Friday, January 06, 2006

1995 vs 1980

There have been mountainloads of comparisons between the 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice, but here's one comparing Our Dear Version with the 1980 adaptation.
As for the dip in the lake -- well, there was clearly a lust factor built in here -- I admit to being rather thrilled by the scene, and by the sight of our hunky hero striding along dripping wet, shirt clinging to his chest. It works on all sorts of levels. First, it expresses Darcy's physicality, which the new version emphasises -- he is shown fencing, riding, shooting, swimming, bathing, walking -- in other words, he is a flesh and blood man full of energy and life, and not just some effete, genteel, posturing Regency hero (which is how I see Rintoul's Darcy). This alone would make him a worthy partner of Jennifer Ehle's feisty Elizabeth. I remember being utterly charmed by her from the very beginning, when we are introduced to her out walking, and she starts to run, revelling in the freedom and the exercise. I knew I was going to like this Lizzie straight away. Second, it makes absolute sense of the meeting between Darcy and Lizzie. It puts Darcy at a disadvantage, helps to increase embarrassment for both of them (and don't tell me Lizzie doesn't notice the way he looks...), and gives him a strong reason for excusing himself and disappearing up to the house.

Jennifer Ehle is superb (she deservedly won a Best Actress BAFTA) - she carries off a great responsibility. There is scarcely a scene in the series, from memory, that doesn't feature her or Darcy. I couldn't imagine a better Elizabeth, and I feel quite 'precious' about the character, since she's the heroine of my all time favourite novel. She is charming, funny, intelligent, pig headed, obstinate, very pretty without being a plastic beauty, she makes mistakes and gets angry and bored and frustrated and embarrassed -- she's a flesh and blood woman. Her solitary walks, which certainly exist in the novel, express her physical side well, and Davies caught her perfectly in the (invented) scene where she plays with the dog at Netherfield and Darcy spies on her from his bathroom. You can easily see why Darcy falls for her, and why she attracts Wickham, Col. Fitzwilliam, maybe even Mr Collins. Jane Austen describes the mixture of 'sweetness and archness in her manner' that 'bewitched' Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle has it in spades!
Colin & Jennifer conveyed so much attraction in so subtle a fashion. The kiss at the end, tame as it was, almost seemed unnecessary -- you just know that this is the perfect couple. They did great stuff with body language -- I loved the fact that, when they are walking together at Pemberley, they unconsciously mirror each other, walking along with their arms behind their backs. And when they finally get together, they keep gently bumping against each other as they walk along. [more]

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