The good thing about making a movie based on a classic with many female characters is that there is no need to create and stuff in extra characters so that there can be at least 1 pretty bimbo on the set (like in King Solomon's Mines, a male-dominated story...) Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has got to be a movie maker's dream come true - many pretty young ladies, and handsome gentlemen. I have, in the past, read this book several times so when I saw the DVD for the movie - Pride and Prejudice (2005) I was eager to watch it. Recently, I re-read some parts of the book, and then, got the DVD out and watched it again. I remember being mildly disappointed when I first watched it, but this time (having my memory of the book refreshed), I am downright exasperated!
First of all, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet is extremely poorly portrayed by Keira Knightley. Elizabeth is supposed to be smart and sensible, not cheeky; light-hearted and likes to laugh, not a constantly giggling air-headed girl; strong-willed but not a total stubborn ox! And although Mrs Bennet is a lot of times silly and ridiculous, Elizabeth is never rude to her, unlike how it is in the movie. I cannot think of any English word that more appropriately describe Keira Knightley's Elizabeth than very menyampah and totally 38. Sigh.
As if having a substandard Lizzy is not enough, the portrayal of Mr Darcy by (let me copy and paste his name from imdb -) Matthew Macfadyen is equally, if not more, disappointing. I quote from the novel, where Mr Darcy is first introduced:
"... but his friend Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased ..."
Mr Darcy is most of the time proud, arrogant, full of himself, and very charming in the novel, but Mr (wait, I need to copy & paste his name again...) Macfadyen's Darcy, besides being far from handsome, is withdrawn, doleful and miserable, with a hurt look permanently etched in his eyes. How pitiful - you'd feel like offering him tissues. He cannot be more un-Darcy-like than that. Sigh, sigh.
As for the other characters: Jane Bennet is not beautiful enough; Mr Bingley's warm and friendly disposition is replaced by nervousness and brainlessness; Mr Bennet does not seem half as sensible as he is supposed to be; and the other Bennet girls hardly has any attention from the camera-man.
The worst thing however, is how undeveloped the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy is. When I saw Darcy proposing to Elizabeth, it gave me the incredulous feeling of - what?! since when were you attracted to her, since when did you fall in love with her? (or could it be I was so convinced that nobody could love that 'Lizzy'?) In the book, the uniting of Darcy and Elizabeth is eagerly, almost desperately anticipated - but in the movie, you'd never see it coming, if you hadn't already read the book, or know the story (or read this post). Sigh, sigh, sigh.
The characters that are more appropriately represented: Mrs Bennet (sole objective in life is to see her daughters married), Mr Collins (boring and silly, but managed to be funny while being), Lady Catherine de Bourgh (haughty, high-and-mighty face - really good!), Kitty and Lydia Bennet (extremely silly, vain), Mr Wickham (very handsome and impressive, but a bad, young man).
There - another beautiful classic butchered by movie makers. Sien.