Yesterday night, from sometime between 8 and 9 pm until somewhere between 1 and 2 am I watched the 6 hour BBC TV version of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle; it was so enthralling that I didn’t even realise how long it was until it was finished! This is going to be a very long blog about my opinion of the BBC version compared to the recent film version starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen with probably some slight additions commenting on the book.
Hmm, I suppose I shall write this in sections to be vaguely organised…
NB: When I speak of the actors and actresses take note that if I criticise them I do not mean that they are terrible, simply that I do not really like them in this particular role; I may still think they’re great in other films/roles.
- Elizabeth Bennet – I’m not sure which actress I prefer overall but there are various aspects which I will mention later on about ways in which the actress portrayed parts of the story; I thought both were brilliant in this role. Also, I thought both spoke with almost the same voice, pitch, tone and everything… it was a bit odd.
- Mr. Darcy – I think that for this role I preferred Colin Firth, he has a fantastic way of slightly smiling that still portrays a kind of cold disdainful appearance but you know he’s really quite amused/interested/thinking about Lizzie :P
- Mr. Bennet – I liked both Mr. Bennets’ about equally I think, both were very good in the part.
- Mrs. Bennet – Both were good though I think I prefer Brenda Blethlyn (Film).
- Jane Bennet – I prefer Rosamund Pike (Film) in this role, I think that Susannah Harper (BBC) seemed a little bland in terms of her acting though it must be taken into account that Jane is supposed to be the sort who doesn’t display her feelings openly.
- Mary Bennet – Both were good, don’t have a preference.
- Kitty Bennet – I think I preferred Carey Mulligan (Film), though this may be down to the fact that I generally like Carey Mulligan, especially as Sally Sparrow in Doctor Who…
- Lydia Bennet – I prefer Jena Malone as Lydia though only by a short stroke, I thought both her and Julia Sawalha were fantastic.
- Mr. Bingley – I liked both, not sure of a preference…
- Caroline Bingley – I think that Kelly Reilly (Film) was my preferred actress for this role, I thought Anna Chancellor (BBC) was good too but I’ve also seen her in a couple of other similarly toned roles which may have swayed my judgement.
- Mrs. Hurst – Okay, so there was no Mrs. Hurst in the Film version, but I just thought I’d say that she was brilliant in the BBC version. Mr. Hurst I was fairly indifferent to.
- Charlotte Lucas – Claudie Blakley (Film) is my favourite of the two actresses, I just didn’t really like the BBC’s Lucy Scott, I thought her not right for the part.
- Mr. Collins – Both were equally good in the part I think, though I may perhaps have a slight preference for Tom Hollander (Film).
- Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner – Both sets were good, I particularly liked Mrs. Gardiner from the BBC version because of her obvious understanding of Elizabeth Bennet, both Mr. Gardiners’ were good.
- Mr. Wickham – Probably inclined to like Adrian Lukas (BBC) more though that may be down to the fact that Wickham seems more involved in that one. Thought it was a bit weird how he was going around spreading news of his ‘misfortune’ when I thought it was only told to a few who spread it themselves.
- Col. Fitzwilliam – Both good, think I preferred the BBC’s Anthony Calf a little.
- Georgiana Darcy – Tamzin Merchant (Film) was better in my opinion, more openly affectionate, and just lovely.
- Lady Catherine de Bourgh – It’s gotta be Judi Dench, both were fairly similar in acting style but come on, it’s Judi Dench, lol.
Anyway, I’d better stop now before I start describing ‘the man on the left in that dancing scene’ or something, lol.
- BBC – I liked how they referred to Elizabeth as ‘Eliza’, as they did in the book.
- I liked the costumes from the film more, though I think I preferred the main male characters’ costumes from the BBC version. The settings were both beautiful.
- I really don't like how Jane's hair in the BBC version is all curly at the front and straightish at the back. It looks really weird.
- I loved how in the BBC version they had sort of flashbacks or voiceovers overlaying a character’s thoughts; I assume they wouldn’t have been able to do this in the film version even if they wanted to, due to time constraints.
- I completely adore the scenes in the BBC version when Mr. Darcy just watches Lizzie, or when they share glances and catch each other’s eye for a moment or two. Reminds me of how one of my favourite scenes from ’10 things I hate about you’ is just when Bianca walks past Cameron in the hallway and they just look at each other (to some good music).
- The scenes between Lizzie and Jane I think were much better done by Keira and Rosamund; they showed real affection and openly displayed the girls’ close relationship.
- I like how in the scene when Lizzie and Mr. Darcy dance together the film version includes a section where it is just them dancing with no other dancers around – this shows their thoughts are wholly on each other.
- When Mr. Collins proposes to Lizzie I like how in the film version her mother and sisters are listening at the door (as they also do in some other scenes). I also think that this scene of proposal was better done in the film version.
- The scene when Lizzie refuses Mr. Collins and is reprimanded by her mother but congratulated by her father is better done in the film version I believe.
- The declaration of Mr. Darcy’s love was done better in the BBC version I think, the film version was odd but also quite good.
- I liked how in the BBC version Lizzie bumped into Mr. Darcy on her walks, as she did in the book rather than Mr. Darcy coming to visit more times.
- I think that the bit when Lizzie agrees that Mr. Darcy is quite handsome (when looking at the painting/sculpture of him) is better done in the film version; this is because in the BBC version it seems as if she is quickly forcing it out just to seem polite or something whereas in the film version it seems like she’s really contemplating it/him.
- The scene where Lizzie sees Mr. Darcy at Pemberley was done in two very different ways but I think that both were very good. I loved how in the film version Lizzie witnessed Mr. Darcy’s affection towards his sister and how in the BBC version there is that sort of awkwardness and then loveliness. J
- I preferred the scene between Lady Catherine and Lizzie in the film version though both versions were fairly similar.
- The scene between Mr. Darcy and Lizzie when she tells him her feelings have changed, I think is better in the BBC version.
- The scene at the end between Lizzie and Mr. Bennet I preferred from the film version, I think there was more emotion between them.
- I much prefer the ending of the BBC version overall.
Well, I’m sure there is more to say but currently I can’t remember anything…
Overall I think I prefer the BBC version because it allows more time to understand and create depth within the characters though unfortunately it is rare that I would have 6 hours in which to watch it.
I love Jane Austen’s novels and I think that Pride and Prejudice has got to be my favourite. Other novels of hers that I’ve read are Sense and Sensibility (of which I’ve also seen the film with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet) and Northanger Abbey (of which I’ve also seen most of the TV version). I don’t recall whether I’ve read Mansfield Park, I don’t think I’ve managed to yet, but I’m sure I will eventually. I don’t remember whether or not I’ve read Persuasion, I think I haven’t… I have seen some of the BBC TV version of it though. I’ve also seen Emma (most of the BBC version with Kate Beckinsale – didn’t really like it -, and all of the film version with Gwyneth Palthrow – loved it), I did start reading the book but I don’t think I ever got around to finishing it…
Anyway, back to my conclusion… Both versions of Pride and Prejudice are very good, the book is excellent; and if you have not seen or read them I suggest that you do.