Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice was first published on the 28th of January, 1813.
Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice was first published on the 28th of January, 1813.
The 1940 film version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice premiered in the United States on the 26th of July. Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier played Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, though originally Norma Shearer and Clark Gable were to star.
The film was intended to be filmed in England, but the outbreak of World War Two meant production was moved.
Also posted HERE
Jane Austen’s Emma was first published on the 23rd of December, 1815.
However, the title page of the first edition of the book (below) gives the publication year as 1816.
If the majority of people are to be believed, the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is The One. The definitive, one, the perfect one. It is the reason Colin Firth has a career, and the reason there are so many Jane Austen fans to this day.
I’ve seen it ninety gazillion times. I’ve been to some of the filming locations. I enjoy it.
And yet I don’t love it the way most other people do.
I have the “Making Of” book and have a great deal of respect for what they did with this production. (It’s still very much in print. Read it! If you’re a writer or reader of the Regency, read this great book!) It’s imperfect, but when you’re researching your show to the point you’re having period-appropriate fabrics made specifically for secondary characters’ gowns, then you know you’ve done a good job.
Even if there’s a whole lot of cleavage on display in the middle of the day!
Also, credit must be given for the locations. Unlike the anachronistic 2005 version, they don’t have the Bennet family living in a filthy, falling down hovel, and they haven’t gone crazy and moved Darcy into Chatsworth House.
I have to appreciate how much of the book they managed to get onto the screen. Still, some of my favourite scenes have been omitted, but this is by far the best adaptation if you want to see the whole story unfold. So, credit given there.
Not my Elizabeth Bennet!
However, Jennifer Ehle’s interpretation of Elizabeth Bennet used to be my favourite, but now I don’t really like it at all (the 1980 version is by far my favourite now). Ehle doesn’t resemble the character from the book at all, (something highlighted more each time I read the book and remind myself what she’s supposed to be like), except for her sparkling eyes.
She also plays the character much, much older than Lizzie’s twenty years, making the scenes of her literally frolicking about the countryside look mildly ridiculous. Mind you, the blue suits her much better than the curry colour (the costume designer’s word, not mine) she wears for half the production. They decided her character was “earthy”, but that doesn’t mean she needs to actually look like the earth!
And then there’s the fact she spends so much time smirking and rolling her eyes you have to wonder how Darcy was ever deluded into thinking she even liked him, let alone wanted to marry him!
Some of Miss Elizabeth’s death glares for Mr Darcy. No wonder he thought she loved him!
I believe in Darcy’s side of the main relationship, if not so much Elizabeth’s. Unfortunately they the all-important final proposal scene is one of the weakest scenes in the entire production.
The best scenes Ehle gives us are those with her sister, Jane. There is genuine affection and camaraderie there, and it’s the only time I find her character likeable in this version.
Colin Firth is a good actor, and I find it interesting to read about how he approached the character. He did a great job with it. I sort of resent the fact this is known as “the Colin Firth version” because they’ve added so much extra Mr Darcy to the story he has become the star of the show.
My problem is that I don’t find him attractive (by the way, he’s a natural blond, and I prefer him that way). I moved to London not long after this version came out, and the number of times I was forced to endure other women re-watching the ridiculous and anachronistic Darcy diving in the scummy pond scene…
The producers doing their best to turn Darcy into Fabio.
However Firth makes Darcy infinitely more likeable than Ehle makes Elizabeth.
The Jane in this version cops a lot of flak for not being pretty enough, but I do like the way Susannah Harker plays her. She captures her sweetness even if the Regency era styles don’t make her look as nice as she does in other shows.
I actually think the majority of the casting is a bit off. By far the worst offender is that screeching harpy Mrs Bennet. I’ve seen her portrayal compared to a Monty Python actor in drag, and that’s pretty accurate. She also reminds me of the mother role in the ballet La fille mal gardée – an over the top character role played by a man:
While on the other hand Mr Bennet in this version is made so likeable it’s easy to forget he’s an irresponsible father who buries his head in the sand – when he’s not being outright cruel to his younger daughters.
Bingley waxing poetic about Jane.
Bingley is a bit of an overly optimistic doofus, but at least he’s not a total blathering fool like the Bingley in the 2005 version. The actress playing Lydia is not only a decade older than her character, but also older than the lead actress. Kitty – a pretty woman in real life – has the world’s ugliest hairstyles. Mary has been turned into a nerdy cliché, and they deliberately gave her bad skin and greasy hair. Because, you know, you can only be smart if you’re ugly!
Mr Collins – who should be tall and young – is small and slimy and acts like he might be a paedophile. They also deliberately made him greasy!
Charlotte Lucas is one of the prettiest members of the cast (no matter how hard they tried to make her ugly with severely-styled hair), and she’s supposed to be plain!
Then you have Wickham, whose weird facial hair might be period-appropriate, but who must have got all the girls of England drunk in order to convince them he was a heartthrob!
I have plenty of dislikes about this adaptation, and yet it is highly watchable and introduced Jane Austen to a much wider audience. It deserves credit for a lot of things, but since I first watched it during its original broadcast, and then in nonstop repeats when we got it on VHS, I’ve sort of gone off it a bit. I suppose I’m more familiar with the book and the era than I was then, and now I like it rather than love it.
I think it would be accurate to say that at first, with its low production values and the I feel like I’m watching a play sense it gives off, I didn’t love the 1980 Pride and Prejudice. However, it has grown on me so much I now consider Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul to be the real Elizabeth and Darcy, and each time I watch it I find another little moment that makes me enjoy the production more.
The second proposal.
This version is often touted as the one that is closest to the book, and I think people mean in spirit rather than page by page, as there are plenty of differences. The silliest one would have to be Elizabeth running all the way to Pemberley when she finds out her sister has taken off with a man, though the scene that follows really works for me.
Despite occasionally looking like a young woman straight out of the late 1970s, complete with shoulder-length frizzy hair, Elizabeth Garvie captures the archness and the manners of the Elizabeth Bennet of the book. She is polite but also witty, and she has the youthfulness and growth that I find sorely missing from Jennifer Ehle’s interpretation in 1995.
I can see why Darcy was confused when she rejected his first proposal, as unlike Ehle, who scowled and rolled her eyes whenever Darcy was within shouting distance, Garvie’s Elizabeth is a lovely young woman trapped in an embarrassing family with poor finances.
Darcy sees Elizabeth at Rosings
David Rintoul is the only Darcy I find physically attractive (though don’t do what I did and Google recent images of him!). He is tall and intimidating and oh so aristocratic. Criticisms of him playing the role too stiff and dull are probably justified, but the more I watch him, the more I catch his subtle smiles and his meaningful looks. By the end, when he is shocked and happily surprised Elizabeth wants to marry him, he does much more with the scene than fan favourite Colin Firth ever did in the 1995 version.
You see him change over the course of the story, and gradually see what’s going on beneath that exterior and that posh, posh voice. I’d marry him. Even if this version of his house is in desperate need of a clean! Those black stains on the exterior!
Elizabeth runs to a rather dirty Pemberley!
Together, they work perfectly for me. They didn’t toss all the social rules out the window, and when Elizabeth starts crying about Lydia’s elopement, all Darcy can do is hover, unable to touch her to comfort her.
I love when period dramas can capture that total absence of physical contact and the strain it causes, and I’d love to see more of that in historical romance books.
Elizabeth and Jane
Jane and Bingley work for me in this version. Jane is pretty and smiling and has lovely manners without being insipid. The scene where she first glimpses Bingley from a window and starts waxing poetic about him after two seconds is utterly ridiculous, but I don’t have any other complaints.
Bingley is a bit of a dorky oaf, but he is also a genuinely nice man. He is the only Bingley out of the 1980, 1995 and 2005 versions who isn’t a bumbling idiot. While I don’t think he’s even remotely handsome, he’s a good person, has a physical presence, and is the only one who is a match for Darcy.
Mr and Mrs Bennet are the closest to the characters from the book. Most adaptations make Mr Bennet too nice, and I like what was done in this version. It should never be forgotten he has made some selfish decisions that have put the ladies’ futures in jeopardy.
As for Mrs Bennet, she over-talks without being a screeching idiot (a la 1995). She remembers who she is and what social customs need to be followed – as she would have! – but still manages to overdo things. She’s the best version of this character I have seen.
A very old-looking Lydia!
The rest of the Bennet girls are not so good. Though I believe the actresses were close to the ages of the characters they were playing, both Lydia and Kitty look middle-aged and I can never tell them apart.
God only knows what they were thinking giving Mary that hairstyle. She looks out of place in the family. Could they have made the nerdy one look any more clichéd? It’s a little offensive.
Mr Wickham is too unattractive for his role, sorry!
I loved what they did with Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins. This is the ONLY Mr Collins who matches the description from the book. And he’s a dope without being a slimy paedophile. Charlotte is not ugly, but plain, and she is a lovely friend for Elizabeth.
There’s a totally made-up scene where the two girls laugh over a floatation hat, and though it’s a huge departure from the book, it gets a laugh out of me every time.
I believe the actress playing Miss Bingley is a direct descendant of the aristocracy, and I think she was perfect in her role.
Just as I think this Lady Catherine de Bourgh is perfect in hers.
A shared smile as Lady Catherine drones on.
The way she holds court in her scenes is perfect, and I especially love the smile shared between Elizabeth and Darcy when the woman just keeps droning on.
Questionable costuming and décor:
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Bingley at Netherfield Park
It has to be said that overall this production looks pretty dreadful. It’s not grand enough, and some of the costumes are odd. Though I am glad they didn’t try to make all the day dresses for the girls overly sexy, because that just wasn’t how it was (there’s A LOT of cleavage on display during the day in the 1995 version). However, the buildings are rundown and the filming looks cheap.
I suppose though, in the end it doesn’t matter. This is a character-based story, and I fell in love with this Elizabeth and Darcy more than any other.
Something that bugged me about this miniseries – though I know it wasn’t really anybody’s fault:
It was filmed in cold weather and it’s supposed to be summer! Everyone is prancing about outside in their pretty, floaty, short-sleeved dresses and it’s so cold you can see their breath!
So much to resolve and only one episode to do it!
Amanda’s appearance in the middle of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice world certainly caused a mess. Jane is married to Mr Collins, Mr Bingley is the one acting like Mr Wickham is supposed to and Mr Darcy is in love with Amanda instead of Elizabeth (who he hasn’t even met).
Even though I knew it was the final episode, I did double and triple-check, because I expected happy endings for everyone and didn’t see how it could be done in one episode. It didn’t help that there was more drama heaped on top of everything else that had gone wrong so far!
My two favourite parts of this episode were:
#1 Mrs Bennet and Jane finally snapping and telling off Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mr Collins.
#2 The moment everyone blasts back into the present day. As Mr Darcy says, ‘What is this dreadful place?’
What did I think of the ending? Well, it was as convenient as you would expect, and I honestly don’t think Amanda would just settle in happily in the life she has chosen.
However, this is a show about a time-travelling portal in a bathroom and a book world coming to life, and so yes, it shouldn’t be taken too seriously! There’re some massive anachronisms and some very hard-to-believe situations, but then isn’t that exactly what you’d expect from this show?
I’m glad I got over my fear of Amanda’s too-modern hairstyle and watched Lost in Austen. I’m not one to have a fit when little tweaks are made with Jane Austen’s work, and I’m always happy to see different takes on famous and very familiar characters.
Anybody with an interest in period drama wold enjoy this – but just make sure you know the plot of Pride and Prejudice first!
After the miniseries’ first episode ended with modern-day Amanda racing off in the rain after Jane Bennet, the second picks up with Jane doing exactly what she was supposed to do in Pride and Prejudice: become trapped in My Bingley’s house, too ill to go home.
Amanda takes Elizabeth’s place, looking after a sickly Jane (with the help of some paracetamol she brought with her from the future) in between ignoring Caroline Bingley’s snobbery. Here’s where the anachronisms became a bit hard for me to ignore: Mr Bingley hangs out in Jane’s bedroom.
Hell, even Mr Darcy pays a visit!
This would have been a big, big no-no in Regency society. Sure, the extremely anachronistic 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie did it, but that should hardly be used as a handbook for how to “do” Austen!
However, Bingley still has his sights set on Amanda, a problem she solves in a way I didn’t expect. There’re a few fairly embarrassing scenes here, when Amanda doesn’t know how to perform the way a Regency woman is expected to…
Of course, things can’t just go smoothly, and the book dictates the next thing that happens is Mr Wickham swoops in. In this version, he saves the day.
This is closely followed by Mr Collins’ arrival; he is certainly the most disgusting incarnation of the character yet.
Yet again, nothing goes to plan:
This was another fun episode. Not quite as fun as the first, but that’s because Collins is disgusting and most of the characters are acting like total idiots.
When episode two ends you’re going to be left wondering how anything can ever be resolved – which is why I watched the next one as soon as I had a spare few minutes!
Even though I’ve known about this miniseries for ages, I haven’t watched it until now. The tipping point was when I saw some stills and the actors cast to play Darcy and Bingley just looked so… right for their roles that I thought maybe it wasn’t going to be as silly as I thought.
On the negative side, and one of the main reasons I put it off for so long was (don’t laugh) the main character’s hair! I know the point of Amanda’s look is that she doesn’t quite fit in in the early 1800s, but there’s no way she could have waltzed around looking like that in the Regency era and not raised any suspicion. Just no way.
Anyway, I got brave and put my fear of a hairstyle aside and watched.
And I enjoyed it a million times more than I thought I would.
Lost in Austen requires you to put any sort of believability aside and go along for the ride. Pride and Prejudice obsessed modern woman Amanda Price finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom one night; there’s a portal connecting her reality with Jane Austen’s world.
Amanda finds herself stepping over the bathtub and into the top floor of the Bennet house. Then the door closes, with her on the Bennet side and Lizzie in 2008, and there they stay.
This is the most enchanting part of the entire production.
Never has there been a moment for Jane Austen fans like this one: it looks like a fairy tale, but if you were given the chance, would you really want to live in it?
The casting is spectacularly good, as far as I’m concerned. The Bennet girls seem more like the ages they’re supposed to be than in any other adaptation (expect maybe the 2005 movie version). The father (who Downton Abbey fans will recognise – but I still know him as the guy who conducted the wedding for the Vicar of Dibley!) makes a great Mr Bennet, and Alex Kingston might be the best thing in the whole production as Mrs Bennet. She gave that woman some depth! Elizabeth has one of the smallest roles in the show, which I’m surprised to be disappointed about. I haven’t liked Gemma Arterton in other things, but she was so good as Lizzie I didn’t even recognise her.
This first instalment takes us up to the Meryton Assembly Hall, where Amanda manages to make a mess of the story Austen wrote, attracting Bingley instead of Jane doing the honours.
In all, this is excellent fun. I don’t find it at all disrespectful to Austen’s work. Sure, there are some glaring anachronisms, but it wasn’t too bad yet (I might have a couple of grumbles later on)!
The closing episode of the Death Comes to Pemberley adaptation was extremely satisfying from a character point of view, but the cheesy “last minute rescue” resolution to the murder trial had me half-cringing and half-laughing. Too Hollywood to take seriously!
Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that the resolution of the murder case was the 19th century equivalent of, stopping the bomb with one second left on the clock. I cringed. But at least it was very well-acted!
However, the character development was great. The Elizabeth and Darcy dramas were resolved. I especially liked a scene that happens at a point when they’re barely talking to each other, but Darcy still stops to tuck a sleeping Lizzie in before leaving for the trial. It spoke volumes about their relationship.
I really didn’t watch this series for the murder mystery. In fact, anybody who has read a few crime books will probably figure everything out long before the characters do, well filmed and acted as it was.
What I did watch it for was a chance to see fabulous actors bringing famous characters to life. I honestly think I got more of a sense of 19th century life from this series than I have from many Austen adaptations. I also enjoyed seeing the slightly more mature characters going about their days. Romantic historical fiction tends to focus solely on the very young, and until now I didn’t really realise how much we miss out on because of it.
Penelope Keith’s brief appearance as Lady Catherine de Bourgh was interesting. To see a very different dynamic between this formidable lady and Elizabeth was interesting. She seems to have accepted things, even if she doesn’t like them. Keith played the role very differently to how I’ve seen it played before.
So, was Death Comes to Pemberley worth watching? I’d say yes, definitely. Absolutely. It hasn’t inspired me to run out and buy every Pride and Prejudice spinoff on the shelves, but I’m really glad I watched it. I maintain that Anna Maxwell Martin isn’t ever going to be Elizabeth for me, but seeing her work with Matthew Rhys to bring two famous characters to life was amazing. I could watch them forever!
One final question: Why does Elizabeth only have one gown?! In the first episode she refers to her fine clothes. I was wondering where those fine clothes were! And the messy hair! No matter her personality, everything from her posture to her appearance made her seem more like a servant than a very rich lady married to a very important man!