Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Colin Firth’s Darcy

By David Luhrssen
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The British have a way with their own literary heritage, a confidence and panache generally lacking in Hollywood. Witness the BBC television production of “Pride and Prejudice,” out April 27 on a new DVD release with “behind the scenes” and other bonus material.

The mini-series features all the hallmarks of premium British television with meticulous period details and a cast entirely at ease in petticoats and four-foot top hats. The Jane Austen story contains the familiar elements: a middle class family maintaining appearances in the face of limited means and desperate to attach themselves to the upper class through marriage.

The daughters of the Bennett family claim they will have none of that, insisting on marrying for love. Fortunately, the men they love are rich, “good matches” from a practical view. The plot tension concerns the strained relationship between Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer Ehle) and her sulking new neighbor, Darcy (Colin Firth), a witheringly arrogant man who barely puts up with his fellow aristocrats, much less anyone of the lower orders. Will love soften his heart?

Despite changing social mores and manners, Jane Austen’s scenario continues to replay across time and continents with its story of the head versus the heart, the uncertain progress of romance, the gap between classes and the anxiety of social decline.

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