updating a classic
this post has spoilers.

2005 pride and prejudice

they say shakespere has a female counterpart: jane austen. i totally agree. that's why when hollywood decided to seize her "pride and prejudice" from BBC's miniseries mill, i just had to see it.

the problem with me's that i had the book in line to read as a sophomore college student, but i never got past elizabeth's musings about some ball, i can't remember if i stopped after the first ball just when she was about to meet darcy for the first time. all i remember's that austen's language is beautiful, but i had thomas beckett waiting and due two weeks before any sort of book report on any novel.

and if you do that to books, put them down in lieu of other stories, most likely you'll be siezed so far away, and before you know it, it might be too late for that book to contribute to your A. ahaha. so all i could do is compare this movie to the BBC version.

what the movie took away from the BBC version is elizabeth's long, quiet walks, even as the movie opened with her finishing a book. filmmakers used her observant attitude to introduce us to her world: she entered her family's grounds through the back door, cluttered with laundry, swans, open waters of what looks like dug-up foundations of an unfinished back part of their house. from the front, we see a modest 2-story house, crowded with servants, farm animals, just about ready to fall apart for housing five energetic daughters and their parents. the patriarch looks just about as tired as the house, even as he is still strong enough to house them all.

isn't that the mark of a middle-class family - i remember austen mentioning them not being rich, but they were well-respected. there is a scene where elizabeth swings from an old swing hanging under a gate at another part of their back yard - again, cramped and cluttered with animals (alternately cows, pigs, chickens), small ladders, straw, carts and servants. the small back yard opens into fields. we get the sense of yet more unfinished projects left by mr. and mrs. bennett because it just had become too cumbersome to complete when there's more pressing matters - children, their education, their feeding and upkeep of servants and a household.

it's at this point i wondered if the movie were trying to communicate that the true unfinished project is elizabeth herself. while twirling on the swing, her good friend charlotte visits and gives her the news - she's marrying mr. collins, who elizabeth had just rejected not too long ago. she declares she doesn't have that many prospects, that she can't afford to be choosy, that she's already 27 and a burden to her parents. "don't judge me," charlotte protests. this ends any more words from elizabeth. she twirls again on her swing.

how many relationships end is with tears and a journey. but in this case, the journeys actually seem to become activities to meet other realities that helped elizabeth know exactly what she wants. many middle children are ignored unless things happen to their friends. her sister jane goes off to london to visit her aunt and uncle, in the hopes of meeting her prospect bingley. elizabeth goes to kent to visit her friend charlotte. it's at kent that darcy proposes to her and when all things fall apart, he leaves kent first but not before writing to her, trying to explain everything.

the scene lingers on a speeding darcy running away on his horse, just as elizabeth reads his letter. later, when darcy and bingley visit the bennetts and bingley proposes to jane, elizabeth is shown sitting at the roots of a tree and darcy is walking away. i know i would do the same thing. sit under a tree, that is. ahaha.

i could also relate to her visiting darcy's estate and finally seeing the life he truly lives - things she could only imagine are actually real in his life. he has a talented sister who was playing the same piano piece she barely tinkered with while visiting his aunt. who wouldn't be embarrassed when faced with what could have been?

i read somewhere that jane austen set about writing the times of her life - she didn't want to create realities, she wanted to document them as they were. i imagine if she were a political commentator, she would have left anne coulter in the dust. if she would have been a journalist, she would have left cokie roberts running for cover.

but she chose to write novels, fortunately. in the BBC version, elizabeth would have been content to remain single all her life, except that there's darcy and she can't stand "knowing that he is in the world and thinking ill of" her. in the hollywood version, there's collins and her family and her own ambitions clamoring for attention all at once.

so it got annoying at this point in the story, very bridget jones, very cosmopolitan. she's achieved all that she's supposed to at that point in her life - friends, family, education, travels. but then, everyone else is moving along ahead of her. i like to think that it's not just women who run into this brick wall, guys also do, and with them it's worse because at least we admit it whereas they... um... they... well... they don't. ahahahaha.

we can say that she has all this but the one thing she really wants, but what i found interesting in the film is that that "one thing" isn't explicitly stated. i wonder if the film wanted to say that before she could even find out for herself, she's assailed by social rules that forced her to consider marriage above all else.

what i also really liked about the film is that if the roles were changed - if it was darcy that looked into that mirror and not elizabeth, if it was darcy that couldn't sleep that night and walked to longborn from pemberly, the story would still have been believable. because they both looked in a mirror, only darcy wrote his thoughts down. and they both walked across the cold english countryside in the dawn, only the camera followed elizabeth as she met darcy. ;-)

favorite moments in the film:

3) all the scenes with the sunrises (which is a cool touch, no one remembers the sunrise, ahahaha);

2) all the dance scenes (everyone loves a good party);

1) the moment she says that sisterly love is destroyed if you see your older siblings out and you can't party with them. coz we all know, around the age of ten onwards, unless you are a sister and have good relations with them, you just want to kill them. ahahaha.

stamford as meryton
*sigh*... someday i'm going to england. and then i can see all those hills and misty dawns and ruins of old houses and castles and cold, green mornings for myself. hay. ahahahaha
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