Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have been turned into several movies, including an Indianized version in Bride and Prejudice. However, the latest version of Pride and Prejudice is no boring re-tread of the novel. It is in fact the closest to the book from all the previous versions I have seen, and that makes a big difference. What ever you are doing right now, stop, go watch this movie NOW!
From the beginning, it becomes clear that this movie belongs to Keira Knightley, who plays Elizabeth Bennet, the most vociferous from the five Bennet Sisters. It is through the eyes of Elizabeth, or Lizzie, we see the other stories unfold, namely the fate of her sisters. Knightley shines like a true star here, illuminating the screen, projecting her radiance right back to the last row in the hall. Too strong is her presence that the locations in the movie are not restricted to the dank interiors of 1800s England, filled with stuffy decorations and heavy drapes illuminated with candles, but rather outside in the majestic English countryside. Even the scenes inside the house focus a lot on what’s outside, for every shot from inside the house has a window. It’s all about the outdoors, for that symbolizes Lizzie’s strong and outdoor-sy persona.
We begin the movie with the arrival of Mr. Darcy, played by Matthew MacFadyen, who chooses to give Mr. Darcy a very masculine persona, as opposed to earlier depictions of him as a softie. There is a real chemistry between Lizze and Mr. Darcy, so much so, you want them to be together. I had goose bumps towards the end, when I wanted so badly for Lizzie and Mr. Darcy to be together. So impactful were their performances, Knightley got an Oscar nomination for her acting.
Pride and Prejudice of course deals the issue of how we develop first impressions of other people, and judge them. We become pride in not accepting our faults, and prejudiced against others and not seeing them in any other light. Lizzie is too proud of herself, and Mr. Darcy is prejudiced against Lizzie’s background. How they both transform into different human beings through a series of rendezvous ultimately forms the crux of the movie. There are loads of topics that can be raised from this movie, and I can tell you now that this version of Pride and Prejudice will be watched in every literature classroom all over the world.
There was something else in this movie that made it so likeable and relate-able to the audience today. Whether it was the stars, or the music, or simply the behavior patterns of the characters, there was just something that made the 1800s and 2006 connect. While watching the movie, my mind was simultaneously comparing it to the previous versions, when half way through I realize how superior this new version is, I simply stopped comparing.
My favorite scene in the movie clearly is towards the end, when Lizzie is waiting in the moors, with the sun rising. She spots Mr. Darcy walking from a distance, amidst the morning dew, and finally comes up to Lizzie. They both know they love each other but are too proud to admit it. Their pride eventually falls to the ground as they embrace one another.
If only real life were like this!