“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”

After hearing that Pride and Prejudice was only being released in 30 cities on November 11, I was incredibly disappointed. For some reason, I checked the list again and realized that Charlotte was one of the cities. Charlotte, hmmm? That seemed doable. So I sent Mike a convincing email (read: I begged) and he checked Fandango and, voila! Tickets. I didn’t really tell people we were going, in case it didn’t work out at the last minute. But it did, and we had a lovely time.

Am I embarassed that I drove two hours to see a movie that would be in my city on November 23? Well, kind of. But it was worth it. I really wanted to see it. I’m going to go see it again when it comes here, because I promised quite a few friends that I’d go see it with them. And honestly? I can’t wait to see it again.

Pride and Prejudice, as I have said many times, is my favorite book. The BBC miniseries is my favorite movie-type thing. I knew that this was going to be different, having to be much shorter. So I decided to go in and reserve judgement. About halfway through, I realized that I was sitting there with a big goofy grin on my face, and I thought, “This is different, but I am happy with it.”

So, what were the changes? They played a bit fast and loose with some of the manners and customs of the time. It’s hard to cite particulars, just a sense that things weren’t quite the same social dance that you got from the BBC miniseries: people showing up at houses in the middle of the night, young men and women being alone in places I wasn’t sure they would actually be. A few of the things they said were pretty obviously (at least to me) not Jane Austen, such as one from the trailer: “You have bewitched me body and soul.” hehe. Overall, there were some places where I thought it had a more Brontë feel (Heathcliff and Catherine on the moors) than an Austen feel, so it seemed more overtly romantic in that way. They also moved the time back a bit, to the late 1700s (around when Jane Austen wrote the first draft of the book) so that the costumes and hair would look different than the miniseries, which was probably a good decision. Pretty much any scene that could be outside was (and even some that couldn’t), which led to the first proposal being in a rainstorm instead of the Collins drawing room. That’s the kind of thing I don’t tend to nitpick, because they were using the dialogue, but if you are going in with a critical attitude, it’s probably going to bug.

I had heard that Keira Knightley was “too smiley” or “too giggly,” but I thought she did a great job. Matthew MacFayden is no Colin Firth, but over the course of the movie I thought he convinced me, and the two of them had some good chemistry. My favorite thing, though, was how they took some of the characters and had them say things straight from the text, but gave them a different interpretation than the miniseries. Mrs. Bennet was still blathering away, but there was a lot more love in her motivations. Mr. Bennet was less detached from his family. Mr. Collins (who is hysterical but slightly over the top in the miniseries) was more insecure and socially inept than obsequious. I never thought anything could make me feel sorry for him, but this interpretation did, and did it well. All of them said pretty much the same things they say in the miniseries and the book, but the characters were interpreted more charitably, which I enjoyed a lot. And that’s saying nothing of Jane and Lady Catherine and Bingley, all of whom were excellent.

My favorite added bit had to do with the Netherfield ball, when Mr. Bennet tells Mary to give the other young ladies a chance to exhibit. She then runs off in tears, and a few minutes later, we see him find her and give her a hug. That’s the kind of touch that I enjoyed: Mr. Bennet was allowed to be both sardonic and loving in regards to his family.

Overall, my take was that it was a very good movie and a pretty good adaptation (for taking two hours to do what could take much longer). It was different, but I didn’t get the same disrespect for the text feeling that I got with, say, the 90’s version of Mansfield Park (which was a good movie but a very bad adaptation). I felt they did care about the text and were trying to get the story onscreen, which meant some cuts had to be made. There was some cheese, yes, and I could tell they were trying to get teenagers by making it a little more swoony, but I give it a hearty recommendation.

(Oh, and once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that I told Mike he should call me “Mrs. Darcy” more.)

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