Pride and Prejudice: A Comparison of Literature to Film Adaptation

Ambition begins for any film producer the moment he decides to take literature from it's pages and showcase it on screen. What's important is not to criticize the film for what is lacking but instead to realize why the film was adapted as it was. Pride and Prejudice does for a wonderful romance novel, even though there's a catch to Austen's satirical humor on marriage and class structures. As a movie the film does as such to emphacize on the romance because sex sells. And yes you might be right that it would be hard to give angst to a movie that's set in the 19th Century but you can be assured that it has been done. Anybody catch that one awkward scene with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth when they positively looked like they were about to jump one another? The actors and film makers themselves assure that there was a certain sexual tension between the two with the hand up to the carriage and certain close scenes. But why? Anyone can imagine that within Austen's contextual world propriety would have been of the first importance just behind manners and all other social designs. Not that I want to focus on the sex here, I do understand that at some point the film makers do have to sell tickets and although the ending is enough to make my heart melt there's an audience out there that desires a little more.
But beyond that I want to focus on the transformation of literature to film. Each has their own art within them and what I was most impressed with was the way in watch Austen's humor and literary style were translated in a way to still give character to the film. I'm glad the dialogue did not change much, which marked the tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy well enough to make the narrative insight unneccessary. The film did not do justice to Pride and Prejudice as a satire but again that would be a pretty lofty acheivement. There were some undertones to suggest that Elizabeth fit outside the social standards in her refusal to marry anybody but a person she loved. The characters really had to step up to bat without Austen's narrative and I found that while some of the actors hit the mark others fell short. Jane, instead of representing her kind and shy character, was shown as bland and easily unnoticeable. Mr. Bingley, failed to show some of the humor and offhandedness that was offered in the novel but he still had an endearing smile. I understand Mr. Darcy would have been a hard attempt considering he must first be hostile and proud but then show that instead of pride he was shy and uncomfortable in outward settings. The actor seemed a little awkward for me, his valedictions of love almost missing the point. I especially enjoyed the shrewdness of Elizabeth's character that made it to screen. I could do without all the close shots of Keira Knightley's face, especially when I found them to be extremely unflattering since her eyes seemed to be blank but I think that was more to emphacize the actor's status instead of the character's in the film.

What I did appreciate more than anything else in the film was the one scene where Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy are together practicing for Mr. Bingley to ask for Jane's hand. The scene was especially endearing and offered a closeness of friendship between the two that is not really shown in the book. The closeness between Jane and Elizabeth is also wonderful with the under the cover scene because it represented an intimacy that is also hinted by Austen but again rarely represented. I am sorry to say that as a female and also a student I very much appreciated the film, but then again with Austen I always have a terrible tendency to flip to the back of the book to give myself an assurance of character matches. But who can help it when you're offered a 19th Century film with beautiful scenery and mannerisms that you can't find in the 20th Century? Audiences have a romantic fascination for 19th Century Britain with all it's nobility and class and social structures. I could make a point that 19th Century American Literature is not emphacized half as much though I do need to recognize that the cultural contexts are different. I just find it ironic that what today's audiences are plaguing upon is exactly what Austen was arguing against. Austen has a clear voice that is dead sent on representing the absurdity of matrimony and class which work together as an almost game. This voice really does not translate well within the characters even though Mrs. Bennett was given the opportunity in the book but fell short in the film by perhaps overexaggerating the character and making her so frivolous that... wait... okay... so maybe the actress did well in giving off the sillyness of character but I still feel that something was lacking. Mr. Bennett really could have stepped up more to contrast with his wife.

I do have to say I did love the film and did enough to bring out my imagination of what the film would be even though Austen's character is only the slightest murmer when in the literature shows her voice to be a humorous outcry that can not be ignored.

This preview is an interesting piece to share because I realize that instead of marketing the romance of the story, the focus is actually on the humor and triviality on the story which sort of brings back Austen's voice. I even caught a sexual innuendo from Mr. Collins that was before disregarded as another of his terrible speeches! It's just curious that the filmmakers took this approach to the story when I certainly assumed they would reach for the romance.

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