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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Revisited

Still being kept super busy with my baby, I will try to post to my blog every now and then. I still actively follow other Jane Austen blogs, although I may not have the time to comment or contribute to them that often.

This month being the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, many bloggers have chosen to discuss themes related to Jane Austen’s most popular novel. Some time ago, I spotted this lovely little documentary on Pride and Prejudice in a Dutch blog,  Jane Austen.

Part 1

Pride and Prejudice Revisited interviews various well-known and established Jane Austen biographers and screenwriters for the adaptations, who each recount their experiences with Jane Austen. It is interesting to hear what first attracted them to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice in particular, and why they have continued their association with the writer.

The documentary also discusses the modern adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, from Bridget Jones’ Diary to Bride and Prejudice, pointing out why all the the vastly different adaptations have been ever so popular. This brings light to the immortality of Jane’s novels and their adaptability to modern culture.

According to the documentary – and I would have to agree – it was the ground-breaking 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that truly brought Pride and Prejudice to the masses and brought people to love Jane Austen. Perhaps the sexualisation of Mr Darcy with the ‘wet shirt scene’ had something to do with it…?!

The screenwriter for the 1995 miniseries, Andrew Davies, points out how Jane Austen’s novels read differently in different eras, resulting in very different adaptations of the same novels. Wouldn’t you agree that the popular 2005 film with Keira Knightley  caters much more to the modern taste than the tamer, more slow-paced 1980 version for instance? (I will, however, stay partial to Davies’ 1995 version, with its amazing period detail, witty dialogue and slow progress towards culmination, as in the novel).

The documentary also analyses why people have grown to adore and admire the character of Elizabeth, who has become the ideal woman for many – she is, after all, both beautiful and intelligent, with “a twinkle in her eye” (well said!) and a wit unmatched in the world of literature.

Part 2

The second part of the documentary discusses, for example, why the proud, arrogant Mr Darcy remains so attractive to readers.

Sue Birtwistle, the producer for the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, makes the interesting point how most stories in romantic fiction actually retell the story of Elizabeth and Darcy and how they become attracted to each other against all odds.

She also draws attention to how the characters in the novel are archetypes, characters that live on in literature as well as in life. We all know a flirtatious, attention-seeking Lydia and an odious, off-putting Mr Collins, don’t we?

Part 3

Something that often goes unnoticed is how Jane Austen, through her stories, brings light to the snobbery and injustice in society. The third part of the documentary reveals how this translates to other cultures as well, showing the examples of the cultures of Iran and India, where women sometimes have to go against their family and society, just like the characters in Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is a story that could very well happen in modern-day Asia. 

The documentary points out the the huge effect that the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has had on the world of costume drama. Can you honestly say that you remember any quality costume drama before the year 1995?


I really enjoyed the documentary, as I always love to hear opinions on my favourite novel, and what could be more interesting than to hear the viewpoints of those who are experts on the subject! I also love the snippets from  various adaptations that make up this lovely documentary.

Have you already seen this and did you learn anything interesting from watching it?