Yes, I went and saw Pride and Prejudice and, by gosh, I liked it. It is released everywhere in the country today, my wife and I took advantage of our Los Angeles residency and saw it before everyone else last week.
We went because we both greatly enjoy Jane Austen stories, and we weren’t let down on this offering starring Keira Knightley as the witty Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew McFayden as the stoic yet virtuous Mr. Darcy. To be honest, I wasn’t sure Knightley could pull of the roll of Elizabeth Bennet because she had not yet starred in a “serious” movie (sorry, Pirates of the Carribean), but she does a respectable job in this period piece.
I say period piece because the settings, music and clothing are realistic. At least the characters don’t shine with the cleaness and neatness we are accustomed to in 21st century film. I think the directors were going for reaslism because 1) it distanced this film from the world-famous A&E version and 2) it increased the sense of the distance between the classes. Mr. Darcy’s mansion really does seem like a gigantic step up from the country cottage of the Bennet’s with pigs and chickens running around in the backyard.
The music and dancing scenes were absolutely fantastic. I honestly do like rock music a great deal, but the classical music they had in the early 19th century was so refined, intelligent and moving. These qualities do not only describe the music, but also the culture. What makes this movie fun is the way Victorian Englishmen and women followed a rigid set of protocol and yet find ways to poke fun at one another, find out information, and get a point across in an indirect way. This movie does not have much action in the “normal” sense of the word, but the clashing of intellects and hearts provides more than enough drama and humor to rapt one’s attention.
The scene that grabs one’s attention the most is that in which Elizabeth refuses Mr. Darcy’s proposal. The movie as a whole I would say is good, though not great. However, this one scene achieves cinamatic glory. The rain is falling as Elizabeth runs off because she is upset Darcy convinced his friend to leave Elizabeth’s sister alone. She makes her way to this beautiful stone structure with tremendous pillars overlooking a lake with an island full of trees below. Darcy appears, and the interaction between them is riveting.
One word of caution: be careful not to compare the film to the book. That’s not good sport, since they are works in two very distinct genres. Enjoy the film for what it is and, gentlemen, take that girl you’ve been trying to impress to this movie and score 2 million points! While you’re at it, you might even enjoy yourself!