Who says Jane Austen, says one of her popular books. Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. The books are so popular that many of them have been made into a film or a tv-series. With the release of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies in cinemas, I thought it was time to review the tv-series Pride and Prejudice from 1995. Who knows this series, immediately thinks of Mr. Darcy and his interpreter Colin Firth. And of course the famous scene where Mr. Darcy is all wet from swimming in his white shirt. The story shows the differences in social classes in the 19th century and their prejudices towards the other classes which kept lovers apart. The series is all about the family Bennet. For their five daughters, the parents – especially the mother – try to find a suitable husband.
Jane Austen is for many of us women a famous author. For my English class, I read this book and immediately fell in love with the concept. Austen is a famous British writer who wrote about the class differences from the 19th century. In her books the women are mostly poor and in need of a wealthy man. The book Pride and Prejudice is published in 1813 and is after all these times still popular, think of all the series and films based on this book. The latest addition is Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, in which the sisters Bennet have to face a bloodthirsty zombie invasion. But the most famous series is this six-part series from 1995, which gave actor Colin Firth enormous publicity.
Besides Colin Firth we see Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in the lead part. Elizabeth is a clever young lady and the second oldest sister in the Bennet family. She and her sister Jane are according to their father the only two descent females within this family. Jane, played by Susannah Harker, is according to the locals a true beauty and destined to marry a rich man. When a rich bachelor arrives in town, Mrs. Bennet insists her husband pays a visit. From the start, the kind Mr. Bingley, played by Crispin Bonham-Carter, only has eyes for Jane. Of course her mother, a wonderfully exaggerated type that often makes you smile, is extremely pleased with that. The entertaining Mrs. Bennet is played by Alison Steadman. Her comments on her nerves, rich men and soldiers are both funny as they are absurd. I can imagine you’d rather not have such a mother in law. The three youngest Bennet sisters are Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Mary is a snob who thinks men are anything but interesting and rather plays the piano or read a book. Kitty and Lydia, however, are almost obsessed with the many soldiers who passes by. Mr. Bennet is occasionally very witty and makes sarcastic comments, which only his two eldest daughters understand.
Besides these characters, there are plenty of memorable supporting roles. Such as the remarkable cousin of Mr. Bennet, Mr. Collins. His presence is both hilarious as awkward. David Bamber plays this character with creepy traits so well, it’s every time fun to watch. He is just as absurd as Mrs. Bennet. Mr. Collins also talks a lot – whenever he can really – about a very wealthy woman, called Lady Catherine De Bourgh. Therefore you start wondering who she is and what she looks like. Lady Catherine is in fact Mr. Collins’ patroness and also Mr. Darcy’s aunt. Another fascinating character is the soldier Mr. Wickham, played Adrian Lukis. This vicious charmer knows Mr. Darcy and is keen on sharing his lies with the judging Elizabeth. When it comes down to the truth, Mr. Wickham still knows how to stir things up for the Bennet family. The sisters of Mr. Bingley are so different from him, you wonder how they can be related anyway? They look don upon the lower families they meet and are very haughty, like they are better than those with less money. Of course there are more great supporting characters, but these are the most fascinating ones.
Besides these fun characters, the surroundings and landscape plays a huge part in the series as well. The houses and the lands, including the stunning and vast Pemberley. The moment Elizabeth visits Mr. Darcy’s estate with her uncle and aunt opens her heart. She realizes she was filled with prejudice and trusted the wrong person. For someone who is labeled as a smart person, she can be quite naive. Especially when Mr. Wickham so easily makes her believe his stories about his time with Mr. Darcy. However, from the moment Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet, it’s clear they are drawn to each other, more than they realise and admit. The conversations between the two characters are absolutely fascinating, mainly because of Elizabeth’s character. The chemistry between Jane and Mr. Bingley on the other hand, is hard to find. We never see them actually have a conversation and them being together is more uncomfortable than romantic.
The book does provide more information and background, and, therefore, I really recommend you to read the book someday as well. There is so much to tell about the series, since much is happening in the lives of the Bennet family. Additionally, the characters are very diverse, which makes it very entertaining, and the landscapes provide beautiful images. The six-part series shows so much more than the film from 2005, starring Keira Knightley, which was more of a short excerpt. Partly because of the popularity of Jane Austen’s novel, this series is an absolute must see!