Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Genre(s): Drama / Romance
Focus Features || PG - 129 minutes - $29.98 || February 28th, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-02-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Joe Wright
Writer(s): Jane Austen (novel), Deborah Moggach (screenplay)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench


Theatrical Release Date: November 11th, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director Commentary
  • A Bennet Family Portrait
  • Jane Austen: Ahead of Her Time
  • Behind the Scenes at the Ball
  • HBO First Look


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot Outline (from DVD back cover): When Elizabeth Bennet (Knightley) meets handsome Mr. Darcy (Macfadyen), she believes he is the last man on earth she could ever marry. But as their lives become intertwined in an unexpected adventure, she finds herself captivated by the very person she swore to loathe for all eternity.

The only things I knew about Pride & Prejudice came from, sadly, You've Got Mail (FYI, it's an enjoyable flick, but not to learn about classic literature): "I get lost in the language. Word like 'thither.'", "Elizabeth Bennet in 'Pride and Prejudice.' She was too proud... Or was she too prejudiced and Mr. Darcy is too proud?" The reason for bringing this up is, from reading message boards on the Net, many fans of the novel don't like this adaptation as it cuts out too much. I don't know what was cut out nor do I really care either (for the most part). My interest here is not if it was a good adaptation but if it's a good movie, which, all in all, it was.

Even though I am a guy, I can appreciate the occasional romantic movie (or chick flick), but it isn't exactly the genre of choice either. In this case, Pride & Prejudice is certainly beautiful looking with lush visuals from England as well as the 18th century costume and set designs.

What made Pride & Prejudice worthwhile, though, was due to the performances of a fine ensemble led by Keira Knightley as Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. Both of these fine actors have nice on-screen chemistry that helps a rushed story. The 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" mini-series ran over 5 hours so (one would presume) much was taken out to make the mere two hour plus runtime in this version.

Adding to a good cast are screen veterans Donald Sutherland (Without Limits, Cold Mountain), 2-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voices) and Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) in a cameo appearance as a wretched rich woman unhappy with the prospects of Darcy falling for the lower-classed Elizabeth. Also included are rising starlets like Jena Malone (Saved!, The United States of Leland) and Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Doom), both who have a future in Hollywood.

Aside from a rushed story, though, Pride is a nice romantic comedy void of the typical clichés seen today. Yes, there's the 'girl hates boy, boy loves girl, girl loves boy' dynamic, but I accept it here. Maybe it's the era or it could be the cast... either way, it works.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Given that this is a period piece, I'd hope for more substantial features than what Focus has provided here. What's left are, although fine in their own rights, special features, they're nowhere near as in depth as they should've been.

Director's Commentary - Joe Wright presents an informative, though at times dry, commentary on the making of Pride & Prejudice as well as some insights into the casting, the decoration and even the flaws of the film. He makes mention at several points regrets about a scene not being right: in one such instance, he believes the first meeting between the Bennets' and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley to be "boring". Maybe he's a perfectionist but I kind of liked his honesty versus other commentators who talk out of their asses about certain aspects of their filmmaking.

A Bennet Family Portrait - This 6-minute featurette just uses interviews with the Bennet family, including Donald Sutherland, Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike. Each talks about their characters and the 18th century culture of families pushing to get their daughters to marry men of wealth. Basic filler worth only one viewing.

Jane Austen, Ahead of Her Time - Goes through the basic history on author Jane Austen including the movie adaptations throughout the years in such films like Emma and Sense & Sensibility and even movies that owe gratitude to Austen like Clueless and Bridget Jones's Diary. There are interviews with the cast and crew about the influence Jane Austen has had on literature, cinema and her rise to fame, such as it was back then. While I haven't read anything by Austen, I do wish they had included a documentary rather than a short (8-minute) featurette. Surely the History Channel did something on the author, right?

Behind the Scenes at the Ball - This begins with the great Donald Sutherland talking about each of the actresses playing his daughters followed by footage and sound bites of the actresses talking about their experiences and the set. Also included are some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast playing a game of "Sardines" at the Bennet house. More fluff than interesting, it's still fun to see the cast and crew as themselves.

Pride & Prejudice: HBO First Look - The worst of the bunch merely reuses footage already seen in the previous featurettes including cast and crew comments of making the movie or bits and pieces of other things. I normally find these things to be dreadful anyways, but it's worse when half of it has already been seen.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Picture: Director Joe Wright takes advantage of the subject of romance utilizing the England back country which looks wonderfully rich on the small screen. Some shots, I found out, were CGI effects but weren't noticeable to me. Indoors, the set and wardrobe design are top notch and are everything a period piece should be.

Sound: The movie features Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, French and Spanish and English, Spanish and French subtitles. The sound, while good, isn't that special. Sounds are distributed nicely through each channel but if you don't own a surround system, the TV speakers will be fine.



.::OVERALL::.

Pride & Prejudice is one of those movies that while lacking in emotional depth, in the opinion of this heterosexual male, is still good overall. My initial interest in seeing it was to find out whether or not Keira Knightley's performance was indeed worthy of a nomination. The answer: sure, why not? She does give a nice performance that, though not extraordinary, still carries the film. If you like and get caught up in romantic comedies, you might get more out of it than I did... For me, it's enjoyable but nothing more.