Web-exclusive Review: How to find the perfect ‘Pride and Prejudice’

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In its 200th anniversary, this classic book-turned-movie is still perfect

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald

Oh, February: the month when all the adorable couples pull out every romantic movie ever made and all the single people go to their respective corners to play Xbox or eat chocolate. Surprisingly enough, there is a movie that all of these people should watch and enjoy: “Pride and Prejudice.”

Now, before the single men go running back to the safety of “Dead Space 3” (yes, I know, it’s brand new!), let me just say that if you want a date with a human woman this Valentine’s, inviting that hot chick over for an evening of “Pride and Prejudice” is a sure way to go.

For all you single women crying and eating chocolate in your pajamas, a little bit of Mr. Darcy will brighten your world. And, naturally, for all the couples, this movie is a must.

For those who don’t know the story at all (I’m looking at you, poor, uncultured men), here’s your cheat sheet, so you can impress the lady love of your life.

Elizabeth Bennet lives with an overbearing mother, an absent-minded father and four sisters in early 19th century England. Jane, the eldest, is the prettiest and Lydia, the youngest, is silly and flirty. The other two are irrelevant. The wealthy, single Mr. Bingley moves to town with his sister and his friend Mr. Darcy, who is even richer and also single. Jane and Mr. Bingley hit it off, while Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy can’t stand each other.

The book/movie proceeds from there with all the twists, comedy and passion of an endearing romantic tale, complete with Kitty’s scandalous elopement and the arrival of the Bennet family’s creepy cousin.

With that plot, you should promptly be heading to the college library to rent the movie, but once there, you discover there are multiple versions. What do you do when your girlfriend asks which your favorite is, your crush asks which version you rented, or you really just want to ogle over the most attractive Darcy? Don’t worry. Here’s the breakdown so you can impress all your peeps and get the best “Pride and Prejudice” experience.

The first version, directed by Robert Z. Leonard, was made in 1940. You can expect the voluptuous-figured women of the ‘40s complete with pin-curled hair, ridiculously fake eyelashes and sultry voices. Their gowns are poufy, covered in bows, and show the least amount of skin possible, looking suspiciously like characters from “Gone with the Wind.” Mr. Darcy, portrayed by Laurence Olivier, isn’t horrible looking, but honestly, it’s hard to drool over a man who died 24 years ago. The screenplay was written by Aldous Huxley, author of the classic Brave New World, so you can expect scenes to be changed or completely altered compared to the later versions.

Welcome to 1980. Yes, unfortunately, even Elizabeth Bennet couldn’t escape the frizzy pomp of bangs the ‘80s heralded with pride. While the plot is accurate and fun to watch unfold, especially with Mr. Darcy’s manly jaw and dark pools of eyes, it is really difficult to fall in love with this six-hour long movie. This may be one to leave to those viewers who loved the ‘80s because otherwise, I think the hair on the Bennet girls’ heads should stay hidden in the past.

The most timeless is the 1995 Colin Firth version. Naturally, ladies, who doesn’t love Firth as Mr. Darcy? The biggest problem I have with this film is in order to enjoy the magnificence of this movie, I have to spend 300 minutes of my life on it. The plot is thorough, to say the least, and it contains the famous “Darcy in the water” scene.

This is that movie, boys. If you’ve seen it or suggest it, the ladies will love you. It’s a classic and it gives you plenty of time with the love of your life. If I had the time, this is the version that I would always choose, and I think many women would agree.

Lastly, there is the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley. I love this version because of the attractiveness or star quality of all the actors: Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Donald Sutherland and Rosamund Pike to name a few. This movie is a doable two hours, but with that short amount of time, much of the plot is lost.

More problematic than that is director Joe Wright’s apparent fascination with filling up the movie with artistic shots of Elizabeth Bennet on a tire swing, on a cliff, or staring in a mirror. The first time it’s charming, but for girls like me who watch this movie about once a month, I just want to punch Wright for wasting my time. But for all the single boys out there, if the date with your crush doesn’t work out, at least you got to spend your night watching Knightley.

So, with that, I leave you to go find your perfect “Pride and Prejudice,” because “nobody don’t like ‘Pride and Prejudice’!”

Contact Gabrielle Fitzgerald, features editor, at gfitzge1@jccc.edu.

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