To celebrate this anniversary, I have decided to review a Pride and Prejudice themed book, film, or item at least once a month throughout the year.
One thing I decided to do was finally review Pride and Prejudice (1995) I was originally going to wait for its 30th anniversary but decided, why wait?
But before I can review the episodes, I decided to first read and review The Making of Pride and Prejudice (1995), a book that was included with my special DVD box set.
The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Britwistle & Susie Conklin
What I found extremely interesting was that the spark to creating one of the best adaptions of Jane Austen all came about due to Northanger Abbey. Isn’t that cute? Sue Bristwhistle (producer) and Andrew Davies (writer) were watching a screening of one of the worst Jane Austen adaptions, Northanger Abbey (1986), when Andrew Davies broached the topic of creating a filmed version was the catalyst to one of the mose beloved Jane Austen adaptions.
Although it wasn’t easy. The book begins with Sue Bristwhistle sharing how it took quite a bit of time to garner the interest and how they had to face off against people who didn’t think it would come out well.
I really enjoyed this book as it is extremely detailed from every step of creating it: scriptwriting, casting, costumes, locations, editing, makeup, filming, food, editing, sound mixing, PR, etc. It’s really worth it for any Austen fan and Pride and Prejudice (1995) fan.
There were a few things I absolutely enjoyed reading in this book. First Andrew Davies thoughts on writing the script. He has said that he loved the book, it was one of his favorites and you can see how much he adores it and is a fan in this. I love how he points out the cleverness of Austen’s writing and how great she is at plotting her works.
I feel like most studios struggle with this when it comes to adapting Jane Austen works and this seems to be the biggest complaint Austen fans make about the adaptions. Studios slice too much and important plot points are lost, characters are nonexistent, and crucial scenes of the novels are now flat in the film.
I do feel that this is something that makes this adaptions superior to many others, Andrew Davies really loved the original work and did his most to try and keep Austen’s spirit; while at the same time trying to make sure he had something that would appeal to all viewers.
One thing I really appreciate is that Davies wanted to give us a view into the men of the novel and as to what they think and do. With a novel you have more leeway to have a mysterious character, fully based on what our main characters view then as; but in a TV show most people want to know more about these people and who they are if they are planning to come back every week to watch.
Also the Pemberley diving in scene is such a crucial scene to understanding and. Darcy we we finally see him wiping away the structures of society and instead being able to really “be” himself.” And of course has been a fan favorite.
The casting chapter I also found very interesting as it is so important to find the right people for period pieces.
I 100 percent agree. I feel like this a problem today where studios hire people who the think will draw views, even though they just don’t work for the drama. They look or act too modern and make everything feel out of place.
Colin Firth had to dye his hair because he is a blonde, I’m surprised as he looks so good with dark hair.
One of my favorite parts was on the costuming. It was so interesting to read how they had to make all the costumes and get the prints designed and printed on the fabric. A lot of clothes from the previous adaptations were in terrible condition or didn’t work. It was absolutely fascinating and makes sense why the clothes are constantly reused by the studio.
There is a section with Colin Firth where he describes his journey to the role and experiences filing and I loved it! In fact it reminded me of my own journey to Jane Austen. I also find it interesting that Firth felt he wasn’t sexy enough when comparing himself to Laurence Olivier. He was extremely afraid everyone would just compare the two and find him lacking. It’s amazing to think of when Olivier isn’t as remembered as Colin Firth. It’s like he threw down a reverse UNO.
I highly recommend this for any Austen fans as I think you will really enjoy it, especially if you love the 1995 adaption.
So first of all, sorry for the long title. I usually try to make them shorter than that but decided to not only share my experience on being on the podcast, but to review an episode as well.
So a few weeks ago I was sent a message by Allie Jennings asking if I wanted to be a part of their podcast, being a guest for their Northanger Abbey (2007) episode. At first I wasn’t sure it was real, as I have recently been receiving a lot of scammy messages from sites asking me to be a rep or to collaborate with them, but of course nothing comes to fruition or they want me to pay for things.
But then I took a look over their profile and decided to message them back. We set up a time and I was extremely excited to be a guest on their podcast.
—Being a Guest on the Podcast—
We set up a time so that we could record and I was looking forward to being a part, but I was also a bit nervous. What if I freeze up, lose my train of thought, or repeat myself? All I could think of was game shows when they have people on and they are forever known as the person who gave the world’s dumbest answer.
But all my fears disappeared once we started talking. Allie and Mia immediately made me feel comfortable and I even forgot we were being recorded. I had such a great time discussing Jane Austen, rom-coms, JJ Feild, and Northanger Abbey with them. Mia and Allie are not only fun, charming, and easy to talk to; but extremely talented and very professional. The whole experience felt like being with friends and discussing your favorite things.
Their format is very fun and inviting as well. First they pick a rom-com character they are channeling, share a synopsis of the film they are reviewing, give background trivia on the film, discuss the film and the characters, and end it with a reality check and a trope countdown. It’s a lot of fun and well structured, but also leaves room to let the conversation flow naturally.
We had a few technical difficulties, I blame myself (electronics always go wrong around me.) But whoever did the editing did an amazing job, you couldn’t even tell we had any issues.
I listened to the podcast and was happy that only a couple of times I ran on a bit (when I was losing my train of thought), and I did repeat myself a few times, but on the whole I did a lot better than I thought I would. All together it was a wonderful experience and I loved every moment of it.
If you are interested in listening you can look them up on their podcast or you can click on the link here.
—Review of Podcast Episode, Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001) featuring Nick Casalini and Muriel Montgomery—
I had listened to their Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Persuasion (1996), both of which I enjoyed, and I encourage you to check out. But instead of reviewing those I decided to go down a different path. During the podcast we were talking about Northanger Abbey and the subject came up that I’ve slowly been introducing my niece to Jane Austen through films. We started with Sense and Sensibility (1995) and then this year watched Northanger Abbey (2007). I’m trying to decide what to do for next year when the ladies suggested that we watch Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Ooof, I don’t like that film or the book. I don’t hate it, it is more like I just don’t get it. I feel like Tom Hanks’ character in Big when he’s at the toy demo.
My friend loved it and we had watched it together, but I was not into it and I still don’t understand why people are. But after hearing Mia and Allie share how much they like it, I decided to give their episode a listen. This podcast feature guest stars Nick Casalini and Muriel Montgomery from Hella in Your Thirties.
So first of all I was laughing so much listening to this. Nick Casalini was so funny as a lot of things he said, went with my thoughts on why I don’t like the film. The only thing I do not agree with is his opinion that Colin Firth is not attractive.
All I wanted to do was forcefully take Nick in a barouche and explain to him why he is an amazing actor and a truly handsome man. Just kidding! (Or am I? LOL of course I am I don’t have a barouche.)
One of the best things I like about this podcast is that unlike some other film reviews where you feel they have a certain view or thought about the film that the review is headed toward, in this it is very free flowing and allows for a difference of opinion and for all views to be considered. I really enjoy that as it feels so often that people want your thoughts to follow theirs, I like when there is that allowance of all views.
Both Allie and Mia agreed that Bridget Jones, while a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, is not a good version of it, and that it would be better to separate it from being a Jane Austen adaption. This did improve my thoughts on the film, as while I still am not a fan of the film, after listening to their thoughts on the movie I better understand why people like it.
Bridget Jones is a regular person trying to do better, but as hard as she tries, she usually ends up in more of a mess. I have to say I do like that Bridget is an ordinary woman. She typically is dressed in clothes that one would buy off the rack and she isn’t always picture perfect. I really like the scene when she tried to be like Grace Kelly in the convertible but ends up with her hair in a mess, because that is sooo relatable. One trope I find super annoying is when you have this gorgeous woman who is always dressed perfectly with clothing and hair but she’s “unattractive.” I liked in this that Renee is her usual pretty self but she also has an attainable style, she doesn’t always look perfect and stylish and she doesn’t look as if she spent hours on her hair and makeup when the film stated she didn’t.
It was also nice to hear how this film impacted Mia and Allie; along with listening to their love of something they enjoyed from their childhood. And I loved Nick’s comments at the more absurd scenes, it was hilarious.
One thing I was sad about was that they didn’t talk about the only scene I love from the film, the cooking of the blue soup for the dinner party. That is the only scene I would be willing to watch over and over.
But whether you enjoy the film they talk about or not, you are going to enjoy their podcast. These ladies are so much fun!
So as I have been saying in every post, I have been planning my Jane Austen 29th birthday party for a few years (it was originally supposed to be my 27th birthday celebration but things happened); and I was finally able to have it.
So originally I had planned for three games, but I ended up doing four. The first game I had wanted to play a type of guess who game where I gave an Austen character to each party guest. I planned for each to have a short bio of their character along with a list of characters everyone else was going to be. I planned for each to act out their character, the first person to get someone to guess them right would receive a prize. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but then my sister and mother pointed out that the people attending were not really Austen fans.
Yes it turned out that all my friends who had actually read or watched Austen’s works were unable to come and the friends that were attending had very limited exposure to Jane Austen. So it was back to the drawing board .
My next thought was that I would do a game that was more of “Who Am I?” I would give everyone a list of characters and then I would read out a short bio of each character and they would have to match up who goes with which storyline. I thought this would be easier and I could do it either before or after the trivia game, that way it would help people get a boost in answering one of the games.
But when I presented it to my mom and sister, they both still thought it would be too hard. So it was back again to try and come up with a new idea.
I decided to shelve it altogether and instead work on the Jane Austen Trivia game I had planned. I sat down and wrote it up, but then when I looked it back over, I realized it was too hard. I ended up throwing it out and starting all over again.
So I rewrote it, and then this time it was far too easy. I thought if I used it then everyone would be a winner. That one joined the other in the trash.
I did a few more drafts and then finally settled on one that I thought wasn’t too hard, but also not too easy.
However, it still appears that I made it too hard as everyone said it was really difficult.
My friend who won got 9/15 questions correct and chose prize three. I will attach the Trivia file below and let me know what you think. Was it too hard? Too easy? Or do you think just right?
So if you have been following me, you know I have been super excited about Modesto Jane Con. The past eight years I have seen pictures from different Jane Con’s and wishing I could go-but they were not possible for me to attend as it always came down to a problem of time, money, work, etc. Instead I had to be content with seeing pictures on social media.
But then there was a light in the darkness! On my instagram popped up a post about a Jane Con in Modesto! Modesto! I could go to Modesto!
No horror-glee and happiness instead!
From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!
Your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).
That was it, I was going! And I convinced my book club + my sister to join me. I scrounged around for a costume (I’ll post on that later) and made sure to bring a notebook to take copious notes on the workshop and opera-to of course post on them later (as I am now).
So the first workshop of the day was Gowns & Groans. After that you had your choice of The Definitive Darcy or Start You Own Book Club.
I was excited for this workshop as there are so many adaptions of Pride and Prejudice, oh this will be so much fun! I mean you have a ton of Regency Darcys to choose from:
AND a ton of modern adaptions (and yes I know the above has a picture of Darcy from Bride and Prejudice. I didn’t make the image):
And let’s not forget-we aren’t just looking at Darcy. We are also trying to define the definitive Elizabeth.
This workshop was run by Erin E. Connor and Melissa Ruzika:
Why is Mr. Darcy such a big deal and why are we wild about Lizzie? Join JASNA Central California executive committee members Erin and Melissa as they delve into Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, and its three most popular film adaptions. Bring your own opinions and take sides in a friendly debate as to who is the definitive Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
Erin E. Conor is a lifelong Jane Austen fan. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and serves as member-at-large on the Executive Committee for the Central California region of JASNA. Her favorite Austen novel is Emma, and her favorite Austen inspired film is Austenland.
Melissa Ruzika is a long time JASNA member and Central California Region Executive Committee member. Her knowledge of Jane Austen and her works is deep, and Melissa is known for being an acute observer of JA in popular culture with solid textual backing for her opinions.
Debate you say? Okay:
So one of the nicest things that Connor and Ruzika had with their workshops were handouts and a paddle with the Firth and Macfayden Darcys to engage the crowd in the debate in order so that everyone could be heard.
Connor and Ruzika started off with Historical Context, discussing what the Regency period was. You can click on the link above for more information, but a brief overview:
Crazy King George III (sorry I’m American) had to take a step down from ruling as he was suffering from a disease (believed to be porphyria) that made him mad, and his son had to become Prince Regent.
The Regency Period is believed to be 1795-1837, with the Prince Regent ruling from 1811-1820. When King George died in 1820, the Prince became King.
There was the Industrial Revolution in the North (Any North & South fans out there? It is set in the Victorian time period but shows the difference between the industrial North and the Countryside South extremely well.)
There was serious class division, with an emerging middle class (The Gardiners who reside in Cheapside
From there we got a quick overview of the book Pride and Prejudice as Connor & Ruzika had provided a handout from Playful Paths to Love and one from shmoop to give us a better idea on how rich Darcy would be today. We (book club, sister, and I) really loved that as while I am the serious Janeite, the rest of the group isn’t. One member of our group had never even read the book or seen any of the movies, only having read The Darcy Monologues for our book club. I’m not sure about the rest of the crowd, but I am certain that there had to be some others who were grateful for the refresher.
And even if you know the story frontwards and backwards, it is one that I never get tired of hearing.
We then had a brief discussion of Pride and Prejudice (1940), but they didn’t spend that much time on it. They later explained that they felt that not that many people have seen it (or liked it), and I understand time is limited.
But as we have time, I’m throwing the trailer in here. It may not be accurate, but still is a great film and the first P&P adaption I ever saw. Plus LAURENCE OLIVIER! *Sigh*
I wish we could have looked at all the depictions, but that would have taken too much time. Although I’d be down for it.
Anyways-we then moved onto the debate. Colin Firth versus Matthew MacFayden, Jennifer Ehle versus Keira Knightley, Simon Langton versus Joe Wright, BBC versus Universal, etc.
Fight, fight, fight! (from Jane Austen Fight Club)
So starting with the trailers:
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
So now that we have seen the trailers, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So after they discussed each facet they had us hold up our paddles to determine who won.
I’m in this photo.
Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who won each scene:
So I’ll just put my thoughts at the end.
Round 1: Mr. Collins, Tom Hollander Vs. David Bamber
I know a lot of people love that scene, and I admit that I love Hollander’s stone faced delivery, however, it never really struck me as much as it does everyone else.
For Bamber they showed him trying to dance. But the scenes that really sell me on Mr. Collins is when they are getting ready for the ball and he runs into Lydia, and the Mr. Collins wave. Those scenes are priceless!
IMO Winner: P&P (1995) David Bamber
Round 2: Sexy Darcy, Hand Clench Vs Firth in Bathtub & the Wet Shirt Scene
So the hand clench scene, I understand it but I don’t go crazy over it. First of all, as Doiel said in Gowns and Groans, they should have been wearing gloves. And not to be rude-but to me it always looks like his hand has a spasm. That’s just my view, if you love this scene then love it. I actually like this scene better.
So they started off with the Meryton Ball in 2005. Now I don’t really care for it as I am mostly distracted by how Caroline Bingley forgot to put a real dress on, she looks as if she is in a chemise not a gown. I never cared for how casual the Bennet sisters look as Mrs. Bennet most definitely would be wanting the girls to be more dressed up in order to snag a husband. It is lively, but I don’t care for the interactions between the characters:
Now the 1995 version is more subdued, but I like the costume choices better, and to me I like that it is concentrated on small scenes (Bingley & Jane along with Darcy & Elizabeth) with not so much going on in the background.
IMO Winner: P&P (1995)
Round 4: Romantic Aesthetic Vs. Accuracy
So Pride and Prejudice (2005) has a lot of romantic elements. You have these big scenic panoramas, Elizabeth on the cliff, Darcy and Elizabeth in the neoclassical building when he proposes (1st time), and the slow walk along the field in the early dawn (2nd proposal). This I personally don’t like, as Connor and Ruzika said, it is very Bronte-esque, but that is my biggest problem. Jane Austen is not Jane Bronte. And I really don’t like the scene where he finds her in the rain, as how did he know she would be there? And the field scene, they just happen to be there at the same time? Besides one of my favorite parts is at the end of the book when Mr. Darcy comes around with Bingley and Elizabeth is doing all she can to try and get his attention and figure out a way to talk to him, but is thwarted and unsure. And that longing and loss of hope-just gets me every time, will they get together ?!
And “Your hands are cold” I’ve always disliked that line as I feel it just kills the mood.
With me I love the accuracy of the mini-series, but of course there are things added in, like the Lake scene. But one of my favorite is when they are getting ready for the ball and the interaction between the sisters and Mr. Collins.
IMO Winner: P&P (1995)
Round 5: Bennet Family, “Behave Naturally” Vs. “Meet the Bennets”
So to get a view into the different relationships with the Bennet sisters, they used the “Behave Naturally” scene from P&P (2005). This is a great scene, even I love it.
The scene they chose from the P&P (1995) version is also a great scene. You really get the family dynamic in this one.
IMO Winner: Tie
Round 5: Darcy’s Flirtation, Sisterly Help Vs. Hungry Eyes
So with 2005, they chose the scene in which Elizabeth goes to Pemberley and meets Georgiana. It is a good scene as we get a new view of him from the servants, how he interacts with Georgiana, and that Darcy has been talking about her quite a bit with his sister. However, I have always hated Elizabeth skulking around and that peeping tom camera angle. I know it is partly because they had to combine different parts of the book for time limit, but her looking through the door gives me Norman Bates Psycho vibes.
For the 1995 version, they used a fan made video of Darcy staring and Hungry Eyes playing. That video is AMAZING but my favorite flirtation scene is when Darcy goes to see Elizabeth when she is staying at the Collins’ house, and Darcy comes to visit her and just stares or stares out the window because he doesn’t know what to say.
IMO Winner: P&P (1995)
So in my opinion there is a clear winner between Firth & Ehle versus Macfayden & Knightley:
But as for Jane Con? Everyone who had a paddle held it up and it came out to be 18-18
But then someone brought up the fact that not everyone had a paddle so they had us stand and count. The final result came out to be…………………………….
22-20 in favor of………
Yes Modesto Jane Con 2020 Declared Colin Firth as the Definitive Mr. Darcy.
So we all loved this workshop. They were fun, informative, interactive, and in the end we all could agree whether you love the 1995 or 2005 version, we all love Pride and Prejudice.
The only thing I would love more is if we looked at the other Darcy’s from films and TV shows, although I understand that wouldn’t be possible in one hour. I also would like to know who they think the worst Darcy is. I personally think it is the one in Austentatious (2015), which ugh, I still have to finish watching.