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Pride and Prejudice - Film Review

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by Chrystal Byrne (subscribe)
Freelance writer living on Brisbane's north side. Studied creative industries - currently studying library and information services.
Published March 13th 2013
A Jane Austen Classic
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (Austen 1813, 1).

The line above, the opening line of the classic novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen, has been immortalised in popular culture by scholars, avid readers and Austen fans alike. It is on this line that both the novel and its 2005 Hollywood film adaptation, also named Pride and Prejudice, build the dramatic love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in the 2005 Hollywood film adaptation

In the opening scene, Mrs Bennet is excitedly telling her husband, Mr Bennet, of the arrival of the young, handsome, charismatic and wealthy bachelor, Mr Bingley, into Netherfield Park, a grand estate within the neighbourhood of the Bennet family. Having five, all unmarried daughters to account for, Mrs Bennet, frivolous and seemingly shameless, takes it into her mind that one of her girls should marry him. Mr Bennet, a bookish witty man with a mind all his own, informs his wife and daughters that he has already arranged an acquaintance with Mr Bingley, much to their happiness and surprise.

Elizabeth is the second daughter in the Bennet family. She's intelligent, lively, attractive and fiery but has a tendency to judge on first impression. She lives with her family near the town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London, and is close to both her mousey best friend Charlotte and her eldest sister Jane, whom is kind-hearted, beautiful and proper. Elizabeth Bennet best resembles her father in wit and personality, and separates herself from the giggling flirts that are two of her younger sisters; Kitty and Lydia.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The Bennet sisters: Lydia, Kitty, Elizabeth, Jane and Mary

Mr Bingley, his haughty sister Miss Caroline Bingley, and their reserved friend Mr Darcy, who 'owns half of Derbyshire', are introduced to local society at an assembly ball where it becomes apparent that an attachment is forming between Bingley and Jane. Whilst Mr Bingley is becoming enchanted with the gentle and beautiful Jane, Mr Darcy has made a less favourable impression by appearing proud and condescending. Elizabeth takes an instant dislike to Darcy after he coldly rebuffs her attempts at conversation and she overhears him insult her.

Mr Darcy's name is further tarnished when, after Elizabeth meets the young and charming Mr Wickham, he tells of how he has been very seriously mistreated by Mr Darcy, despite having been 'loved like a son' by the late Mr Darcy. Mr Bingley then leaves Hertfordshire, and Jane, at the advice of Mr Darcy, cementing Elizabeth's extreme dislike. But after Elizabeth bluntly and blatantly rejects Mr Darcy's shock marriage proposition, he leaves her a letter that may explain away all pride and prejudice.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Pride and Prejudice (2005) is a British romantic drama directed by Joe Wright, starring: Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy, Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet and Simon Woods as Mr Bingley. Pride and Prejudice also stars the likes of Judi Dench, Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland. The screenplay was written by Deborah Moggach based on the classic 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was first published in 1813, approximately four years before Austen's death in July, 1817. Pride and Prejudice is arguably Jane Austen's most famed and accomplished novel, and was her second to be published following Sense and Sensibility (1811). Although Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice were both published first, it is widely believed that Austen's work Northanger Abbey, published in December, 1817, mere months after Austen's death, was actually her earliest completed work. Pride and Prejudice has great standing even in today's world, with recreations, adaptations and that famous opening line.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist who earned her name in English literature through her works of romantic fiction, set amongst the landed gentry. Austen's works display realism and social commentary that have cemented her historical importance among scholars and critics – her works are 'classics'. Austen herself was part of a large family; she had six brothers and one sister; Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Both Jane and her sister Cassandra were thoroughly educated by their father and brothers and died unmarried.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet

I enjoy Jane Austen and I enjoyed watching this film. Elizabeth Bennet is my favourite Jane Austen heroine and I think Keira Knightley played her well. Although Elizabeth Bennet has her flaws, I personally find her to be the most relatable and likeable Austen heroine. She's honest, cynical and strong, and I thoroughly enjoyed Keira Knightley's representation. I feel one with Elizabeth's loyal and fiery nature, and understand her desire to protect her siblings. Elizabeth Bennet is an unwavering force of energy in an otherwise more fragile, but no less likeable, group of Austen heroines. Elizabeth is an opinionated and unconventional character for her time.

Pride and Prejudice is a great film adaptation of the classic novel. The scenery is lovely and fitting, the cast is brilliant and the storyline rings true. If you haven't already seen it, go out and get a copy of Pride and Prejudice, regardless of whether you've read the book or not.
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