I recently obtained the BBC’s televised take on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. It’s a six-episode, nearly-60-minute-each production from 1995.Â I didn’t really like the latest US version of Pride & Prejudice by Focus Feature, but I had heard that the BBC one was quite good. Actually, I randomly caught a bit of it on public television prior to reading the book, and it made a positive impression upon me then. But yeah, well, after the first 8 minutes, it already felt like it was blowing the Focus Feature’s version out of the water. The acting, the period feel, the dialogue, it just all seemed so much better. And after finishing all six, it definitely is the superior work (ironically, the screenplay for the BBC version is written by a dude, whereas the one for the FF version, a woman. But the producer for the former is a woman, whereas the producers for the latter were men. Just a random note).
For the most part, the BBC version adhered quite closely to the book…and it was just so well done.Â All the wit, nuance, and sharpness of Austen’s prose preserved and interpreted faithfully. It was really cool to see the actors bring her writing to life, even casting certain dialogue in a light that I had not originally read them, for the better. “Oooooh! You got served!….In the British manner…of the early 19th century.” So awesome. At times I felt like I never enjoyed myself thus with a Shakespearean work; the dialogue and banter here just seemed so much more fun and delicious.
When the BBC did take creative license, though, they kept it within the theme and spirit of Jane Austen’s original book. With the FF version, most of their original work just stuck out like a sore thumb. “Wait, not only did that not happen, that was retarded.” And the whole piece just felt so stripped and stupified. With the BBC version, it was more like, “Wait, did that happen? Because it seemed like it could have happened”, prompting me to go look it up. Sometimes, it had happened, perhaps modified or streamlined, or it had not, but fit well. There were some cheesy flashback scenes, though, but for a piece from 1995, meh. Damn, thirteen years ago, I’m old. Maybe save for that, it truly would have been a timeless piece for me. Well, ep 5 was kind of a drag, but portraying values that really aren’t applicable to modern society usually is, at least to Western society, specifically regarding family honor and reputation, and female virtue. These days a woman can take a few pokes here and there, well specifically there, and still be ok, though I suppose no woman would want to be called a bicycle. Although, my friend was telling me about a woman at his work that was called as such, and I tried to find amusement in it, but honestly, I really couldn’t. If a woman wants to sleep around, then whatever, that’s her prerogative.Â I wouldn’t fault a free man for it, and I wouldn’t fault a free woman for it either, though I’d give both similar chances for having the plague.
Anyway…off topic. Generally, the acting was pretty much good across the board. Jennifer Ehle played a really good Elizabeth Bennet; her portrayal of her character’s intellect and thoughtfulness pretty much hit the nail on the head. Colin Firth played a convincing Mr. Darcy, too: a tool, but not too much of a tool.Â Alison Steadman’s overbearing and over-dramatic Mrs. Bennet gave me a laugh, reminding me of the mom we’ve all met at some point in our lives, I’m sure. I could go on and on, but blah. I was tempted to read Pride & Prejudice again, but I think this series has satisfied me for the time being. Pwnage.