Pride & Prejudice BBC Review
7 Part Mini-Series on 2 Discs
This complete remastered edition will be released Tuesday, April 24th.
"Pride and Prejudice" was a 1995 Emmy Award-Winning BBC mini-series that runs about six hours long. Wonderfully done, but I do not recommend watching it all in one sitting as I had to do! This Jane Austen story examines the prejudices between classes in the 19th century and the pride that keeps lovers apart. It is an epic journey of romance, very gradual, no love at first sight here but a lot more realistic perspective on how affection develops and true love forms set in a time of manners and period dress and culture.
Fifteen years later, this adaptation of the Jane Austen novel still holds up very well. Set in the first decade of the 19th century, it has an authentic look and feel in set, costumes, and manners. More impressively, the characters are able to take these complicated, beautifully written but difficult to say lines and present them with a bit of a modern tone for today's audiences to understand them.
The remastered picture and sound greatly improves the presentation of this miniseries. I only caught one or two scenes that had difficulties because of lighting or being inside a carriage that couldn't switch over as well, but if you are a fan of this series or of Jane Austen stories at all, you need to have this set. It explores so thoroughly the story and captures many exact lines from the book without leaving anything out.
There is no doubt how much Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy made a huge impact on his career, even to the point of reprising the role somewhat as Mark Darcy in "Bridget Jone's Diary" based off "Pride & Prejudice." Tall, dark, handsome, mysterious, and decidedly grumpy, Firth's Mr. Darcy hits all the marks for a gradual character change. First he plays Elizabeth's perception of him for about the first half and then when her view of him changes, suddenly he is a little more open and forthcoming with goodwill.
Elizabeth Bennett is the most energetic and stubborn of her family and vows only to marry for love and not for money or status. Having five sisters puts their family at a disadvantage and all of her mother's attention is devoted to trying to marry them off. It is a classic story that most people are familiar with and can still emphasize with and relate to because of wonderful adaptations from the book like this one. Jennifer Ehle's performance is wonderfully proper and fiesty when she needs to be showing all the restraint and passion simultaneously that she can muster.
I do enjoy the more recent version of "Pride & Prejudice" with Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen made 10 years after the BBC version because it speeds up some events and cuts it down to a more manageable running time of 127 minutes easier to do in one sitting compared to this version's 300 minutes. However what the 1995 version excels at is details and is more accurate to the book which die hard fans will love and find important. After all, I much prefer the "Lord of the Rings" extended editions of those movies because I love the story so much and adding in all those extras makes the time fly for me.
My end conclusion is that this version of the story is divine for the fans out there and you should definitely pick this up for how reasonable the price is. I also recommend checking out the 2005 film of this story and 1995's "Sense and Sensibility" that came out soon after "Pride and Prejudice" that year.
"Lasting Impressions" - This feature with a running time of a full hour talks about the impact of the 1995 adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice" which took a modern pace and contemporary delivery to appeal to today's audience. The people interviewed for this documentary were producer Sue Birtwistle, Benjamin Whitrow who played Mr. Bennett, Alison Steadman who played Mrs. Bennett, Crispin Bonham-Carter who played Mr. Bingley, Adrian Lukis who played Wickham, and Lucy Briers who played Mary Bennett. Alison Steadman and Lucy Briers are both much more attractive women in real life! The filming of the 22 week shoot is discussed such as the order of events and how certain actors were cast. For example, the proposal scene between Darcy and Elizabeth took place VERY early and would make or break the entire story. Bingley had to learn how to ride horse and Mary barely knew how to play piano and both had to practice quite a bit. Many of the actors talk about their first scene of filming and usually it was a pretty emotional scene that they were thrown into. The actors talk about the lack of makeup people wore in those times and how Mary was just set up with some greasy hair and a bit of powder thrown across her face while her sisters were all being beautified around her. A great challenge separating the classes like the Bennett House which looks grand on its own had to pale in comparison to all the other houses in appearance. There had to be substantial differences in class in costume material and meals like giant slabs of meat. This feature is a great exploration into the making of the film and getting to hear from the supporting actors about the process, the only thing missing is Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
An impromptu walkabout with Adrian Lukis (Wickham) and Lucy Briers (Mary) is the two actors walking about the Bennett home ten years later talking about their experience. It is mostly the two of them just chatting it up on what it would have been like if their two characters had gotten together and Colin Firth supposedly calls Lukis on the phone for a few minutes. There is also a feature on the technical restoration process and what a complicated detail-driven lengthy process it is. It includes a few of those voila! moments of before and after like you see in Blu-Ray commercials to show the difference in quality.
Pride & Prejudice: A Turning Point for Period Drama - Andrew Davies, the screenwriter focused on the men to get them into the story since it mostly dwells with the women. Some extra opinions that chime in agree that Colin Firth just IS Mr. Darcy in a lot of ways for a lot of people. They also praise Jennifer Ehle as a "proper actress" and the benefits of her performance. This feature talks more about how the script was adapted and how the costumes were created and designs. This is another lengthy feature clocking in at 31 minutes.