Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

The Keira Knightly version. While I was sick and lounging on the couch I watched Pride and Prejudice. I had avoided it assiduously because a) who needs another P&P and b)I had just caught Vanity Fair with Reece before going away. The VF had annoyed me quite a lot. I don't think that Becky Sharp should be excused as merely an intelligent woman in a time when being an intelligent woman was not a desired trait. Nor do I think that all her problems could have been solved by just going to India as director Mira Nair seems to suggest. I will agree that the lowest of Englishmen (or women) could go to India and be lords and ladies by virtue of being white, but that was not the gist of the film.

At any rate, I decided it would pass the time to watch P&P and I'm glad I did. It captured for me the romance of the first time I read the novel. And I will say that a large portion of this was because of Miss Knightly herself.

How old is Lizzie? IMDB says that she's 27 but I can't think that. Her youngest sister is 15. At the general rate of a child every two years (and barring deaths--certainly not unheard of but not mentioned or alluded to in the novel), we'd have Kitty at 17, Mary at 19, Liz at 21 and Jane at a old and desperate 23. At the youngest (one year apart) she'd be 18. Keira captured this fragile time perfectly--her identity is in flux, despite her intelligence. Her vanity is wounded and it takes her a long time to recover.

Having Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy certainly helped. His own insecurities and fears were on display as is his desperate attraction--the scene in the rain, the first proposal is so beautiful and brilliant--well, I watched it again when it repeated. And I think (unlike many adaptations), while their desire makes them "almost" kiss, there is never a breaking of the propriety of the time. Many IMDBers don't like the almost kiss, but I do--attraction can overwhelm even intellectual dislike.

Also helpful was the supporting cast. All too often Mr. & Mrs. Bennett are regulated to minor characters--with barely any development. Having such luminaries as Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn really gave the film a complete shape. Oh, Donald is wonderful! Both in the Your mother will never speak to you if you do not marry Mr. Collins and I will never speak to you if you do, and in the end--when he cried to give away his daughter. I finally understood how Lizzie and Jane managed to rise above their sisters and I managed to have a little sympathy for Mrs. Bennett as well.

On the trivia side, Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander) was in Pirates 2 and The Libertine. Jane (Rosamund Pike) was also in The Libertine.

I also realized that I didn't own a copy of P&P. I have Emma and Mansfield Park, not my favorites, but not P&P or S&S. That had to be rectified.


Anonymous said...

Elizabeth tells Lady Catherine in the novel that she is not "one and twenty". This puts her age at around 20, since Lydia is 15, Kitty is two years older than Lydia (17) and then Mary is also between Kitty and Elizabeth.

Novel said...

Thank you reader! It's been awhile since I read P&P. I was close in my estimate.

Anonymous said...

This will be the first year that I don't teach the novel. Suffice it to say, I usually read it at least twice a year.

Novel said...

Ah, time to re-read. When there are so many new books. I was telling a co-worker how I try to read Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass at least once a year. I don't think she could fathom why. She also read them at 12 or 13 and couldn't believe that I had read them at seven or eight.

Novel said...
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