Pride and Prejudice
Screen Adaptation – 1995
Directed by Simon Langton.
This episode immediately picks up after the first episode. The plot mainly revolves around Mr. Collins’ visit to Longbourn, and the dreaded Netherfield Ball.
As with the previous episode, I am disappointed. It confused me a lot, because this adaptation expects to be true to the books 100%. Yet, that is not the case. During the Netherfield Ball, Mrs. Bennet was supposed to sit almost right next to Mr. Darcy, yet in the film they were sitting at two separate tables entirely, and Mrs. Bennet appeared to speak so loudly everyone in the room could hear her, which wasn’t the case. That particular scene made me cringe. It is these sort of small details that I believe this screen adaption should observe, yet it doesn’t.
This adaptation seeks to do justice to the books by putting every word on-screen, yet it fails to express the simplest scenes and nuances as they should be. I only criticise this so harshly because this adaption aims to be entirely true to the source material, but I feel that it fails. Other than the dialogue which is taken directly from the book, there are scenes which are wedged in which simply don’t make sense. There are some things which happen as they did in the books, so well done 1995 Pride and Prejudice, but there are some things that stick out so badly I struggle to justify why they are there.
I feel like the source material was interpreted in this adaptation really strangely.
As with the previous episode, the dance scenes are excruciatingly long. I feel that the performance of the two leading characters, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, was a bit off the mark in this episode. Darcy felt awkward, and Elizabeth abrupt. Even though there were some scenes which I suppose would make the characters act in such a way, I feel they are like this (awkward and abrupt) throughout the entire episode. (That is 50 minutes…)
Mr. Collins is ridiculous, and again I think the character is over-acted. His ridiculousness “fluctuates”. In some scenes he seems more contained, and in others he is a full on clown.
During the proposal, I was also confused by what the actors were trying to do. Elizabeth’s face was one second smiling, one second mortified as Collins continued with his “compliments”. I fully understand what the scene was meant to encompass: Elizabeth’s embarrassment, anger, and Collins’ pride with stiff manners.
This episode feels a lot longer than the 50 minutes. I will point out, that this is not the most entertaining part of the book, and so I will allow the film makers to get away with making a slightly more boring episode than the others. But, that is hardly the point. Each episode should be entertaining in its own right, and if it isn’t, then it fails. Having the ability to insert scenes, to edit the story and reinterpret the book in a new way should give enough room for a bit more creativity than what I saw.
As to the film’s appearance, granted this was made in 1995, so the quality of the cameras and film equipment was much lower than it is now. However, the set, the camera lighting, the costumes, all feel dull and lacking any color. The makeup of the actresses is also really strong, and it makes me wonder if they really did wear that sort of get up in Jane Austen’s time. All of the actors feel wrong for the roles; the actresses feel far too old to play the roles they are in. Aesthetically this was not a nice episode to look at.
Once more, I feel nothing while watching this. Things just happen in a particular order without any reason for being so. (Other than because they were in the book this way) At this point I really think that the first two episodes could have been merged together.
Let’s see if episode 3 is any improvement.