Pride and Prejudice

 

What Is It?

This is the latest retelling of the classic book by Jane Austen. It has been a BBC melodrama, an A&E mini-series and even a modernized musical out of Bollywood. Now, Focus Films is bringing a limited release independent film version with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Donald Sutherland as her father.

This is the story of the Benet family. The matriarch of the family tries desperately to come off as high in society as she finds husbands for her daughters. Elizabeth doesn’t want an advantageous marriage, just a marriage of love.

How Was It?

At first, they were showing scenery, and I thought, “How are they going to fit all that story into 127 minutes? Expensively, when they spend time on scenery!” (A&E had to make cuts and they had 300 min. to work with.) Then this film showed me something I have not seen in a very long time. Pride and Prejudice used the medium of film to its fullest extent. The camera was directed with a hand as deft as a master poet’s pen. The pictures on the screen were as beautiful, meaningful and well crafted as the words from Jane Austen’s books. First, there were great moments, like when Elizabeth was being chased by her mother. In that instance, mother is flanked by squawking geese that match her outfit and temperament. This moment gives us more insight into the character than three pages of dialogue.

This film also utilizes very long shots without cutting. Though, In the a world of 3 second cuts and MTV editing, that may sound like a bad idea, but they seem to go at least 2 minutes at times without cutting. In that time the camera and cast are choreographed so well that their movements become more interesting and communicate more information than any 100 fast cuts could hope to. (Comparing the skill and effect of this film to your standard fast paced film is like comparing the speed and power of a punk band to a 100 piece orchestra giving a booming rendition of “Hall of the Mountain King”.)

This film also has great moments that give you visual insights into the characters’ thoughts and struggles (particularly Darcy’s) much better than any other production I have seen. All this is added to beautiful sets and incredible acting (Donald Sutherland seems born to give the dissertation after Elizabeth gets her first proposal).

Finally, they use the dialogue from the books fantastically well. Not only do we get the most pertinent lines, they also use others as flavoring and coloring in background conversation and overlapping dialogue.

Elizabeth dancing with Darcy is just fantastic!

All that, then there is the phenomenal story. The issues of the title are brought together through a story that didn’t need all this cinematic mastery to make it good, but coupled with it, makes it incredible.

Was It Good For Children?

This is a fantastic movie to see, though the big words and overlapping dialogue may be hard to follow. They are very appropriate when showing the actors, although there are a couple of houses that are decorated with Greek art, including a lot of nudes. For the most part it’s in the background.

You can get an entire breakdown of what’s on the screen at Screenit.com

What About Spiritual Issues?

There is the slight issue of the pastor who is ridiculous. In the other versions and in the book, you see that he is not the lone representation of Christianity. Here that is not as clear, though there is a point where they talk about the office of a pastor as honorable. They refer to the man who turned down the office as dishonorable. I do not think the film is saying that Christianity is simply silly and boring, I can see where people could get that misconception.

There are also the major themes of the film that show the folly of marrying for money or for the love of romance alone. We also see the problems of judging people too harshly and listening to gossip, as well as the mistake of thinking everyone to be of the best intentions.

Nice point: there is no physical progression in relationships until they are married.

What Is Your Recommendation?

You should keep the issues of Greek art and the silly pastor in mind. Other than that, I would recommend this film wholeheartedly as one of the best examples of exquisite filmmaking I have ever seen.

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4 Responses to “Pride and Prejudice”

  1. Miss Potter « Questionentertainment’s Weblog Says:

    […] with a shovel. The story is great and the acting complements it. I would put this film alongside “Pride and Prejudice ” and the BBC’s “Shadowlands”. […]

  2. Christopher’s Top Picks of the Decade (1/1/2000-1/1/2010) « Questionentertainment’s Weblog Says:

    […] tie – DISTRICT 9 Pride and Prejudice  […]

  3. Hanna Q&E Review Show « Questionentertainment’s Weblog Says:

    […] Check out the review for […]

  4. Movie Recommendations « Questionentertainment’s Weblog Says:

    […] Pride and Prejudice  (m) […]

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