Monday, August 10, 2009

Pride and Prejudice: Video Thoughts, part three: P&P (1980, BBC)

The third video I watched for the Everything Austen challenge is the BBC production (1980) of Pride and Prejudice. I admit I was a bit prejudiced heading into this one. And the opening credits didn't help me out any. I thought that it couldn't possibly satisfy as well as other adaptations. This one stars Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul as Elizabeth and Darcy.

What I liked about this one:

*It's length. I *really* loved how long it was. This might not be a 'plus' for every viewer. But for me it was.

*It's faithfulness. I *really* loved how the dialogue was done. It felt very Austen-y. Not that I had a copy of the book open to compare. But if I had to take a guess, I'd say it followed the book very closely and Austen is given a chance to shine.

*Developing relationships. I thought that this production was the absolute best for showing character development and developing relationships between characters. In particular, I thought the time spent building up the friendship with Charlotte Lucas was great. (Some productions just focus on the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy and neglect the other relationships in the book--Elizabeth's relationship with her father and mother, her relationship with her sisters, her relationship with Charlotte, etc.)

*Darcy as played by David Rintoul. No one is more surprised that I am at how charmed I was by his portrayal of Darcy.

What I didn't like as much...

*There were some blank Elizabeth scenes. Scenes that highlighted her internal thought process, that showed her observing life, that showed her reacting to reading letters, etc. On the one hand, what was being communicated to the audience was important and necessary to the story. It made for a deeper, more substantive adaptation. But on the other hand, she was staring out into space and trying really hard to look intelligent...and this wasn't always successful. This Elizabeth shined best when she was interacting with others.

*With the exception of Lydia, I didn't care for the portrayal of the other sisters. This was not my favorite Jane, Mary, or Kitty, in other words. Though I did find it interesting that this movie chose to portray Kitty and Mary as ogling Mr. Bingley when he came to call towards the end. I don't remember that in the book. Though I wouldn't put it past Kitty since she's more like Lydia.

*I hated Peter Settelen's portrayal of Mr. Wickham. Call me prejudiced. But I just couldn't fathom a blond Mr. Wickham. And his pants were definitely too tight.

Overall, I thought watching this production was *almost* as good as reading the book itself. Dare I say it...I think you could pass almost any test on this book just by watching this one?!

I found this one VERY SATISFYING. I really enjoyed this one. Much more than I ever thought I would!


  1. I've got this one on hold at the library! Can't wait to see how this one is! Thanks for your lovely review!

  2. Hi Becky - great accessment of this classic intreptation of Austen's novel. We agree on many points. The blonde Wickham was weird, and his breeches were tight! That, I thought suited his flashy character. He was trying to be a dandy, but not quite succeeding.

    Thanks, LA

  3. Great review! This is my favourite version of P&P so I'm really glad to see others enjoying it.

    You were perfectly right that the dialogue stuck closely to the book, in fact some of it is actually description from the book that Fay Weldon had the character's say, so it is pure Austen even when not original dialogue.

    I can see what you mean about Elizabeth's internal monologues but I always find myself caught up in the way she says the lines rather than watching her face. It's their voices I hear when I read the book.

    I'm curious, because you said you watched a video, whether you actually did or whether it was the DVD? I ask because my mother had the video for years and I watched it with her so many times that I knew it backwards, and then I bought the DVD, and found that the video version had so much cut out it was almost like watching a new version. It enhanced it, but it obviously never really mattered because even the cut version is closer than the other adaptations to my mind.