Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Movie Review: Pride & Prejudice ***

I saw this movie last Saturday night (12/17), and I have to say that although I enoyed it, I don't think I would expend the money or effort to see it again, even after it comes out on DVD. Like the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, it is good enough on its own terms but falls far short of either of the mini-series adaptations, particularly the 1995 BBC/A&E version, generally known, to my everlasting annoyance, as "the Colin Firth version." (Jennifer Ehle, who plays the main character, makes the mini-series for me; while Colin Firth certainly did a wonderful job, it would have suffered far more by her absence than by his.)

One thing that I did think that this adaptation was better at, surprisingly, was authenticity. I say "surprisingly" because I usually think of the British mini-series (plural) as using actors who look more like real people than Hollywood stars. This may be more true of the ones that were made in the 70's and 80's - the '95 version was more polished in every way. However, in this theatrical release, the people (apart from the leads) were plainer, the clothes looked handmade, and the atmosphere in the public scenes (particularly the dances) was almost claustrophobic, which I found more realistic, considering that the concepts of privacy and "personal space," as we understand them, were only beginning to come into their own during the Enlightenment and afterward.

The acting seemed to be well done and there was chemistry between the main characters, but I didn't really care for the changes that were made to the original story. Of course, any book must be condensed to fit into a 2-1/2 hour movie and they seemed to move a lot of the action outdoors to take advantage of some truly stunning landscapes, but some changes seemed unnecessary and some of the relationships in the book weren't as fully developed as I felt they should have been. I would like to have seen more attention given to the friendship (at least on Jane's side) between Jane and Caroline Bingley; it seemed that they hardly spoke to each other at all in the movie. As another example, it is made clear in the book that the Bennet girls' Aunt Gardiner is several years younger than her husband, which makes it more understandable that Jane and Elizabeth confide in her so easily, but in this version she appears to be about the same age as their uncle and parents.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable movie, but I would not recommend it to Austen purists.


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