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DVD Review: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: BBC
(Blu-ray)



Studio: A&E
Year: 1995
Cast: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, David Bamber, Crispin Bonham-Carter, Anna Chancellor, Susan Harker, Julia Sawalha, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Adrian Lukis, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow
Director: Simon Langton
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Rating: Not Rated for (period British-y romance)
Run Time: 05h:23m:00s
Genre(s): television, british, novel

"For a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife!" - Elizabeth Bennett (Jennifer Ehle)

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: BBC

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The impeccable adaptation of Austenís most popular book looks brand new in HD. An Austen fan in possession of a Blu-ray player must be in want of this disc.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: A

The 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was a national sensation when it first aired in England, garnering rave reviews and tremendous ratings. Itís hard to imagine a period costume drama finding the same primetime success in the U.S., where we tend to prefer to watch our costume dramas in movie theaters, and even then only when they star Scar-Jo, or possibly Kiera Knightly (case in point), but itís the Brits who have their heads on straightóthis is a totally engrossing, high-class production, and perhaps the most lively and faithful adaptation of Jane Austenís novel. Even better, it now looks like a real movieóthe new HD transfer, created through much high-tech wizardry, finally frees the picture of the shot-on-a-camcorder look that was the bane of British TV until a few years ago.

Directed by BBC stalwart Simon Langton and written by Andrew Davies (who has since penned a whole bunch more adaptation, from Bleak House to Bridget Jones), this was the fifth filmed adaptation of Jane Austenís enduring novel, and probably forever the most iconic, despite the very fine 2005 film. The story of the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) and Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) is eternal by nowóHelen Fielding even used it as a rough outline for Bridget Jonesís Diaryóbut it continues to entertain.

Does Jane Austen require a plot summary? England, 19th century, comedy of manners, doting mothers, arranged marriages. Elizabeth and Darcy loathe each other on sight, but anyone familiar with modern day romantic comedies knows that their friction will only lead to the production of romantic heat. You canít blame Austen for establishing the clichÈ.

Whatís most refreshing, even 14 years on, is this doesnít feel like a stuffy period piece. The performances are vivid and engaging, the direction is lively, and the pacing, agreeably brisk. Jane Austenís novels are all about the characters, and director Langton allows them to breathe, and to take on lives of their own, outside of their existence as cherished literary figures.

The DVD:The six episodes are spread across two 25gb discs, with all the extras included on Disc 2. The new transfer was created through an intense process (outlined in one of the bonus features) that allowed the original 16mm negative to be scanned directly for the first time. The results are stunning. Clarity, color, and detail are shockingly improved, while an uncompressed audio track sounds richer and fuller than ever before.

The extras are a mix of old and new. Lasting Impressions is the star, an hourlong retrospective piece catching up with the major players 10 years later. There's a wealth of information about the production and most of the bit actors appear to share cute stories from the set or reflect on how the series changed their lives, though Ehle and Firth are no-shows. An Impromptu Walkabout with Adrian Lukis and Lucy Briers is a cute 10-minute tour of some prominent locations.

New to the BD (and in HD) are the technical restoration piece and A Turning Point for Period Drama, a half-hour look at the series' lasting impact, featuring lengthy comments from Andrew Davies.

Posted by: Joel Cunningham - April 15, 2009, 9:44 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: adaptation, bbc, television




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