80s adaptation of a 19th century romance

Meh, so I’m definitely not finishing the Pride & Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge before the end of 2013, BUT that is not keeping me from finishing reviewing my list of novels, movies, and films related to Jane Austen’s most famous novel (and incidentally also my favorite book) Pride & Prejudice. 

Right now I’m having my – in my opinion well-deserved – Christmas break, and mostly I’ve been playing The Sims 3 on my computer and watching horrible HORRIBLE Christmas films on TV (there really are very few good Christmas films, aren’t there?), so there’s really not much productivity there. After all, I haven’t really had a quiet week like this since Spring, since I spent most of the summer break writing my bachelor’s thesis. Luckily, I’ll be given a year to write my master’s thesis and I’ll be writing it at a different university than Maastricht. I’m hoping I can do an internship in California somewhere. (yay, then this blog can be a travel blog again!) But, I still have some time to think about that.

253px-PrideAndPrejudiceBBCAnyway, today I’m reviewing the 1980 Pride & Prejudice BBC series, or: the most overshadowed of Pride & Prejudice movie/TV adaptations. In my last post I was being quite pessimistic about this adaptation, and I haven’t much changed my attitude: I didn’t like this adaptation too much, but there are some positive aspects to it that I will discuss here.

First of all, this series is definitely the most faithful to Jane Austen’s work out of all the films versions. The atmosphere and social norms of the time are portrayed most realistically in this series. Also, many of the lines spoken are directly taken from the book. The costumes and set are suitable to the era portrayed. Some complain that the costumes and set aren’t ‘lavish’ enough, like they are, for example, in the 2005 film adaptation. It is exactly this, however, that makes them more realistic. The 2005 film is perhaps nicer to watch, but I think most Austen fans will agree that it is the least faithful to Austen’s novel as well as historical accuracy. (a full review of this adaptation is coming up)

The problem with the 1980 version is, however, that it is just downright boring. It might be because I’m from this annoying new generation that seems to have no patience for anything that doesn’t contain enough special effects or drama. I was doing a crossword while watching it at some point, because it just bored me to death. I think the main cause of this, is the acting. Many of the actors don’t put much emotion into what they’re saying and seem to just be reciting their lines. Some of the characters are also reduced to absolute stereotypes. Of course, Pride & Prejudice is known for some of its typical characters (most notably, Mrs. Bennet and Mary), but in this series they have been reduced to absolute caricatures. This is especially true for Kitty, who in this series has a squeaky voice, seems to not think about anything at any point, and thus seemed to be playing a character from a 19th-century version of Legally Blonde rather than this series. I couldn’t develop a liking for many of the characters, simply because they weren’t easy to relate to due to their lack of visible emotions.

I do think Lizzy and Darcy were well cast – in particular Mr. Darcy who can be recognized as being Mr. Darcy instantly when you see him for the first time, because he just gives off this massive vibe of pride and great stature -, but I’m not very positive about the director’s interpretation of Lizzy as an emotional being. In this series, Elizabeth hardly ever shows any emotion whatsoever. Again, this might be very realistic concerning the norms of the time, but it’s just not particularly interesting to watch. The scene in which this was most prominent was the one where Mr. Darcy proposes for the first time, and Elizabeth hardly shows any anger, or grief, while turning him down. Only when Mr. Darcy leaves the room she sort of sighs, completely understating the importance of this scene for the rest of the story.

I should note, that watchers generally seem to either absolute love or hate this adaptation. I checked out reviews on IMDb, and people tend to either rate the series 1 or 2 out of 10, or 8, 9, or 10 out of 10. There appears to not be much in between. In my opinion, the series is worth a 6 out of 10. All the accurateness of it will please Austen-fans, but the lack of stuff happening (few emotions), basically, makes it not a particularly enjoyable watch for me. I just don’t think it’s a very surprising or bold interpretation of the story.

Right, so I’ve already read Presumption: An Entertainmenta review of that is coming up as soon as possible. I’ve only just ordered #7, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma from Amazon, so you’ll have to wait a little bit for that. I have, however, started reading #9, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, which so far seems to be erotic fan-fiction and a parody at the same time. Confusing! 😉

1. Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen (1813)
2. Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, by Elizabeth Aston (2003)
3. Darcy’s Story, by Janet Aylmer (1996)
4. Mr Darcy’s Diary, by Amanda Grange (2006)
5. Pride and Prejudice BBC/PBS miniseries (1980)
6. Presumption: An Entertainment: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by Julia Barrett (1995)
7. Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, by Diana Birchall (2004)
8. Pride and Prejudice A&E/BBC miniseries (1995)
9. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, by Linda Berdoll (2004)
10. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World, by Abigail Reynolds (2010)
11. Pride & Prejudice Universal Studios film (2005)
12. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, by Beth Pattillo (2010)

In other news, as of today I’m part of the 22 club 😉

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