813 of 837 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which adaptation is better? It depends on what you want
I've lost count of how many times I've read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - it's one of my very favorite books. Comparing the two miniseries adaptations of it -- the more recent one by A&E/BBC (Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996)) and this one done in the 80s by BBC -- there are definite advantages to each. The one you choose depends on what you...
Published on October 21, 2003 by Amy Green
177 of 185 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This version vs. later Colin Firth version
I think all of the previous reviews have interesting points of view, particularly in comparing this version to the later one starring Colin Firth. I think they both have their good points--I like this version mainly for Elizabeth Garvie's portrayal of Elizabeth, which seems much more true to the book. She's witty and also excitable; Jennifer Ehle portrays an Elizabeth who...
Published on May 24, 2001 by Katharine Carrillo
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813 of 837 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Which adaptation is better? It depends on what you want,Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996)) and this one done in the 80s by BBC -- there are definite advantages to each. The one you choose depends on what you want. If you want a really good and fun modern romantic comedy, watch the A&E version. But if you want what is closest to Austen's novel (which I prefer), watch the older BBC version.
POSITIVES OF THE A&E VERSION:
1) It is a visual feast: The costumes, sets and scenery are exquisite and make that version worth watching for that reason alone. They obviously had a larger budget than the 80s version, which is done in the old BBC 'stage play' style.
2) Since that version is 75 minutes longer than the BBC version, you get to enjoy that much more of Austen's incomparable dialogue - the best ever written in the English language besides Shakespeare, in my opinion!
3) In the interplays between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, their emotions are much more pronounced and open than in the BBC version... which makes their relationship more openly romantic even than in the novel. This is developed further by some scenes of them individually that weren't in the novel. In the 80s version and the novel, many of the subtleties of their relationship and feelings are left to the imagination. The A&E version is more in the unsubtle style of a typical modern romantic movie, which gives a wonderful new dimension to the story. The "unexpected proposal" scene is absolutely perfect; I think Austen would have loved it!
4) Casting Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Although not as strikingly handsome as David Rintoul's Darcy in the 80s version (in the book, Darcy is far handsomer than Bingley), Firth adds more visible emotion to the character which David R. did not, while also maintaining a very aristocratic, refined air about him.
POSITIVES OF THIS 80s BBC VERSION:
1) It is much more faithful to the historical setting of the novel. It captures much more accurately the slow-moving, thoughtful, refined, restrained, purist, obsessed-with-manners (but still quite amusing) aristocratic society of 18th century England. This to me gives not only a needed believability to, but also a much deeper understanding of, the characters and story. Austen's novels were very realistic and true to their time and place, so if you want the genuine Austen feel rather than the 'in-your-face' Hollywood style, see the 80s version (or just stick to the book). The A&E version comes across as being 20th century American, just cloaked in 18th century England costumes and sets. Some people have praised this aspect of it, saying that the 80s version is boring by comparison. But I believe that Austen's intent was that the interest in her novels would lie with her detailed character studies and intricate relational plots. That's what made her books so interesting, without all the action-packed gallivanting around and crassness which Hollywood seems to think is a necessity to entertainment. The 80s version recognizes this and retains a historical elegance and dignity; the A&E version does not. (In the A&E version, Bingley's two supposedly high class sisters slouch around, make faces and giggle audibly behind people's backs. Everyone seems to be constantly running, skipping or galloping somewhere. The less-than-savory characters, like Mary, Lydia, Kitty, and Mr. Wickham, look and act like they are from a much lower social class, in ways that go below what would have been acceptable in their class. A visitor to the Bennett home accidentally sees one of the sisters in her undergarments. When Elizabeth visits Pemberley, she sees Mr. Darcy coming from a dip in a pond with a wet undershirt on, rather than just having arrived in a carriage as in the book.)
2) The casting is better in the BBC version and each actor is completely natural and believable in his or her role. In the A&E version, much of the casting does not seem to fit the characters: Elizabeth comes across as being about twenty years older than she is (with a constantly knowing look as if she's already married with children), Mrs. Bennett seems too intelligent to be so silly, Charlotte seems snobby rather than humble, Miss Bingley seems cold and sharp rather than sweetly slimy, Mr. Collins is like a cartoon and not a believable person, and the five Bennett sisters don't look at all like they could be related to each other. The actors seemed quite competent, just not cast in the right roles, and maybe directed to overplay them. The only exception, as I mentioned above, is Colin Firth as Darcy.
3) The 80s BBC version gives the same attention to each character that Austen's novel does. In the A&E version, only the principal characters are focused on, with the result that many of the characters who we should have gotten to know better seemed to just be cardboard props, and their relationships with each other don't come across as being as intimate and familiar as they really are in the novel. For example, Elizabeth had a much deeper relationship with both her father and her Aunt Gardiner than the A&E version portrayed, because it left out some key scenes between those characters. The only ones I could perceive as being really close in the A&E version were Elizabeth and Jane - and in the last half, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. This is a great loss, because Austen's novels are not just about romance, but about the relationships between people, and each of their interesting personality quirks. They are character studies -- not just of the main characters, but of ALL the characters.
Sorry for the length, but P&P is a special book and I wanted to share my full views on these adaptations for anyone trying to decide between them!
BUT AS ALWAYS, it's a good idea to 1) read the negative reviews as well as the positive, since they are wildly different from each other, and 2) RENT before you buy!
177 of 185 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This version vs. later Colin Firth version,
What I did like about the second version was its dramatization of Mr. Darcy's going to London and seeking Wickham and Lydia, as well as what he went through with Wickham attempting to run off with his sister. It fleshed it out.
Of the more minor characters: Lydia was MUCH better in the later version than in this one. I think Miss Bingley was better in the first version. She seemed more comfortable with her lines, and wasn't as obviously bitchy--it made more sense that she would seek a friendship with Jane, at least initially.
Lady Catherine is much better in this version, mainly because she's much better fleshed out. She's hilarious.
Both of the series have elements where they are more true to the book than the other--I can't say I thought one was more true than the other. For example, in the book Elizabeth was outraged at Charlotte's marrying Mr. Collins; in the later version she's likewise upset (although gets over it quickly); in this version she a little surprised but overall quite sympathetic about it with Charlotte. On the other hand, in this version while Elizabeth is staying with Charlotte she's constantly running into Mr. Darcy while she's out walking, clearly by design on his part-he's courting her even if she doesn't quite get it because of previous experiences. So when he finally proposes it makes more sense that he might think that she would be "expecting his addresses" even if she doesn't--and all that is in the book. In the later Colin Firth version he simply runs into her by accident once while on horseback, stares at her, and moves on. So his proposal comes out of left field, why should she be "expecting his addresses"? (I'm getting that from towards the end of the book, when they've finally gotten together, and he tells her that he thought she would be expecting his proposal--a scene that is also in both versions.)
289 of 315 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than A&E's! Trust Me!!,
The casting is perfect, principally Elizabeth Garvie (an Elizabeth playing "Elizabeth Bennett", how very nice!), David Rintoul (as Mr Darcy) and the actors playing Mr & Mrs Bennett (brilliant performance from both), Mr Collins, Charlotte Lucas and oh, just about EACH and EVERY character! I must give my opinion that I find the Mr Darcy here far handsomer than that portrayed by Colin Firth. David Rintoul's Darcy is classically handsome - tall, dark, brooding, with nicely chiselled features and a very noble bearing. I loved to hear him speak. Elizabeth here is reasonably pretty too, has a ready wit and also displays great sensibility and generosity (I thought Jennifer Ehle was a little chubby for her character). The Mr Collins in this earlier production is also truer to the book; he is still odious, self-centred and annoying to the last degree, but is less of a caricature than that portrayed in A&E's version.
But I enjoyed this production best of all for the following 3 reasons:
1) I like it that some of Elizabeth's most important thoughts are made known to the viewer through a voice-over. For instance, after rejecting Darcy's proposal, we find Elizabeth, not in tears like in the A&E's version, but thoughtful and a little dazed, and as she sits down to "digest" what has just happened, the voice-over lets us know what she is thinking. At the end of her thoughts, when she smiles and concludes that she finds Darcy's proposal, "gratifying", I find it plausible. Who in Elizabeth's position wouldn't find Darcy's proposal flattering?
2) Although made in 1980, this production does not look at all "jaded" or 1980s (unlike many earlier BBC dramas). The costumes are beautiful (with many costume changes for the main characters) and the make-up does not give the impression that this is an outdated production. The characters too do not look like they are wearing wigs. I only wish it will be made available on DVD soon with perhaps the colour and picture quality improved.
3) The ending here is more pleasing and romantic than A&E's. The words uttered by our hero and heroine in the end are sweet and romantic and will stay in the viewer's mind for a long time.
If you have enjoyed A&E's adaptation, then I urge you to pick up this earlier video and see for yourself why the latter is the better and more enjoyable production. I also notice that the newer adaptation actually took a lot of "ideas" from this earlier production.
To me, this video was 259 minutes of pure viewing pleasure!
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Treatment of Austen's Classic,
My only complaint is that Mr. Darcy here is too stiff and unlikeable, though this is tricky since that is just how he is supposed to seem to the Bennet family (while readers are supposed to know he secretly admires Elizabeth and so must not be a total jerk). In this version, Darcy hardly seems to deserve Elizabeth, even in the late scenes where we are supposed to rejoice over the match.
As another reviewer noted at this site, this version is more theatre-like, the A&E version with Colin Firth more movie-like. This production cost much less than the A&E version, I bet, so the cinematography, music, and sets are not what we expect from the movies. On the other hand, the theatrical style works perfectly for Austen. The more modest sets and costumes strike me as more nearly true to the world that Austen was out to portray, the world she moved in. The balls and drawing rooms in in the A&E version are on too grand and rich a scale for the gentry Austen portrays.
I rejoice that two such fine productions of P&P exist (the Greer Garson, Lauren Olivier version doesn't count - too silly and too far from Austen's novel - though Garson is sublimely beautiful). If anyone were going to see just one, however, this is the one I recommend.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All things considered, this is the definitive movie version.,
This review is from: Pride & Prejudice [VHS] (VHS Tape)Okay, let me weigh in with my two cents in the Great Debate over BBC vs. A&E:
Stayed closest to the book: BBC, no question.
Best Elizabeth Bennet: Close, but I have to give this one to BBC.
Best Darcy: BBC, by a country mile. Colin Firth just didn't look the part. David Rintoul's acting may have been a bit wooden, but he brought out Darcy's reserved and inhibited character. And he looks gorgeous!
Best Jane Bennet: BBC. She brought out Jane's essential goodness, sensitivity and intelligence, as well as her common sense. Whoever thought she was "catty" in the BBC version, must have mistaken her for Kitty. A&E's Jane whined too much.
Best Mr. Bennet: BBC in a walk.
Best Mrs. Bennet: Tie. Delightfully ditzy in both productions.
Best Mr. Collins: BBC. Klutzy and pompous, just like in the book.
Best Lady Catherine: A&E, hands down. A real Gorgon, just like she was in the book.
Best Wickham: Close, but A&E was better.
Best Mary and Kitty: BBC wins in both characters.
Best Bingley: Tie, although I really liked the A&E character.
Best Bingley's Sisters: BBC. The characters in the A&E version looked ridiculous.
Best Uncle and Aunt Gardiner: BBC, especially Mrs. Gardiner. My favorite character in this production.
Although I enjoyed the A&E production, the BBC version is Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. And at less than half the price of A&E, it's a helluva bargain!
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece ... and an Almost Masterpiece,
By A Customer
After I read the book I loved the series even more because I could then appreciate how true to the original the production really was. Unfortunately, back then there were no videos, so I was thrilled when it became available and I could then share it with my family. The entire family loves this version and we watch it often. Time just flies by when we are enjoying this scrumptious mix of exquisite acting, lovely costumes, sets and locations ... and the beautiful and witty sound of Jane Austen's style of prose.
Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul portray Lizzie and Darcy true to the book, and so did the rest of the enssemble of very talented performers, bringing to life Austen's characters and allowing us to experience the period of time in which she lived. The person who did the casting for the production did a fantastic job! The actors bring out the character's qualities and flaws with wit, but without downgrading them to the level of caricatures.
I have since also purchased the BBC's version for A&E, featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and feel that the two cannot be compared because one was produced as a play (Garvie-Rintoul) and the other one was produced as a movie (Ehle-Firth). As such, they appeal to two different groups of viewers. In the same way that some people adore the theater and some are bored to tears by it, some people will love one and be bored by the other.
In the A&E version the character of Mr. Collins is really over the top, too much of a caricature. The characters of Mr. Bingley, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett also could have been better. In my opinion, the casting department had more misses than hits in this production. Either that or the director and/or supporting actors' portrayals didn't quite hit the mark.
I love watching both versions, although I must confess the 1980 version is the one closest to my heart. Which version would Jane Austen prefer? We'll never know, but I think the important thing is that two different types of audience are enjoying her words more than 200 years after she wrote them. :-)
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pride and Prejudice (1980),
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Austin's intentions come through,
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-SEE for Jane Austen fans......,
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Pride and Prejudice video,
By A Customer
I note that most of the other reviewers share in my enthusiasm for this version, and I agree generally with their comments. One reviewer who was lukewarm about this version complained that it did not track the book accurately. I haven't read the book 40 times (like one favorable reviewer), but I have read it several times, both before and after seeing both this version and the Colin Firth version, and this is far more faithful in my opinion. One viewer has lamented that there no other productions with Elizabeth Garvie--a lament I share. I was told one time when I was in England that she retired from acting to raise a family, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of this. She did have a minor part recently in a new production of Jane Eyre, however.
My advice: Pride and Prejudice with Elizabeth Garvie is the tops by a mile. The Colin Firth version is very good, and a must for real lovers of Jane Austin. (I have it and I watch it occasioally.) The pre-war Hollywood version with Laurence Olivier is a travesty!
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