Throwback Thursday: Pride and Prejudice (1940)

The reputation of an on-screen adaptation of a beloved novel is based on the response from the fanbase. It can also be a generational thing. While the original audience may adore that version, future generations may have another opinion.

The first time Pride and Prejudice hit the big screen was in 1940. With a screenplay co-written by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier played the roles of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. As in the book, misunderstandings turn into appreciation, which then turns into love.

Anyone who follows this blog (or knows me), knows that I have nothing but adoration and admiration for Jane Austen. Her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, is literary perfection. That being said, I cannot stomach this movie. The problem is twofold. The first is that I am missing Austen’s famous sardonic wit and sarcastic observations that elevate her stories beyond the standard romantic comedy or drama. The second is that the costumes are closer to the Victorian era than the Regency era.

I get that it was made during World War II and movie-goers at the time needed a pick me up. But I wish that the creative team had not taken as many liberties as they did.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Rate The Darcys

In 1813, Jane Austen introduced readers to Fitzwilliam Darcy, her most famous leading a man. In the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, he introduced as a proud, vain man who refuses to dance with the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. She was, as he told his friend, Charles Bingley “not handsome enough to tempt me”. He would soon admit that she had fine eyes. While the reader was being slowly cued into the fact that Darcy was falling in love with Elizabeth, she is unaware of his feelings.  Elizabeth, like the reader also does not fall in love with Darcy, until she learns about the true character of the man.

There  have been multiple adaptations of Pride And Prejudice over the years. With that, there have been multiple actors who have stepped into the shoes of Mr. Darcy.

Honorable Mentions

Pride and Prejudice (1940)- Laurence Olivier

For it’s era, this movie is fine.  Laurence Olivier is one of the finest actors this world has ever seen.  But there are too many changes from page to screen for this movie to be on the top 5.

Pride and Prejudice 2003-Orlando Seale

This movie and this modern portrayal of Darcy is admirable. But it only touches the surface of Pride and Prejudice.

Bride and Prejudice-2004-Martin Henderson

This colorful colorful Bollywood adaptation transfers the story from Georgian era England to modern day India. A good adaptation, which continues on the themes of class, sex and money.

5. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)-Daniel Vincent Gordh

A modern youtube adaptation, the audience is only told about Darcy until about half way through, until we finally meet him.  An enjoyable modern adaptation that is sure to bring in more Janeites for years to come.

4. Lost in Austen (2008)-Elliot Cowan

A what if story revolving around Amanda Price, who find herself trading places with Elizabeth Bennet. While Elizabeth enjoys modern life, Amanda becomes a character in Pride and Prejudice and must undo the changes that her presence creates. A funny, wink, wink, nudge nudge mini series that is unique among the Austen off shoots.

3. Death Comes Pemberley– 2013- Matthew Rhys

Based on the PD James novel, we meet Elizabeth and Darcy 6 years after the original novel ends. When a man is murdered on Darcy land, Darcy must step up to defend his family and his good name.

2. Pride and Prejudice 2005-Matthew Macfadyen

Darcy is presented in this adaptation as a man who knows his status in society, but also as a man who prefers a close circle of family and friends to a large room of strangers. He knows that he must marry well, but is not a fan of matchmaking mamas and their marriage hungry daughters.

1. Prejudice and Prejudice 1995/ Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)– Colin Firth

This was a given. Colin Firth will always been the favorite Mr. Darcy.

Who is your favorite Darcy

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