Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pride & Prejudice

Recently, I exacted from my husband a trade: I would watch a movie of his choice with him (I believe he has chosen Pulp Fiction, sigh) if he would watch the magnificent A&E/BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. It is one of my all time favorites, and I haven't watched in several years. Well, this past weekend, we embarked.

From the outset, I could see that Mike was drawn in quickly. The period costumes, the beautiful English countryside scenery, the charming accents...and of course, the drama of the fate of the five Bennett girls and their mother's desperate desire to see them marry well, sparing them all from becoming penniless should their father pass away and the estate entail to their smarmy vicar cousin, Mr. Collins. What I love about this movie is how the audience, along with Elizabeth Bennett, *very gradually* warms up to the dark and dashing Mr. Darcy. At first, we dislike him. He snubs our heroine, the spunky and intelligent Lizzie, and looks down upon the Bennetts for their lack of prestigious name and estate. The addition of the squealing, perpetually-needing-smelling-salts Mrs. Bennett, as well as the loud and silly younger Bennett girls, Kitty and Lydia, certainly don't help. By time he proposes to Lizzie, we find him attractive and just a bit exciting, though we can't completely overcome our reservations, nor can Lizzie. Although he was unsuccessful and manages to insult the woman he is proclaiming to love, I still absolutely *love* his proposal of marriage. It's one of my favorite scenes in the film:

"My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. In declaring myself thus I'm aware that I will be going expressly against the wishes of my family, my friends, and, I hardly need add, my own better judgement. The relative situation of our families makes any alliance between us a reprehensible connection. As a rational man I cannot but regard it as such myself, but it cannot be helped. Almost from the earliest moments, I have come to feel for you...a passionate admiration and regard, which despite my struggles, has overcome every rational objection. I beg you, most fervently, to relieve my suffering and consent to be my wife."

*Blissful sigh* Now this, Stephanie Meyer, is a true declaration of love. He may be proud (and a bit rude) but he's honest and genuine.

Given that it is 5 hours long, this was a 4 evening undertaking. Each night, Mike admitted that he was really looking forward to seeing what would happen next. We were both enraptured as Lizzie slowly begins to see Darcy in a new light through the eyes of his family and associates. And oh!! When Lizzie bumps into him as he emerges from a dip in the pond at Pemberly, and he's all flustered, PRECIOUS!! And then how he rushes back out, still wet but stuffed into formal attire so that he can see Lizzie before she departs with her aunt and uncle. This is true romance. And then, when Lydia disgraces the family by running off with the shady Mr. Wickham, neither of us was paying any attention to our wine. We rejoiced when Darcy paid off Wickham's debts and forced him (snorts!) to marry Lydia and save the Bennetts' reputation from total ruin.

Last night, we watched the final installment. Darcy abruptly stops his stroll with Lizzie and, completely disregarding the wishes of his proper and prickly old relative- Lady Catherine de Berg- that he marry her anemic and porky-looking daughter, he asks:

"You're too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so. My affections and wishes are unchanged. But one word from you will silence me on this subject forever."

Lizzie declares that her feelings are "quite the opposite" as when she turned him down months ago. I glanced over at Mike, who was beaming. He's been bitten by the Pride & Prejudice bug, and he would die if he knew I was blogging about it. Oh! It's just so good. The double wedding at the end, with sweet Jane marrying Mr. Bingley alongside Lizzie and Darcy. *squeals* I love it.

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