A Review of the Film Adaptation to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is the renowned author of the classic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Her work is known across the world and praised for its uniqueness and attention-grabbing plot. Born in the late 1800’s, at that time period women were merely seen as housewives and child bearers, having a set of specific skills and talents added further to how attractive and useful they are deemed. Knowing how to play the piano, painting, reading, knowing how to dance and having a resourceful or productive conversation can be deemed attractive. Being over the age of 27 and still single, a woman was seen as a disappointment to society and unfitting to marry. Austen’s writing and plot often explored the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security and stability.
In the novel the main character Elizabeth Bennet, a 20-year-old young lady is the second eldest daughter of the Bennet Family. With a spunky and assertive attitude, and often described as having ‘a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous’. Being the Protagonist of the story, the reader can sense Elizabeth’s thoughts and understand her reasoning. Austen’s use of third-person narration and free indirect discourse is important because these devices show that all of the characters, including Elizabeth, frequently make assumptions and errors in judgment.
How it works
In the development of the story, Miss Elizabeth is acquainted with the famous, rich, handsome and titled Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. The two characters seem to be reluctant to befriend each other on their first encounter, chapters later however, the two begrudgingly acquaint with each other and slowly grow comfortable in the others presence. Slowly, what starts off as a mere consociate grows into something more for the eligible Mr. Darcy. Although Miss Bennet may not have been aware of how her actions, comments and responses contributed to Mr. Darcy’s change of heart towards her, she is taken aback at Mr. Darcy’s sudden proposal of Marriage, with which she harshly rejects, leaving Mr. Darcy stunned that he should be rejected so easily.
Nevertheless, having to deal with many other issues and problems after their embarrassing encounter, Miss Elizabeth soon discovers that she may not be as perfect as she seems after all, and that she was very prejudiced towards Mr. Darcy, judging him based on the fact that he was rich and noble and saw him as a horrible man that was selfish and crude. With a simple letter with which she receives from Mr. Darcy, questions and mysteries that so plagued her mind were answered to her satisfaction. With the simple letter written by the man she so despised, Miss Elizabeth was able to see the truth in every thing she questioned, including herself. She was able to understand everything more properly than before.
Hence the two characters were able to forgive and love each other for all they were worth. A great love story, well presented and realistically presented that entranced the readers of the novel. Truly worthy of the praise and awards it received.
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ A notoriously famous first line from the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The story as been transformed and revised by many producers, screenwriters and directors into film adaptations, however, one film that has stood out to many for the past decade has been the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Directed by Joe Wright and released on the 25th of July 2005. Starring in the award-winning movie, were actors Kiera Knightley (as Elizabeth Bennet) and Matthew Macfadyen (as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy). go there ever again
Many critics of the movie have stated that the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has succeeded in most ways to portray the story in the novel as it is. Where the landscape and layout of the film is concerned, the movie does an excellent job of bringing the readers imagination of what an 18th century England would look like, to life. Giving due significance to the rural environment which plays such an important part in the story, the cinematography captures wide frames of soft, misty fields, copses and winding country roads as an environment which underscores the gentle manners and passionately beating hearts beneath empire gowns and ruffled shirts. The surroundings both detract from the humans and function as appropriately natural settings for the dramas of human nature.
The movie begins with the Protagonist and star of the movie, Kiera Knightley. With Kiera Knightley’s swan-like features she moves with energy and grace, hotly opinionated and profoundly moved by principles and prejudices, and as such is magnetically drawn by the seeming arrogance, reticence and gallant behaviour, finally revealed, of Mr Darcy. For two centuries Elizabeth Bennet has been a heroine much admired for her self-contained independence within a culture more conditioned to female submissiveness. Knightley’s portrayal is true to the original.
Similarly, Matthew McFadyen differently brings significance to enjoy in the proud and socially awkward leading male role. McFadyen shows a more accessible Darcy. He’s vulnerable, even fragile behind his stiff manners. His aloofness is more believably from social inadequacy than arrogance, yet he is believably constrained by his social standing to regard decorum, fortune and propriety in a wife’s family as significant in his choice of a bride. His capitulation to Lizzie is therefore more believable.
As stated by Movie Critic Miss Claudia Puig ‘(The movie is) A stellar adaptation, bewitching the viewer completely and incandescently with an exquisite blend of emotion and wit.’ Just as in the novel, the movie also speaks to the audience, but this time it enhances and brings to life the imagination of what a home in the 18th century would look like. The way people dressed, their food, events and everyday lives is clearly expressed through the actions, speech and practises of the actors.
Although the movie may be an adaptation of the novel and was aimed at presenting the contents of the novel as it were, not all of the contents of the movie portrayed everything that the book held. For one, In the novel a sense of time was present, stating whether a year had passed, a month or a week. In the movie however everything is sensed to be rushed and time goes by rather quickly, all in all, a sense of time is absent in the movie, giving the audience the impression that all the events that took place occurred within a manner of weeks.
Secondly, compared to the novel, the movie has in some way altered the personalities of the characters though not in the most dramatic way, but very subtle. In the sense of the speech of the dialogue of the characters in the film varied between being exactly the same as the book in some scenes, while most scenes had altered dialogue. This was done to help a modern audience better connect with the movie and the characters.
Additionally, the Bennett family is of the landed gentry, they have money but are not insanely rich. The movie has other differences than just the dialogue. In the movie, Elizabeth keeps secrets from her family and grows apart from her older sister Jane. This is different from the book, while Elizabeth does become frustrated with events related to her family, she never keeps secrets from them. She also confides in her sister after difficult events, they never grow apart. The movie also portrays Mr. Bennett as a warmer, more sympathetic father than he is in the book. His role in the family misfortunes, caused by him spending money on the wrong things, is downplayed. His relationship with his wife is much more loving in the movie. Elizabeth also comes across as much bolder and more impatient in the movie, she never yells at her parents in the book.
However, the movie also makes the Bennetts look poorer than they were in the book. With the Bennetts being in Middle class, the novel made the them seem to be living life as comfortable as ever. Not particularly filthy rich, but not dirt poor either, but living as comfortable as they can. What makes the characters in the movie seem poorer than they are is the number of chores they are seen to be doing, also with Miss Bennetts haphazard appearance, she appears to the audience as always working and in a state of hurriedness most of the time. The household and land are seen to be appropriate for the middle-class family of seven. However, the movie lacked in making the family seem comfortable in their home.
Many viewers have commented however on how much of a success the movie has been. It has not failed to bring the message from the novel across to the audience, but has in fact added to making the story so much more effective and entertaining. Elizabeth’s witty and assertive personality was well depicted through Miss Kiera Knightly, as well as Mr. Darcy’s shy and gloomy demeanour was well illustrated by Mr. Matthew MacFayden. The actors all in all did a wonderful job in bringing to life the characters of the Novel.
The scenery and landscape in the movie perfectly met the expectation of the audience. Engaging acting performances with wondrous film photography, film locations at some of United Kingdom’s most famous stately homes, marvellous film sets and costumes plus one of 2005’s best original music scores add greatly to this new film version. All in all, one of the better films of 2005, not perfect film making and not intended to be as subtle as Austen’s novel, but a wonderful surprise with some changes to present a modern version of Pride and Prejudice for current audiences.
In conclusion, the researcher has resolved that the 2005 movie adaptation to Jane Austen’s renowned novel, Pride and Prejudice, has in many ways satisfied the expectation of former readers and fans of the novel everywhere. From the acting, to the landscape, to the plot, the film adaptation has pleased audiences nationwide.
The novel has always been known as a master piece to readers everywhere. Not only is it a mere love story, but more so a learning experience to all who are curious of the contents of the novel. Teaching readers, the importance of selflessness, forgiveness and humbleness. Truly a great and wonderful novel to read and hold onto for future generations to come.