beautiful monsters: Colin Firth's ghost

May 19, 2006

Colin Firth's ghost

I knew I shouldnít have gone there. But the cover picture was so pretty, and Keira Knightley is so hot. And I needed something to do while I waited for my washing at the launderette. So I rented Pride and Prejudice.

I have to admit that I am one of the viewers that Natasha Walter speaks of:
...most viewers now are probably hoping not so much that the new film can stay faithful to what Austen once put on to the page, but more that it can measure up to what Colin Firth once put on to the screen. (And watching this new and rather pallid Darcy wandering about his woods, you can't help wondering when the real chap is going to pop out of the shrubbery with his shirt dripping and order the impostor off his land.)

Maybe this adaptation is more a realist approach. And I like that. I like the pigs and chickens wandering around, and that some of the scenes are more crowded and bustling.

But even if the BBC version is too clean (and hey, it is meant to be a fairytale, bordering on soap opera - not a documentary) I believed in the people, the relationships and emotions.

Watching the movie I felt very conscious that these were contemporary actors, dressed up in late 18th Century costumes. I kept feeling like they were focusing on remembering the next line.

When the BBC series came out, I such a crush on Lizzie. Not Jennifer Ehle, I had as crush on Lizzie, who was embodied by Jennifer. Before the movie came out I had a crush on Keira Knightly. And now that itís over, hopefully I can go back to having a crush on her. But in the movie? She just wasnít Lizzie for me. I didnít believe that she hated Mr Darcy. And then I didnít believe that she was falling in love with him.

There is this weird bit, described by Gregory Weinkauf as an excellent exchange at the second ballroom sequence, wherein Darcy and Elizabeth, entranced by their dance, become oblivious to all other participants who, for the moment, literally disappear (except for the ghost of Colin Firth). I didnít think it worked. I did like the bit where the camera angle is such that we canít see that Mr Collins is down on one knee, and he seems to turn into a dwarf. But though I thought it was funny, it didnít really seem to fit right.

Everything seems to happen so quickly in the movie. I missed the sense of days and weeks passing between events. It made the sudden changes in desires seem even less plausible.

And her father! In the miniseries I loved the relationship between Lizzie and her father, their shared sense of humour, and their deep affection. Mr Bennet was witty, intelligent, and loved his dotty wife, despite how he teased her. In the movie, Mr Bennet is just... sort of soggy. And sometimes he looked like a disheveled, droopy drug addict. Donít get me wrong, I think Donald Sutherland is a good actor. I just donít think he was acting Mr Bennet.

The movie definitely misses out on a lot of the wit of the BBC version. And I think partly itís because itís so rushed. There isnít enough time for subtle looks, pauses, exchanges.

And they all seemed like such giggly adolescents. I mean, Kitty and Lydia are supposed to be, of course, but Jane, Lizzie, and even Bingley?

Hey, maybe Iím just depressed and negative today, but Iím not the only one who didnít like it. I agree with everything in the review by Ray Bennett:
The brilliant humor of Mr. Collins' groveling snobbery is skipped, and there's no hint of a relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham. The imperious Lady Catherine de Bourg, played at full throttle by Judy Dench, is given more time than necessary, and little is asked of Donald Sutherland, as Mr. Bennet, other than to be grumpily docile.

MacFadyen, a fine actor, is barely given a chance to compete with the memory of Firth's Darcy as, lacking the superb script of the BBC show, he is asked to do little more than appear handsomely annoyed. Knightley, giggly and juvenile, shows no sign of being up to the task of playing a woman with Elizabeth's intelligence and wisdom. Lacking Austen's subtle and witty insights, there has to be a reason for Darcy to fall in love with Elizabeth, but in this film you cannot imagine why.

It all ends rather suddenly with Mr Bennet sniggering to himself, which is rather unnerving, given that he doesnít seem to have much wit, just this nervous, soggy, laugh.

But there are plenty of rave reviews of the film, so donít let me put you off.

Posted by Fionnaigh at May 19, 2006 01:49 AM | TrackBack

Yea i didnt like the new one either.
i dont think kiera pulled of lizzy, the bbc lizzy is such a hard act to follow. what i do think is strange is how in the bbc version lizzie is far more beautiful than jane but she isnt supposed to be. and in the story everyone makes references to how beautiful jane is and is compared to her sisters i allways felt like yelling at the tv, i was so in love with lizzy.

Posted by: Anna at May 23, 2006 12:17 PM