Pride & Prejudice: Cinematic Duke Out

I’ve now watched or attempted to watch 3 versions of Pride and Prejudice in “movie” format – the contenders included:

  • Pride and Prejudice movie (1940)
  • Pride and Prejudice movie (2005)
  • Pride and Prejudice BBC Miniseries (1995)

The results of these three movies were varied indeed, so let’s break it down, shall we?

The 1940’s Pride and Prejudice starred Laurence Olivier (Mr. Darcy) and Greer Garson (Ms. Lizzy Bennet). It was awful. At least, the first 10 minutes or so were so terrible and painful to watch, that I never finished it. I have a life, you know, and precious little minutes to watch movies like this, so I moved on, gave it 1 star on Netflix and moved the Kiera Knightly version to the top of my queue post haste, then packaged up this DVD to send back immediately. No hard feelings. But seriously, the Bennet sisters looked like they were in their 40s, their mother was the biggest harpie crazy woman, which I know is accurate, but seriously, she was WORSE than all Mrs. Bennets I’ve seen thus far. Horrible.

The 2005 version was the first I’d ever seen, so I was rewatching this one. It already had bonus points for being interesting even before I’d read the book, but I remembered not having fully understood the whole movie and struggling to keep the different cast members straight. This was not a problem having read the book and I actually found this version someone rushed, but I LOVED the casting. This movie currently is my favorite for casting all around. Kiera Knightly plays Lizzie, Matthew Macfadyen plays Mr. Darcy. My only real beef with this movie was that the main males (Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are kind of ugly. But after seeing the BBC version, I take this back as only Colin Firth is more handsome than anyone in this version. I love the scenery and some of the added scenes that aren’t in the original are actually wonderful. I go into more details on this here.

And now the moment I know some of you have waited impatiently for. Did I love it? Wholeheartedly, yes. Better than the 2005 version? Ummm…. toss up? Colin Firth for sure = love, although looking back I kind of like him as MUCH as Matthew Macfadyen but in different ways if that makes any sense. Jennifer Ehle, ditto – I like her a LOT, she’s definitely one of the better actresses, but so was Kiera Knightly. They actually remind me a lot of each other if that makes any sense. Casting seems well done, except, forgive me, Jane was terrible. Temperatment and acting were fine, but I just didn’t LOVE her – they got it much better in 2005 with Rosamund Pike. But I love that being as LONG as it was, they had ample time to go into details and really have fun with it, really tell ALL. I loved losing myself in this movie, though I suspect my poor son didn’t love it as much as he was forced to watch almost an hour of it in bits and pieces as his nap time ended in moments I wasn’t ready to simply hit “pause” – which I’ve heard is a normal reaction to this miniseries!

So, in short – of all 3, the 1940s version is a clear loser, but I have to say 2005 and 1995 are a tie. If I could move this over here, and that over there, and combine a couple of things and have my Ehle and Knightly combined… I’d be a happy P & P fan indeed.

Which movie versions do you like best? Anyone out there a fan of the 1940s version that thinks I should give it another chance?


  1. Jen says:

    I caught the 2005 version on tv the other night and I must say that I agree with you about Keira. She was great as Lizzie. I also love the ending so much better in that one. I thought the 1995 ending was sort of a let down after all the build up. HOWEVER-I definitely enjoyed the 1995 version so much better overall. LOVED it!!!!


  2. BBC Miniseries wins.

    Hands down.

    Everything else pales in comparison.


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