8 June 2006

And now for something completely different, a film review

I was going to write a post all about the latest screen incarnation of Pride and Prejudice and how my first reaction was why, why would one bother to even make it after the magnificent BBC production which set the standard to which all others can merely aspire. However the other day I relented and watched it on DVD and was, for the most part, thrilled.

But in spooky universe coincidences someone posted first. I had actually written the below before SHE posted, but it was in Draft. You know, still awaiting release upon an unsuspecting world.

So. MY review, which I now cannot post, went like this.

I was not thrilled with Keira Knightley, which is a tad unfortunate as she plays the lead role. I could have done without her aren't-I-just-delicious nose wrinkling boisterousness, which to me just is NOT Elizabeth. There was quite a bit of nose wrinkling in Love Actually and Bend it Like Beckham too so clearly it is her forte. To me however, it just looks schoolgirlish. She tends to act with clenched teeth also, which gives me a headache as I clench along in sympatico. But she is delightful to gaze at. As was Jane who after all is meant to be pleasant to look at although just a tad wet. She is a great match for Bingley who is down right sodden.

But I LOVED Mrs Bennett and thought she was a vast improvement on the BBC Mrs Bennett who shrieked like a fishwife and irritated the bejesus out of me (what does that mean exactly I wonder). But this Mrs Bennett was just that teeny bit more understandable and less fishwifey and one really got the whole having FIVE daughters to marry off shebang. Which made for easier viewing. And more empathy.

I also much prefered the new Mr Collins who was pathetic and froglike but again, in a more understandable way than the BBC Mr Collins who was just lizardlike without the pathos. And he should be a pathos-inducing kind of fellow methinks. I absolutely adore Judi Dench in anything, particularly when she dons a glam wig so her apperance was a delightful bonus. Although would Lady C have visited the Bennetts or anyone for that matter at night in such a flagrant breach of etiquette? I think not, no matter how outraged she was.

Darcy? Was fine but I have a total crush on Colin Firth so that's that I'm afraid. I believe he and Jennifer Ehle had an affair during the making of the BBC version, or did I just make that up? How could you not fall in love with each other if you were playing those characters? I imagine it's just another occupational hazard when one appears in these kinds of bonnet dramas. All that lace and heaving bosoms hoiked up under chins. And the men in those boots! (I'm having a BBC flashback of Darcy and the lake scene). Terribly fetching.

I very much liked Donald Sutherland doing his soft breathy thing as Mr Bennett. He has a stillness that is mesmerising on screen, but I also loved the old Mr Bennett so no competition there. The BBC Wickham wins over the new one. The younger girls ... blah blah blah, just background noise and bad piano playing although there was a lovely moment when Mary falls sobbing into the arms of her father after she is requested to please please stop playing.

But what I loved most, and was quite unprepared for, was the down to earth shabbiness of it all. I enjoyed the fact that hems were muddy, paint was peeling, roosters were chased out of the kitchen, spuds were peeled by the ladies of the house, hair wasn't primped and frizzed and aprons were slightly grubby. Indeed, that aprons were actually worn.

It was wonderful the way the first 'ball' was more of a village barn dance, complete with flying hair, pink glowing cheeks and raucous laughter. It made the appearance of Darcy and Bingley (and B's sister! Gorgeous!) in their elegant town clothes all the more incongruous, and Darcy's sneer more meaningfully arrogant. Then when Bingley held his own tresh posh ball at Netherfield the contrast between the two events was startling and as a bonus we the audience got to enjoy the frock-up even more.

One thing I could.not.abide, and so this was clearly my karma for being snobbish and not seeing it on the big screen when it came out, was the option on the DVD of the "US Ending." Intrigued and initially jealous at the notion that the yanks got a different ending to the rest of the world [why, pray tell?], of course I had to watch it.

And oh I was so APPALLED. Oh, poor poor yanks, that they have to be fed a Hollywood ending. Did the filmmakers think Americans wouldn't get the subtlety of the real ending that the rest of the planet witnessed? Are Americans that dumb and shallow? I think not but Hollywood evidently disagrees. For those of you (non-yanks) who saw it on the big screen and mercifully missed this travesty, I will TELL YOU ALL ABOUT IT so you can suffer too. Picture this. Lizzie and Darcy in their nightclothes, gazing out over Pemberley's Great Park (I just made that up, impressive isn't it? Rather like Windsor Great Park. I digress) indulging in kissy-kissy love talk and nonsense. I shrieked in horror, crossed myself and faced Mecca for good measure, and returned to view once more the [proper] final scene of the film to restore my sensibilities. I sighed in relief as Donald Sutherland once again delivered the bemused and quietly delighted final comment that if any other young gentlemen should come calling for any of his daughters, to send them right in as he was "quite at [his] leisure."

So, as I was saying, I was going to write a post all about that, but decided not to because my evil twin got in first.

So instead, let's talk about the weather.


It is freezing here. Winter has hit.
I've knitted twelve mittens in the last 21 days (for the market, mostly).
I can practically do them with my eyes shut.

These are Son #1's.
Vital Statistics: Cleckheaton 'Tapestry' knitted in two colourways (two rows alternating) because I only had a ball of each. Pattern from Patons (Australia) Winter Warmers Book 483, circa 1976. Yep, I'm in it.


blackbird said...

I am shouting yes! YES! YEEEESSSS!!!
Perhaps not so much to the weather, but the film - we have seen it with the same eyes!
Did I not mention that I nearly went upstairs for my nightguard?
And, clearly, I should have said that the art direction (shabby things) outweighed some of the lesser departments (Dame Judy would NOT have gone calling).
I need to watch it again (though I've given it to Mum) as the second time I watch a movie like that I pay close attention to the WATCHING of it.


Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

I'd like to say something sensible, really I would, but you've put a picture in my head and all I can think of is Darcy/Colin and the lake, and that moment in the drawing room not long afterwards, and breeches, oh.my.god, breeches and WHY the hell did they ever go out of fashion hmmm? I'm afraid I'll need some smelling salts shortly.

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

... but making an effort to focus now - the mittens are divine. of course we in Sydney currently feel we are terribly cold, but we brighten up immediately at the thought that we could NEVER be so cold as the poor old Melburnians!

(and, big news, i started knitting again tonight but I chickened out on the jacket - stage fright - and instead did the first five rows of my yummy 'red tweed' wrap)

--erica said...

THERE IS a different ending? What ending did YOU see?
I hated the Mrsdarcymrsdarcymrscarcymrsdarcymrsdarcy ending with a passion!!!

xmasberry said...

AARGH! Why does Hollywood do that?! I really cannot stand all the 'happy endings' they dish out. Contrived endings, really, that they believe to be happy. Yet oftentimes when the couple does NOT end up together it is much more realistic and, in my mind, equally as happy. Oh well. Thanks for the review, although if i do decide to watch the movie, I might just see if the BBC version is available to rent somehow instead.

blackbird said...

just start from the
mrsdarcymrsdarcymrsdarcymrsdarcy and rewind about three minutes.
non-american ending.

(and much better for it)

jorth said...

My sister does the nose wrinkle thing too, and every time she does it I just CRINGE! Which probably makes us look like a family of doubtful facial spadmodic activity.

shelley said...

Funny to read your post and see that what struck me the most also struck you (and the blogger who shall remain anonymous). I saw the movie when it came out and was a little nervous given some of the negative comments I had heard, but was pleasantly surprised. Like you, the thing I liked most was the "realness" of this movie, the A&E version was more "sanitized." I liked the casting in this one, didn't even mind Kiera, and Mr. Collins was much better--Colin Firth is incomparable, of course, but I am not sure if the new Darcy didn't play the awkwardness (thus his standoffishness/arrogance) better. The movie did feel a little rushed to me and would have been nicer is it hadn't have left quite so much out. And I agree with everyone else, the "Hollywood" ending was a corny, false note. I get to rewatch both versions next week:)

Melanie said...

Your review has inspired me to see the movie now - I was initially put off by the thought of watching nose-crinkling through the movie, and because for me the definitive version of Mr Darcy was with Colin Firth. I have grown up on various versions of P&P - whilst doing my English Literature O and A levels in England (1970s) the BBC brought out a very prim version (I think written by the A-level syllabus writers) which our English teacher made us all watch (at home every week of the series). We also watched the BBC version of Middlemarch, which we were also studying - again, either written by the A-level syllabus writers or my stuffy English teacher whose heroine was Dorothea (not mine) - I found it even more boring than the book. We also watched the movie version of P&P with Laurence Olivier, which was really my absolute favourite until Colin Firth came along. I have to disagree about the trousers - it entirely depends on who is filling them. I have seen some very lacklustre fillers and in the 70s BBC production kept wishing they would put proper trousers on (perhaps my teenage sensibility).

I would like to see the shabbiness - it is interesting the way we interpret the past differently, as we can never really know quite what it was like. I have visited Jane Austen's house in Hampshire and found it much more ordinary than I had expected, and of course daily life would not have been anywhere near as convenient or comfortable as it would have been for those with a whole household of servants. With unmade roads, long skirts and no washing machines, I expect dirty hems would have been the norm. Although I haven't seen the movie yet, I would argue that it is possible that Lady C would have gone calling out of hours. As the superior ranking gentry in the community she would have felt such behaviour acceptable towards her social inferiors, although not her equals. Further, in that society manners were as much a tool of social demarcation, as of any real consideration and sensitivity towards other people.

Ramona said...

I just had to let you know I completely agree with your critique of the "new" Pride and Predjudice. However, I had no idea there was an alternate ending! It just adds insult to injury to now know that there was a better ending then the sappy "American" ending that I saw!

kt said...


Yeesh. We really get screwed out of some cool stuff over here in the States.

Thanks God for cool knitbloggers, else we should wither and cringe and be innocent of the reality of proper endings of proper films.

Can I come and stay with you, please?

victoria said...

okay, I can't even finish reading your post because I am so in agreement with what you said! Colin Firth. OhMaGahd! The lake scene! And the green outfit when he gets cleaned up!!!!! My husband always gets lucky when I watch the BBC version....and, what ending did you see? I feel f(&(^(%$#ing robbed! I had to see the crappy hollywood ending???? I didn't know there was another ending? AAAAAGGGGHHHHH! now you've got me all whipped up and pissed off! And thinking of Colin....

victoria a.k.a.sereknitty said...

I've calmed down sufficiently to ask what weight yarn do you use for your mittens? Worsted?

herhimnbryn said...

"It is truth universally acknowledged, that one should always seek the european ending".
Sorry, couldn't resist it!

Elizabeth said...

I agree with your review.
As for the American ending, did you know that even Harry Potter books got the yankee short shift? The American version is pages shorter and with larger type!
I just watched Sense and Sensilibilty last night. Kate Winslet does Austen so much more naturally than you-know-who.

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

and, as discussed, The Ladies Lounge is open... www.ladieslounge.blogspot.com

Joke said...

Don't get me started on Hollywood. Or, for that matter, Broadway. These are places where the original thoughts are treated like coelacanths.

Seriously, what was the last original Hollywood film?



MsCellania said...

I cannot stand Keira-looks-down-nose-with-pinched-lips-Knightly. I dislike her so much I'm not even going to bother looking up her name. Now, that's distate!

But I do admire your knitting. So I had to pipe in with that, and thought as long as I'm here, I should say:


Beth said...

That just annoys the hell out of me that they made a separate dumbed down version for the US!

String Bean said...

I didn't like that little ending they snapped on the end of the movie. A Donald Sutherland ending is perfectly fine by me. You hit the nail on the head with everything you said about the movie. That little nose crinkle Keira Knightley does - awful! Colin Firth...ahhhh... :)

Anyway, back to reality. All those mittens in that amount of time? Amazing. You're a regular speed demon. I've been knitting mittens, but they're for Christmas gifts (I like to start early). It's just the beginning of summer over here in the states.


Knitting mittens for the Market.. Which market? Need mittens, may have to go for a drive. (i'm from melb too.)

Jane said...

All I am saying is that nobody had lips like KK's in Jane Austen's time. Not unless they really had been stung by a swarm of bees.

rooruu said...

Loved the shabbiness of the new P&P too - and shrieked with horror at the US ending. But then had great fun showing it to English teachers (learned to have a bucket handy, and ensure the rest didn't trip as they fled the room!)

Didn't they light Judy Dench like a witch, particularly when she went calling on the Bennets? Looked more suited to some horror flick where the possession of a mobile phone or common sense would sort it all in no time.

Harry Potter went in search of a sorcerer's stone in the US, not a philosopher's one. Who in the US is assuming that Americans require a kissy P&P ending, AND are unlikely to comprehend 'philosopher'?

Em said...

Your review is SPOT on (and I am a P&P fan from way back!)