect of the bunch. Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), on the other hand, is younger and much plainer-looking than Jane. One night, when they go to a ball, they meet two men, Charles Bingley (Simon Woods) and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFayden). Bingley is a terribly amiable character, and he takes to Jane immediately. Darcy, on the other hand, is caught calling Elizabeth “barely tolerable.” From then on, the film reveals how all the relationships between the suitors and the daughters play out.

Be forewarned: this film is not the BBC adaptation with Colin Firth — this is a movie, not a miniseries. As much as one might be tempted to compare the two, they reside in completely different realms. With five hours, one can recreate every detail in the novel. With only two hours, Wright had to pick and choose what he wanted to include, and he captured all the major themes of the book. Not only did he include the most relevant parts of the novel, he also picked the perfect actors to play the parts. The hidden gem in this movie is Matthew MacFayden. He may not be Colin Firth, but his portrayal of Mr. Darcy is more than adequate. His aloofness, shyness, and subtlety in portraying Darcy’s love for Elizabeth are absolutely brilliant. His performance, in fact, bewitches us “body and soul.”

When I first heard the casting of Knightley as Elizabeth, I was skeptical of whether or not any actress could top her presence. After all, Jane is supposed to be lovelier than Elizabeth. Somehow, not only does Rosamund Pike fit perfectly into the role of Jane, she manages to light up the screen every moment she is on camera. Her cheeriness and upbeat outlook help her seal the deal as a perfect Jane.

Pike could never have pulled off Jane without Knightley looking plain, and that’s where the costume and makeup artists performed magic. She constantly has grime on her. Her dark brown hair makes her average and her drab clothing gives her a dull look. Her performance, however, is anything but ordinary. The role is incredibly subtle, much like MacFayden’s. She cannot reveal too many of her feelings, yet at the same time, she has to be brutally blunt to her other suitors. Knightley pulled off that tricky balance of extreme prejudice and hidden pride.

Donald Sutherland and Brenda Bleythn, who play Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, are wonderful as parents. While the mother’s emotions are out of control, the father is as detached as a parent of five girls can be. That contrast helps to further explicate the chaos in the Bennett home.

In addition to the casting, the rest of the film is also well done. The camerawork is superb, to which the opening shot of the movie can attest. The camera finds its way across the yard outside the Bennett house, snakes through the house and heads out the back door to travel into the yard again. The film is in fact littered with these winding camera shots. Instead of using five hours to portray the action associated in many different times, Wright uses these shots to give a fuller picture of what everyone in the film is doing all at once; something that a book can do easily, but is not so simple in a movie.

Wright incorporates the music beautifully into the film, as he often blends a particular character playing the piano into the background. Wright also uses symmetry thought the film to depict the absolute grandeur of the building, rooms and scenes in 19th century England. The shots are so poignant that they stay in your head long after the movie is over, causing you to wonder whether you should buy a castle in Derbyshire. What you shouldn’t wonder about is whether or not to see the movie: the answer is obviously yes.

This story was published on Tuesday, November 8, 2005.
Volume 125, Number 53

Revealing Wright... ;)

Joe Wright has some revealing things to say in this interview in The Seattle Weekly of 11/09/05...

An Interview with Joe Wright
by Tim Appelo

Director Joe Wright never thought he'd be in Seattle at the Four Seasons promoting his first feature, an Austen picture (see review). "I'd never seen the other adaptations. I was reticent about even reading the script. I kind of thought Pride and Prejudice was for girls." Now he swears it's the first version that isn't for boys. "People talk about Laurence Olivier's Pride and Prejudice or Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice, the miniseries. It seems wrong that people talk about it in terms of the males. It feels sexist to me. So I tried to make a film about Elizabeth Bennet, and hopefully this is Keira Knightley's Pride & Prejudice."

It's also less brainy than the 1995 BBC miniseries written by Andrew Davies. "Davies is a very intellectual writer. I don't think of myself as being a very intellectual filmmaker. I work from instinct and intuition rather than from clear analytical intellectual thought. Which is to say I'm not very bright, really."

His bright idea is that Austen's first book, written at 21, is about young people. "It's about people falling in love for the first time, not understanding exactly how they feel. Olivier was a man in his 40s playing Darcy . . . [it] doesn't make sense to me!"

The toughest shot was the film's best. "The long Steadicam sequence in the second ball, like three and one-half minutes. It keeps everybody moving constantly." Wright was trying to convey Bingley's yet-unrequited love for Jane without the cliché of having him watch her dance with another guy. "I thought if Bingley is walking behind Jane, he might hold onto her dress, feel the texture of her silk ribbon, and that would make him feel like he was holding onto her apron strings—he's slightly vulnerable in his love for her. I wanted the audience to feel it was in a 360-degree world."

"I'm quite romantic," says Wright. But his study of the montage experiments of the Russian director Dziga Vertov taught him that the audience's emotions are what counts. The emotion viewers see written all over the face of Darcy (Matthew MacFayden) at the end, walking through the mist to embrace Lizzie, is in fact entirely projected thereupon. "Matthew is very blind. So that shot which women seem to swoon over—I'm behind the camera with a red flag waving so he knows where to walk. All he's trying to do is work out where's the red. That's montage!"

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

The Seattle Weekly: 11/09/05

Another critical, but interesting article by the same journalist who interviewed JW previously (posted in this thread as well). Enjoy... or don't... or... ah well, just read it!

Up Your Skirt
Screw Jane Austen; Candace Bushnell could be the creator of this sexy new Elizabeth Bennet.
by Tim Appelo

There is no way to turn Jane Austen's dialogue-based diagram of turn-of-the-19th-century exurban England and the timeless human heart into a movie. And yet that is the mission of Pride & Prejudice (which opens Friday, Nov. 11, at the Guild 45 and other theaters). Even the exemplary 1995 BBC miniseries that made Jennifer Ehle a star as Elizabeth Bennet and contributed both the classics-crazy screenwriter Andrew Davies and Colin Firth's Darcy to the Bridget Jones movies inevitably misses the mark. Or rather, hits an entirely different mark. Its largeness fails to contain the novel's multitudes, but it's a heavenly five hours one never wants to end, except that one's desperate to see the foregone conclusion of betrothal. As Martin Amis notes, "Jane Austen makes Mrs. Bennets of us all."

And here is a new 127-minute version, only the second feature since the 117- minute 1940 P&P with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Director Joe Wright (see interview) is utterly unbookish; he never read the novel, having devoted his life to reading movies intensively instead. Like protective Regency parents, starchy Austenites are howling about the outrageous liberties Wright has taken with their buttoned-up charge. How dare he give such short shrift to Lizzie's nubile sisters! Rosamund Pike's Jane is poised but pallid as the era's demure ideal girl, and the others, meant to voice the available modes of womanhood, scarcely register as more than a geek chorus of squeals. Only the impulsive horndog kid sis, Lydia (sly, subversive Jena Malone) gets a proper part, perhaps because her sex-positive nature is closest to the director's heart.

Jane's suitor Mr. Bingley (hunky Simon Woods) is oddly played as a buffoon. So is Mr. Collins (delightfully oily Tom Hollander), the preachy, priggish, snobbish seeker of Lizzie's hand. The effect of Wright's massive simplification and significant alteration is to make the suitors more generic. Bingley becomes a brainless container of about £5,000 a year, more than a bishop or baronet; and Matthew MacFadyen's rather stolid Mr. Darcy earns little more than £10,000, 5 percent of the king's salary, making him somewhere around the 200th-richest man in England. Austen herself made about £40 a year, about as much as 2.5 paupers or four vagrants. Money was scary in Austen's day, especially for women.

Keira Knightley's Elizabeth is a startling departure from previous Lizzies. She's quite like her giggly sisters, more headstrong than strong-minded and analytical. She's supposed to finally realize she's in love with Darcy upon glimpsing his huge Pemberton estate, which reveals his superb mental and moral administrative power—he's Austen's ideal guy, or capable of becoming so with the right helpmeet. Here, we're in peril of supposing Lizzie's a gold digger, though she's also impressed by how nice Darcy is to his sister. When Lizzie asks Darcy whether he admired her for her impertinence, and he replies, "For the liveliness of your mind, I did," traditional Austenites will claim this Lizzie's mind isn't lively at all.

I think this is to miss the point of a satisfying film. There's much to be said for upping the sex quotient of the story, and Knightley is just the gal to bend it to such purposes. Ehle became a star as Lizzie, but an art star, intellectual, almost spectral. Never mind how Domino toppled, Knightley arrives as a true movie star, hot to trot. The 1940 version had its flaws, too—who wants to **** Mrs. Miniver? Knightley is a Lizzie for our profane time.

Wright's moviemaking is marvelous at many moments, a bit tipsy with the influence of Tom Jones (the movie, not the book) and Robert Altman. Busting out of the musty drawing room, he sprawls the action out into the fields and gusty rain. He embraces our modern attitude—all the pieties and proprieties of Austen's world are stupid, power and money are ridiculous, lust conquers all, and mud on your skirt after a footrace for your heart's prize is the symbol of all that is good, not an eyebrow-raising offence against all that is decorous.

Everyone talks over everyone else, without giving a fig for convention (or rather, in accordance with modern convention, and screw Austen's). The bravura use of the Steadicam does serve to steady things in this chaotic mise-en-scène: We're never at risk of chaos taking over, always an exhilarating and horrifying possibility with Altman. Instead of going for lots of montages, Wright commits to long Steadicam shots to plunge us into another century's workaday world. Amazingly, the second ball scene even outdoes the first: Everybody remains in view, executing intricate dance steps while the still more intricate social dance is afoot. The camera swoops in with its own terpsichorean agenda, revealing character, whipping up emotion, and making it all seem enveloping and happening right now.

Granted, even if we embrace the literary heresy on its own terms and let Wright's Austen concoction wash over us, tickling us with its bubbles, we can't miss the flaws. Donald Sutherland seems distracted as Mr. Bennet. He doesn't capture the character's dark overtones, his indifference to the terrifying reality that his matchmaking-crazed wife is quite rationally wrong about. Brenda Blethyn goes over the top in this role, reflecting the movie's barn-door-broad populism. What's missed here is that they're enmeshed in a bad marriage that should serve as Austen's subtle warning to young people inclined to fall for a pretty face. As a rich lady who disapproves of Lizzie, Judi Dench also overdoes it; her fame distorts the film's gravity field.

In the felicitous end, Wright's P&P is all right. Sex is good, and his tale is livelier than Austen's, if less deeply lifelike. But if I had to watch P&P again, I'd watch the five-hour version (on DVD from A&E Home Video, $39.95). It has more character.

Re: Pride and Prejudice: the movie

It's not entirely true that all actors have the proper age (The Gardiners, oh no... but their role is marginalized, Lady Catherine, a bit too old, as is Mr. Bennet... but otherwise, I agree with all the reporter says...)

source: The Daily Free Press Boston

Wright triumphs with the best Pride adaptation yet
By Alexa DeGennaro
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2005

Throw away your notions of wet shirts and men jumping into lakes, ladies. The new Pride and Prejudice is having none of it, and it is, hands down, the best adaptation of Jane Austen's novel to date. Although this version includes dozens of changes to the story, it remains faithful enough for die-hard fans - especially of the Colin Firth incarnation - to be won over by the end of the sweeping, romantic film.

Director Joe Wright takes the themes and characters in Austen's novel and expands upon them in an ode to nature, idealism and emotion. Wright's direction is refreshingly artful - he takes Austen's story out of the parlor and into nature, making the rural English countryside a character unto itself.

This Pride proves a brave break from the traditionalist sensibilities of previous adaptations. The screenplay, written by Deborah Moggach, with supplemental, but uncredited, work by Emma Thompson, diverts from Austen's prose in places, giving heretofore undeveloped characters greater depth (especially Charlotte Lucas, played with real heart by Claudie Blakley) and making each line feel fresh and natural.

The new Pride is a separate cinematic entity from the BBC version, but in some ways trumps the comical mini-series. For the first time, all the actors are the proper age for their parts, so while Keira Knightly is overly flirtatious in earlier scenes, she is 20, just as her character should be and grows into the emotional scenes, making for a well-rounded turn as Elizabeth Bennett. Matthew MacFadyen is the perfect Mr. Darcy, bar none. He masters the brooding Brit with puppy dog eyes, while giving the character an unspoken back story and character that seems perfectly in step with Austen's romantic hero.

The rest of the veteran cast, including Judi Dench, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn and Tom Hollander, take chances with its character's portrayals - a mullet-haired Hollander plays Mr. Collins not as the simpering fool, but as a calculated creep, just as Blethyn tones down Mrs. Bennett's ridiculousness, molding a woman who is believably the mother of both level-headed Lizzy and silly flirt Lydia.

Along with a simple piano score, scenes beautifully lit with flickering candlelight and dramatic set-ups in which Wright masters the art of the loaded pause, Pride succeeds as the ultimate ode to Austenian romance.
It is beautiful in every sense of the word, and after seeing Pride and Prejudice, you'll wonder how you ever saw it any other way. m

1 2