Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Page-to-Screen: Pride and Prejudice

Confession time, BuzzReaders. When I was young I hated reading. Wait, let me correct that, I thought I hated reading. Secretly, I loved books like Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High, and Nancy Drew (yay for the upcoming movie, by the way). But I thought those books didn't count. They weren't the kind of books we had to read in school so they must not have been worth very much.

Fast forward to my freshman year in college. I'm trudging through my first semester of Lit Hum (a mega-intense year-long literature class all Columbia students have to take). We get through the Bible, Sophocles, and St. Augustine (oh the painful memories). I go to the next book on the list. It has a lovely painting of a young girl in a pearls and an ephemeral gown on the cover. Hmm, this looks promising.

That night in my dorm room I read Pride and Prejudice cover to cover. Jane Austen made me a writer that night because I realized that books could be both fun and valuable--though I have of course come to realize that value is entirely subjective. When I first saw the previews for the BBC production of P&P my heart thudded. I didn't know any of the cast (at the time) but I knew--just knew--it was going to be the best movie I ever saw.

I diligently recorded the first airing, meticulously pausing over the commercials. (Yes, these were the days before Tivo.) During the course of the six hour-long episodes I remember marveling at every break that there was still so much more to go. Then Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy dove into that pond and emerged with his shirt plastered to his chest and I forgot how to breath.
Jennifer Ehle was a delightful Lizzie, exactly the sort of girl I would want to be if I live in Regency England. She could hold her own against terrifying rich matrons like Lady Catherine, scheming sleazes like Wickham, and brooding hunks like Darcy. No wonder she has inspired so many strong-willed heroines.
The settings were absolutely amazing. Beautiful Lyme Park played the role of Darcy's Pemberley, and I knew exactly how Lizzie felt when the carriage emerged from the trees and the mansion came into view. What wouldn't you give up to be mistress of such a place? (Oh yeah, you'd get Mr. Darcy, too.)Like all great romances, P&P ends with a wedding. A double wedding, actually. One of the things that still amazes me about this story is that there is nothing sensual, sexual, or remotely physical until after marriage, and yet somehow the sexual tension is as strong as the hottest contemporary romance.
I still have that copy from my freshman classTo be honest, I saw the Keira Knightly version but I can't remember anything but the kiss at the end because the BBC version brought my every imagination to life perfectly. There's only room for one Mr. Darcy in my heart, and Colin Firth isn't about to budge.
GROWING UP GODLY [soon to be retitled], Summer 2008 Dutton Children's Books

what I'm reading ... Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I couldn't resist.)


Rhonda Helms said...

I am SOOOOOO with you on that! I love this adaptation--it remains my favorite, by far. :D

stephhale said...

Colin Firth is SO hot! Whether wearing a ridiculous reindeer jumper or a wet shirt! I have to admit I've never seen this, but have always wanted to. I had won the Keira version but let a friend borrow it before watching and never got it back. After this week I think I'm going to be getting my Netflix subscription back!
ps- I loved Colin in Love Actually too!

alexgirl said...

i completely love P&P--both the book and the BBC mini. Those other film adaptations don't hold a candle to my Colin Firth! I saw Jennifer Ehle in the new Tom Stoppard play on Broadway this winter. She's amazing.

ps-Babysitter's Club RULES!!!

Marley Gibson said...

Do I see a Colin Firth theme emerging here on Books, Boys, Buzz? LOL! We could have an All-Colin week. = )

TinaFerraro said...

I have never read P & P! But I've seen both movies, and like you said, TLC, I can barely remember a moment of the Kiera one since this one is the embodiment of the story.

So here's my deal for you, Tera: if you read THE STAND, I'll read P & P. Deal?

TinaFerraro said...

I'm all for a Colin Week! In fact, I was just thinking of an old Colin movie I want to re-watch...

Me said...

Steph -- You MUST see this version. I have it on DVD if you want to borrow it (as long as you promise not to hold it hostage).

Alex -- I'm so jealous you got to see Jennifer on B'way. I tried to get tickets for a show she was in back in '01 but they were completely sold out.

Marley -- Clearly, I'm in full support of a Colin Firth week. (Hmm... Valmont.)

Tina -- Okay, deal. Next trip to the bookstore I'll pick up The Stand!

Hugs all,

Heather Davis said...

P & P is one of those books you can read again and again. And, clearly, the movies are worth watching over and over for the Mr. Darcys. Though, yes, Colin is the better Mr. Darcy...

But more than that, it's what Tera said, Austen's writing is sharp, funny, still accessible, and emotional. Sexual tension throughout the book, and a dark hero who saves her day. Love it.


TinaFerraro said...

Okay, TLC, I had some books to order on-line, so I added P & P...should be here by the end of the week. Now I just have to find the time to read it!

Anonymous said...

wet-shirted men are hot. i wore my dvr out repeating the diving into the water scene and it's not even him.

stephhale said...

Have you guys heard about Shannon Hale's (no relation, unfortunately, for me not her) new
book, Austenland. TLC, it sounds right up your alley.

Simone Elkeles said...

I recently watched P&P for the first time last month and loved it! I really didn't want it to end, it was so good. The dancing was amazing and nobody could have played it better than Colin. It's a keeper!

Anonymous said...

I never Pride and Prejudice, and I never saw the BBC version. But every time the one with Keira Knightley comes on the cable channel, I watch it. I LOVED the actor who played Mr. Darcy. Never seen him before but his blue eyes stuck with me.