Pride and Prejudice
Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride And Prejudice takes liberty to change the very essence of the book. What it provides instead, as a result is a gorgeous looking and exquisitely made period drama, which is diverted from the original source material in various ways though not completely questionable and is somewhat justified if done creatively and adding something new to the already detailed, unique existing world of Austen, but which not the case being and what we have is a good looking mess, a film which not only dont do the justice to Austen’s charming timeless classic but also does not provide anything new for which it took so many liberties to make changes in the first place!
Indeed, it is one of the most delicately created world in terms of its aesthetics; the production is gorgeous beyond words, the scenery is ethereal, the massive ballrooms with possibly many dozens and dozens of people; the direction is crafty, the camera flows through the houses and complex ballrooms and fields of rural England like it doesn’t even exist, giving a feeling that we are in this very world; the music is amiable melody to the ears, the clothes they wear are realistic enough though not from the period in which Austen set her characters, there is a sense of realism in the setting which is not very common in period films, and I think its fair to say that it is visually perfect film. But, having put all these things aside, the film provides nothing exceptional.
Agree, that it is not word to word adaptation of the book nor it is required to be. But if one have faintest idea about what the book was, he would surely dislike this supposedly heavenly romantic ethereal drama. It is filled with modern changes and horrible clichés which hardly work. The period is somewhat changed, so is the setting and lives of its people. It looks more Tess than Pride And Prejudice. The characters go under lot of changes which are not required at all. Fresh, they might argue, but obnoxious, artificial and monotonous, the characters are, I believe.
Keira Knightley’s Lizzy is energetic, charming indeed, but she lacks the sensibility of real Lizzy. She laughs and giggles throughout the film in a way which makes her look no different than Lydia, or Kitty, if it were not for her haughty behavior. She hardly reflects, very unlike of Lizzy. Darcy here, does not seem to be Darcy at all. This film acts, perhaps considering that the audience have read the book, or atleast know the characters, since there is hardly any explanation for why certain characters do certain things. This seems like it because the characters act almost on superficial level, the dialogues are delivered in haste, even without letting the characters even breath. It is irritatingly theatrical, which is what exactly the film supposedly don’t want to be. Yet it is. It somehow intentionally wants to be unconventional and a free, creative and fresh adaptation, but it is something in the middle, it is confusing all the way.
The actors are thoroughly miscasted. Mr. Bennet seems quite always in confusion, he hardly is in his usual witty, sarcastic yet sensible and knowledgeable persona but he is simply confused here. Mrs. Bennet fluctuates between her insensibility and stupidity, and her seriousness, which often gives impression of psychological incoherence and superficial, faulty characterization. Most irritating of all Lydia, who just laughs hysterically and not quite well incorporating the stupidity of actual Lydia. She just laughs to the point which makes it irritatingly monotonous. Mr. Collins’ character was perhaps good enough to be believable. Many small and major characters are omitted and many of them which are there cause confusion to those who are unfortunately not familiar with the text.
I have a massive disappointment over the dialogues. They are modernized horridly. The original charming witty dialogues are replaced with horrible modern cliched ones. For instace, in a scene where Bingley proposes Jane, he goes like, “First, I must tell you I have been the most unmitigated and comprehensive ass.” Sheer travesty.
I never cared for pacing in a film if it works for the benefit of the film even though some inconveniences for audience, but the pacing here cant be neglected. The film jumps from one scene to the other so hastily, it doesn’t give characters time to think, or to let audience savour the beauty of the scenes, which are so beautifully shot. The pacing ruins many things. Even the faithful 1995 BBC miniseries crossing 5 hour mark, couldn’t at times avoid the omission of things. Things go horridly wrong here, attempts are made to incorporate as many dialogues and events as possible, which makes characters talk like they are firing bullets at each other. I doubt they are barely breathing. The runtime as well is very low. Anyone who loves Pride And Prejudice wouldn’t have minded another half or an hour extra, if it would have given a better pacing and characterization. Why is the hurry? I can’t comprehend.
Unfortunately Joe Wright’s adaptation is frustrating. Being in the most cheerful and liberal state of mind, I had watched this film, even maintaining a mild smile throughout it. I was the last person, at that particular time to be cynical. I was open minded to a new, fresh interpretation of the book. My time with the film was rewarding, but not satisfying enough. Perhaps the expectations were too high. But when we think of the real Pride And Prejudice, expectations should not be any lower.