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Delightful collage: Pride and Prejudice

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LIVELY: Pride and Prejudice
LIVELY: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and PrejudiceGenre: Romance
Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Keira Knightly, Mathew MacFayden, Simon Wood, Rosamund Pike, Rupert Friend, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland and Judi Dench.
Storyline: The Bennets (especially Mrs. Bennet) try hard to find eligible husbands for their five daughters.
Bottomline: Fiction translated, partially!The latest celluloid version of "Pride and Prejudice" is one among several that have been made from Jane Austen's most memorable piece of fiction. Deborah Moggach wrote the screenplay, and Joe Wright framed that into what seems like a delightful collage of early 19th century England. The view is often breathtaking, and some of the outdoor shots remain in the "mind's eye" (to steal an idea from Wordsworth). Against this enchanting backdrop, Wright has chosen a cast of beautiful people; Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet sparkles, and although in the literary version, it is her sister Jane who is the beauty, the film is unashamedly partial to Lizzy.Well, obviously. Moggach and Wright have focussed on Elizabeth and her story of pride and prejudice, and the innumerable sub-plots that Austen wove into her masterpiece have either been ignored or clipped to a large extent. However, two have been retained, though in truncated versions: Bingley's (Simon Wood) affair with Jane (Rosamund Pike) and Wickham's (Rupert Friend) elopement with and subsequent marriage to Lydia Bennet have been retained ostensibly to embellish Darcy's (Mathew MacFayden) goodness and the softening of his arrogant pride.Despite this, Austen's analyses, even description, of the English society's intra-class conflict is sadly lacking in Wright's "Pride and Prejudice."

Drawing comparisons

Austen wrote in the late 1700s and early 1800s, but they were a virtual treatise of a social order that lived by sarcasm and the stiff upper lip. In these stories, she introduced and developed strong women characters whose wit and penchant for harmless mischief enlivened reading and took her books into a realm of fascination.An Austen fan would be disappointed with Wright's movie on this score, but he has kept in much of Lizzy's liveliness through Knightly, who at barely 20, refreshes our memory of a great Austen character. Elizabeth's fascinating humour coloured with her tempestuous vulnerability makes her performance worth a look in "Pride and Prejudice."Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland as Mr and Mrs Bennet offer an amusing contradiction to their five daughters. While Blethyn is a typical Austen hyper woman, Sutherland's end-of-the-film twist sets the tone for the feel-good conclusion. It is here that he moves us with his wonderfully restrained emotion that says how much he adores Lizzy. Austen, certainly. But MacFayden disappoints us by being much too wooden rather than proud, and loses the fine opportunity to create the right and growing chemistry with Knightly in a work that centres round the couple.GAUTAMAN BHASKARAN


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