It’s hard to know where to begin talking about a story that’s been so long in my mind and has many interpretations. This time it’s the 2005 film adaptation of the famous novel by Jane Austen. I had already seen the Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson 1940 version here and loved it as a kid so by the time I reached my teens and studied the novel as one of our set exam books, it still fascinated me. I never watched this 2005 version when it came out because that was the year my last baby was born and it was only when my mother gave Tween the dvd earlier this year that we watched it together. My Tween has watched it on average once a month since! She loves it so much! I hadn’t rushed to get the dvd before even though I was curious about how the story was presented because I wasn’t too keen on Keira Knightley at the time plus along with millions of others, I was stuck on the infamous TV serialisation in 1995 featuring Colin Firth that basically launched his career. How could there be any improvement on him as Fitzwilliam Darcy? I’m loving the contrast between the two families of the Bennets and Bingleys. I love the interiors as much as the costumes.Caroline Bingley. You know if she were a woman of today she’d have the latest everything.Her brother who was very well played by Simon Woods.Poor Elizabeth Bennet looks positively shabby by comparison. The fateful meeting with the dashing Mr Wickham.At the ball. The contrast couldn’t be more stark. On the dancefloor. I reminded my children that in those days balls were everything socially: entertainment, meeting up with families and friends, an opportunity to meet potential husbands and wives and basically the only acceptable way for women to enjoy themselves in company outside of the home. There were no other opportunities to meet people outside of their family and circle of friends since they did not work and often weren’t even educated like their brothers. The hilarious proposal by Mr Collins. Elizabeth starts to reassess her beliefs after her best friend Charlotte accepts Mr Collins as her husband instead.On a visit to Charlotte, they have dinner with the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Patroness to Mr Collins and Aunt to Mr Darcy.The formal, dark, opulent and stifling interior in contrast with the other homes. Dame Judi Dench played this role to perfection I thought. Doesn’t she look glorious?I had to explain to my children about the etiquette of how men and women arranged themselves indoors! It is during this visit that Darcy blurts out his first marriage to Elizabeth who enjoyed turning him down.Finding herself on holiday in the grounds of Pemberley, Darcy’s home and estate. A chance to perhaps dwell a little on what might have been. It is here that she learns of Lydia’s running away with Mr Wickham.The last few scenes where Bingley returns to propose to Jane, the showdown between Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth and of course Darcy himself walking through the dawn mist are my favourites. OK, so we have to admit that there’s no point trying to top Colin Firth’s wet shirt scene so what to do? Something perhaps more realistic and more powerful for it. In the context of the era, Mr Darcy is practically naked here, no waistcoat, no collar and cravat – his shirt open exposing bare chest – and his top coat flying open, is about as undone as a man could be in those days.Elizabeth is no better, she had rolled out of bed and simply grabbed a dressing gown still in her nightdress to wander outside. I love the gesture of taking Darcy’s hand and kissing it. To me this shows not only her true love and affection but her respect, admiration and gratitude for his saving her foolish sister, Lydia and therefore her entire family from social ruin. I really couldn’t go into detail about the implications of this with my children sadly so it will have to wait until they’re older. And you know what by this time, Mr Darcy looks so much more appealing than at the start. I think it’s the dishevelled hair or perhaps the undone shirt? It remains one of my favourite novels of all time and a joy to watch – I even warmed to Keira!
Thanks for reading!