Today I’m writing about Pride and prejudice, the 2005 movie directed by Joe Wright (who made Darkest Hour in 2017) starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. The story is obviously the one of Jane Austen’s book which was published in 1813, and tells us about the life of Elizabeth Swann before ending up in the Caribbean madly in love with the young pirate Will Turner… ah no, wait, that’s another Elizabeth!
In Pride and prejudice we follow Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and her family made up of her parents (the father is the legendary Donald Sutherland) and five daughters. The mother’s only concern is to find husbands for these five sisters in order not to be abandoned once widowed: without sons, a cold and sentimentally-distant nephew (Tom Hollander, who plays Beckett in the Pirates of the Caribbean saga) is destined to inherit the family’s properties. Moreover, at that time not having a husband was equivalent to a condemnation to a life of poverty, so all the family’s efforts were aimed at looking for candidates, possibly wealthy, for the five girls.
The eldest, Rosamund Pike, is according to everyone the most beautiful of the lot and falls in love with Simon Woods. Keira Knightley falls in love with the bored-to-death Matthew MacFayden. The youngest reads too many books to care about love, and one of the two other sisters, who are super-excited by the arrival of a contingent of soldiers among which to meet a husband, falls in love with Rupert Friend.
So, what’s the theme of Pride and prejudice? Clearly, love. But while the book analyzes the various types of love, in the film everything seems a little superficial. Yes, of course we the audience witness the passionate and love of the young, as well as the deep and stronger love which beats both pride and prejudices… but I think the film does not convey the messages of the novel with equal strength. It almost looks like Joe Wright wanted to resume all the themes of the novel in a two-hours film at the cost of making it look like a kind of “recap”. The movie adequately and competently revisits all the themes of the book, but without its depth or its strength, despite desperately reminding us every five minutes that pride and prejudices are responsible for many of the behavior of the protagonists.
Competent, and even something more, is the technical department of the film. The director uses all the techniques that he considers appropriate to accompany the various scenes: long takes for the lavish balls, tight shots and reverse shots for the most intense dialogues (there’s a beautiful scene with hand-held camera with Keira Knightley confronting the evil Judi Dench), steady shots with great depth of field of the wet English countryside… and the actors are all well directed. And the soundtrack is appropriate.
But … nothing more. I must admit that the film didn’t move me much, in contrast to the excellent Jane Eyre by Franco Zeffirelli (1996) and Sense and sensibility by Ang Lee (1995). Is it the director’s fault? Is it the plot’s fault? Is it my fault? I don’t know. In any case, it is a film worth watching, especially for fans of costume dramas/romances. Simply, in my opinion, there are better movies of the same genre out there. Ciao!