Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 TBR Reading Challenge: Pride & Prejudice: the movie adaptation

As part of Wendy Crutcher's 2014 TBR Challenge, here are my brief comments on Pride & Prejudice: the movie adaptation by screenwriter Deborah Moggach.

This is a lovely companion to the 2005 movie adaptation of Austen's Pride & Prejudice. It's published as a full-color magazine on thick lustrous paper. One of the reasons Moggach says that the movie was so successful was due to "impeccable attention to detail [paid] to the reality of life in the 18th century." I concur. Would that all historical films did the same. A historical film that is not mere costume drama has to research, research, research, and implement the research on the screen.

The screenwriter, of course, relied heavily on Austen's words, but so did the actors. Keira Knightley said, "It's a different process to do a film based on a book, because the inner dialogue of your character is all written down. So if there was ever a scene where I was having problems, we would go back to the book and in some way or another it was right there."

The clothing of the characters was changed to reflect the character's growth arc, particularly apt in Darcy's case. What a wonderful notion! Novelists don't do this at all. Clothing of a character is appropriate to the setting, but rarely reflects the character's growth arc. Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran writes, "If you look closely, Darcy's costumes in the course of the film change quite radically. In the early scenes, he's wearing a very buttoned-up, very rigid, very stuff style of costume. In the middle state, he's wearing the same style but in a softer fabric and a softer cut, and by the end of the film, he's wearing a much looser cut, an open jacket, a more country style, less upright, less rigid."

I have to say though, her choice of that open long coat as he comes striding across in the early dawn as well as those raggedy capris with bare legs in the last scene was so not period-correct and looked just awful.

Other than the fact that the movie was filmed entirely on location (at seven different manor estates), here's the reason why this movie was period pitch perfect: Director Joe Wright writes, "I think one of the problems is that when people do period films they rely on painting from the period, because there is no photography. But in a painting, everything is formally composed. It's not real life. Then people shoot wide shots to show off the period detail of the sets, whereas I think the detail is in the small things."

A final classy touch is the translucent vellum centerfold where the letter Darcy writes to Elizabeth is printed in Jane Austen's handwriting font. Lovely, lovely!