Saturday, February 04, 2006

Second Impressions

Third perhaps. Never mind...

Well, I have now seen “Pride & Prejudice, the latest incarnation.

Not at all bad, really. That said, I have a lot of nit-picks which I am very tempted to partially list. Oh, what the hey:

Miss Eliza Bennet giggles too much early on. In that face-morphing way males find easily annoying and, worse, at virtually random times.
Mr. Darcy is presented far too early as being merely socially uneasy, ruining certain aspects of interaction and motivation for all except incompetent teenage girls.
The time of two hours made necessary painful cuts in the story, but this was to be expected. (Though Miss Emma Thompson did marvelously with similar constraints in her “Sense and Sensibility” of ten years ago.)
Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are given a warmth to their marriage that cheaply takes away a painful (and crucial) part of the story.
Magnificent subtleties to the story and especially dialogue are almost universally stripped away.
As I was warned by a British viewer some months ago, before its end the film does become more Brontë than Austen.
Concepts from the period are laboriously altered and worked into dumbed-down dialogue and emotions to more readily communicate to a modern audience assumed to be witless.
Some characters seemed to be based more on their representations in the mini-series than in the book.

And if you want a real nit-pick, in three separate scenes in two different contexts I saw a breed of chicken that wouldn’t exist for another hundred years.

O.K, so this must sound like I’m knocking the film pretty badly. Not at all. It is a very good movie, and I enjoyed it a lot. I would readily rank it among last year's finest. But yes, it has been done better in the past.

Not all discrepancies between adaptations were poorer in this one, however. Mr. Collins was perhaps not quite so overdone (though his treatment is… uneven), and Miss Mary was given a much fairer shake in the 2005 version.
Actually, with Elizabeth and Jane being so less interesting here than in previous translations, the actress Miss Talulah Riley’s portrayal of Mary Bennet was certainly the most attractive female in the film.

My viewing experience itself was also quite entertaining. Sitting just in front of me, two sixty-something women discussed their desire to be cremated, along with the local rates on cremation and the legalities of having one’s ashes scattered. I am absurdly tempted to quote their discussion at length. But I shall resist.

And behind me a mother instructed her young daughter in all things Austen. Judging by her response to the best parts of the film (which many older females I know would have found merely boring), that kid is gonna grow up to be O.K.
My complements to her parents.

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