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What I've been reading and watching

January 22nd, 2006

Mainly watching, this week. I went to see the new film of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. Enjoyable, at least if you like the idea of a fanfic rewrite of the original, as it would be written by, say, Marianne Dashwood, casting herself as Elizabeth Bennet.

For a real travesty, though, you can’t go past the 1940 version starring Greer Garson. At the end, Lady Catherine de Burgh turns out to have been good all along.

I used to think this was a deplorable, but trivial, concession to audience snobbery. Actually, however, it’s like one of those final scenes in a film noir that completely unravels everything you’ve thought until that point. If Lady de Burgh is really good, then Mr Collins, who we all thought to be a ridiculous and pompous fool, was in fact right in his admiration for her, while Elizabeth is shown to be blinded by prejudice in her dislike of both of them. And in that case, Charlotte Lucas’ decision to marry Collins showed insight into his true character. Now its Elizabeth, who rejects Collins and ends up with the far wealthier Darcy, who appears to be the one marrying for money. Fortunately, of course, the movie rushes to the wedding scene and the credits before we can work out that it now makes no sense at all.

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  1. James Farrell
    January 23rd, 2006 at 03:27 | #1

    How can you possibly dismiss the peerless 1940 version as a travesty on such trivial grounds? Even if your argument about the implications was solid, it would still be a quibble.

    But the argument falls flat anyway. Lady Catherine isn’t ‘good’ in the film. She’s just intelligent, at least sufficiently that she recognises the rightness of Darcy’s choice despite herself. People are complex like that. And Collins’ admiration of her is not vindicated at all if he admires her for the wrong reasons. Indeed, the revelation that she actually scorns him despite his fawning is confirmation of this, and further reason for us to despise him.

  2. January 23rd, 2006 at 08:40 | #2

    We loved the new Pride and Prejudice movie. The attention to period detail, the furniture, the sense of scale, and the protocol relationships betwen the characters was superb.

  3. avaroo
    January 23rd, 2006 at 09:01 | #3

    Ms Knightly has been in the US long enough now to get the teeth fixed.

  4. January 23rd, 2006 at 09:21 | #4

    For those interested, I consider this to be the best review of P&P’05, by a startlingly clever literary academic.

  5. Chris
    January 23rd, 2006 at 09:57 | #5

    The 1940s P&p scripted, if I recollect correctly, by Aldous Huxley.

  6. Kieran Bennett
    January 23rd, 2006 at 10:25 | #6

    Pass me the soma.

  7. derrida derider
    January 24th, 2006 at 14:42 | #7

    Chris, Huxley was openly contemptuous of Hollywood and very upfront about prostituting his skills to them for money. Read Eyeless in Gaza. It would be very Huxleyan to deliberately bugger up the plot to express that contempt.

  8. moira
    January 24th, 2006 at 15:59 | #8

    Does your wife contribute to your blog? If so, how much?

  9. jquiggin
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:07 | #9

    Does your wife contribute to your blog? If so, how much?

    From time to time, though usually not directly. As you have probably guessed, this post is the product of our conversation after the movie.

  10. April 16th, 2006 at 18:30 | #10

    Samara

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