Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pride and Prejudice 1995

For many of us, this is the one that started it all.  Some of you read the book first, however many more of us were hooked by either the Colin Firth wet shirt version of 1995 or with the Keira Knightly muddy hem version of 2005 and then went on to read the amazing book.  The adaptation you saw first probably says more about your age than anything and it is probably the version you prefer. One of my former work colleagues actually disliked Colin Firth as Darcy (?!?!) and preferred the old BBC version from the 1980s.  It would seem that every generation needs its own Darcy.
So, with my own prejudice, I will start with my 1995 version.  This one got me through a long winter with a baby and a 3 year old as I videotaped it from television and just about wore out the tapes before I  could purchase the VHS videos.  Yes you young ones, this was before DVDs were widely available.  As a small aside, the VHS tapes had better colour (really noticeably) and were the perfect length at 1 hour each on 6 tapes.  The DVD is broken up as two 3 hour discs which one is tempted to watch all at once but all too often have to abandon mid disc when real life intrudes,  e.g. “Can I have a ride, Mom?” Honestly!

Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996)Well, Colin Firth was for me, the definitive Darcy.  He just owned the role and scenes like “the look” over the piano at Pemberley still make me swoon.  Certainly, it is not a perfect production, but there are so many perfect moments that the over all effect would make Miss Austen proud, I think.  Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennett is a little shrill, or a lot shrill depending on your tolerance level but the rest of the casting is spot on.  Jennifer Ehle has the confidence and playfulness to be quite believable as Lizzy, even if she was a little older than Lizzy.  I love the fact that Ehle and Firth had a fling while filming this.  Even she couldn’t resist Colin’s Mr. Darcy.  And I think that Benjamin Whitrow will never be equalled as Mr. Bennett.  When he kisses her forehead in his study near the end, it makes me wish my Dad was still around. 

At 300 minutes, the amazing Andrew Davies was able to make a script that really did justice to Jane Austen’s book without being too slavish.  He added some things and changed others to the benefit of the story.  However, at times such as the proposal scene at Hunsford, Miss Austen’s words are kept virtually intact and brought to life better than I could ever have imagined in my head. Colin Firth’s proposal “In vain I have struggled, it will not do.  My feelings will not be repressed.” is perfection.  In this production, even the minor characters like Mary Bennett, the Bingley sisters and Maria Lucas are done justice and really help us to be in the story.  Only at the very end does one wish that there were more time to spend with Lizzy and her Mr. Darcy before they drive off in their carriage.  There are actually some conversations between them at the end of the book which have never been dramatized. P&P 2015 perhaps?

I am surprised at how many men actually love this production.  But why shouldn’t they love Jennifer Ehle’s Elizabeth as much as we love Darcy, and the sheer magnificence of the production with it’s attention to detail, gorgeous sets and impeccable acting and direction should bridge the gender gap. The music is also very in tune with the entire production and brings it to life.

I am considering purchasing this new restored edition as my DVD edition has washed out color in it.  It was very surprising to me that my old VCR tapes gave better color than the DVDs.  I guess that is why they restored it.  If someone has this, please post and tell me if it is worth replacing my DVDs.  Mine are getting pretty warped and just about to be relegated to drink coasters as it is, but if this is better (or the Blu-ray), let me know.

In any case, this one is hard to beat and is very dear to the hearts of many viewers all over the world.  This is the one that really started the resurgence of Austen mania the world over.


  1. This is the first period drama i saw, aged eight and have I loved it ever since! Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is perfect! Everything about this version of P&P is wonderful and it is lovely to watch anytime especially with a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate on a rainy day or when you are feeling unwell. Sit back & fall in love with Mr. Darcy!

  2. You started early, although don't we all love a good fairytale romance at that age? I love your recommendation of a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate. That will be my next rainy day prescription I think!

  3. Hi Jenny,

    I'm glad you love my recommendation of having a cup of tea & eating a bar of chocolate while watching P&P! I watched P&P in 1997 which was the second time it was aired on TV in England & I was recovering from an operation so P&P was a nice distraction, although I fully understand the story at eight and like you said, we all love to escape with a lovely fairytale don't we? I love this version of P&P & the novel. :)

  4. I meant to say I didn't fully understand P&P, aged eight. I have also visited Lyme Park too!

  5. Yes, I think an eight year old would follow the basic story and understand the romance, but it probably wasn't until you were older to understand all of Jane Austen's great language. I wish this was on TV when I was eight. I bet it was a good distraction for you while you were healing.

    Did you get inside Lyme Park? We went on a Wednesday and the inside of the house was closed :( , although it wasn't used for the filming anyway but I still would love to have seen it.

  6. Hi Jenny,

    No, I didn't see the inside of Lyme Park I just saw the outside and enjoyed seeing all the parts of it that were used during filming. I think I was 10 when I went to visit Lyme Park & I loved imaging Colin Firth striding around his estate! Again, I love everything about this P&P, the actors, the costumes, the sets and the music are all perfect. Yes, Jenny watching P&P did help my recovery especially Colin Firth!

    When I bought it on video I watched it so much that the tapes started to wear out so a few years ago my parents bought it on DVD for me although they not Blu ray DVDs so I can't tell you whether they are worth buying.

    When I read the novel in my teens I was pleased to see how faithful the 1995 adaptation was to the novel. I strongly recommend this adaptation of P&P to anyone who hasn't seen it yet! It is my favourite version of P&P!

  7. yes it did indeed start everything for me as well. I am always on the outlook for something special just like PP was to me over a decade ago. God, what a crush I had on Colin Firth and how I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennet. I was not the only one I, was I.

  8. I've watched Pride and Prejudice today as it's cold and raining here. I haven't watched this adaptation in months so I thought I would treat myself and get comfy with my hot water bottle and Colin Firth!

    from Leeds x

  9. As I'm not feeling great, I am to rewatch Pride and Prejudice tonight with a nice warm drink.

  10. I have been looking for a very long time to find the score of a piano piece that Mary plays in the 1995 movie. I want to learn to play it.
    Can someone please tell me more about it? I believe it was written for the movie and is not a vintage classical piece.

    It is played Disk 2, Episode 6-chapter2 titled: A mistake in Pride 7 minutes into the video, 1 minute from the end.

    You hear it as a piano solo that is almost background music shortly after Lydia and Mr Wickham leave for their honeymoon.

    I have the audio version of it but need it as a score for piano.




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