47 thoughts on “WCW: Elizabeth Bennet

  1. Elizabeth Bennet? No, no, no P&P is all about Darcy. Give me some Matthew Macfadyen any day of the week.

    1. Loved this one, too, perhaps because it was the first version I ever saw. Also the subtext that Darcy’s “pride” was as much natural reserve and perhaps a hint of “once bitten, twice shy”.

      1. I’m with Kendra. Darcy may be many things, but a goofy dork isn’t one of them. Also, comb your hair, dude!

      2. Late to the party but just discovered this blog.
        I thought depressing Macfadyen was all wrong, but I also don’t get the swooning fandom around Firth. He was kind of gasp boring. The friendship between him and Bingley just didn’t feel right. I mean did he ever smile (once at the end of the movie). In the book it patently says he was naturally more lively. Even though he was more stern he was friends with Colonel Fitzwilliam and Bingley after all.
        My favorite Elizabeth is hands down Greer Garson. I watched this version after I read the book for the umpteenth time and years after the 1995 version. The time era was wrong, the costumes were wrong, the script was no where near that faithful (it was adapted from a play), the ages were wrong… but, oh my gosh, the characterization was spot on. Greer Garson nailed the playful yet refined and subtle wit of Elizabeth Bennett. She said things like it was an inside joke, and it was delightful.
        I know everyone will say that Jennifer Ehle is Elizabeth but I think it’s mostly because the film script lifted the dialogue and sequence of events directly from the book. But everyone was so unbelievably exaggerated that parts had a slapstick feel.
        I encourage everyone to watch the 1940’s version for no other reason then the characterization. Pretend it’s a alternative version of P&P if you must, but watch it.
        Notice Jane’s truly sweet but not insipid depiction, you not only love her but understand why everyone else loves her. Bingley truly deserves the moniker “he’s everything a gentlemen should be”. Lydia and Mrs. Bennett are believable (not inflated caricatures like in the 1995 version). Caroline Bingley, Lady Catherine, and Mr. Collins are as ridiculous as Austen intended them. Mr. Bennett and Lady Lucas are delightful. You fully understand how everyone, including intelligent Lizzy, is taken in by Wickham’s charm, and boy, does he have charm. Even Darcy, although still not living up to my imagination, was pretty good as the inexcusably proud Darcy. Olivier’s delivery of the line “she’s not handsome enough to tempt me” was so spot on I almost gasped for Elizabeth’s sake. It was so dismissive! He even had a chuckle in his voice as if the suggestion was meant as a joke.
        The problem with the film, and I think why people don’t give it a chance, is because it doesn’t let the story marinate. One movie scene does duty to a myriad of book scenes. You are constantly saying “that’s not the way that happened”. But if you saw it on stage, which is what it is, a play, you would probably find nothing wanting.
        The point is that the characters are not only true to the book, even if the script isn’t, but true to life. You probably know real-life people that remind you of the characters, thus also reminding you why P&P is still read today. It’s relatable.
        I only really watch the 1940’s B&W version (even though I’ve seen over six and own four). Certain scenes are just so telling: getting to know each other over archery and witticisms, not letting Caroline Bingley know her insults actually hit home, Bingley trying to play pool while his sister laughs over the Bennett’s ruin, and the most poignant scene of all- Darcy saying “God bless you, Elizabeth” when he leaves her after Lydia’s elopement, then Jane telling Elizabeth she dreams about Bingley coming back to her all the while knowing he’s gone forever, while you feel Darcy ride away. A to-deep-for-tears scene that ends quietly and painfully.
        People express how Austen is about what is not said, this version is about what is not seen. I think it’s great and still get flutters over it.

  2. While it was a youtube series, one of my favorite Lizzies is from The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. ADORE that series. But the Jennifer Ehle one still has my all time favorite vote.

    1. I second Ashley Clements’ great take on Elizabeth in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Even though it’s modernized, it shows how Austen’s world was similar, in so many ways, to today. I think that’s why Austen’s popularity continues to endure. And this version shows Lizzie’s blindsides better than any other. Other versions tend to portray Elizabeth as the victim of false information, rather than a flawed woman with a lot of room for growth.

      As for historical versions, Elizabeth Garvie’s look and manner is closest to my reading of the book. But that version is so stagey–Jennifer Ehle has my vote!

  3. Don’t forget Ashley Clements’ perfect take on Elizabeth in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! http://www.pemberleydigital.com/the-lizzie-bennet-diaries/

    Even though it is modernized, this series shows how well Austen’s world parallels our own which, I’m convinced, is why her popularity has grown so much in the last 50 years. This version also explores Elizabeth’s blindsides more than any of the others.

    Elizabeth Garvie’s looks and manner are closest to my reading of Lizzie in the book, but that version is so stagey…Jennifer Ehle has my vote!

  4. Jennifer Ehle 4 eva! (Although I am also on the Anna Maxwell Martin bandwagon – she really did capture Elizabeth’s braininess.)

      1. I agree as well – Jennifer Ehle is the best, but Anna Maxwell Martin rocks whatever she does. (Bletchley Circle, anyone?)

        1. Jennifer my fave, Garvie a close second. And although I love Anna M-M in everything, I *loathed* DCTP, although I really don’t want to blame it on her.

  5. Elizabeth Garvie! There’s something about your first Elizabeth Bennet. That stilted production was my introduction to Austen as a 16-year old. Life has never been the same. Plus Jane looks just how I always picture her.

    1. Garvie will always be my ideal Lizzie. She precisely matches the mental image I developed when I first read the novel. And I rather liked Rintoul.

    2. Garvie! She was intelligent, caring, had a good sense of humor, and held her own against Darcy and Lady Catherine. I first saw her portrayal after coming off the horror of seeing the Greer Garson adaptation. After that, the Garvie/Rintoul production was so soothing. It so perfectly followed the book.

      1. Well, except for removing Kitty. However, Moray Watson will always be my ideal Mr.

    3. I first encountered the Garvie version in high school (before the A&E version came out.) The thing I remember best from that is the ridiculous bassoon theme they made for Mr. Collins, and the fact that they dressed him in tight pants so he looked like a frog. While I adore the A&E version, the Garvie version is perfectly lovely.

  6. Not really relevant, but having seen Aishwarya Rai in a few Bollywood films, I thought she was just a pretty face and couldn’t really act much (or do Indian dancing any great shakes). But then I saw her in The Last Legion, with an American director, and she was great, and also did swashbuckling. So I assume it’s the Bollywood directors who’ve been limiting her to four facial expressions.

    1. Haha! Well, the Bollywood directors know that those 4 facial expressions have to translate for audiences who don’t necessarily speak the same language. I think her acting varied a lot in Bollywood, too. She’s terrible in things like Dhoom 2 and completely out-acted by Madhuri Dixit in Devdas, but I really liked her performances in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Raincoat, and Jodhaa Akbar. She also made a pretty decent Marianne Dashwood in Kandukondain Kandukondain.

  7. I love Jennifer Ehle and the 1995’s version is my favorite, but Elizabeth Garvie is a far superior Lizzie Bennet. Gemma Aterton had little time screen in Lost in Austen and I wishe she could stay for one more episode. She was an interesting Lizzie too.

  8. I like them all (I’ve only not seen three of these, the earlier ones minus Greer Garson, but CUSHING as DARCY? NO WAY) but… I like Keira’s Lizzie a lot. Maybe more than the others.

    Please don’t hurt me. ;)

    I was shocked how much I liked the Darcy in PPZ.

    I also cosplayed Lizzie from that last year for Halloween. It stunned me how many guys hit on me in that long purple coat, with a fake sword strapped to my hip. Maybe they think a girl who can kick their butt is super awesome?

    Hmm. I should wear it more often. :P

    1. I like Keira’s lizzie,too. And it’s one of the few Pride and prejudice films to have 1790’s style clothing,more accurate to the period of the book.

  9. I first fell in love with P&P watching the 1980 version. That was in college, I was the perfect age. I promptly read the book. The 1995 version blows all of the others away, though, so I have to go with Jennifer Ehle. I actually like the ‘pig’ version as well–I can’t help but love the music in it.

  10. My favourite is Jennifer. Her eyes ARE Lizzie’s. And her acting was superb. I, too liked James in PPZ. But I wanted a sequel. The ending was such a cliffhanger. Also Lena, er Lady Catherine de Burgh, kicked butt.
    But if I couldn’t use those two. I loved Bride and Prejudice. I’d put money on the way Cobra Dance as an alternative to The Time Warp of RHPS. Keira’s was good, too, but I wish her hair was not falling out of her pins and her walk is 20th century in her walking in the fields. Wonder if I’d find those glaring if they set in during WWI (1914-1918)?

    I mean Greer’s looks 1840s or thereabouts, and she had Larry as her Darcy. And the Peter Cussing looks almost like part of Barret’s of Wimpole Street. But Peter Cussing is totally NOT Darcy *shudder*. Why not a P&P set during the Great War?

  11. I changed Cussing to Cushing and saved the name, but Rogue Auto-correct strikes again. Someone please tell me how to disable it?

  12. Another really good bollywood movie-that actually takes place in the 18th century-is Bajirao Mastani.

  13. Having just stumbled across a shot of Jane Downs’ Lizzy from the 1958 BBC adaptation, I am now thinking that she looks like a very humorous, witty Lizzy, and pretty well-cast as far as looks go, based on the one picture – not really “pretty-pretty” but has the good eyes.


    And I’ve just found some more pics from the 1952 BBC adaptation and the clothes actually look pretty damn good for 1950s Regency costuming….!

  14. I mean Greer’s looks 1840s or thereabouts, and she had Larry as her Darcy.

    That is because the story was set in the 1830s, for the 1940s production. I’ve always found it ironic that so many have complained about this, considering that the 1980 and 1995 productions are set in the 1810s, yet Austen’s story is supposed to be set near the end of the 1790s.

  15. I tried to watch the Greer Garson version one time when it came up on one of the old movie channels, but I had to stop after about five minutes, because the costumes were hhhhhhhhorrible and she didn’t seem like Lizzie to me at all. Then I checked IMDB and realized it’s because she was a 36-year-old woman playing 20. It didn’t work at all for me.

    I too could play the Ehle/Firth version on a loop 24/7 and never tire of it. And Bride and Prejudice is a favorite in our household, for every crazy single lip-synched musical number, especially the gospel choir on the beach.

    1. I love the Greer Garson version. I have watched it dozens of times. Laurence Olivier is superbly haughty and she has such a playful manner – I find it really enjoyable. I know the costumes are wrong, but I think they got the “spirit” of it right, although Mr Bennett is more sympathetic than in other versions and in the book. Mrs Bennett is great, as is Mr Collins and Lady Catherine. They flubbed the ending, but apart from that, I completely LOVE it!

  16. My mom got us Bride & Prejudice for Christmas when I was little. Such a good movie! My sister and I watched it over and over and over and over. Then the disc went “missing”. Always thought it was carelessness but now I suspect my mom just wanted a break.

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