Sunday, October 7, 2018

Little Women (2017) Mini Series Review

It's always when I'm the most busy that I have the most ideas for posts. I have had a weekend at home (yay! traveling for conferences is fun but east, west, home's best) but plenty of stuff to fill it with. So this shall be a very brief review of the new BBC Little Women (variously dated as 2017 or 2018). Apologies in advance for the picture overload.


Casting

To be honest, I didn't think any of the sisters were amazing actresses.  Amy was the worst — she seemed an annoying brat throughout the whole movie, rather than merely a slightly vain silly little girl who grows up into a young lady with a liking for elegance.


For instance, when she burns Jo's manuscript she has neither fear nor regret; instead she says brazenly "I said I'd make you pay." Now, I'm definitely biased in favor of the 1994 version (because I grew up with it, adore the music, and etc), but I think it portrayed this scene muuuch better. Amy denies having been the one to do the deed, is afraid of Jo's rage and also seems regretful, if not penitent. Jo's anger is also more realistically portrayed.

Super jealous of Beth and Jo's freckles.
Jo, Beth, and Meg had good moments and bad moments. For instance, Beth was pretty good in general, but during her scene of telling Jo she was dying (sorry, spoiler) she didn't seem to have any emotion whatsoever. Yes, she has been processing and experiencing her own decline for months, but still. One might expect a tear leaking out, a trembling lip, or at least a faltering voice...? Nope. She might have been informing Jo that she'd decided against purchasing a new hat.


I liked Meg in general, but in the "Aunt March abuses Rook" scene, she didn't seem all that believable. Buuut I got teared up in the ensuing minutes when the said Rook — er, Brooke — departs to serve in the war and the sisters are singing "Land of the Leale," so she can't have been too bad. :P


Jo also improved over the course of the three episodes. I think part of the reason her acting felt unnatural was the dialogue. Normally I'm a big fan of quoting directly from the book, but in the context of this movie (which had a generally modern rather than period drama feel, in my opinion), the old-fashioned phrases felt stilted and awkward.


Of course Marmee and Aunt March — Emily Watson and Angela Lansbury, respectively, were amazing. Father was fine. I'd like to dislike Mr. Laurence on principle (he's played by Michael Gambon) but he was fine as well.



Mr. Bhaer was much better than the 1994 actor. He seemed younger and livelier, and it seems less confusing that Jo would be attracted to him.

We cannot forget Laurie, of course. He was simply adorable - his dimple! — and fun.



Script

This leads me to the dialogue. In many parts they quoted directly from the book, but either the context or delivery made it feel very awkward. The miniseries felt both more old-fashioned and more contemporary than the 1994 version.

However, with the additional hour they were able to include Camp Laurence, Beth and Jo's trip to the seaside, more snapshots of Meg's family life, and a brief "epilogue" type scene at Plumfield.

In summary, more accurate to the book, but in some ways not as well delivered as the 1994 version.


Sound

Part of old-modern disconnect was from the soundtrack. It utilized a banjo and violin which occasionally sounded like authentic late 18th c. old West music but more often did not fit the mood of the scene at all. At some points where the mood was supposed to be uplifting, it was very dramatic/somber. At other points it was so bouncy and modern it felt like I was watching a Youtube tutorial for DIY wrapping paper.

AH! This scene!
This may be because I love the 1994 (sorry, I can't help comparing) soundtrack so much. I think it captures the themes of Little Women — the passing of time, growing up, sorrows and joys, family life — so well.


Visuals

The costumes and hair were in general very visually appealing. I'm not an 1860s expert by any means, but there seemed to be a lot more loose hair on Jo's part than would be acceptable.


Jo and Meg had several simple, but pretty, costumes that I would definitely wear in real life if it was socially acceptable. Haha.

I quite like Meg and Marmee's dresses here (incidentally I wore a dress very similar to Meg's when I played Jo in a play.)

The wedding clothes were the best. The garlands!
Only complaint was that Jo had a few really homely hats. I could only find a screen capture of one, but as you can see, it is simply strange. (Nice scene though. I loved that Jo couldn't stop smiling.)


In summary, I'd probably give it a 4 out of 5. The soundtrack was definitely a huge drawback, and the acting at some times felt awkward with the dialogue, but in general it was believable, beautiful, and fun.
Well, readers? Have you seen any Little Women adaptions? Do you support Jo/Bhaer and Laurie/Amy, or are you holding out for Jo and Laurie yet? Would you wear any 1860s ensembles?

Awdur


Friday, October 5, 2018

"My idea of good company is... clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation"


"You are mistaken," said he gently, "that is not good company; that is the best."
- Chapter 16 of Persuasion, by Jane Austen

Ahhh.... One week ago today I departed from my house to go to the Jane Austen Society's Annual General Meeting. Readers, it was completely delightful. (Minus the parts where I locked my keys in the car, got kissed on the forehead by a complete stranger, and lost the pictures of my ball attire. But those were negligible.)

During the day, probably 10-20% of the ladies* were dressed in some form of Regency garb. Even though this put me in the minority, as it was completely acceptable to be wearing a full-length gown, I felt elegant rather than uncomfortable. It was especially fun, when outside the hotel conference rooms and wandering around buying food, to see women in gowns and spencers (with normal shoppers carefully not looking at them). I loved seeing all the variety in colors, fabrics, hats, turbans, and hair styles. Everyone looked so lovely.

The bandeau kept wanting to slip off my head, but a few pins did the trick.

I attended the three large lectures as well as four small seminars. One large lecture concerned the economy in 1814-1816. We learned about the economic crash that followed the Battle of Waterloo, during which Jane wrote Persuasion, as well as the financial failures of Jane's banking brothers. I found all of this quite interesting as it was all new information for me. The speaker also explained why Mr. Elliot *spoiler* refrains from assisting Mrs. Smith. As a lawyer and executer of her will, he was actually receiving a retainer's fee. Additionally, he owed Mr. Smith money. So if he were to settle her property, he would lose a source of income and have to repay his debts. *end spoiler*

Another of the large lectures was on "Self-delusion in Persuasion," given by a very witty British professor ("We all know the purpose of an umbrella, of course — to hold over a lady."). He pointed out that the word "self-delusion" is only used in Persuasion, but that all of Jane's novels deal with the topic. Persuasion has the least dialogue percentage of all six novels; rather, the book is full of listening and internalising. Even the narration of events is usually Anne's supposition rather than an objective narrator, and we cannot accept that Anne is unbiased. For instance, when Jane Austen writes, "Anne understood: ..." we should read "Anne persuaded herself that..." (Such as when Anne tells herself she is happy to know without doubt that Captain Wentworth no longer cares for her, as she will no longer have to wonder. Snort.)

My favourite seminar was called "Louisa Musgrove and Captain Benwick: Shipwreck or Love Boat?" The speaker started by playing a Persuasion trailer, made with the Love Boat theme (it's fun to be with adults vs. college students because we share more cultural references, haha). She presented opposing views on whether or not Louisa and Benwick would make a successful match. Have they truly grown alike? Or is Louisa only beginning to recover (and will soon realize that her liveliness is unsuited to him) and Benwick an "emotional parasite" who will attach himself to anyone willing to listen to him? 

The end of the seminar was spent in discussion. I have always been skeptical of their match, though not against second attachments in general. Though Jane might censure the speed in which he forgot Fanny Harville, she clearly would not have advocated for the kind of emotional wallowing to which Benwick (and Marianne Dashwood) is prone. In time, it is more healthy to move on from a loss than to hold onto it forever. Additionally, one attendee made a point which completely changed my view on Louisa and Benwick: though their love seems completely circumstantial, a great portion of the novel is about circumstances happening in a particular way. Even about Anne and Captain Wentworth it is said that, "Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough, for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly anybody to love." Described this way, the two couples are actually not that different.

I basically never take selfies so when I do I end up looking uncomfortable/mad.**
Of course the conversation was excellent. There was a spectrum of familiarity with Jane and the Regency era, from twenty-year Janeites to those who had only been recently introduced. I suppose I was a little intimidated by attending the AGM and was expecting everyone would be highbrow scholars who sewed their own [100% period accurate] clothing, so it was nice to realize there weren't any high expectations and it was just fun. 

It was delightful to be able to take up with a stranger and find he or she was a kindred spirit, and not have to explain references to books, quotes, etc. Or when in the lectures the speaker would reference another classic, like Dickens, and everybody nodded and laughed at the right places. Or telling someone I'm a charwoman for an office and not having to define that occupation. I don't like that this analogy sounds like I'm a pathetic friendless soul, but I would say I it was like living all your life in a foreign country and then finding a place where they speak your language. (This is no reflection on people who do not enjoy or read Dickens, Austen, etc. 19th c. reading may not be for everyone, but I adore it, and I've never been in company with people who agree.)

The Emporium was great fun and I consider myself to have been very self-disciplined to have only bought one $4 book that was on my list anyway, a pack of stationery (I'm always going through that), and taken a business card from another shop. (I also bought a little thing of Welsh cakes, but that was because I'd forgotten to bring a snack, so it doesn't really count. Shush.) Though that was all I bought, I found myself coming back between every session to roam among the books — and there, entered into multiple conversations, including an exchange with a girl originally from Kansas City, whose parents [I realized] I have danced with at multiple dances but never met. In a group of nine hundred people it was quite a coincidence. In addition to many books by and about Jane Austen, one could purchase British food, Regency attire, antique jewelry, tea towels from Jane Austen's House Museum, even a Japanese translation of Pride and Prejudice.


The period concert opera was gorgeous. I was really tired and sort of wanted to sleep towards the end, but then a lady started singing Italian opera and it was absolutely beautiful.

And of course, the ball and banquet were the highlight of the weekend —  I've never in so large a company of dancers, let alone a group that is 90% costumed and competent dancers. I sat with my chapter for the banquet, so I got to meet more members whom I've never seen before.


All in all, it was a delightful weekend, and I think Anne Elliot would agree we were in very good company.

Well, readers, would you attend the AGM? Do you think Louisa and Benwick will be a happy couple? 



Your Servant,



*I refer only to "ladies" because of the 900 people attending the conference, the majority of course were women over 40 (one of the men's rooms was re-labeled "women's" in intelligent anticipation of this ratio!). There were younger ladies and some gentlemen, however.
** Also decided there's no real reason not to post face-revealing pictures on this blog. So there you go.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A very exciting news article

(No, I'm not engaged. Sadly.)

My posts per year have decreased from an average of 35 to 17 to 6. When I do post, it's an isolated tag or random, unasked-for movie review. When I address my "readers" I wonder if they're actually in the plural. More and more this internet spot reminds me of the many blogs whose authors regularly post over 4-5 years, slowly slacken off, promise to be more consistent, and then never post again.

I recently saw another blogger post "I'm going on hiatus for the summer." This rather made me laugh. Not at the lady, you understand, but because I'm either always on hiatus or never on hiatus. The sentimental side of me finds it sad that I don't really keep up this blog anymore, but the cynical side of me just thinks it's silly to think of "updating my readers" since my audience is basically non-existent.


But I refrain from deleting it for two reasons: 1) It is a time capsule. I'm no longer the same young girl who created this blog, but, well, I was then, and I may want to visit and remember those days.

2) I sometimes have news, ideas, or creative endeavors that I must share, and since I don't participate in social media, this is my outlet. I like putting my thoughts into words and recording milestones in my life, so I'm not going to "officially stop" blogging. Nor am I going to apologize for doing so infrequently, because that's just how life is. Although I'm didn't take summer classes, I worked about 30 hours a week at a preschool (if I haven't mentioned it, I dote upon kidlets, though while I'm in certain classrooms I never think of tame and quiet children with any abhorrence). Now I'm back to being a full-time student, so when I'm not at work, in class, or doing homework, I'm taking much needed breaks with friends, family, or the Lord.


And this is one of those cases where I simply must share some news. GUYS I'M GOING TO THE AGM NEXT WEEK AND I CAN'T CONTAIN MYSELF.

Sorry, didn't mean to shout. I shall begin again. The Jane Austen Society of North America (hereafter referred to as "JASNA"), of which I am a member, is having its annual conference (known as the Annual General Meeting, or AGM) in a city close to mine. And I'm GOING. In twelve days, I shall be mingling with kindred spirits, learning about the economic background in Persuasion, examining Captain Benwick and Louisa Musgrove's relationship, and dancing the night away at the closing banquet. Plus wearing Regency attire for 48 hours.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of writing a semi-fictional paper on cultural change in the Rashidun period. But I had to take a quick break to share the the countdown to two days spent with Janeites. So now back to the Arabs.
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Monday, July 2, 2018

The Relative Merits of Pride and Prejudice films

There seems to be a continuing debate on the superiority of one Pride and Prejudice film (1995 or 2005) over the other. Despite the vocal majority being on the side of Colin Firth P&P '95, it is a not a truth universally acknowledged. Additionally, the debate sets up a false dichotomy, since of course these are not the only films to attempt to portray Jane Austen's classic.
Because I had way too much time on my hands am not entirely satisfied with either movie, I recently watched the 1940 Pride and Prejudice also presented here for your interest. It will henceforth be referred to as "Southern Belle P&P."

*Note: This is not a "review." I'll be dropping spoilers like... well, frequently, and I provide no synopsis. It is intended to be a guide to Janeites who have read the book but have yet to see any (or some) of the adaptations.*


CHARACTERS

1940 // 1995 // 2005
ELIZABETH BENNET

Southern Belle P&P: As an actress, I actually think Greer Garson may be the best Lizzy. Her character is written a little more teary-eyed than Elizabeth Bennet of the books; at times the Old Hollywood style of acting (tending to the melodramatic) is a little too much. However, she plays Lizzy's overall outlook of "choosing to be amused at the world" well, so I think if she had been directed by the 1995 or 2005 director she could have been the ideal Lizzy.

Colin-Firth-in-a-wet-shirt P&P: I do like Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy, but she isn't the ideal Lizzy for me. She is a good actress, and has a good handle on the character, as well as being the most Lizzy-looking of the three. I think it might be her voice (sorry, I know she can't help it) which just doesn't shout "Elizabeth Bennet" to me.

Emo P&P: It's hard to put my finger on what drives me crazy about Kiera Knightley's portrayal. Perhaps she's a little too emotional? Brooding? Yes, she says funny things and laughs, but instead of an overall amused outlook on life it seems to be an overall brooding outlook, which she forces herself to break by making a joke. Also, she doesn't behave with dignity. Perhaps that is the main flaw with her acting. Or perhaps it's just hard to get past all the eyeliner and sloppy hair (complete with pixie cut sticking out in the back).

1940 // 1995 // 2005
MR. DARCY
 1940: It is difficult to say how much is due to Laurence Olivier's acting and how much is due to the writer/director of his character, but Darcy is much too likeable in this movie. His first line "Tolerable, but not enough to tempt me" was his first and last moment of rudeness. From then on, he and Lizzy have amicable conversations and he is all kindness. Except for the first proposal. They kept the lines pretty much straight from the film, but it felt all wrong, because this Mr. Darcy is so nice. It rather came out of nowhere. He even says, halfway through the film, "I rather admired what you did this afternoon, Miss Elizabeth. Your resentment of what you believed to be an injustice showed courage and loyalty. I could wish that I might possess a friend who would defend me as ably as Mr. Wickham was defended today." ??
They spent so much time making Darcy seem like a great hero, the writers forgot that Darcy is NOT a friendly, perfect guy in the opening scene. He is proud (see the title) and because of that, rude at times. There isn't a secret romantic passion between him and Elizabeth from page one. She only takes interest in him some time after his first proposal, and for a reason.

1995: Not my ideal Darcy (sorry!), but it's hard to say why not. He's the best I've yet seen. I'm only now just getting past the the Darcy hype and learning why, 10 years ago, I fell in love with this romance and this hero. I haven't much to say about Mr. Firth because he plays Mr. Darcy pretty well.

2005: Matthew MacFadyen's Darcy does a much better job showing his pride than Laurence Olivier, but it also tends to the "he's just socially awkward and shy, it's all a misunderstanding" view of Darcy. My dear readers, Darcy's change is central to the story. Also, his hair wants cutting.
1940 // 1995 // 2005
JANE
1940: Jane is totally ditzy in this film. I mean, ridiculously. I'm unable to find any youtube clips of her  illness at Netherfield, but the way she nods and smiles in a nothing-going-on-upstairs kind of way in that bit kills me. She says a few sweet things, is definitely pretty, but appears to be an idiot. Clattering by Lizzy and Darcy talking: "Mr. Bingley is going to have dancing!"

1995: Susanna Harker is a lovely person, but the hair styles in this movie are just not becoming to her. I also feel that she comes across as not particularly intelligent. Of course, this depends on how you like your Jane. Mr. Bennet says that all of his daughters are "silly and ignorant like other girls." He is deliberately antagonizing Mrs. Bennet at this part, but I think his comment is valid. Kitty and Lydia are obviously officer-silly. Mary's moralizing speeches show a lack of true understanding. Jane's insistence on thinking well of people becomes almost willful ignorance. Even Lizzy, who has "something more of quickness than her sisters," is totally mistaken in the true character of our leading gentleman and his enemy. So, if you take the position that Jane ought to be a little dim witted, you would certainly have a case to argue, and I will not complain against Susanna Harker.

2005: Rosamund Pike does such an excellent job of showing Jane's sweet, gentle personality. Her smiles at Mr. Bingley seem genuine, yet Charlotte's advice that Jane had better show more affection than she feels does not seem unwarranted (contrastingly, the 1940 Jane is so vivacious that Mr. Darcy's plea of being unsure of Jane's feelings seems ridiculous). Her tears and "Yes, a thousand times yes!" in response to Mr. Bingley's proposal (oops, did you know they end up together?) is perfectly Jane. I personally prefer Jane kind but not dumb — not that she is ignorant of people's evil intentions, but chooses to hope for the best in them.

Mary, 1940 // Kitty and Lydia, 1995 // Mary and Lydia, 2005
THE SILLY SISTERS
1940: All the girls act TOO silly: Jane, Lizzy, and Mary included. Mary wears glasses and visits a book shop, but isn't otherwise bookish or solemn. Not one moralizing speech makes an appearance. Kitty and Lydia (of whom good pictures are few) are not memorable. Lydia's big scene, when she returns a married woman, is so hastily done that the irony and shamelessness of the moment is entirely lost.

1995: Mary is great. Her serious reflections are just what they ought. She does look a little old for the part, though. Lydia sounds perpetually hoarse but Julia Sawalha is a great actress. Her flirtations and improprieties drive me horribly crazy, as I'm rather a stuffed shirt than otherwise. I'm not a huge fan of Kitty.

2005: Kitty and Lydia are decent, but the girls are simply not that funny. The film tones them all down. Mary's only memorable speech is a line stolen from Miss Bingley about having conversation instead of dancing at balls, delivered half heartedly.

1940 // 1995 // 2005
MR. AND MRS. BENNET

1940: Over the top funny. They, too, suffer from the melodramatic vein of Southern Belle P&P, but they're not bad.

1995: Mrs. Bennet is perfectly awful. Her scheming and gossiping and fancying herself ill drives one absolutely batty (as it ought). Her voice sounds like Miss Piggy (I'm sorry, you'll never be able to un-hear that). Mr. Bennet is delightfully sarcastic. "Well, my dear, if Jane should die of this fever, it will be comfort to feel that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders."

2005: Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet are decent. I've heard it said that Mrs. Bennet is a little too sympathetic as a character. And yes, there are moments, when she and Mr. Bennet are quietly talking over their daughters, that you don't hate her. But Alison Steadman is an excellent actress and her "Such flutterings and spasms all over me!" quickly replaced by "A daughter, married!" is absolutely hilarious.
Mr. Bennet slouches horribly and I have always found it annoying.


MR. COLLINS

1940: He's not bad, but comes across as just totally ditzy, like he's wandering around in a cloud world (come to think of it, everyone in this film seems a bit farther on the ditzy-scale than normal). He isn't as pompous and self-important as one expects.

1995: Every bit of this Mr. Collins is oily, including his hair. He is perhaps a little too much a times, but he is very funny. I will say that the book describes Mr. Collins as tall, and David Bamber is short. This does add to the humour, however.

2005: Mr. Collins is once again, humoursly short. He is very funny, but quite different from the 1995 actor. It really depends on how you like your Collins; Tom Hollander is less oily and seems more sincerely full of his self-importance (David Bamber's pomposity [is that a word?] seems more put on). It is extremely difficult for me to pick between the two, as they are both represent the character well but in different ways.

1940 // 1995 // 2005
WICKHAM
Wickham is a tricky character. He can't seem too good, because of course he is wicked at heart. But if he is obviously a creeper to a person watching the movie with no knowledge of the book, it makes Lizzy seem stupid to have believed in him.

1940: This Wickham is, in a way, the best of the Wickhams, because he doesn't seem like a slimeball at all. He is quite dashing (with his totally-Regency moustache) and seems like a nice enough fellow. He keeps seeming like a nice fellow all the way to the end, in fact, by which time we ought to remember he's not.

1995: Wickham is good, very friendly and gallant, but I will say that he seems like a faker to me from the beginning.

2005: Mr. Wickham suffers from the 2005 hair problems and his modesty is a bit overdone. But I will say he is my pick of the Wickhams, because he manages to be not creepy in the first bit, while still being believably evil in the second half.

1940 // 1995 // 2005
LADY CATHERINE

1940: Edna May Oliver acts Lady Catherine fairly well. She has a I confess this Lady Catherine leaves something to be desired, but it is more the character than the actress I quarrel with. The writers added a plot twist that Lady Catherine is actually a sweet old lady who just has an attitude. ?

1995: Ah, Lady Catherine. Swelled with dignity, yet not polite. She says out loud what everyone else is thinking. Barbara Leigh-Hunt is an excellent actress, but at times seems a little languid, as if she is ill.

2005: It is impossible to complain about Judi Dench. She plays the Imperious Grand Woman to perfection. She is even less apologetic about herself and her opinions than the 1995 Lady Catherine. "How very strange!" "Fitzwilliam, I need you!"



Clockwise from top left: Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, 1995 // Bingley, 1995 // Miss Bingley, 2005 // Bingley, 2005
THE BINGLEYS

1940 (Of which there are no great pictures): Miss Bingley is very imperious and haughty. Nothing to complain about. Honestly, Mr. Bingley is just boring.

1995: Miss Bingley is a very good actress. She gives the Bennets a charming welcome which would certainly deceive Jane, while glancing behind her with a "when will this be over" look that isn't lost on watchers. "Mr. Bennet! Mrs. Bennet! Quite delighted. Ah, and all your daughters..."This is the only film where we get a Mrs. Hurst. Charles Bingley is charming.

2005: Some people think this Mr. Bingley seems dumb. I do not think he is any dumber than Jane Austen intended him to be (see reflections on Jane Bennet, above). She says only that he is "by no means deficient" and that Darcy is "the superior" in understanding. I think this Mr. Bingley is adorable. It's hard to get past the fact that Miss Bingley is almost always in a state of undress, but her cutting lines are well delivered. She is, if anything, a little too nasty. We don't really see her being charming.



*Of course, I haven't dealt with Georgianna, Col. Fitzwilliam, the Gardiners or Charlotte Lucas... Since brevity is the soul of wit, however, suffice it to say that Georgianna is omitted from the 1940 version and seems to be all of twelve years old in the 2005 version. Col. Fitzwilliam is strange in Emo P&P, and wears a kilt in Southern Belle P&P. In Southern Belle P&P, the Gardners are omitted and Charlotte Lucas is barely a character. They are decently portrayed in both the 1995 and 2005 versions.

STORYLINE:

1940: Though I've read the book at least half a dozen times, seen the 1995 version thrice and the 2005 version twice that, I didn't know what was going on in Southern Belle P&P. It is right at two hours long, and they manage those 120 minutes very ill. The events of the book are very compressed, in order to fit in some random scenes which seemed peculiarly unnecessary. For instance, at the first ball, Lizzy meets Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley meets Jane, Lizzy is snubbed by Darcy, barely five minutes later is asked to dance by him, AND Wickham and Darcy encounter each other.

Instead of the Netherfield ball, there is a garden party, at which Lizzy hides in a clump of bushes from Mr. Collins (waving conspiratorially at Darcy so he won't give her away and then thanking him for complying), Darcy demonstrates how to hold a bow very closely to Lizzy (who then demonstrates to him that she is an excellent archer), and all of Lizzy's family embarrasses themselves. Miss Bingley then compliments Lizzy on her interesting family, after which she cries in the garden and Mr. Darcy comforts her. And we get this beautiful exchange:
"At this moment, it's difficult to believe that you're so... proud."
Quoth he: "At this moment, it's difficult to believe that you're so... prejudiced. Shall we not call it quits and start again?"
They don't of course, because he still hasn't explained about Mr. Wickham, injured Jane, or proposed, and if they got engaged now we would have no story.

Both proposals are strange. Because she seems to have a secret passion for Mr. Darcy from day one, Lizzy almost accepts the first proposal (which wouldn't have been too unnatural, as it is hardly rude at all), and is almost laughing afterwards, rather than needing many days for composure. Then the Wickham event, which Lizzy hears of after returning home. Rather than going immediately to help Wickham, he asks if he can help and then does nothing, since she says no. Instead we have an unnecessary scene where Miss Bingley tells Darcy and Bingley that Wickham and Lydia are still missing. This has caused the Bennet family to be completely ostracized in their community and she even reports that Lizzy and Jane have been seen fleeing through the streets. It is only THEN that Darcy decides to go look for the pair, after which he sets them up with a yearly salary, enough for Lydia and Wickham to arrive at Longbourne in a four-horse carriage and trumpeters before them (!).
Upon their visit, the viewers learn that the Bennet's are actually moving to a seaside town to escape the shame. Everything is in an uproar, with tea cups on the floor and a parrot in a chair, when Lady Catherine arrives. Her visit is actually a stunt to test Lizzy's loyalty, as Darcy is waiting outside. When Lizzy refuses to not marry Darcy, Lady C. sails out and tells Darcy that Lizzy is "perfect" for him, since he's been spoiled all his life (not evident in this film, for he is kind and considerate and not at all proud or selfish). "What you need is a woman who can stand up to you."
The ending sequence shows Lizzy in the garden with Darcy, Jane and Bingley reconciling in another nook, Lydia together with Wickham, and Mr. and Mrs. Bennet surveying two young men paying attentions to Mary and Kitty in their parlor. (They know it's love because the young rector is playing the flute to Mary's terrible singing with great complaisance.)

So yes, we have five sisters in need of marriage, two proposals, a visit to Rosings Park, and a scheming Miss Bingley, but otherwise the story is quite different. There is no visit to Pemberley, nor is one necessary, since Mr. Darcy is already quite endearing and Elizabeth quite endeared.


1995: It's hard to complain about this movie. It's pretty accurate to the book; though it's hardly fair to compare this to the other two, because it's 5 hours long, and has a lot more time to include all the details of the story (for instance, including Mrs. Hurst as a character. I like it when movies get all the details right, but I don't quarrel with this kind of omission because I realize time constraints make it necessary to do so.)
My one grievance with Andrew Davies is the notorious wet-shirt scene. You know what I'm talking about. Colin Firth strips down to his [albeit modest] underclothes, and it is in this wet shirt (no waistcoat or frock coat, which would have been quite inappropriate to be without) that he greets Elizabeth. Is it unreasonable that a guy would swim in his own pond after a hot ride, and that visitors should arrive concurrently? No. Is it something Jane Austen would write? A resounding no.

Various small bits differ from the book, but unlike certain other adaptions, the additions are things that Jane Austen might have written herself (except for Lydia running into Mr. Collins in the hallway half clothed. That is Lydia behaviour though, so I let it slide).


2005: Though not as deviant as Southern Belle P&P, Emo P&P takes some liberties.
Though I like Bingley, I dislike the fact that he chats with Jane in the bedroom when she's sick at Netherfield (this actually happens in the 1940 version as well, though he has the decency to peer over a screen, I guess). *I* wouldn't let a non-relative male into my bedroom while I'm lying there in my pjs. You think they were less concerned with propriety two hundred years ago?
The first proposal takes place in the rain (so Kiera can have extra runny eyeliner) and almost becomes romantic. ?! It's not supposed to be romantic. They aren't supposed to almost kiss at the end. He is RUDE, readers, and she is offended. (But um, still maintains dignity, Lizzy. You don't run about yelling "For once in your life, leave me alone!" at people).
Instead of meeting her on a walk, Mr. Darcy comes into Elizabeth's bedroom (where's she been sitting in her pjs, staring into a mirror all day), without even knocking, to drop off his letter.
The director must have a thing with filming people in their pajamas, because Lady Catherine's visit to intimidate/interrogate Elizabeth takes place in the middle of the night. I really have no clue why this decision was made.
We shouldn't be surprised then, when a fourth scene, namely the second proposal, also takes place in pjs. Heaven and earth, are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted? Serendipitously, Mr. Darcy and Lizzy both wander out about 5 am or so to take a walk in an adjoining field. With the inspiring words "Well.. your hands are cold" their romance is finally on happy footing.
A brief consultation in pjs with Mr. Bennet (probably agrees to the marriage because her reputation has been compromised) seals the deal, and then the scene switches to the married pair, wearing... you guessed it, pjs once again. A lot of kissing, and then the end.


One incorrect aspect of the film in general is that the Bennets are portrayed as very poor. The director expressed a desire to show how life was "pretty dirty" back in the day. He said that "messy is beautiful. I think tidiness is ugly and so that's just my aesthetic." This certainly comes across. Mrs. Bennet is slovenly, nobody's hair is tidy, and a pig wanders through the house. Although, yes, Mr. Bennet owned a farm, and yes, in their context the Bennets were "poor," they were not barely surviving peasants. Longbourne is not the name of the Bennets house, but a small village that Mr. Bennet owns. They have servants. The animals would have been some distance from the house. Perhaps the nineteenth century wasn't pristine, but neither are the Bennet ladies farm girls.
Overall, they do a fine job of compressing the plot into just over two hours. However, the expression of the film seems modernized, and, unfortunately, sensationalized. Readers, Jane Austen's original has enough emotional highs and lows without needing everyone in their pjs. (Note: Jane and Bingley's romance is handled much nicer than the main protagonists'. I dote upon them and their proposal scene is adorable.)

COSTUMES
1940: Sleeves as big as your head, eyelashes as long as your little finger, ridiculous bonnets, huge hoop skirts. I think the filmmakers envisioned the time period as the 1830s, while channeling Gone with the Wind.  Lady Catherine's outfits (see above) were reminiscent of an 1890s ensemble.
There were a few pretty frocks, such as Lizzy's First Proposal Dress.

Lovely Greer Garson almost always has large back curls and roses in her hair.

This one is simply strange.


But mostly it is just too much.

It's a balloon! It's a basketball! It's a... sleeve.

1995: I would not claim to be a fashion expert, as I base most of my knowledge off of google searches and being observant, rather than primary research or even reading books on the subject. However, to my limited knowledge and according to the statements of those who do know, this movie has the most period accurate (c. 1815) costumes. One of the only exceptions I know of is that the ladies frequently display d├ęcolletage in morning gowns, which would only have been appropriate for evening wear (odd, I know, but our society allows bikinis at the beach and not at the grocery store, so...) Also, the fashion of wearing white at a wedding only arose after Queen Victoria's marriage (1840). I don't blame the film makers too much for this, since people expect white at a wedding now.

As the film is five hours long, the costumes are far too numerous to be adequately covered in an already full post. I shall simply share the highlights.
Lizzy's gowns are probably my favourite. She and other Bennet girls frequently wear white, as would have been common.


She has some lovely spencer jackets (As compared to Kitty and Lydia's, which seem ill fitting and not that pretty. See above.)


Notice the lovely orange spencer and her hem detail. Ignore the fact that Mr. Darcy is in dishabille.
I also love Charlotte's lavender blue ball gown.

Lizzy's hair!

I quite adore Mr. Darcy's green frock coat with his pinstriped waistcoat.



2005: The number one goal of this film was to be pretty, not accurate. I have read that the costume designers found the empire waist ugly, so they decided to set the movie in the 1790s (when the first draft of Pride and Prejudice was written), rather than 1813 (when it was rewritten and published). However, they still weren't going for accuracy, so we have a clash of Regency, Georgian, and just plain modern things in this film.
Most characters, including Elizabeth, have a good deal of natural-waist dresses. She has some particularly strange pieces, like this weird, 1990s-looking jumper.


This is also one of the many examples of her hair hanging loose. This would have been considered quite inappropriate in either 1795 or 1813... (Also notice the eyeliner, which will make many more appearances on Miss Lizzy.)


Even when the waist line is higher, the silhouette is still wrong, as featured on Lizzy and Charlotte here. I do like Lizzy's green dress, as the color suits her very well. 


If you will notice, the waist line in a true Regency dress is very high and defined. It is possible that the designer was trying to make the dress more flattering to Kiera in particular, for Jane's clothing seems to be a little more accurate (this could also be a reflection that Mrs. Bennet gives her favored daughter nicer clothing?).


Lizzy also wears this horrible coat, which looks like it should belong to a man (not a man from the Regency era, though...)


This one is better. The brown and blue look nice together.


What is up with this weird little jacket? At least her hair is up, the hussy.

Jane has some very pretty pieces, all more Regency-looking, my favourite of which is this coat:



Both Jane and Lizzy look quite nice at the ball, I will say. I love the pearls in Lizzy's hair.

Miss Bingley's clothing is generally more Regency (except her hair). Perhaps the film makers intended for her to be more fashionable?


Except when she wears a slip to a ball... twice.



Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs. Bennet, and the three young Bennet girls are squarely Georgian the whole movie. I think the idea here was that Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine, as older women, are still wearing the older fashions, and the girls are too young to have fashionable clothing? This may make sense for Mrs. Bennet, but I quarrel with it in Lady Catherine, as Austen actually goes to the trouble to remark (via Mr. Collins) on her "elegance of dress."

Very pretty, as are many of Mrs. Bennet's ensembles, but not Regency.
The men's clothing is decent (but doesn't compare to Colin Firth's waistcoats), and their hair is awful!

Mary, Kitty and Lizzy in Georgian peasant costume, Jane pretty in a blue Regency gown.

Mr. Bennet looks like he should be playing one of the Founding Fathers.

The tuft in the back spared her the concern she might have felt in refusing him, had his hair been trimmed in a more gentlemanlike manner.

"Why do only men with mullets take an interest in me?"

BONUS: THE DREAM TEAM

So, the question that I've dodged around this whole post: Which is the ideal P&P? The answer is: none of them. Not one of them completely satisfies my notion of the perfect movie. It's hard to do it really well in only 2 hours, but I'd also like a P&P adaption which I don't have to devote an entire weekend to. And I'll be honest, the cinematography of the 2005 is more visually appealing to me than the 1995 (partly because of the simple fact that it was made 10 years later with newer equipment &c.). So if I, in an ideal universe, could produce a Pride and Predjudice adaption...
I would have Andrew Davies adapt his script (1995) to three hours. Roman Osin (2005) would direct the photography.
Dario Marianelli would adapt his soundtrack to the new film. (The 2005 soundtrack is almost my favourite thing about the whole movie. I've nothing against the others but they're nothing to write home about, in my opinion.)
Green Garson and Colin Firth would star as Elizabeth and Darcy. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (just barely beating the 2005 couple), Lydia and Mary, Georgianna, and the Bingley sisters would be played by their 1995 actors. Jane, Mr. Bingley, Lady Catherine, Wickham (with a haircut, a smidge better than his 1995 counterpart), Kitty, and Mr. Collins would be from the 2005 film.

Agree? Disagree? Colin Firth or your money back? McFadyen for life? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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P.S. Read this far and still want the simple answer? My favourite adaption, and the most faithful, is the 1995 film. 2005 is a great romantic movie that I still enjoy, but if you're a die-hard purist, it will drive you bonkers. Then again, if you don't have 5 hours and period accurate costumes aren't important to you, go for the Kiera Knightley version. Only watch Southern Belle P&P if you have two hours to kill and nothing better to do with your life.