Pride and Prejudice (1980– )
Close to perfection
28 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is in almost every way better than the A & E version. It is much more truer to the spirit of the novel, it feels like you have jumped into a time machine and gone back to regency England. The actors are all superb, even the minor characters are well rounded. It has none of the 'over the top' acting you got in the 1995 version. A few that stand out include the absolutely gorgeous Elizabeth Garvie, whose portrayal of Elizabeth is exquisite, none of the petulant smirking we got from Jennifer Ehle. She portrays Eliza as the intelligent and lively character that Austen intended. You can see why Darcy is attracted to her (I certainly was), I feel that the 1995 version failed to establish this. David Rintoul is superb as Mr. Darcy chiefly because he looks like him (I am sorry Colin), he is stiff, proud and arrogant just like in the novel. You can see why Elizabeth dislikes him, witness some of his exchanges with Elizabeth at Netherfield and Rosings, the underlying tension, absolutely superb. One of my problems with Firth's Darcy is one that other reviewers have already alluded to - he is too likable. There seems very little reason for Elizabeth to dislike him, in fact she is far more disagreable than he is. My one gripe with Rintoul is that I was not totally convinced with his change in manners when they meet at Pemberley, he is still too stiff. Firth was excellent in his portrayal of the 'reformed' Darcy. Charlotte and Mr. Collins are also well acted, she is sensible, realistic and still a great friend to Eliza not the snob that she was portrayed in 1995. Mr. Collins is a believable character not the caricature of 1995 version, he is still pompous and annoying, but you can see what makes him tick. Mr. & Mrs. Bennett are well portrayed, the Bennett sisters look alike as do the Bingley sisters.

My one major complaint with this version is that like the 1995 version, it meddles with the ending. I've never understood why directors/script-writers constantly interfere with what is a classic ending. Both versions seem to have been rushed as if the production teams realised that time was short and wrapped it up in a hurry. There are also some minor changes in the dialogue, but nothing too alarming as was the case with the 1995 version. Jane Austen's dialogue is the highlight of all her books, why would you change it? Then again I suppose that is why I am writing this review and not having my scripts filmed in Hollywood.

I enjoyed this immensely. Others have pointed to the budget limitations, but I for the life of me do not see how this has any relevance. This is a period piece not an action spectacular. A higher budget would just encourage directors to meddle with what is a great book in an attempt to justify expenditure (any one who has caught a glimpse of the 2005 P & P big screen version will know what I mean).

My best advice is to buy both versions and you'll not be disappointed. The earlier version is truer to the book, while the latter does the romance better.
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