Pride & Prejudice as feminist bombast

Ohhhhhh….I knew it. I KNEW it. I knew that if anyone tried to make yet another version of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice after the definitive and superb A&E version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, it would come a stinker!

And now, Charlotte Allen confirms my worst fears!

Not only is there little electricity between the two leads, even when McFadyen makes like Heathcliffe with Knightley out on the moors…but the filmmakers have done it again: They cannot make a historical movie with a female heroine without turning said heroine into a proto-Third Wave feminist. Knightley never looks or acts period for a single second, although she bravely mouths many of Jane Austen’s lovely and graceful sentences. One clue to what’s wrong: A la Reese Witherspoon in the recent Vanity Fair, Knightley hardly ever dons a bonnet, although head-coverings were de rigeur back then for young ladies venturing out of their own parlors.

No, No, No, NO!!! Darcy and Elizabeth do not SNOG ON THE MOORS! They spar, they dance, they seethe, they tease, they misunderstand and misjudge, they eventually fall in love but they NEVER SNOG ON THE MOORS!

Lizzie Bennet is the prototypical strong female – she does not need to be made into an castrating uber-feminist!

Damn all film-makers and actors under the age of 45!

Do yourself a favor: ignore this teenfest and rent for yourself The outstanding, 4-hour A&E presentation of Pride & Prejudice from 1996! Make yourself a cup of tea (even if you’re a guy) and sit back and enjoy this film which took great pains to get everything about the era JUST RIGHT…you’ll lose yourself in Elizabeth Barrett’s fine merry eyes and composed mien, and Darcy’s dark-eyed social dis-comfort. You’ll want to learn all the intricate steps to Mr. Beverage’s Maggot and dance it when no one is looking. You’ll laugh at Mr. & Mrs. Bennett, scowl at Lydia, cringe at obsequious Mr. Collins, cower and laugh in fascination at Lady Catherine and finally root, root, root for Darcy, one more time!

And you will feel EVER so satisfied when the thing is over – and you’ll find yourself wanting to wander over to to recapture it.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Dilys

    Don’t bother to rent it; BUY THE SET. NOW.

    And it must be the version recommended by The Anchoress.

    Doughty old guys have been driven to read Austen by being introduced to this version. Yorkshire pudding for the soul.

  • TheAnchoress

    Absolutely, Dilys! My hubby will sit and watch this with me. BUSTER has watched it twice, both times telling me he really wasn’t watching it!

    Sigh…it’s one in the morning…maybe I’ll just watch part I!

  • tracey

    Oh, sigh and swoon, that Colin Firth! I don’t know who this duuude is who’s playing Darcy now, but he’s just all WRONG! There’s absolutely nothing swoony about him a’tall. He looks like he’s just played Pinocchio and forgotten to take off the nose putty.

    And Pinocchio just never did it for me.

  • Julie D.

    I’m always afraid to watch movies or series based on books that I love but I’m going to put your recommendation on our “must watch”. (that’s just how much I trust you!) :-)

  • Anne B

    Dittoes, Anchoress. As far as I’m concerned they should forbid all remakes of P&P for the next twenty years (minimum) because Colin Firth OWNS the role of Mr. Darcy. In fact all the casting in that production was magnificent – Julia Sawalha as Lydia (something like 27 years old when she played the role but she got the giddy, thoughtless, airheaded teenager down perfectly), the cringe-inducing Mrs. Bennet and the sardonic Mr. Bennet – all he had to do was raise his eyes from his book, to look at his wife, and you could almost hear the shiv being sharpened. No; nobody’s going to do better than that for a long, long time, and it sounds like the current lot didn’t even try.

    Oh – another bonus in the A&E version – Crispin Bonham-Carter as Mr. Bingley. This is usually a throwaway role – just a nice young man who’s there to court Jane, and even in the book you don’t really get to know him – but Bonham-Carter gives us a lively, cheerful, good-natured charmer, and if I’d have been any of the Bennet girls I’d have gone for him in a minute :)

  • Fausta

    Thank you Anchoress, for not one but two photos of the delectable, unmatched, inimitable, glorious Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.

    Après Colin, le deluge, when it comes to P&P remakes.

    (For audio file Scroll down for wet shirt photo)
    Now excuse me while I drool.

  • Dilys

    Barbara Pym was often tagged with the Austen connection, but the most perfect modern Pemberly moment I know of occurs in the recent Botswana novel from the delectable Alexander McCall Smith, “In the Company of Cheerful Ladies.” To his many fans, existing and potential: look for it…

  • Fausta

    Dilys, you mean, the furniture store?

  • Bookworm

    Pride & Prejudice is my all time favorite book (I must have read it about 30 or 40 times for the exquisite pleasure Jane Austen’s prose inspires in me), and I’m always worried about TV or movie adaptions. The A&E production, however, was perfection. The casting was perfect, the costumes were perfect, the music was perfect, the subtle changes for a visual medium were perfect — everything. The writers and producers never abandoned Jane Austen’s sensibilities. It sounds, though, as if this new movie does precisely that.

    I’m very hostile to makeovers that change core messages. Not that I ever liked her to begin with, but I’ve never forgiven Winona Ryder for what she did to Little Women. I’ll admit that the movie is visually lovely, but it bears no relationship to core Louisa May Alcott writing, which is all about sacrifice. Ryder’s movie is about “if it feels good, do it, but do it in a long, pretty dress.” Alcott’s book is about an energetic, impetuous, loving young women, who learns through hardship how to control her needs for the greater good. Not a popular message nowadays, I’ll admit, but if you don’t like the message, don’t make the lousy movie.

    And, yes, I agree with Fausta that you did all of us a great favor by posting pictures of Colin Firth (who, by the way, is a very elegant writer, in addition to being a most intelligent actor).

  • rebeccag

    100% agree, Anchoress. P&P on A&E was and is the ultimate telling of the story. Colin Firth is forever Mr. Darcy. I wish filmmakers would stay away from stories that have been told well on screen and remake stories that maybe didn’t fare so well the first time around. I was surprised when I saw the movie posters for the new P&P; it’s already been done as well as it could be.

    Note that local libraries may have a copy of the series for loan – I think I saw one at mine and I’m tempted to head out there today and borrow it again (I’ve seen the series 4 times!)

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  • bestdiva

    (sigh!) Colin Firth during my workaday break! Now THAT is a good Friday afternoon!
    Agreed, Anchoress. I’m under 45, but d*mn all these axe-grinding moviemakers. I just don’t go to the movies much. Little Women did come to mind and I’m glad that Bookworm mentioned it. I thought by the end the whole audience would be swinging their bra’s over their heads in rebellion. I was disgusted. That finished my remake era of movie watching. A&E excepted.
    Lizzie’s been my role model since I saw P&P with Olivier as a girl. And don’t anyone diss that version. I still love it.