Pride and Prejudice (1980– )
The best adaptation I have seen
10 February 2014
I own the three most recent adaptations of "Pride and Prejudice". They are all good in different ways, but I would rate the 1980 version the best. If the 1995 BBC version has a fault, it seems to me to caricature some of the characters. This is especially true of the portrayal of the Bingley sisters, who are almost pantomime "ugly sisters" ; Alison Steadman's portrayal also seems a bit OTT. The portrayal of Mr Collins in the 1995 version also misses his bulky clumsiness. Another weakness in the casting is that Susannah Harker as Jane is not the beauty of the family. Jennifer Ehle is, to me, the more attractive. I think the same criticism could also be levelled at the film version. The Keira Knightley film, because of it's limited length, must, of necessity, miss out quite a lot of detail and dialogue. The film portrayal of Mrs Bennet is probably the most sympathetic of her, though Jane Austen is hardly sympathetic to her in the book. I think all three versions, with the above provisos, are all well cast, and the productions are enjoyable. It is quite interesting to see how the 1995 version has filled in bits of the story. Perhaps the one weakness of the 1980 version is that some of the scenes are clearly shot in a studio, with rather artificial views out of windows. The other mistake, as noted by other reviewers, is the Brahms music on the instrument. Elizabeth Garvie is, for me, perfect as Elizabeth. She is attractive, without being the beauty that Sabina Franklyn is. Her eyes are lovely, as they should be. She displays a wonderful range of expression to convey her feelings, without ever overacting, which is in keeping with Jane Austen's style. David Rintoul has been criticised as Darcy, especially by comparison with Colin Firth. Both are very good, but different. Firth is the more passionate, but Rintoul seems the more aristocratic and arrogant. Moray Watson is very good as Mr Bennet, conveying both the character's wit, but also other aspects - like his frustration with his wife, and overall laziness - well. Priscilla Morgan is excellent as Mrs Bennet, but the portrayal does not descend into caricature, and can at times elicit some sympathy. The portrayal of Mr Collins is excellent - large, pompous, clumsy, tactless, obsequious. Judy Parfitt is excellent as Lady Catherine. She is arrogant and dictatorial, simply as a matter of nature, while she never seems petulant, which Barbara Leigh Hunt at times appears in the 1995 version. The Bingley sisters are also well played, arrogant, and at times bitchy, but in a rather understated way, as they appear in the book. All in all, I find this a most satisfying adaptation. It is very true to the book, both in detail and in the spirit of the book. It conveys the wit of the writing in the spirit in which it was written, without ever over-romanticising, or caricature. The casting seems to me the best and most consistent, with the principal players, especially Elizabeth Garvie who is a delight in her part, very good indeed. I will return to this version often, with delight.
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