Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pride and Prejudice - my review is...mixed.

We finally got to the new movie version of Pride and Prejudice. I suggest you read no farther if you plan to see it and don't want any "spoilers."

Overall, it was...okay. As I said yesterday, it'd be pretty difficult to louse up Jane Austen. However, there were some really qestionable choices made with this version.

The good: I liked how they highlighted the difference between the Bennet's circumstances and Mr. Darcy's, economically and socially. Almost as much mud and grime as a medieval flick! Mind you, I also think they took it a bit far, and if anybody can explain the presence of that boat in the yard in one scene, I'd be thankful.

The scene near the end when Darcy is walking over the fields with his great coat flapping and his shirt open may spawn a thousand romance readers and, I suspect, not more than a few writers and likely several covers. It was the highlight of the film for me, actually.

I liked the guy who played Darcy. He got the yearning thing. But why they shot his first proposal outside in a downpour? Got me. Totally distracting.

Wickham -- sigh. I was disappointed. And here's what I considered a hugh flaw: in this day and age especially, you have to make it very clear that Lydia's "elopement" is a VERY BIG AND BAD DEAL. She would be considered immoral (well, she was), but so would the entire family and therefore so tainted that no respectable person would associate with them. If you don't get this, Darcy's subsequent actions (made even more impressive because of his past dealings with Wickham) and his continuing love for the now socially soiled Elizabeth have almost no impact. But it's those actions and that continuing love despite the taint on the family that show Elizabeth (and us) that he really is hero material.

Here's another thing: Jane Austen's dialogue has more than stood the test of time. In many respects, it's classic. So why would anybody not use it? Why would they think their own could or should try to match it?

And then there's the just plain wacky: the boat, as mentioned, the hog in the house and the statues in Pemberley. During the statue scene, my daughter leaned over and whispered, "He lives in a museum?" Me, I was distracted by the fact that many of the statues were naked, and knowing this is where Elizabeth sees a representation of Mr. Darcy, I was wondering if I was about to see Mr. D a la Michelangelo's David. Sure would put a whole different spin on that scene. They didn't, of course, but why they felt they needed to have a room that looked like something out of the Louvre, I don't know.

And lastly, the kiss scene at the end, that the British audience didn't get. It's been described as post-coital, so I was expecting them to be in bed. Instead, they were on the balcony overlooking the garden. On top of a table. If you're going to go there, why not put them in bed? I realized later that the table was necessary for the visual. Otherwise, a railing would have obsecured the garden. But being on a table sure had me scratching my head. And apparently Mr. Darcy's shaves his legs, 'cause those were some mighty smooth calves. Or maybe he'd been posing....

All in all, not a total waste of an afternoon. Do I want the DVD? No.

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