Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 1980)

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice (BBC, 1980)

Starring: Elizabeth Garvie, David Rintoul

Director: Cyril Coke

Length: 265 minutes

This was another enjoyable miniseries. I would rate it almost as highly as the A&E version, even though it is very different. This version is very faithful to the book, and includes many scenes that were left out of the A&E version. The sets are simple, rather than cinematic. It is like watching a stage play – very intimate. The costumes are wonderful. The casting is wonderful. I liked Mrs. Bennet and Mary better in this version. And I LOVED Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins. They were much closer to how they were portrayed by Jane Austen. The A&E version almost made caricatures out of all the minor characters. Where it excelled was in the portrayal of the three sets of lovers: Darcy and Elizabeth, Jane and Bingley, and Lydia and Wickham. The BBC version downplayed the stories of Jane and Lydia. This may be closer to Jane Austen’s book, but it felt lacking to me in comparison. On the other hand, the BBC version showed more of the relationships between Elizabeth and Charlotte, and Charlotte and Mr. Collins, even adding a rather nice proposal scene between Charlotte and Mr. Collins. The A&E version gave short shrift to Charlotte, and made Mr. Collins so odious, that Charlotte’s acceptance of him was difficult to fathom. The A&E version also gave us a very stripped down version of Lady Catherine.

Mr. Bennet grew on me. He is quite jolly and loveable in the A&E version – not quite the way Jane Austen portrayed him, but I liked him, and I liked the way it portrayed his relationship with Lizzy. In the BBC version, he is very stiff and cranky. But as I said, by the second viewing, this very different portrayal was growing on me. Mrs. Bennet was much better done here. Oh, she is a scream in the A&E version, and a lot of fun to watch, but the BBC portrayal is again much closer to the mark. Instead of being a comical caricature, she is a silly, rather empty-headed woman, who was once obviously very pretty. She is lively, and you can see why Mr. Bennet may once have been attracted to her. Their mismatched relationship is very well done here.

The sisters: Jane had no appeal for me in this version. I didn’t sense any spark at all between Jane and Bingley. She was just a bland character. Mary was quite adorable, for all her misguided efforts to be learned and accomplished. You could see her as a real person instead of a caricature. Kitty was just silly. The actress seemed too old for the part to me. Lydia was much like her mother, but I confess I liked the more flamboyantly reckless portrayal in the A&E version better.

Elizabeth Garvie is an adorable Elizabeth Bennet. David Rintoul is a truly haughty, but handsome Darcy. Again, his portrayal was probably closer to Jane Austen’s, and he also grew on me the second viewing. But comparing him to Colin Firth is like comparing apples and oranges. I didn’t feel the spark or the tension between Darcy and Elizabeth that Colin and Jennifer portrayed. Jennifer’s Elizabeth is a little more refined, and I can easily envision her as the future lady of a great estate.

So all in all, there was much to like in the BBC version, but for sheer romance and for cinematography give me the A&E version!

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