Oh my god you guys, it’s Colin Firth time! Finally I get to review my favorite Pride & Prejudice adaptation of all, namely the 1995 BBC series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. This is actually not the first filmed version of Pride & Prejudice that I saw. The first one I saw was the Universal Studies film with Keira Knightley, which I liked quite a lot, but which deviates slightly too much from the original novel, in my opinion. Therefore, I prefer this series to it. I’ll also be reviewing the film in a few posts. The 1995 BBC series I can watch again and again and again without it ever getting boring, and when I read Pride & Prejudice or any of the sequels I’ve previously reviewed I see Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. (Even though Colin Firth is perfect, my vision of Mr. Darcy while I’m reading is a sort of strange mix between Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Mr. Darcy in the 2005 Universal Studios film.) Anyway, so excuse my extreme fangirlyness.
The 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series can be seen as a point at which Austen’s novels started becoming more popular again. This series was so much liked that all of Austen’s work was regarded in a new light, and much fan-fiction started being written about her novels. Particularly the following scene helped to put Austen in the spotlights, it was even named as one of the top 10 most memorable British TV moments of all time. Here it is again, because it is just so amazing, and it puts a smile on my face every time I watch it 😉 :
The way Darcy awkwardly tries to make polite conversation, even though he’s in his wet shirt and you can just see how obviously uncomfortable he is, fits in perfectly with the original story, in my opinion. Even though this scene is not in the original novel, I really like the liberty the producers took in making this modern adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, while still staying relatively true to the novel. Of the reviews of this series I have read online thus far, most agree that particularly the set & design and the costumes are very much historically accurate, which I also think is a very important aspect of making films, especially when the story is set in such a specific time as the Regency era. The series is relatively long – 325 minutes divided into 6 episodes -, but in my opinion this has enabled the producers to be faithful to the original novel because they did not have to cut out a lot of scenes from the book, in contrast to the 2005 Universal Studios film.
One of the most important strong features of this film is Colin Firth’s performance. I think Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy has done good for both the popularity of Austen’s work as well as Firth’s own subsequent career. Firth seems to have such little trouble portraying the arrogant prick Mr. Darcy seems to be at first sight as well as the polite gentleman that he turns out to be. The switch between the two is not even that sudden, it appears to be quite gradual and you start to sympathize with him even before Elizabeth does. I also REALLY like Crispin Bonham-Carter’s (only a distant cousin of Helena) performance of Mr. Bingley. He’s exactly what I believe Austen intended Bingley to be, with his exuberant enthusiasm and his obviously being crazy in love with Jane from almost the beginning onwards. I think this BBC series made Austen’s story a lot more romantic than it for example was in the 1980 version, which must have appealed to a lot of people. The chemistry between Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as well as between Crispin Bonham-Carter and Susannah Harker (playing Jane) in this adaptation is just perfect and really enables the watcher to identify and empathize with the characters as well as possible.
Some fun facts: Did you know that Jennifer Ehle was set to play Catelyn Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones, but bailed after the pilot? She must be feeling pretty silly about that… What’s also funny is that I only noticed on this latest watching of this series that the girl playing Maria Lucas is actually a young Lucy Davis, the actress who played Dawn in the UK version of The Office! See, you find out something new every time 😉
Next time, I’ll be reviewing Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll, which as I mentioned in this post is sort of erotic in a funny way?? Anyway, I haven’t read it in full yet, so you’ll have to wait a little bit for that one (I’m first rereading The Lord of the Rings, and I’m about halfway now, so that’s still going to take me a while to finish 😉 ).
1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane 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)