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Pride and Prejudice(TV) (1995)
The timeless themes of love and marriage in Jane Austen's superb romantic comedy 'Pride and Prejudice' have captured readers for generations; the novel has sold more than 20 million copies and has never been out of print. Now A&E and the BBC have brought this beloved classic to life in a compelling production directed by Simon Langton. This stunning production captures the celebrated beauty of the English countryside and its glorious stately manors. It features lavish costumes and an exquisite soundtrack from noted composer Carl Davis. 'Pride and Prejudice' is the story of the lively and rebellious Elizabeth Bennet, one of five unmarried daughters living in the countryside of 19th Century England. In a world where obtaining an advantageous marriage is a woman's sole occupation, Elizabeth's independent manner threatens her family's future. Will her romantic sparring with the mysterious and arrogant Darcy end in misfortune - or will love's true nature prevail?
For more about Pride and Prejudice and the Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray release, see Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 14, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Director: Simon Langton
Writer: Andrew Davies (I)
Starring: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha, Alison Steadman, Benjamin Whitrow
» See full cast & crew
Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 14, 2009
Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman) has big plans for her five daughters – she wants to see all of them married to wealthy men who will secure her well-being. So, she keeps an eye on all eligible bachelors and often reminds her daughters that romance and prosperity are inseparable.
The youngest of the five girls, Kitty (Polly Maberly) and Lydia (Julia Sawalha), are excited by the prospects of meeting single men. Mary (Lucy Briers) has absolutely no interest in romance and is ready to commit to anyone who would make Mrs. Bennet happy. Jane (Susannah Harker) is serious about marriage but undecided what type of a husband would be best for her. Then, there is Elizabeth (Jennifer Ehle), who has decided that she would only marry a man her heart desires.
As the story progresses, Mrs. Bennet introduces her girls to all sorts of different men. Of course, the ones she likes are not always the ones her daughters are interested in, but her opinion is what matters the most, and the girls are routinely reminded of it. This being said, Pride and Prejudice focuses on the relationship between Elizabeth and a wealthy gentleman named Darcy (Colin Firth).
This specific rendition of Jane Austen's famous novel first aired on British TV in 1995. It was dramatized by Andrew Davies, directed by Simon Langdon, and produced by Sue Birtwistle, Julie Scott, and Michael Wearing. A year after Pride and Prejudice premiered, the production was recognized with an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special (Dinah Collin) and a Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Best TV Dramatized Serial (Andrew Davies).
Knowing that for years there have been passionate debates addressing men's ability to fully appreciate the work of Jane Austen, which I certainly do not wish to rekindle with this review, as I also do not intend to compare the BBC production to Joe Wright's recent feature film, I am simply going to tell you what I think of Simon Langdon's rendition. So, if you happen to be an ardent fan of Jane Austen's work, who disagrees with me for "obvious" reasons, keep in mind that I am…a man.
I first saw the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice nearly two years after it aired in the United Kingdom. I am also fairly certain that I first read Jane Austen's novel back in the late 70s, so there were absolutely no character surprises for me as far as my first viewing of these series is concerned. In fact, I remember being primarily intrigued by the production values of Pride and Prejudice, which had been praised by practically everyone who had seen the BBC production.
This being said, I think that one of the key reasons why Pride and Prejudice won the hearts of many Jane Austin fans is the terrific emphasis on detail, which Simon Langdon and his team achieved; and I don't necessarily mean the excellent decors and costumes. Rather, I believe that it was the ability of the actors to express accurately the complex emotions and feelings Jane Austen's characters struggle with.
The BBC production also preserved the sophisticated humor from the novel without infusing it with the type of soap opera-esque flavor other, less impressive, adaptations of Pride and Prejudice have been plagued with. As a result, a lot of the literally excess was far easier to tolerate (Mrs. Bennet and her lines in particular are a good example).
I also think that, by large, the BBC production introduced characters that were anything but marginalized. Some may disagree – I would assume mostly men, who have participated in the debates I mentioned earlier- given the manner in which Darcy is profiled, but you have to agree that a lot of the issues these characters deal with are anything but trite and dated.
1. A Man of Good Fortune
2. A Strong Constitution
3. Party at Lucas Lodge
4. Jane Takes Ill
5. An Accomplished Woman
6. A Man Without Fault
1. Mr. Collins
2. Mr. Wickham's Tale
3. Wholesome Conversation
4. The Netherfield Ball
5. Dinner Music
6. A Marriage Proposal
1. Surprising News
2. Mr. Wickham's Engagement
3. A Proper Wife
4. Lady Catherine de Bourgh
5. A Most Severe Critic
6. Another Proposal
1. Mr. Wickham's Past
2. Mr. Darcy's Letter
3. Appearance of Goodness
4. Summer Travels
5. Chance Encounters
6. A Good Opinion
1. Dinner at Pemberly
2. Dreadful News
3. Tainted by Association
4. No Glad Things
5. So Well Concealed
6. Express from Mr. Gardiner
1. Mr. And Mrs. Wickham
2. A Mistake in Pride
3. Mr. Bingley Returns
4. Lady Catherine's Sentiments
5. A More Gentleman-like Manner
6. This Man and This Woman
Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Pride and Prejudice arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of A&E Home Video.
It took me approximately a week to go through this magnificent set. Now, having seen all six episodes of the Emmy Award-winning TV series as well as the informative supplemental features A&E have supplied, I can comfortably state that Pride and Prejudice will become a "poster-child" for the Blu-ray format. The tech specialists at A&E have gone back to the original 16mm film negative and performed a frame-by-frame restoration of Pride and Prejudice that has produced something you have to see to believe (as clichéd as it may sound, I am convinced that my words will not provide you with an accurate idea as to the quality of this new HD transfer).
First of all clarity and contrast are staggering; there is an incredible amount of depth to the picture as well that I personally have never witnessed on previous releases. Obviously, this has to do with the fact - and this is very important to understand – that A&E have gone back to the original 16mm film negative instead of opting for for a secondary print. Next, the color-scheme is lush and well saturated yet unaffected by post-production enhancements. Furthermore, the image also reveals a light layer of grain that, again, no DVD release has ever been able to capture. This being said, the print also looks notably healthy – there are absolutely no scratches, debris, or stains that I could detect. To sum it all up, this is a fantastic presentation of Pride and Prejudice that belongs in every serious collection. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release which you will be able to play in your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unlike the UK release of Pride and Prejudice, which apparently contains an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, the US release boasts an LPCM 2.0 track. As expected, the audio presentation fully matches the terrific video treatment – the dialog is crisp and extremely easy to follow while the period soundtrack is simply fantastic (most of the key pieces are performed with replicas of period instruments). Furthermore, balance is also terrific, and I personally did not detect any issues to report in this review. Finally, there is a very convincing separation between the music and the dialog. For the record, A&E have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray disc contains the following extras:
Lasting impressions – an interesting featurette taking a look at the history of Pride and Prejudice where key members of the cast and crew recall their involvement with the production. There are plenty of comments addressing the adaptation, the characters as well as the appeal of the miniseries amongst different viewers around the world.
An Impromptu Walkabout with Adrian Lukis and Lucy Briers – Actor Adrian Lukis (Wickham) and Luci Briers (Mary Bennet) recall their collaboration in front of the camera while visiting a key location from Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice: A Turning Point for Period Drama – Screenwriter Andrew Davies talks about the adaption of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, the emphasis on detail as well as some of the more interesting aspects from the story where the main characters are struggling to express their feelings properly. Members of the tech team also offer their thoughts on the production history.
Technical restoration – A fascinating look at the restoration work that was done in order to bring Pride and Prejudice to Blu-ray with Vincent Narduzzo. I strongly recommend that you find the time to see this featurette as Mr. Narduzzo provides some very interesting information in regard to film restoration and film grain in particular.(Note: All of the supplemental features contain optional English subtitles).
Pride and Prejudice Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is a fantastic presentation! A&E have gone back to the original film negatives and performed a frame-by-frame restoration that has produced one of the most impressive transfers that I have seen since Blu-ray was launched. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice for your collections. This is top-quality product folks! Very Highly Recommended.
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