Sunday, 25 April 2010

Scene On A Sunday: Pride & Prejudice

I’ve had Joe Wright’s 2005 debut Pride & Prejudice on my mind a whole lot recently; although – truth be told – I’ve been thinking less of the actual film and more of the lovely lady it centres on, the lovely Keira Knightley. I remember when during the awards season in 2006, before I saw the film, I was a bit confused at the choice of clip that a number of shows played for Keira, but it wasn’t until seeing the film in its entirety I was able to place the deserved value on it. This is not a BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s very cadence is condensed into a perfectly little two hour piece and Wright’s choice in shooting Mr. Darcy’s first proposal is fresh and original. I like, for example, how he chooses to have it done immediately after Elizabeth learns of his role is thwarting her sister’s chance at marriage. She runs off for some solace, in the rain no less. The shot below is so picturesque. 
Keira is such a perfect fit for Elizabeth, it's almost ridiculous. She handles this scene so well, even before it actually begins, as she leans against the pillars she's so naturally upet, and yet never exagerrated.
And then of course Mr. Darcy comes to interrupt her thinking -
I said before that McFayden doesn't completely thrill me in the role, but his signs of discomfort work so well here, perhaps it's the rain...
Miss Elizabeth, I have struggled in vain and can bear it no longer...

Certainly, Darcy's first proposal is nowhere near is horrific as Mr. Collins', but I really must comment McFayden for selling some of the weirdest lines and still managing to make it sound (somewhat) romantic. I like how Keira responds with a look somewhere between aghast and confused.
Regardless of the overlying theme in her books, it's nice how Jane Austen always clings to filial love among her heroines and Keira portrays this excellently. Younger than her sister Jane, she is, but the penchant for shielding is handled so well as she rips into Darcy.
Of course Matthew is wise enough to realise that as bewitched as Darcy is by Elizabeth he's unwilling to lose an argument. As wrong as she is at the moment, it's nice to see Elizabeth growing...there's almost a hesitancy as if she's not too keen to denounce this man - even as she's certain that he's the cause for her sister's misfortune.

Of course, as we shall come to see, she's completely off in defending her beloved Mr. Wickham. Notice, too, how the mention of his name produces one of the rare moments of heightened life from McFayden's very dour Darcy.
I am to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
As misguided a line as it is, I can't help but cheer on the line and its excelllent delivery. All leading up to Keira's own notable rant...
Your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdian for the feelings of others made me realise you were the last man in the world I would ever marry.
It's an excellent delivery of a passionate line, but am I alone in thinking that this would have led into a kiss, talk about sexual tension, eh?
And then of course he stalks off, and she's left there confused (and unkissed).
And damn, isn't she beautiful?
What is it about the rain...? And all that silent emoting? Why exactly is she considered to be a poor actress?
And then the scene closes with these lovely shots...
What kind of world do we live in when shots like these went unnoticed for their cinematography? Not even love for the Art Direction...the entire film went Oscar-less....Quelle domage.
Blame it on the rain....


Walter L. Hollmann said...

love this movie, love this scene, love your writing about it! Fantastic mood-upper for a Sunday, thanks!

CrazyCris said...

quel dommage indeed!

the only thing I really don't like about this movie... is that it makes me lazy! I now have a tendency to pop this one in the dvd player instead of the BBC version just so I can get my Lizzie "fix" in a reasonable time frame! :p

Wild Celtic said...

gorgeous...I personally love the rain. It's cleansing, romantic, soothing, sullen, many things.

Marcy said...

This film is gorgeous in every way.

And Keira Knightley is fantastic in it. I would say that her performance actually deserved that damn Oscar if it weren't for Felicity Huffman's slightly showy, yet nuanced performance in Transamerica. Reese Witherspoon did not deserve it for Walk the Line.

I don't know how the hardcore P&P (which I have not read) fans feel about Matthew Macfayden's portrayal of Darcy but I thought he was lovely.

Great post and beautiful screencaps. I'm not a huge fan of rain in real life, but it's just so BEAUTIFUL in a film.

Anonymous said...

Love this scene. Funny that we were both in need of a Jane Austen fix this weekend.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

walter this movie certainly puts you in a good mood. it's so fun.

crazy cris this version is my favourite incarnation, even if it doesn't cover everything. it's so nice having an elizabeth that's the correct age.

wild celtic i too like the rain.

marcy keira is the easily the best of the five nominees, but i prefer reese to felicity. as a fan of the novel, i'm not too sold on mcfayden, but he's more good than bad.

cine-fille it is funny, but her books do translate well to film.

Jose said...

OMG the music in this scene! The almost kiss! The wetness!
It's flawless.

Peter Chan said...

i usually hate english-lit films, but i wholeheartedly adore this version of 'pride and prejudice' and this scene is my absolute favorite, it's when i fell for matthew mcfayden's darcy.

this film has entered my rotation of films i can pop into the dvd player whenever i'm in a mood for a movie.

anahita said...


I can't even begin to describe how much I love this film, but yes. I agree with EVERYTHING you said. acting, cinematography, music, it's just so fecking stunning. You could analyse every SINGLE scene and each is perfection!! xxx

Yojimbo_5 said...

I don't know...the feedback I get from most P&P fans that hate (even despise) this one is that McFadyen is no match for Colin Firth's Darcy in the 1995 BBC version.

I haven't seen it, so I can't comment on it, other than Firth's Mr. Darcy in "Bridget Jones Diary" is pretty good.

But I love Joe Wright's version of it because of the impeccable casting, and nuanced performances—none more nuanced than Knightley's risky Elizabeth, who brushes the edges of unlikability in defence of her family (I also like how Donald Sutherland tries to hide his teeth when he smiles).

But Wright does an amazing job telescoping Austen's epic with overlapping dialogue, frenetic (but precise) choreography--track that big party scene some time--and command of the elements. Light and space reflect Elizabeth's mood constantly from her closed-minded to her most open.

A beautiful, funny and truly romantic film. How can one resist it?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

flawless indeed, it is flawless.

peter that's what's nice about it. it's a good watch for any time.

anahita ha. i know you're a lover of this one, you don't have to tell me that.

yojimbo_ firth is better as darcy, but only because he gets hours upon hours to solidify his character. i don't find the BBC version superior to this one at all.