27 July 2006

Pride and Prejudice (starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth)

I have liked Jane Austen's classic novels since first reading 'Pride and Prejudice' at school, and although I do not re-read them regularly, I find them very enjoyable when I do so. In general I am biased against film productions based on books, as they often stray far from the originals; not just in cutting out scenes, but sometimes including entirely different storylines and subplots.

However, several people had recommended that we watch the BBC mini-series version of "Pride and Prejudice' which made Colin Firth (as Mr Darcy) a household name. It was long enough, I was assured, that it kept fairly well to the book, and was beautifully done. So I put it on my wishlist, and was given it for my birthday. We've watched it over the past few days - it really is over-long for one sitting, as it's 330 minutes (five and a half hours!) in all.

My husband has not read the book, but was happy to watch it with me as he generally likes BBC period dramas. He was as eager as I was to continue watching, too, after we had seen the first two episode. And I was surprised at how much I liked this production. Jennifer Ehle isn't really how I had imagined Lizzie Bennett, but she plays the part well and I could believe in her fairly easily. Colin Firth is magnificent as Darcy, snobbish and proud, and eventually admitting, unwillingly, that he was wrong.

Mrs Bennett, played by Alison Steadman, is absolutely wonderful as the match-making mama who is so dreadful as to be comic, and I loved Benjamin Whitrow's Mr Bennett - he was exactly as I had imagined him, with just the right amount of irony.

It was obvious in a few places that the budget for this production was limited; the balls have very few dancers, and there's not much glamour. But it really didn't matter; the outside scenery is attractive, and the story is character-based, which worked very well. Although it's some years since I last read 'Pride and Prejudice', I felt that it kept pretty closely to the storyline, and overall was very impressed.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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