Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners  |   Run Time - 300 min.  |  
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Thanks to this made-for-TV film and three other film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels -- Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, and Clueless (based on Emma) -- the work of Jane Austen enjoyed a renaissance in bookstores and college classrooms in 1995. Pride and Prejudice has several things going for it. First, the actors perform brilliantly, bringing Georgian England to life with their class-conscious behavior and attitudes and their drawing-room repartee. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are particularly good as the central characters, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Second, writer Andrew Davies' script wisely includes verbatim dialogue from the Austen novel that is rich in wit, irony, and humor. Third, producer Sue Birtwistle pays close attention to period costumes, customs, and surroundings. Even the dances mimic authentic gambols and frolics popular in Austen's times. Fourth, the length of the film enables director Simon Langton to present a complete -- or nearly complete -- exposition of the plot. Consequently, viewers are treated to many entertaining scenes, involving minor as well as major characters, that probably would have been omitted in a shorter film version of the novel. Although the highly praised 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, had much to commend it, its length forced it to truncate the plot and present an abridged ghost of the real story. Fans of Olivier and Garson may balk at assertions that Langton's 1995 adaptation has become the definitive film version of the novel, but the popularity of the Langton version and the reviews of many critics suggest that it has.